Supplemental: The developing tale of the son’s dying words!


What “authenticity” looks like:
Does Politico’s Edward-Isaac Dovere know whereof he speaks?

We can’t answer that.

Maureen Dowd provided zero sources when she started the story of the dying son’s last words. Today, Dovere cites only anonymous sources as he claims to reveal Dowd’s source.

He says her source was the dying man’s father, Joe Biden. Headlines included, this is the way he begins:
DOVERE (10/6/15): Exclusive: Biden himself leaked word of his son's dying wish/
The vice president is mourning. He’s also calculating.

Joe Biden has been making his 2016 deliberations all about his late son since August.

Aug. 1, to be exact—the day renowned Hillary Clinton-critic Maureen Dowd published a column that marked a turning point in the presidential speculation.

According to multiple sources, it was Biden himself who talked to her, painting a tragic portrait of a dying son, Beau’s face partially paralyzed, sitting his father down and trying to make him promise to run for president because "the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.”

It was no coincidence that the preliminary pieces around a prospective campaign started moving right after that column. People read Dowd and started reaching out, those around the vice president would say by way of defensive explanation. He was just answering the phone and listening.

But in truth, Biden had effectively placed an ad in The New York Times, asking them to call.
Is that what actually happened? We can’t tell you that. But this report creates a Rorschach test concerning what “character” and “authenticity” mean in the unattractive, script-reading minds of America’s upper-end press corps.

If Biden told this story to Dowd, he broke no eternal rule. Nothing in the tablets Moses carried provided any specific direction about this type of conduct.

That said, Dowd’s column placed the current White House campaign within a deeply emotional, melodramatic framework. Especially coming from her, it also created an ugly type of story:

So deeply vile are the Clintons that it was the sainted young man’s last wish that they not return to power! Even as the son “was losing his nouns,” he maintained his Clinton-hatred:
DOWD (8/2/15): When Beau realized he was not going to make it, he asked his father if he had a minute to sit down and talk.

“Of course, honey,” the vice president replied.

At the table, Beau told his dad he was worried about him.

My kid's dying, an anguished Joe Biden thought to himself, and he’s making sure I'm O.K.

“Dad, I know you don't give a damn about money,” Beau told him, dismissing the idea that his father would take some sort of cushy job after the vice presidency to cash in.

Beau was losing his nouns and the right side of his face was partially paralyzed. But he had a mission: He tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.
Is that what actually happened? We don’t know.

Did Biden tell the story to Dowd? We don’t know that either. If he did, we don't know how accurately she reproduced what he said.

But when an American White House campaign is placed within that kind of saccharine, weepy emotional framework, the “Creeping Dowdism” of which we were warned (in 1992!) has seized full control of our lives.

Did Biden tell that story to Dowd? If so, a peculiar type of self-praise suffuses every square inch of the story.

He doesn’t give a damn about money? (Translation: He isn’t like the Clintons!)

The country would be better off “with Biden values?” (There’s no one as great as our clan!)

According to Dowd’s column, the paralyzed son who was losing his nouns had one last wish for his country. Did Biden himself really go and tell this story to Dowd?

Presumably, Dovere’s report will trigger further debate and reporting about this episode. Our own judgment is this:

We don’t have any idea who the “good people” are in this mess. We don’t know if Joe Biden is a better person than Hillary Clinton or Bill Clinton.

We also don’t especially care. Long ago, we came to understand a basic point: People in politics aren’t our friends. Beyond that, we have no way of finding out what they’re “really like.”

That isn’t the point of political discourse—except to obvious lost souls like Dowd, who wants our discourse to be a succession of silly stories about “authenticity” and “character,” with never-ending snide assessments of those she doesn’t favor.

And now, with moving deathbed tales involving the pol she prefers!

(Obvious side note: We Irish!)

Ever since that column appeared, we’ve felt that Biden was behaving unattractively just by letting this melodrama get so much play in the press. Perhaps his grief has occasioned bad judgment. We don’t gigantically care.

