Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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February 10, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

FRANK RICH....I've never quite understood Frank Rich's popularity among liberals. He's always struck me as a guy who has an OK prose style but otherwise does little except regurgitate conventional lefty wisdom at far greater length than it deserves. And when it comes to the Clintons, he's completely unhinged. Check out today's column where he complains about Hillary's pre-election special on the Hallmark channel:

The campaign's other most potent form of currency remains its thick deck of race cards. This was all too apparent in the Hallmark show. In its carefully calibrated cross section of geographically and demographically diverse cast members — young, old, one gay man, one vet, two union members — African-Americans were reduced to also-rans. One black woman, the former TV correspondent Carole Simpson, was given the servile role of the meeting's nominal moderator, Ed McMahon to Mrs. Clinton's top banana.

So Hillary chooses a black woman to moderate the show and Rich insists that what she's really doing is putting her in a "servile role"? Jeebus. The guy's got a serious screw loose. And the rest of the column is no better, just a 1,500 word harangue of tired anti-Hillary screechiness. Andrew Sullivan probably loves it, but why would anyone else want to read this nonsense?

Kevin Drum 1:08 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (119)

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Because Kevin Drum pointed us too it? Rich tends to bring back tstuff I'd forgotten and does it in a concise interesting way Kevin.

Posted by: markg8 on February 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

his claims that blacks and hispanics in LA are close political allies seems dubious.

Posted by: Auto on February 10, 2008 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

As elitists, the CLintons view all races nad income groups inferior to their own. Note the way they destroyed Monica Lewisnky and killesd Vice Foster.

Posted by: egbert on February 10, 2008 at 1:17 PM | PERMALINK

Blacks helped elect Antonio Villagoraisa after James Hahn fired the black police commissioner (Bernard Parks). Their massive move to Villa is clearly what made him win the election (that he had lost four years earlier against the same Hahn).
Tensions are high on the ground but politically there is an alliance of sorts brewing.

Posted by: Benjamin on February 10, 2008 at 1:18 PM | PERMALINK

I have to admit I agreed with everything he said.

Posted by: seth on February 10, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

PS: I completely mispelled Antonio's name. My apologies.

Posted by: Benjamin on February 10, 2008 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

There is no one better at showing the connections between politics and popular culture than Frank Rich.

I thought his column today was dead on and particularly interesting given that no one that I could find had anything to say about Hillary's Hallmark event.

I get that he doesn't like the style of Hillary's politics--but a lot of liberals feel exactly the same way. I don't think this means he has a "serious screw loose."

A couple months ago, for example, I was eager to vote for Hillary, but her campaign -- Bill in particular, who continues to lie about Barack -- has disgusted me. If she wins the nomination, I don't know what I'll do. I probably just won't vote for a president. In this respect, Frank Rich's column have spoken to a lot people like me and have helped us better understand the predicament we have found ourselves in.

Posted by: john on February 10, 2008 at 1:21 PM | PERMALINK

Rich despises the Clintons, as do the majority of the pundits and reporters at the New York Times. I'm not sure why, but they seem to agree with the Washington D.C. "Villagers" who said of Bill Clinton "He wrecked the place, and it wasn't his place."

I'm an Obama supporter, but I can't stand this unreasonable Clinton hatred, and it would be sad if it seems that Obama has won just because the press has trashed Hillary so relentlessly. I think he can win on his own.

Posted by: DrFood on February 10, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

Operation Ignore Edwards?

I'm thinking it was Edwards that the Republicans feared. Conveniently, the Hillary/Barack show left Edwards completely out of the headlines.

Oh, well. If he couldn't figure a way back into the fray, maybe he deserved to lose.

Posted by: ferd on February 10, 2008 at 1:24 PM | PERMALINK

That blacks and Hispanics don't sometimes come together isn't what Rich was implying.

He was suggesting they're natural allies.

My sense is that it is more a marriage of convenience that must be continually reassembled. And that it works best (only?) at the top of the ticket.

It's the downticket races where Hispanics and blacks really compete against one another.

Posted by: Auto on February 10, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

DrFood Krugman has tried to derail Obama for months now.

Posted by: markg8 on February 10, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Whatever, Kevin. You are all for this after Paul Krugman's ruthless and horrendous assault on Barack Obama's policy positions and rhetoric in his months long "anti-Obama jihad" led you to vote for Obama.

