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Sunday, February 19, 2006

So now all of a sudden it's about the American people
Posted by Jill | 6:56 PM

I just got finished listening to the radio rebroadcast of today's Press the Meat on WLIB, and I'm sputtering so much I wouldn't even know where to begin talking about Mary Matalin's sudden conversion to the idea that what happens in a president's personal life is not, in fact, fodder for the press. Matalin, who looks more like an archetypal Republican suck-a-lemon bitchbroad every day, was even more preposterous than usual, and completely overwhelmed with those little things we in consensus reality call "facts" (emphases mine):

MR. RUSSERT: Mary Matalin, the last number in that Time magazine poll is the overall approval of the vice president, and here it is. Approve: 29 percent; disapprove 41 percent. A 29 percent approval rating. Will that hamper the vice president's effectiveness in terms of governing, or helping fellow Republicans in the midterm elections?

MS. MATALIN: Absolutely not. Why--I've heard this repeatedly for six years. He's been the whipping boy for the liberals for six years and whenever he does go out on this show or he puts something on the top of his speech, he carries the day with his message, he broke during the campaign, he wins the debate, so no, it doesn't diminish his effectiveness, nor has his role in any way been diminished at the White House.

Who knew we were that powerful? Of course, what Matalin has inadvertently done here is admit that less than one in three Americans approve of this Vice-President. Nicely done, suckmouth.

MR. GREGORY: If you thought he did everything right, why is it that you ultimately--if the vice president said, "I did everything right," by disclosing it the way he did, why did you do a big national interview this week?

MS. MATALIN: Because you went on a jihad, David. For four days you went on a Jihad.

MR. GREGORY: And that's an unfortunate use of that word, by the way. This is not what that was.

MS. MATALIN: Oh, OK. All right. How--were you saving up for that line?

MS. DOWD: Mary, it isn't only the press. He blows off the FISA courts, he blows off the Geneva Conventions, he blows off the U.N. to go to Iraq. He wants to blow off everything. He's got a fever of about presidential erosion just the way he had a fever about going into Iraq.

MR. GIGOT: A hunting incident--the vice president can defend himself, but a hunting incident is a little different than the FISA court issue and the NSA.

MS. DOWD: But it's part of same pattern.

MR. GIGOT: It is not--it's--how about a little human empathy? I mean, he shot his friend. He's--it's really one of these incidents where I think we can all stand back and say, "Let's have a debate about the FISA Courts. Let's have a big debate about the NSA wiretaps. Those are important issues." This is a very different kind of circumstance.

MS. DOWD: But then he shot his friend and blames his friend.


MS. MATALIN: Putting aside the delicious hypocrisy there, what a missed opportunity. What if Mrs. Clinton had come out and said, "Do you know, I'm not a hunter, but lived in Arkansas and I understand this is an accident. These sorts of accidents are not infrequent. I don't agree with Dick Cheney on many things, as you know, but I do know Lynn and Dick Cheney and I have to believe like any human being that he must be feeling awful right now for shooting his friend. And most of all, I don't know Harry Whittington, but there's a man lying in a hospital bed and I think we should all pass our thoughts and prayers along to him. Now, I'd like to talk about the serious business of this nation, things that I do not agree with the vice president on." Well, Maureen Dowd, the diva of the smart set would be swooning. Moms across the country would be saying, "Hey, she thinks like me. That's right. A guy shoots his friend. That's not relative to my life. Let's move on to serious issues." No, that was a politically stupid thing to do, beside the delicious and just absurd hypocrisy of the forthcomingness of an administration.

Shall we discuss the hypocrisy of Mary Matalin talking about a president making a mistake and how we should just move on to serious issues? Remember, she represents the people who spent eight years hounding Bill Clinton over a 24-year-old land deal in which he lost money, then tried to nail him on a blowjob that had nothing to do with the original case. Funny how the business of the American people wasn't important back then, but it is now. Oh yes, it's because Dick Cheney is a Republican, and this involved shooting a 78-year-old man in the face, not receiving a sexual favor. At least as far as we know; of course there IS this little business about the female ambassador to Switzerland and how Lynne Cheney has been curiously absent from this whole foofarah -- the same Lynne Cheney who is reportedly not happy with her husband's "friendship" with the aforementioned ambassador.


MS. DOWD: But I think reporters would have had a lot of empathy for the vice president if he hadn't sent people out for four days to blame the victim. I mean, you know, I went hunting with Reagan and Bush Sr. and I've been on all these Republican hunting trips, and--but I've learned a lot about hunting this week. And the thing I've learned is that the shooter bears total responsibility for where everyone in the party is before he shoots, and they shoot abreast, not while someone's fetching a duck. So for him to send all these people out to blame this guy for so many days was not appropriate.

MR. GREGORY: I just wonder what Mary Matalin and others would have said if Vice President Gore had accidentally shot someone with similar facts and the press corps was pressing hard for answers and if Mary or others wouldn't think we would press just as hard for answers in that circumstance with this kind of story, I think that's mistaken.

Then MoDo gets in a good zinger, and Mary Matalin's hypocrisy causes my head to explode:

MS. DOWD: Well, I do think, you know, I appreciate the vice president's attempts to put on a sweet pink tie and, you know, to tell Wyoming about, you know, his lust as a newlywed. But I think Mary had a very difficult job humanizing Dick Cheney, because I don't think he has given us much chance to see him as a human being.

MR. RUSSERT: David Gregory:

MR. GREGORY: I think it's important to always try to turn the temperature down, as Mary suggests, but I do think there's a tension between the White House press corps and the administration, and I don't think that that should be demonized as a political disagreement. It's, in some ways, healthy, and it's a reality.

MR. RUSSERT: Paul Gigot:

MR. GIGOT: Well, I think--well, let's make some distinctions between stories that really matter, and we ought to fight and fight hard about it and—where secrecy is an issue, and let's distinguish between those and what are really human accidents.

MR. RUSSERT: Mary Matalin:

MS. MATALIN: You know, in the average American, in the parallel universe, it's not about us, it's not about President Bush, it's not about Dick Cheney, it's about them, and they would like us all to focus on what are we doing for them? Well, let's have debate on policies and let's distinguish political events of no consequence to the nation from those that are.

Funny how Mary Matalin and Paul Gigot didn't think that what the President was doing for the American people was what was important in the 1990's.

But of course, the rules are different for Republicans, right?

And if you think I've just been bitchy, I can't hold a candle to James Wolcott:

I only caught the bitter end of Meet the Press so I'm not sure what provoked Mary Matalin's pout-fest (I'm sure Arianna will issue a full forensics report later), but she made quite a petulant spectacle of herself, shaking her head from side to side in silent, lemon-puss disagreement whenever Maureen Dowd and David Gregory made mildly critical comments about Shotgun Cheney. (Another prominent deployer of The Disapproving Headshake is sister conservative Kate O'Beirne, who wields it to upstage other panelists and ensure herself additional face-time: after her reaction shot, the host invariably calls on her next to vocalize her mute dissent. "Kate, I noticed you nodding your head..."--as if anyone could not notice!) Even without the immature pouting and pissy expression, Matalin would have been a car wreck in repose: With a bad haircut topping a mistaken facelift and a ghastly floral pin that looked like spray-painted aluminum, she looked like the Beltway's Madwoman of Chaillot. Maybe defending the defensible is getting to her, and the acid reflux has gone to her brain.

And here's HuffPo, right on cue.
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