We do care about this:

Ever since that column appeared, the pundit corps has turned it into one of our basic controlling narratives. As always, the pundits have agreed to recite.

Everyone has wept for Joe, who got such a terrible break. We’ve seen no one wonder if there wasn’t something a bit exploitive about this maudlin story, behind which he has been hiding, upon which his rise has been based, whose truth no one can confirm.

Today, in its headline, Politico finally says that Biden has been mourning but that he’s also been “calculating.” Only the people who pose as our press corps could have failed to raise that possibility until now.

On August 2, Dowd told us a story. We’re now told that Biden himself was the source. Consider:

When Dowd wrote her column, she cited no source for her story. Woodward and Bernstein always needed two sources. In that influential column, Dowd had whittled that requirement down to none.

Today, we’re told that Biden was her source. Question: If that’s true, how could Dowd have known that the story he told her was accurate? Also, what made the pundit corps feel so certain that the story was true?

Answer: Our pundit corps doesn’t work on such considerations. Our pundits repeat approved stories, full stop. It's narrative all the way down!

Those Clintons! In this ultimate instance, they were brazenly moving ahead despite the pleas of the dying child. In many ways, this has been Dowd’s ugliest, creepiest, most exploitive story to date.

That said, our “national discourse” persistently runs on this low-IQ fuel. In the case of Dowd, we’ve been willing to tolerate this type of disorder every step of the way.

We simply aren’t a very bright people. Among other things, our ability to follow a lost soul like Dowd explains our devolving status.

OUR OWN TRIBE’S STUFF KEEPS HAPPENING TOO: Columnist Blow quotes Candidate Bush!


Part 2—We’ve seen this movie before:
Last Friday, Candidate Bush was asked to state his views about the latest mass shooting.

Three days later, Charles Blow quoted the hopeful in the New York Times. But did he really quote Candidate Bush? We aren’t entirely sure:
BLOW (10/5/15): Speaking Friday in South Carolina, Jeb Bush resisted calls for greater gun restrictions, saying: “We’re in a difficult time in our country and I don’t think more government is necessarily the answer to this. I think we need to reconnect ourselves with everybody else. It’s just very sad to see.”

Bush continued: “But I resist the notion—and I had this challenge as governor—because we had—look, stuff happens, there’s always a crisis. And the impulse is always to do something and it’s not necessarily the right thing to do.”

Stuff happens? Really? That stuff is the continued gun slaughter of Americans by other Americans. This “stuff” is a scourge.
Blow quoted Candidate Bush, then paraphrased his remarks. And sure enough! Blow ended up with a simple account:

The callous hopeful had said “Stuff happens!” It was the callous way the callous hopeful referred to the latest gun slaughter!

Let’s be fair! Unlike some of his colleagues at the Times, Blow hadn’t “invented” his quote. Bush actually said every word Blow typed. Blow hadn’t dreamed any words up.

Blow didn’t even omit any words when he said, “Bush continued.” In fact, the second statement quoted by Blow continued directly from the first.

Breaking with his paper’s traditions, Blow didn’t invent any words by Bush when he quoted the hopeful. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he quoted Bush fairly, or that his subsequent paraphrase was fair.

For our money, Bush made a very weak statement about the possibility of “greater gun restrictions” that day. We’d even say that the candidate’s extemporaneous statement was less than obsessively honest—but then, we’d be inclined to say the same thing about the columnist’s work, which he had three days to compose.

By tradition, New York Times reporters and columnists enjoy inventing quotes. Blow eschewed this traditional practice—but there’s more than one way to be unfair, and to mislead readers, when you paraphrase a candidate, or even when you quote.

In our view, Blow was misleading his readers in the passage we’ve posted. And not only that! Sadly enough, we’ve seen this movie before!

Doggone it! Blow’s quotation-plus-paraphrase led to a preordained place. The callous candidate had made a callous statement—“Stuff happens!” It was his callous way of describing the latest gun slaughter.

The hopeful did say those words, of course—and as we noted yesterday, they were quickly put to good use. But before he made his allegedly callous remarks, he had said so many things more!