You're not much different from your posters. You may not like the invective being so overt as they, but deep down you don't mind it as much as say, challenging Obama's positions and rhetoric and their potential detestation to progressivism. Why kid yourself? Seriously? You've been "Josh Marshalled" and its hard to hide it.

Posted by: gq on February 10, 2008 at 1:28 PM | PERMALINK

Hillary is all symbolism and focus-groups. Rich has it right here. Kevin, you have been known to be egregiously wrong occasionally. I think your diminution of Frank Rich is such an instance.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 1:31 PM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: Jon Corey on February 10, 2008 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

Fair enough, Auto.
I sort of concur actually. But sometimes they ally in local races. And they should be natural allies. And somehow they are often not.
In the end, the point made by Hillary's adviser was ... insulting and untrue and I think that's what Rich was saying.
And to be fair, even if it was true, it is offensive that it would be something the campaign would COUNT on to win.
You never saw Obama people going to the media talking about how they can win big among men because some people are turned off by her feminist persona. I am sure that plays into the results but it doesn't honor campaigns that they make that explicit point when trying to manager expectations among reporters. That's why all the pre-SC thing was offensive. Not because the Clintons are racist but because they were saying things with the clear intent to rouse those kinds of feelings to the surface more explicitly. There are dynamics campaigns cannot help but it is quite another thing to play those racist/sexist feelings among voters up.
Just sayin'

Posted by: Benjamin on February 10, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

IMHO Frank Rich is popular among Dems because he's good at writing hit pieces against Bush and other Republicans. It's a waste. Frank Rich is a sensitive and talented theatre reviewer. His political hit pieces are no better than anyone else's.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 10, 2008 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

Gotta pile on here, Kevin. I think Frank Rich absolutely nails it with that column. The Clintons and the godawful DLC crowd (Penn, Wolfson, McAuliffe) that runs their campaign are the most transparently self-serving and calculating politicians I've ever seen. They make Mitt Romney look genuine.

For a small but telling example, keep an eye on Hlllary the next time she is being introduced at a rally. She pretends to identify with a few people in the crowd, and flashes them a big smile and then points to them and gives a thumbs-up. I've been keeping an eye on this gimmick, and she does it every time. Totally bogus. I've seen auctioneers do a similar thing when they are pulling a phony bid out of the crowd. It's a hoot.

Posted by: global yokel on February 10, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

kev, buddy, where've you been? John Stewart roundly mocked the Hallmark event. He watched it. Rich watched it. Everyone else was watching the yes we can YouTube video.

It's time to concede the obvious: the Clintons have bungled their campaign and are being trounced by a better opponent.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Rich definitely has a thing against the Clintons, and is at once a Villager and a sort of 'purity troll'. In his book on Iraq, he blames both parties for the war with a superciliousness that David Broder would approve of. I generally like Rich's stuff, if he is a little long-winded, but to describe Carole Simpson's role as moderator as "servile" is far more racially charged and offensive than anything BIll or Hillary Clinton have said in these past few emotionally charged weeks.

Posted by: Jim on February 10, 2008 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Rich's column is racist and misogynist. Read Carole Simpson's resume below, and ask yourself whether she thought she was being "servile". Rich should apologize to her. Kevin is right, Rich has become "unhinged".

"Carole Simpson is anchor of "World News Tonight Sunday" and an Emmy Award-winning senior correspondent for ABC News. She reports most frequently on family and social issues for "World News Tonight With Peter Jennings." Her reports have also appeared on "20/20," "Nightline," and other ABC news broadcasts and specials. She is an occasional contributor to "This Week," and she has substituted for Peter Jennings on "World News Tonight." Ms. Simpson joined ABC News from NBC News in 1982.

During the 1992 Presidential campaign, Ms. Simpson was moderator of the second Presidential debate in Richmond, Virginia -- the first Presidential debate in history to have a town meeting format. She was one of the reporters on the critically acclaimed documentary, "Black and White America"; and she anchored three hour-long ABC News specials: "The Changing American Family," "Public Schools in Conflict" and "Sex and Violence in Media."

In 1990, Ms. Simpson was a member of the "Nightline" team in South Africa. She helped anchor ABC's live coverage of the release of Nelson Mandela from his 27-year imprisonment. While reporting on a victory celebration in Johannesburg, Ms. Simpson was injured during a brief melee between blacks and the South African police.

Ms. Simpson has also anchored, live, many major breaking news stories, such as the Persian Gulf War, the Tiananmen Square massacre, the fall of Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos, and the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings.

