Sunday, February 19, 2006

Debbie Does Dickie

SF Comical token conservahack Debra J. Saunders vents her grievances against the mean ol' librul co-workers who keep giving her shit over Cheney's little hunting mishap. Um, and the attendant coverup. You know, that little thing.

PEOPLE WANT to know what it is like to be a conservative columnist at the San Francisco Chronicle. Suffice it to say, there are days -- as in the Monday after Vice President Dick Cheney shot a buddy in a quail-hunting accident -- when I'd rather be working for a conservative rag, like the Weekly Standard.

If I close my eyes, I can imagine the scene. I'm not at The Chronicle, I'm breakfasting with other journalists -- and because they're conservative too, they don't think I'm a total freak. We all agree, speaking passionately about hunting protocol, that it was wrong for Harry Whittington to take it lightly. We shake our heads, gravely disappointed that Whittington forsook an individual's profound responsibility -- which is taken too lightly by the liberal media -- to warn others when he is standing where they are shooting.

Jesus H. Christ. Can she possibly be that stupid? Apparently so. Look, dear, the question is no longer whether the fault was that of Harry Whittington or of Dick Cheney. The questions lie in Cheney's disgusting behavior at the time, and in the days that followed. Cheney's own story about whether he was drinking or not conflicts with Katherine Armstrong's initial assertion that no alcohol was served at lunch that day, with Cheney's lame and transparent admission -- four fucking days later to Brit Hume, mind you -- that he had "a beer". Right, this from a guy who got two DUIs at a point in time when they were actually fairly difficult to get.

So far, no one's been able to keep their story straight, and the release of the details of the incident have been extremely peculiar. Apparently Karl Rove, who just happened to start his first consulting business with deceased ranch patriarch Tobin Armstrong's bankroll, talked to Katherine Armstrong at 8PM Saturday night, barely two hours after the shooting. Yet the whole thing got sat on until Katherine was pushed out to tell the local paper about the incident Sunday afternoon, a full 18 hours later.

But yeah, this is all Harry Whittington's fault, and that's what the scandal is about -- assigning blame. Whatever.

At The Chronicle, I'm like the nerd with a bull's-eye taped on his back. Nothing can stop the barrage. I try to be pre-emptive. As I pick up political reporter Carla Marinucci for the drive into work Monday, I speak first: "No Cheney jokes."

She tells five -- before we reach the freeway ramp.

And at work all day, certain individuals (who don't know who they are) lie in wait -- anxious for the moment they can buttonhole me and launch their little salvos.

Insert your own orange vest/yellowcake uranium joke here.

You can see where this is going. This is somebody who is worried that a snafu committed by someone she supports will make her (and by association, all so-called principled conservatives) the butt of everyone's jokes.

This is not a columnist who is maybe even a little bit concerned that her notoriously secretive vice-president shot a man, possibly while drinking, and took a suspiciously long time to release even the scrubbed details of the incident. (And recall that while Whittington is apparently recuperating well now, it was actually not such a sure thing at first. He was in intensive care for several days. nobody knew whether the guy was going to live or die, which is probably at least part of the reason for the delay in getting the story out.)

Nope, the whole reason for Little Debbie being so worked up about this is because of all the cheap shots (get it?) directed at Chimpco and their true believers.

Inquiring minds want to know: Aren't I going to write about Cheney?

What am I supposed to say? Accidents are bad? OK. Accidents are bad.

For the record, here it is: Dick Cheney should not have shot Harry Whittington.

Nice one, smartass. Can't imagine why people have been shaking their heads about this story all week. The cavalier attitude about all this, like it's just a big fucking joke, speaks volumes.

Not that most reporters will leave the brouhaha there. There is the familiar refrain, which is always the follow-up when you don't bash the Bushies enough: What about the White House's handling of the incident?

As if there's a good way to announce that the vice president shot someone by mistake.

As if there's no better way to announce that the vice president shot someone by mistake, than by sitting on the story for nearly a full day, then having a flunky step forward with a sanitized version of the events, then having Cheney wait four days before speaking publicly about it, and even then only to Faux News. Yeah, I can't think of any better way to have handled any of that, either. People must just be looking for things to pick on poor, misunderstood Dick at this point.