What else had the candidate actually said? Once again, we’ll show you the various things Bush said before he uttered the words our tribe found to be callous, perhaps as we chose to pretend:
BUSH (10/2/15): And this president—the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?

And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.

And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.

So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out, and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us.

And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.
In his initial statement about what happened, Bush kept describing the killings as “this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see.” Ignoring that characterization, Blow hunted through a subsequent statement and came up with this ultimate quotation/paraphrase:

Stuff happens.

Stuff happens! In the end, that’s what we’re saying the callous candidate said.

Our view? Work like this is lazy and dishonest—and it’s misleading for readers. It’s a variant of the practice we’ve long described as “The Cult of the Offhand Comment,” in which journalists seize upon some minor remark to paint a preordained, unflattering portrait of a disfavored candidate.

Let's be fair! The Cult of the Offhand Comment is built around extremely useful rituals. It’s a cult for those who are somewhat dishonest. It’s a cult for those who are lazy, for those who may be a bit dumb.

Increasingly, the liberal world has followed the mainstream press into this form of pseudo-discussion, in which a single offhand remark is grabbed to take the place of real argument. As liberals, we've produced and screened this movie before; we produced it on several occasions during Campaign 2012.

In the current case, this familiar old practice offers a dull-witted substitute for a remarkably easy argument—the remarkably easy argument we ought to be able to make against Candidate Bush’s position on possible gun measures, which we’d be inclined to say was less than obsessively honest.

That said, we liberals don’t seem real good at constructing argument any more! Increasingly, we don’t even seem to try.

Instead of attempting to persuade other voters, we increasingly focus on demonized portraits of The Others—demonized portraits which mainly serve to make Our Tribe feel morally good. That said, Our Own Tribe isn’t morally good. What could be more obvious?

Bush made a callous remark, we say. It gives our pitiful tribe a way to enjoy the latest gun slaughter—and to avoid the task of finding ways to persuade Other People, who we increasingly seem to regard as the great unwashed.

We’re dishonest and lazy and nobody likes us! Tomorrow, let’s remember one of the times we screened this movie before.

Tomorrow: Everyone knew it was wrong

Transcript of the callous remarks: For a longer transcript of Bush's comments, just click here, then scroll to the end of the piece.

Supplemental: Baltimore’s full of superlative kids!


Anderson gets it right:
We’ve sometimes mentioned an important fact.

The city of Baltimore is full of superb young people. We see these superlative, admirable kids every day of the week.

We’re talking about kids of grade school age. We’re also talking about young people who are older, right up through the purposeful, impressive young people we see at Morgan State.

What kinds of kids are we talking about? In this unusual piece at the Atlantic, Melinda Anderson offers one example.

Anderson profiles Scott Thompson II, a 13-year old freshman at Baltimore City College, a deceptively-named academic high school of long standing and great tradition.

Thompson is only one person, of course. Beyond that, there are plenty of superb young people in Baltimore who couldn’t get admitted to City College. That doesn’t mean that those other kids aren’t equally superb in the ways we mean; Thompson’s strengths, as portrayed by Anderson, go beyond reading and writing.

As portrayed by Anderson, it sounds like Thompson is very lucky in the family he has, though his father is no longer living. (“[My family] won’t allow me to not be something. If I fall, I need to get right back up...”)

It also sounds like some superlative people helped Thompson at his middle school, Southwest Baltimore Charter, especially humanities teacher Valencia Gray.

All over the country, a lot of people have tried very hard, often with substantial success, to create better schools for city kids. This is true in many charter schools. It’s also true in many traditional public schools.

As Thompson describes his middle school, he is describing the fruit of such efforts, an important fact he may not be aware of. (There’s no reason why he should be.) At any rate, the important fact of this improvement brings us back to our constant complaint:

What kind of “press corps” refuses to report the rising achievement levels attained by Thompson and his peers nationwide? What kind of “press corps” keeps sliming the work of people like Gray in the dumbest possible ways, apparently in the constant attempt to keep themselves on message?