Ms. Simpson's first assignment for ABC News included coverage of then-Vice President George Bush. She accompanied him on domestic and foreign trips, and on his 1988 Presidential campaign.

At NBC News, she covered the U.S. Congress and hosted a women's public affairs program on Washington's NBC-owned station, WRC-TV.

Her television broadcasting career began in Chicago at the NBC owned and operated station, WMAQ-TV, where she was a reporter and weekend anchor. Prior to joining NBC News in 1974, she was a journalism instructor at Northwestern University's Medill School.

Ms. Simpson's other broadcasting experience includes serving as a commentator for WTTW, Chicago's public television station, as well as reporting and anchoring at WCFL radio and WBBM Radio, the city's all-news station. Earlier, she spent two years as journalism instructor and director of the information bureau at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama.

Ms. Simpson is a graduate of the University of Michigan with a B.A. in journalism. She did graduate work at the University of Iowa.

She has received numerous awards for her reporting on social issues, particularly those involving children and families, and for her efforts to improve opportunities for women and minorities in the broadcasting industry. In addition to an Emmy and a duPont-Columbia Award, Ms. Simpson has won the Milestone in Broadcasting award from the National Commission on Working Women, the Turner Broadcasting "Trumpet" Award for Scholastic Achievement, the Leonard Zeidenberg First Amendment Award from the Radio and Television News Director Foundation, the National Organization of Women Legislators National Media Award, was inducted into the University of Iowa Communications Hall of Fame, received the University of Missouri's distinguished journalist award, and a Star award from the American Women in Radio and Television. In 1992, she was named Journalist of the Year by the National Association of Black Journalists.

Currently, Ms. Simpson is chair of the ABC News Women's Advisory Board, Vice Chair of the International Women's Media Foundation, a member of the Board of Directors of the National Commission on Working Women, a member of the Board of Trustees of the Radio and Television News Directors Foundation (RTNDF), a member of the National Academy of Sciences' forum on the Future of Children and Families, and a member of the Board of the National Press Foundation.

She has established several college scholarships for women and minorities pursing careers in broadcast journalism, at the University of Michigan, and the Carole Simpson scholarship administered by the RTNDF.

Ms. Simpson and her husband, James Marshall, live in Maryland. They have a daughter, Mallika, and a son, Adam."

Posted by: Susan1234 on February 10, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Susan1234: Wow. Way to deflect valid criticism with concern troll faux outrage. Nobody is attacking Ms. Simpson. Doubtless she is a wonderful person and talented at her profession. Her presence on the Hallmark Channel? Callous manipulation by the Clinton campaign. Everything they do is measured for impact.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

From the linked article:

For a campaign that began with tightly monitored Web “chats” and then planted questions at its earlier town-hall meetings, a Bush-style pseudo-event like the Hallmark special is nothing new, of course. What’s remarkable is that instead of learning from these mistakes, Mrs. Clinton’s handlers keep doubling down.

I think he is criticizing her and her handlers campaign *tactics* more than Hillary or Hillary's policies, per se, Kevin, and I think he is correct. These sort of tactics aren't helping her campaign. I think it shows some desperation by the HRC campaign and that desperation is leading to tactics that is making things worse for her not better. I was planning on voting for Edwards all along, and then when he dropped out was clearly undecided between the two remaining candidates. The primary reason I pulled the lever for Obama had to do with the perception that her behavior is driven excessively by political expediency. In short, I feel I can trust her much less as a result.

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on February 10, 2008 at 2:03 PM | PERMALINK

The reason the left loves Rich is that in the darkest hour of the winter of our discontent, he wrote cogently and clearly assaults on the nefarious efforts of Bush and the Republican party to destroy all vestiges of our governing civic institutions.

He was one of the break waters.

That he points out similar strains he sees in Clinton, then is consistent with his earlier writings.

I don't see anyone taking exception to what he writes today.

From framed town hall meetings, fear mongering, race bating, to her inability to admit a mistake, to votes for war, to an unsettling sense that she's taking down names of those who have appossed her... Increasingly Hillary seems like the new W.

Rich sees this and seems disturbed enough by it to write about it.

On super Tuesday I couldn't decide between Hillary and Obama, so I went with my original choice, Edwards. Today that seems like a year ago. If I were to vote today, it would be Obama. Tomorrow, who knows? But Hillary's actions are very disturbing.

