Sunday, November 02, 2014


Frank Bruni, the master of competently written know-nothing-ism, laments in today's column that the campaigns run by this year's candidates offer no "visionary plan" for solving the big problems we have. That's true, if trite. But pay attention to some of his specific examples of how the candidates have failed us:
In Iowa, Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley talked of Harleys, hogs and chickens. In Florida, Charlie Crist and Rick Scott bickered over a fan. In Colorado, Mark Udall’s focus was more womb-centric than "The Handmaid's Tale." While I believe strongly in reproductive freedom and salute him for defending it, I also wish I could tell you, without intensive research, what sort of script he has for restoring this country’s confidence.

But I don't know the answer -- for him or for just about any of the other 2014 candidates. I know where they stand on the minimum wage and maybe on immigration reform, though there's been a whole lot of waffling there. I know that they think the Islamic State is evil and Ebola scary.

But a visionary plan? A detailed route back to the optimism at the core of the American character? I didn't catch those....
Let's go to the beginning of that excerpt. "Joni Ernst and Bruce Braley talked of Harleys, hogs and chickens"? No -- Joni Ernst has talked of Harleys and hogs, reminding voters in her ads that she rides the former and used to castrate the latter. And it's Ernst alone who's made an issue of Bruce Braley's dispute with a neighbor about chickens on his property.

"Charlie Crist and Rick Scott bickered over a fan"? No. Crist brought a portable fan onto a debate stage. Scott had the option of being an adult and letting this slide, but he's the one who refused to take the debate stage for six long minutes.

So when Republicans reduce a race to trivia, Bruni says it's both sides' fault. But when Mark Udall stresses women's issues too much for Bruni's tastes, it's all the Democrat's fault -- Republican Cory Gardner gets none of Bruni's blame.

Regarding this year's candidates, Bruni writes, "I know that they think the Islamic State is evil and Ebola scary." That's an across-the-board complain from Bruni -- never mind the fact that it's primarily Republicans who are taking the lead in demagoguing these issues, with some Democrats struggling to play catch-up.

That's why Bruni is the ideal pundit for our times. Nothing is ever just the fault of Republicans. Whenever anything bad is being done in politics, either Democrats do it or both sides do it.


Victor said...

When is the NY Times going to realize that they're pretty much the last piece of valuable journalistic real estate, and stop squandering space on Bruni, Bobo, and MoDo?

I haven't bought they NY Times Sunday paper since my father passed-away 2 1/2 years ago.

If you had told me a few decades ago that I would do that, I'd have said you were nuts.

Now, I read Krugman when there's a link - and Blow, Collins, and Kristof once in a while.

Their reporting has gone downhill - though a lot of it is still great. But it used to be consistently great, and not once in awhile.
Or, maybe it's my memory playing tricks - but I used to devour every day's edition, like it was the last thing I'd ever read.
Now, I rarely miss it.

What's happened to print and broadcast journalism in America is both sad and pathetic - and dangerous to the point of being terrifying, when it comes to our form of representative democracy.

Raymond Smith said...

What these GOP members are upset about is that in numerous races that they believed they had a safe win of. They are having to dump large amounts of money, time and effort into trying to win. They are running scared for even with all of the numerous amounts of propaganda pushing they are scared they are going to lose and lose big.
They smell of desperation all over the place with some GOP members already making excuses for loses.

Kevin Hayden said...

I agree with the sad state of unbalanced punditry. But I also did find a shortage of gut-grabbing populism in the candidatery, too.

Ken_L said...

I really don't get a lot of Americans. They live in the nation that dominates the world, enjoying security and material comforts virtually unprecedented in history which most of the rest of us can only dream of. And all they do is bitch and moan about how the country's going to the dogs and there's no vision in Washington.

What more do you fucking want, assholes? If your Christian god really existed, you'd all have been consigned to the fiery pit long ago for mindless avarice and ingratitude.

I try to like Americans, but jeez they make it hard sometimes.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Everybody does think ISIS is evil and Ebola is scary. Opinions differ what to do about either.