What kind of “liberal world” is willing to tolerate these unhelpful, propagandistic phenomena? With respect to Anderson’s young subject, why can’t the wider society be allowed to learn about, and take pride in, decent young people like this?

Can we talk? The caliber of our young people and our teachers far exceeds the caliber of our journalists and our other elites. The latest peculiar example:

Yesterday morning, we gaped at this piece in the Washington Post; it was written by Harold Levy, former chancellor of the New York City schools. Judging from the column he wrote, Levy has just discovered a troubling phenomenon—a phenomenon everyone else has been discussing for quite a few years now.

We’re sure that Levy’s a good, decent person. That said, it sounds like he has just arrived back on the planet after an unexcused absence of quite a few years. The fact that the Post would publish his piece seems to mean that the Washington Post is clueless too, despite its attempt to maintain a high profile in the area of public ed.

We’ll look at Levy’s piece tomorrow. For today, we’ll only say that Anderson has written the type of piece whose constant, unhelpful absence we’ve always gnashed our teeth and torn our luxuriant hair about.

The country is full of good, decent kids. Why can’t the public be told?

Previous examples of good, decent kids: Alumni of Baltimore City College include Elijah Cummings, our current congressman, and Ben Cardin, one of our two United States senators.

Also Alger Hiss, Class of ’21! There’s one in every crowd!



Part 1—Sadly, the best we can do:
The other tribe is full of very bad people. It isn’t clear that they’re human at all.

Tribal players have always known these truths, down through the annals of time. As our own political culture has become increasingly tribal, we liberals have increasingly learned to love those ancient truths too.

Last Friday, the New Yorker’s Ryan Lizza acted on this prehistoric knowledge. Just for the record, he’s a “CNN contributor” too.

Lizza was present when one of The Others made a heinous remark about the shootings in Oregon. The excited scribe fumbled for his device—and no wonder!

According to Lizza, this is what he saw The Beast say about the latest killings:
CANDIDATE BUSH (10/2/15): And this president—the tendency when we have these tragedies that took place yesterday, it’s just heartbreaking to see these things, but this is the broader question of rule-making I think is an important point to make. That whenever you see a tragedy take place, the impulse in the political system, more often in the federal level, but also at the state level, is to “do something,” right?

And what we end up doing lots of times is we create rules on the 99.999 percent of human activity that had nothing to do with the tragedy that forced the conversation about doing something.

And we’re taking people’s rights away each time we do that and we’re not necessarily focusing on the real challenge.

So if we have people that are mentally ill, to the point where they go into the vortex and they don’t come out, and they’re hateful, and they’re in isolation, and they kill people, the impulse in Washington is take personal rights away from the rest of us.

And it won’t solve the problem of this tragedy that is just heartbreaking to see. Maybe we ought to be more connected in our communities. Maybe we ought to have greater awareness of the mental health challenges that exist all across this country. Maybe there’s a better way to deal with this than taking people’s human, you know, personal liberty away every time we kind of require people to do something.
Say what? Can that be what the candidate said? Where’s the statement we've all loved and enjoyed in the past few days?

Don’t get us wrong! For our money, that was a very soft, somewhat store-bought response to last week’s killings, a point we’ll explain below.

But where’s the part of the statement we liberals got to enjoy inside our prehistoric souls? Where’s the part where The Very Bad Chieftain of The Others cruelly waved the killings away, heartlessly saying this:

“Stuff happens.”

In the statement posted above, The Other keeps referring to the shootings as a “tragedy” which is “heartbreaking.” Where’s the part where he showed the world how empty and evil he is?

Prehistorics, please! If you sift through the evildoer’s subsequent statement, you’ll finally come to the two-word fragment you love. Sadly but inevitably, that subsequent fragment was the only thing Lizza chose to tweet that day, after he excitedly fumbled for his device.

Sadly, Lizza can’t claim to be dumb, since he basically isn’t. But so what! Here you see his full initial tweet, the tweet which brought so much joy to us in our own tribal world:
LIZZA (10/2/15): In Greenville, South Carolina, Jeb Bush, arguing against calls for gun control after major tragedy, says, “stuff happens.”
Heinous! All that talk about “heartbreaking tragedies” was now wiped away as we were pleasured by that!