But again, as you can see from the petulant tone of the entire column, it's really this pissy attitude about all the cheap shots that have been taken at this great guy by the peanut gallery. Keep this in mind, because just last month, this same fool decided to trot out the ol' Chappaquiddick smackdown on Ted Kennedy:

If by some bizarre twist of fate the Senate fails to confirm Judge Samuel Alito's nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court, I have a suggestion for President Bush's next pick: Edward Kennedy.
After all, if some Democrats can make a federal case out of Alito's membership in Concerned Alumni of Princeton -- target on his inclusion of that membership in a résumé he submitted 20 years ago and his present failure to remember being in the group -- then I'd like to see how they tackle Chappaquiddick.

Saunders' extremely tenuous contention is that if we're going to dredge up the past, let's dredge up everyone's past. Well, for the record, I think Kennedy got away with one at Chappaquiddick. I think it was bullshit, I think it was a disgrace, and I think he acquitted himself extremely poorly, both as a man and as a representative of his constituency.

However, whether we agree with the outcome or not, the fact is that Kennedy had his day in court, and had his dirty laundry aired, his past discussed and rehashed in the 35 years since. And indeed, I would submit that Chappaquiddick actually served to commence an era where pols would finally be held accountable -- some would say too accountable -- for pretty much everything they say or do. There are many other instances of such egregious abuses of power, of course, but Chappaquiddick was so universal and visceral, so tawdry, it could not help but resonate, and higher standards of comportment and accountability for pols is at least expected since then, if not always sought as strenuously as it should be.

So I'm not really sure what sort of wisdom Saunders thinks she's imputing here -- if anything, the fact that Kennedy has had to deal with Chappaquiddick being brought up countless times in the years since the matter was adjudicated only underscores the necessity of exploring Alito's past, which he couldn't run away from nearly fast enough.

I've never understood what senators were thinking in allowing Kennedy on the Judiciary Committee in the first place. While Kennedy seems to consider himself a champion for the little guy, he is a walking tribute to a system that, in its low moments, allows the rich and powerful to get away with crimes that would put others behind bars. He is a discredit to the system.

In 1991, Kennedy had to scrunch down in his seat when his colleagues accused now-Justice Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment.

On Wednesday, Kennedy seemed like a crazy man when he suggested that the committee subpoena records relating to Alito and the Princeton alumni group. I know some people who don't buy Alito's "no specific recollection of that organization" answer. For my part, the older I get, the more credible I find it when other people claim lapses of memories.

Note Saunders' smug, self-satisfied tone throughout, as she continues to grill Kennedy for his ancient perfidy. Cheap shot after cheap shot; might as well call him a fat drunken mick while we're at it. The tone sounds oddly similar to that which she is now declaiming barely a month later, no?

But I especially like her defense of Strip Search Sammy's sudden amnesia by comparing to her own forgetfulness. Yeah, that's the sort of rigorous intellectuality they're looking for in the Supreme Court. Great defense.

In the end, this is all about smear. Some Democratic senators, like Dianne Feinstein, are ready to stick to the issues. I respect her questions. Alas, others -- like Kennedy -- dive deep into the sewer to make Alito look bad. They put what he did or said decades ago under a microscope. If they can't make Alito seem racist or sexist, they dig for some association, no matter how negligible, with a racist/sexist group. If Alito says he wasn't aware of how insidious the group was, he's lying -- or, critics intone with knowing cynicism, it's fishy.

Um, yes. And it wasn't a "deep dive into the sewer", either. It's the least we can expect. The CAP did everything they could to prevent minorities and women -- the latter of which includes Little Debbie -- from getting "unfair advantage" in the Princeton admissions process, which was just another way of finding quasi-legal maneuvers to keep 'em out. It was an entirely relevant avenue to pursue in vetting Alito's quals, just as his reluctance to admit or endorse any of these past sins is relevant.

And yeah, Chappaquiddick's still relevant too. Kennedy has slightly absolved himself since by being a truly good, principled liberal senator, but Mary Jo Kopechne still drowned because of his abject cowardice.

And if, say, six or eight months from now, that piece of birdshot that still sits outside Harry Whittington's pericardium happens to work its way in and kill him belatedly, what then? Do we still get to fuck with the ghost of Dick Cheney in the year 2040, or are there going to be reliable conservahacks who whine about that as well?

I don't think the question even needs to be asked. There's always a reliable rent-a-hack to be found; I scrape several off my shoes at the end of each day. But in this case, we are talking about a writer who also spared no hyperbole in weighing in on Bill Clinton's incessant lying and weaseling, when it was convenient to do so.

At least when Clinton shot his friend in the face, there wasn't a gun involved.


jj said...

I read Deb's column that day in the Chron, and was amazed by her self-pitying.