Posted by: Bubbles on February 10, 2008 at 2:07 PM | PERMALINK

Sparko, he is indeed attacking Ms Simpson by implying that she has no mind of her own, and was somehow duped and manipulated by the Clinton campaign into putting herself in this "servile" position.

Posted by: Susan1234 on February 10, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

And my outrage is not "faux" and I am not a troll.

Why do so many Obama supporters feel the need to accuse people who don't agree with them of being "trolls"?

Posted by: Susan1234 on February 10, 2008 at 2:11 PM | PERMALINK

I agreed with Rich about Hillary's town hall, which I watched with growing - and jaw-dropping - sadness. It seemed so overly-managed... an infomercial, not an AUTHENTIC town hall. I continue to feel good about both Democratic candidates and I agree that Hillary hatred is irrational. But Hillary's campaign tactics - like last week's ridiculous talking point: "Obama is the establishment candidate" - are extremely disappointing, even off-putting. I hope she finds some better footing, and fast.

Posted by: Victoria on February 10, 2008 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not a big Frank Rich fan, but he really connects the dots here. That the Clinton's played the race card up to South Carolina indisputable. Rich points out that since that didn't work they are trying to gin up a split between Latinos and blacks. He has me partly convinced, and if this is what the Clintons are doing they deserve all the scorn they've been receiving and much, much more.

Posted by: calling all toasters on February 10, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Simpson was used by the Clintons, her credentials aside. The event was a sham, or a semi-sham. To the extent HRC knows policy, it was a semi-sham. To the extent it was a genuine town hall meeting, well, I call sham.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Frank is just another good liberal with a weakness that's not so uncommon. He not very good at recognizing race cards.

He knows (correctly) that there has been, and continues to be, a huge amount of racial bias working against African Americans. But his paranoia gets the best of him sometimes. He perceives it even when it's not there.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I'll explain why Rich is popular, if you'll explain why Washington Monthly gives Mickey Kaus a platform from which to do much the same thing.

Posted by: bobb on February 10, 2008 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Speaking as a long-time New Yorker, and sometime worker in the theatre biz, I think ex-liberal has got it reversed here:
Rich's theatre reviews often read like self-aggrandizing hit pieces, but generally his political criticism finds its target. He does seem to suffer a bit from CDS, though can you really find a lot to value in Clinton's Hallmark special? Rich's description of the moderator's role as "nominal" carries his conclusion of its servile character. And don't miss the his larger point that the Clinton team does seem ready to jettison their long-standing appeal to the black demographic in favor of crypto-racist language, which is not mitigated by being rooted in expedience rather than real feeling.

Posted by: quihana on February 10, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

To say that Simpson was "used" is insulting. If you think the town hall was a sham as a town hall because it was artificial and micro-managed, that is a legitimate criticism.

But I guess you would then have to include Simpson in that criticism.

Obama has also played the race card (or allowed his campaign to play the race card) when it suited him.

As for "ginning up a dispute between Latinos and blacks" I have seen a number of Obama supporters accuse Latinos who voted for Clinton of being racist.

In fact, the whole issue of race came up first after the New Hampshire primary when a number of commentators were musing about whether there had been a "Bradley effect" because the voting came our so differently from the polling.

This infighting among Democrats who will need to be on the same side against McCain is sickening, sad and self-destructive.

Posted by: Susan1234 on February 10, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Doubtless, I should do a little more reflective thinking and polishing before proposing this, but I'll throw it out there.

I propose a new law. Or would it be a corollary of Godwin’s Law. I don’t know.


It is possible to twist any word, phrase, sentence or scenario into a racial slur. Once this occurs, any productive debate is over.

Call it Rove’s law. Or Atwater’s. I don’t even know what to call it. Call it irritating.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

If you want to see what most people think about the Rich column, go to the NYTimes and the comments section there concerning this abomination. It's running more than 3:1 against Rich, unlike the Obamabots here.

Posted by: Ruth Kaplan on February 10, 2008 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

If using the word servile to describe a black woman as accomplished as Carol Simpson isn't code and racist language I don't know what is. We are constantly reminded by inference, supposition, telepathic means that Bill Clinton played the race card in South Carolina. Yet I have seen more anipulation and casual racism from the television media in covering the alleged Jesse Jackson reference than anything said by Bill Clinton.