Tribals, let's be fair! If you read the full transcript of what Candidate Bush later said in response to a follow-up question, you will see the longer subsequent statement from which Lizza pulled those two words. Stuff happens!

Lizza didn’t invent any words, as his colleagues sometimes have when they wanted to help us learn to loathe certain candidates. He didn’t conjure any words; Candidate Bush actually said the two words he excitedly tweeted.

Lizza invented no words! But for our money, the CNN star embarrassed himself when he offered that tweet—except embarrassment no longer exists when tribal feeling runs high within a society or culture.

Don’t get us wrong! We think Bush’s initial statement was “political,” less than obsessively honest—perhaps a bit store-bought. With respect to our endless mass shootings, everyone knows that there is at least one thing the federal government could and should do:

As everyone knows, the federal government could, and obviously should, eliminate the ludicrous “gun show loophole!” By very large majorities, voters in both major parties have agreed with that obvious proposition in the recent past.

That wouldn’t stop most mass shootings; presumably, it wouldn’t even stop many. But when a candidate can’t even bring himself to mention that obvious possibility, we’d have to say that he perhaps isn’t being obsessively honest.

Then again, neither was Lizza! Sadly, though, we liberals may have reached the point where this is the best we can do.

Where did that longer statement by Candidate Bush come from? The longer statement in which The Beast kept describing the killings as a “heartbreaking tragedy?”

Here’s where that statement came from:

After being criticized for perhaps over-simplifying matters a tad, Lizza managed to tweet that much of Bush’s initial, larger statement about the Oregon killings. Even at that, he didn’t bother transcribing the follow-up question to which The Beast was responding when he finally gave our tribe the two words we thoroughly loved.

We still haven’t seen a complete transcript of the discussion from which two glorious words were selected for tweeting. For a longer transcript of what The Beast said, we’ll offer this link to the Washington Post. Scroll all the way to the bottom.

For today, we’ll close with a few observations:

We think Lizza should be embarrassed by his initial tweet. We think he should be embarrassed by the silly follow-up question with which he then extended this wonderfully pleasing event—the wonderfully pleasing tribal use he found for the Oregon killings.

That said, we think we liberals should perhaps be embarrassed too by our familiar reactions. For all of us in Our Own Liberal Tribe, we’d be inclined to say this:

Our Own Stuff keeps happening too! It seems to happen more and more often. Given our love of loathing The Other, it may be the best we can do.

That said, our prehistoric love of loathing isn’t likely to help us attain our legitimate goals. Do we still have any such goals? Or are we now all about loathing?

Tomorrow: We've seen this movie before. What can this movie tell us?

Supplemental: Candidates Biden, Clinton, Gore/Bush!


The corps’ “authenticity” games:
Brendan Nyhan got his start in the old Spinsanity days.

Today, Nyhan is an assistant professor of government at Dartmouth. As a sign of total respect, we’ll omit his honorific in the remarks which follow.

In a recent post for the New York Times, Nyhan examines the concept of “authenticity” as it’s applied to White House candidates by the mainstream press corps. And good God, is that concept ever applied to candidates!

Today, we’re constantly told that Candidate Clinton isn’t “authentic,” but the highly subjective and nebulous concept has been around a long time.

The highly nebulous concept became journalistically de rigueur during Campaign 2000. In December 1999, USA Today’s Walter Shapiro even gave “authenticity” his Silver Wordy award for the year:
SHAPIRO (12/22/99): Comfortable with Himself and Authenticity: In a few short months, these have become everyone’s favorite buzzwords to describe the come-from-behind appeal of Bill Bradley and John McCain. Compared with the scripted George W. Bush and the synthetic Gore (see “Alpha Male”), these two different-drummer candidates seem spontaneous, original and, yes, comfortable with themselves.