Nitpick: Should you really put quotes around "News" in Faux News? Doesn't the use of "Faux" for "Fox" make that particular quoting redundant?

Heywood J. said...

Yeah, that's really what got me about that column. I mean, we're all pretty much used to the shameless hypocrisy; these people wallow in it.

What was truly striking about that column was how Saunders made it all about her. Oh, the tribulations of having to deal with snarky libruls! Well, you've certainly dished it out enough over the years, dearie, and sometimes you just have to take it.

This is what gets me about these conservatives who fall all over themselves to tell you just how "principled" they are, while they suddenly forget those sacred principles when one of their own fucks up. Which seems to happen on a daily basis now.

As for the redundant sneer quotes, you're right. They're gone now, and I've appended a cheap Clinton joke at the end of the piece. That seems to be a fair trade-off.

Mitch said...

You're a good finisher. Not everyone can say that. Lots of writers, amateur and professional, end their essays with weak references to the theme of the opening paragraph ("Look! He brought it back around!"). And I say that as someone who detests giving compliments, especially online. "Virtual blowjobs" I call them.

However, in terms of accuracy, is it correct to say Bill shot Monica in the face? My recollection is that they had eight liaisons, seven of which ended with Bill scuttling off to the bathroom to finish himself off. Reputedly, it was the eighth rendezvous in which the infamous launch took place. Though it is a matter of record that a fair amount of DNA was preserved on the dress, was it ever established that Monica took a direct facial in the true sense of the word?

Heywood J. said...

Mitch, I know what you mean about compliments. I've never been very good at taking them, but I definitely do appreciate them. I actually obsess a fair amount over things like thematic continuity, and finishing strong without being transparent or clichéd about it. It's good to get feedback on mechanics, because sometimes I'm not all that sure about certain ones.

You know, one of the things that bugged the hell out of me about the Lewinsky deal, now that you mention it, was the almost creepy level of compartmentalization employed by Clenis. Apparently not only did he feel that oral sex counted as sex, he also felt that as long as he didn't come in her mouth, it wasn't really cheating. Some weird shit like that.

I recall thinking at the time, "Look, asshole, you're cheating! You might as well just bust a fucking nut in her gob, and let her decide whether to spit or swallow." Same difference, really.

As tacky as the whole sordid affair was, it was made immeasurably tackier by the indelible image of the President of the United States of America scuttling (perfect verb for it, btw) off to spank his load into a bathroom sink.

So yeah, I know that the money shot across Monica's mug is probably not factual. That scenario was just for me, baby, because that's how I would have played it if I'd been in Clenis' shoes. If you're gonna get in trouble, might as well make it worth your while.

Mitch said...

"I know that the money shot across Monica's mug is probably not factual. That scenario was just for me, baby, because that's how I would have played it if I'd been in Clenis' shoes. If you're gonna get in trouble, might as well make it worth your while."

Think about the restraint for a moment. He didn't think he was ever going to get caught, and he still didn't unload. Where I come from, we have a name for that. Character. (Actually, the more likely scenario is that it would have looked bad if [A] Monica left with a coated face or [B] she left with a freshly washed and scrubbed face.)

I can't help but think of Kobe's interrogation report in which he's quoted as saying that distributing facials is his "thing."* Anyway, that's beside the point.

Bill's explanation of his tryst is reflective of his true liberalism. I mean that in purely definitional terms. I feel that the terms 'liberal' and 'conservative,' respectively are more instructive as descriptions than 'Democrat' or 'Republican' (as they should be).

Liberals are more willing to incorporate relativity and subjectivity into their philosophies. Conservatives are much more absolute -- unless it's their own ass.

I believe that Bill thought he was lying on a practical level. I also believe that he was being reductionist because he was deeply ashamed and he was trying to excuse his behavior philosophically. The argument can be made that he wasn't cheating, but it's not very practical in the real world where "Scoreboard" is what matters. In the interest of self-preservation, Bill -- I'm sorry -- Clenis, was drawing his fine distinctions at the point where jizz started flying. It turns out that a majority of humans draw the line at the insertion of cocks into mouths.

*Detective Loya: So you like to cum in your partner's face?

Bryant: That's my thing, not always, I mean, so I stopped. Jesus Christ man. (inaudible)

Heywood J. said...

Think about the restraint for a moment. He didn't think he was ever going to get caught, and he still didn't unload. Where I come from, we have a name for that. Character.

That actually made me laugh out loud. Hard.

Now I have to figure out how to explain what was so damned funny to my wife, without seeming to implicate myself with cheap Monica-blowjob jokes.