Posted by: aline on February 10, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

S1234 (Who I don't recall ever seeing on this site before): Clinton's campaign strategists wanted to convey certain subtle messages in their Hallmark fiasco. Ms Simpson should have demurred. It will not be known as one of the great moments in broadcast history. Hillary is a brand. And that brand is being damaged by its insulting commercials.
She better find something genuine, soon. Someone who actually chose to continue to live in Illinois when mounting a national campaign has won my vote.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

I agree with Kevin's comments. I am a strong supporter of Hillary Clinton; I fit her "demographic" and admire her command of the important political issues of the day.

Unfortunately, I don't think she is going to make it. The unending and uncalled-for criticism of Mrs. Clinton from various political columnists and pundits (Maureen Dowd, Frank Rich, Richard Cohen being this week's examplars), combined with the momentum that Mr. Obama is gaining from a string of caucus wins, will probably have a negative effect on Clinton's vote counts in the Ohio and Texas primaries, and Mr. Obama will eke out a winning number of delegates before the convention. While I'll be disappointed, I do think it will increase the chance that the Democratic party will unite in the extremely important effort to beat the Republicans in November, and that's what counts.

I have been doing my due diligence on Mr. Obama. I admire his life choices, and am very impressed by the political skills he is demonstrating in this campaign. But he is not qualititatively different from any other politician. From what I read, he appears to be an artful compromiser; those political types (Reagan and Bill Clinton come to mind) do get a lot done, but can be seen by their partisan supporters as "giving away the store". Do his current backers realize this?

I hope that Mr. Obama and his organization are fully prepared for the campaign to defeat the Republican nominee. He'll get my vote, of course - but he had better be the best candidate to go all the way!

Posted by: Mary on February 10, 2008 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

And I am getting pissed here--I am beginning to sense Clintonian counter-blogging dirt-baggery here. Winning friends and influencing people one planted questioner or "sexist, racist code speak bringer-upper" concern troll at a time. Get thee back to the DLC. Those of you who mentioned outrage over David Schuster was pure manipulation were right. Give yourselves a pat on the back. This is getting ridiculous.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Low on juice, so this will be short: susan1234, it's increasingly clear that racism and misogyny and unhinged are in the eye of the eye of the beholder. This beholder sees you as part of an outrage machine that produces more noise than votes.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK


Posted by: mhr on February 10, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Right-on Kevin.

Even those who have been crying racism since Iowa had been drying up because there simply wasn't any "there" there.

Hillary must have taken several hundred hits for every one Barack has ever taken. Where was Frank Rich to the defense on those occasions?

Oh. A woman. Of course.

Now Frank Rich twists facts and interpretations into pretzels to fit his inflammatory ad-hominem argument.

Rich can be very funny and very wise, but his humorlessrant here resembles a Hillary hate diary on Kos.

A likely candidate for the NY Times ombudsman.

Posted by: Fast Pete on February 10, 2008 at 3:13 PM | PERMALINK

I won't comment on Rich too much but I watched the Hallmark Town Hall and I admit to being creeped out by Carole Simpson. She really did portray an Ed McMahon quality. And before anyone gets all offended, just watch it. It was weirdly sycophantic. I wouldn't have used the word "servile though.

And when the show cut off in the middle of a question and they put on an 9 year old made for TV movie, I was cobsmacked. Why on earth would her campaign team go to all the trouble to put this thing on the air and then allow it to be cut off in this way. It seemed idiotic.

Also, ultimately I think it was better as a way to rally her already committed troops to the polls. Nobody who was on the fence would have been swayed by that pep rally. I think the money would have been better spent trying to wrest voters away from her opponent.

Posted by: swarty on February 10, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

FastPete Counter-blogger: I'll bite. What in particular was Rich wrong about?

Crying about Hillary being called a fake requires you to prove a positive. She is being called out--not picked on. And she is not being called out because she is a woman. It is because she has surrounded herself with nitwit campaign strategists.

I say again: how many hours of garnished minimum wages are in a $5,000,000 personal check from Hillary Clinton?

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about the Caroyln whoever bit, which I didn't even notice when I read Rich's column, but I think Rich is right, Kevin, and you're wrong. He's not calling for Hilary's deportation - he's just pointing out that she's run a shallow, tacky, fake-looking campaign. He's right. She's a poor politician. Get over it.

Posted by: glasnost on February 10, 2008 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

You cannot have read that entire section of his piece and honestly come away with that misinterpretation of his point. You're letting your own biases get in your eyes.

Posted by: YoureAnotherOne on February 10, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

My must reads on the internet tend to be Kevin Drum, Frank Rich and Glenn Greenwald.