The phrases are so cliché-ridden and inauthentic it’s difficult to figure out who first applied them to the dynamic duo of Bradley and McCain...
Just for the record, the first phrase was actually “comfortable in his own skin.” For the record, these laudatory descriptions were being applied to Candidate Bush in many quarters too.

(Earlier in the same column, Shapiro had awarded his “Bronze Wordy” for the year to the phrase “alpha male,” a term which was being used all the over the press to denigrate the inauthentic Candidate Gore.)

Concerning his Silver Wordy award, Shapiro was plainly right is several major respects. By the fall of 1999, those subjective assessments were everywhere as the mainstream press corps pretended to assess the four major candidates.

In our view, he was also right in his suggestion that the use of these subjective assessments related to a deep “inauthenticity” within the press corps itself. As they pretended to cover the race, the phoniest people on the face of the earth were telling us which candidates were “authentic!”

(General answer, widely expressed: Everyone but Gore!)

In his post for the New York Times, Nyhan picks up at this point. He notes that Candidate Clinton is the hopeful who’s currently being assailed for her lack of “authenticity.” He then suggests that pundits should stop assessing candidates by this highly subjective and nebulous metric.

He suggests that reporters can’t tell who is and isn’t “authentic.” He doesn’t note how phony it typically is when reporters pretend to make this assessment.

That said, we think Nyhan’s overall assessment falls a bit short of the mark. In the following passage, he makes a daring but worthwhile suggestion about non-Candidate Biden. He then offers a disappointing assessment of the authenticity narrative which prevailed in Campaign 2000:
NYHAN (10/1/15): [W]e shouldn’t assume that politicians who appear to be sincere are actually more genuine or revealing of their true selves. Like the stars you see telling scripted anecdotes on talk shows, they’re often just skilled at performing their public role. As the political scientist Richard Skinner has noted, the personas of popular presidents such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy were artificial constructions.

Even Joe Biden, the outgoing and expressive vice president who is widely seen as a more “authentic” alternative to Mrs. Clinton, has publicly cited his family’s genuine grieving over his son’s death as a reason not to enter the Democratic race while privately continuing to lay the groundwork for a possible run.

Recent examples illustrate how inconsistently and arbitrarily the labels of authenticity and inauthenticity are applied to candidates. Scott Walker changed a number of positions after entering the G.O.P. presidential race but generally wasn’t covered as a phony, while Mr. Romney was. Jeb Bush has stuck to some unpopular stances, but isn’t covered as a “maverick” like John McCain. The difference may be their performance skills, not their positions.

Similarly, George W. Bush and Al Gore were both born into powerful political families, but were perceived very differently. Mr. Bush successfully reinvented himself as a down-home Texas ranch owner despite being the son of a president with elite New England roots, while Mr. Gore was widely mocked as a phony who grew up amid wealth and power in Washington, especially when he invoked his childhood work on his family’s Tennessee farm. Again, one simple explanation for the disparate treatment they received is that Mr. Bush was a better political performer.
Can Brendan Nyhan say that? In that second paragraph, he almost seems to semi-suggest that non-Candidate Biden is perhaps and possibly being almost a tiny bit phony in his current posture.

We’ll return to that suggestion below. First, let’s consider this explanation for the fact that Candidate Gore was widely assailed as a phony while Candidate Bush was not:

“One simple explanation for the disparate treatment they received is that Mr. Bush was a better political performer.”

You’ll note that Nyhan doesn’t claim that this explanation is complete or correct. He merely says that this explanation would be “simple.”

We’ll move from simple to “simple-minded.” We’ll also say that explanation is almost surely incorrect.

Was Candidate Gore perceived as a phony by the mainstream press corps? We don’t know, but he was plainly portrayed that way—and Candidate Bush, the plain-spoken Texan, rather plainly was not.

Did this obvious “disparate treatment” result from Bush’s performance skills? Crackers, please! Here’s the most obvious reason for the disparate treatment:

This was a prevailing press corps script which ran all through Campaign 2000! The assertion that Gore was “inauthentic” was a mandated narrative throughout that long campaign. Pundits clung to that narrative as drowning rats cling to floating bodies.

Everything that happened in Campaign 2000 was hammered into that mandated framework. Consider the candidates’ shoes.

Sometimes, Candidate Gore wore regular shoes. Sometimes he wore boots.

The same was true of Candidate Bush. Sometimes, he wore regular shoes. Sometimes he wore boots.

Here’s the difference:

When Candidate Gore wore boots, he was brutally assailed as a phony. For a punishing background report, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/4/03.

The Nexis record clearly shows that Gore had worn boots all through his public career. Incomparably, we've detailed this fact in the past.

Gore had worn boots all through his career; Washington journalists knew that. But everyone from the disgraceful Cokie Roberts on down now took turns insisting that he had just started wearing boots in an attempt to reinvent himself as a down-home man of the people.

Some news orgs even fought about a related issue—how high was the candidate hemming his pants in order to showcase his boots? The Los Angeles Times said he was hemming his pants three inches too high. Time magazine said it was "at least six."

That's what happened when one of the candidates wore both shoes and boots. What happened when the other candidate did the same thing?

In the New York Times, Bruni happened! As the campaign began taking shape, this was the start of a lengthy, fawning profile of the glorious candidate:
BRUNI (9/14/99): When Gov. George W. Bush of Texas first hit the Presidential campaign trail in June, he wore monogrammed cowboy boots, the perfect accessory for his folksy affability and casual self-assurance.

But when he visited New Hampshire early last week, he was shod in a pair of conservative, shiny black loafers that seemed to reflect more than the pants cuffs above them. They suggested an impulse by Mr. Bush to put at least a bit of a damper on his brash irreverence, which has earned him affection but is a less certain invitation for respect.

As Mr. Bush presses forward with his almost preposterously charmed quest for the Republican Presidential nomination, he has plenty of confidence, evident in his easy swagger...
No one suggested that Candidate Bush was revealing himself as a phony through his shifting footwear. Moronic assessments of that type were reserved for Candidate Gore.

This disparate treatment was not a result of performance skill. This was the outcome of script.

In the past week, Gore made a public appearance in which he discussed climate and sustainability issues. Below, we’ll link you to a photograph where you can observe his footwear, sixteen years after Cokie and them savaged him as a big phony.

First, let’s relate the use of the nebulous concept “authenticity” to the scripting of the current White House campaign.

In that scripting, non-Candidate Biden is now the world’s most authentic known person, while Candidate Clinton’s a phony. This places Biden in the fully favored position the press corps bestowed on McCain and Bradley, their most favored saints, in the fall of 1999.

In the passage we’ve posted above, Nyhan almost seems to semi-suggest that non-Candidate Biden is perhaps and possibly being almost a tiny bit phony in his current posture. Full disclosure:

As Biden continues exploiting the death of his son, that unflattering assessment has frequently crossed our minds too!

That said, the authenticity of non-Candidate Biden is now deeply embedded in the press corps’ controlling script. As it was with the sainted Candidate McCain, so now with the sainted non-Candidate Biden—everything he says and does just proves how authentic he is.

What does Deep Narrative look like? It appears atop page A4 in this morning’s hard-copy Washington Post.

In our hard-copy Post, page A4 is designated as the CAMPAIGN 2016 page. Beneath that heading, we see a rather large photo of non-Candidate Biden, apparently deep in prayer.

(As we type, a different photo appears on-line.)

The large photo of Biden in prayer spreads across four columns. It tells us how completely sincere he is.

So does the following standard account, part of the latest lengthy report about the fact that there’s nothing to report:
KANE AND BALZ (10/3/15): At times, Biden sounds far from ready. But then there are moments like Thursday night, when Biden sprinkled his remarks to a Manhattan crowd with comments that sounded like someone with a keen interest in running.

He made a reference to the many miles he has traveled as vice president—now clocking in at more than Clinton did as secretary of state. He also drew an ideological contrast with Sanders, who has generated enthusiasm on the left with his populist economic agenda.

"I'm not Bernie Sanders," Biden said at the Concordia Summit. "He's a great guy, he really is. But I'm not a populist; I'm a realist."

When Biden talks like that, it feeds speculation that he is getting ready to join the race, and there is plenty of activity around him to suggest that he is overseeing a campaign in the making.

And yet, there is a parallel universe of greater significance, the single factor that no one can overcome, which is that Biden’s family is still grieving the loss of Biden’s son Beau, who died of brain cancer four months ago at age 46. The vice president has repeatedly said that no decision about running for president can be made until his family is ready to commit, even if it means that the moment passes.

"It's just not quite there yet, and it might not get there in time to make it feasible to run and succeed because there are certain windows that will close. If that's it, that's it. It's not like I can rush it," Biden said in an interview with America, a leading Jesuit news site, just before Pope Francis arrived in Washington last week.
(We never do this, but we'll do it today, so obvious is our conclusion. In that text, Biden is allowed to take a pot shot at Candidate Sanders. If Clinton did that, every pundit would know what to say: It's Just Like The Clintons to do that!)

By his own admission—made to the Jesuits, no less—Biden is fully authentic. He’s doing the fully selfless thing. It involves a universe of greater significance, the need of his family to grieve.

That may be an accurate portrait, of course. After all, Biden made this selfless admission just before meeting Pope Francis! It’s also possible that Biden has never intended to enter the race unless Candidate Clinton implodes behind the email mess, and that he keeps hiding behind the death of his son as he waits to see if that happens.

To his credit, Nyhan suggested some such possibility in the passage we posted; we’ve seen no one else break the embargo and do so. That said, he chose his words with so much care that his meaning is barely perceptible. Perhaps he’s been influenced by the wrong crowd down at the faculty club!

Has Biden been playing a game involving the death of his son? We don’t have any way of knowing, but the thought has often crossed our mind that he may be behaving badly.

Nyhan excepted, no such thought will ever appear anywhere in the press corps! They’re working from their latest official group script, and everyone is reciting.

In this year’s script, Biden is prayerful and authentic; Clinton is the phony. Sixteen years ago, the same “disparate treatment” was dumped on the head of Candidate Gore as the world’s biggest collection of phonies obsessively followed their scripts.

They did it because the corps had agreed on a mandated narrative, not because of Bush’s vast skills. They were able to do it because the cowering career liberal world sat back and let it happen, or even played an active part in the war.

One final note about the inauthentic Candidate Gore’s utterly phony choice of shoes, which showed Cokie and the rest of guild how inauthentic he was.

On Thursday, Gore was interviewed by James Fallows at the Washington Ideas Forum. A large color photograph can be seen here.

Go ahead! Look at the shoes!

Cokie and the rest of the children insisted that Candidate Gore was a phony. They could see how phony he was. Just look at those cowboy boots!

People are dead all over the world because of the endless ways their promulgated their script. Today, Cokie continues to chortle and simper on network TV as she tells us that Candidate Clinton is the big phony this time.

The liberal world accepted this conduct in Campaign 2000. Weak and gullible as we are, we are currently planning to lap it up again.

Cokie and Steve not-in-boots: In the fall of 1999, the nation’s pundits took turns assailing Candidate Gore for his insincere footwear selection.

The phoniest people on the planet were taking turns killing the pig. On October 15, Cokie and her husband, Steve Roberts, did so in their syndicated column, which went all over the nation:
ROBERTS AND ROBERTS (10/15/99): Look at Al Gore, after almost 23 years in public life, suddenly searching for his “authentic” self and then finding it in cowboy boots and open-necked shirts.

Is this the same Al Gore who grew up in a fancy hotel in Washington, went to Harvard and now lives in the vice president’s mansion, a short walk from the elite prep school he attended? Somehow, we doubt that cowboy boots and polo shirts were part of the dress code at St. Alban’s.
He shouldn’t be wearing those polo shirts either! They weren’t in his high school’s dress code!

People are dead all over the world because Cokie played this astonishing game—and because everyone else, from E. J. on down, politely stood by and watched. Can you believe that the person who wrote that column is still allowed on TV?

The same faux game is underway now. We’re going to buy it again.