I am curious what Glen Greenwald's read on this will be.

Not having watched the Hallmark moment, and from the sound of it, the only reason to watch it is to see whether Rich was correct, I will give Rich the benefit of the doubt.

Fence sitter in Oregon.


Posted by: Mardg on February 10, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

Re: Paul Krugman and his arguments with Obama--that is absolutely correct. Krugman often takes a different path than his colleagues, and on the points of his arguments with Obama, I agree with Krugman. A universal health care plan won't work unless it is truly universal--you can't leave openings and loopholes for people to try to game the system.

Still, on the larger topic of how Rich, Dowd, Herbert and others in the opinion section and in the reporting staff go after the Clintons in particular and major Democrats in general, I do not give up my point. Rich occasionally skewers Bush, which has led to worship from lefties, but he just as often makes half-assed criticisms of Democrats. I mean, he was still mocking Al Gore after he saw An Inconvenient Truth!

Dowd is unhinged. I recall her ridiculous attacks on Howard Dean and his wife (who has a job! and doesn't want to stop working to campaign! and doesn't wear makeup!!) and she's currently taken to calling Obama "Obambi" and comparing him to Hollywood starlets with anorexia.

If you don't like Hillary, then you can enjoy reading a take-down, but try to look at things from a distance. Just try to remember that by and large, these folks at the NYT (and the Washington Post, and MSNBC, etc) are not friends of the progressive movement. They are not thoughtful, they are not wise, they are hardly worth reading. (I put Paul Krugman in a different category.)

They are obsessed with petty surface issues and completely enthralled by their own narratives, whether or not they have any basis in fact. (John McCain, straight talking maverick. Hillary Clinton, duplicitous insincere triangulator. Al Gore, tedious sanctimonious exaggerator. George Bush, likable compassionate conservative. O.K., they're pretty much given up on that. Now we've got Huckabee, likable compassionate conservative, although one of the beneficiaries of his compassion went on to rape and murder two innocent women.) I encourage you to look for better sources of information and analysis.

Posted by: DrFood on February 10, 2008 at 4:04 PM | PERMALINK

swarty: "I won't comment on Rich too much but I watched the Hallmark Town Hall and I admit to being creeped out by Carole Simpson. She really did portray an Ed McMahon quality. And before anyone gets all offended, just watch it."

Watch it here:


Posted by: Michael Robinson on February 10, 2008 at 4:17 PM | PERMALINK

For those of you praising Frank Rich have you forgotten his merciless, juvenile trashing of Al Gore in 2000? He and Maureen Dowd are two peas in a pod. They are cynical pessimists that make their money trashing everyone. They both need to get some counseling and medication and stop spewing their adolescent venom at the rest of the world. The rest of us need to stop reading their garbage.

Posted by: BernieO on February 10, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

i took 6 friends to see frank rich speak in berkeley, paid their way at zellerbach, cuz i was such a fan of his. bought all his books, read him religiously for the last 8 yrs i always thought he was right on about bush cheney. today- after reading this creepy op-ed i canceled my nyt subscription. i'm going to spend $650 on something else. maybe i'll send some hillary's way.

Posted by: carol on February 10, 2008 at 4:30 PM | PERMALINK

I read through the comment thread at Rich's NYT site and the reviews of his column really stink.

Rich and Down hate Clinton because .... they hate her. No reason given, just a lot of psychobabble nonsense of how controlling she is.

Contrast that with Krugman's columns on Obama. Thay are all fact-based, all based on what he actually said, not some clairvoyant reading of what he thinks.

Krugman had it right - today's pundits are really theater critic-wannabes. In Rich's case, he should go back to his old post, and open a slot for, I don't know, maybe Digby?

Posted by: ESaund on February 10, 2008 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

He's not calling for Hilary's deportation - he's just pointing out that she's run a shallow, tacky, fake-looking campaign. He's right. She's a poor politician.

Two words:


Posted by: DrBB on February 10, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

No, seriously.

Watch it. Watch the whole thing.

Of the injuries Rich has inflicted on Clinton in this column, probably the worst of all is exposing the Hallmark special itself to wider viewership.

Posted by: Michael Robinson on February 10, 2008 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

I also found his piece to be very biased, it was disappointing. The person really playing the race card was Rich, who did his best to fan the flames of this swift-boatian line of attack on the Clintons. Sadly, apparently this kind of stuff seems to work; it got even you, Kevin, to become an Obama supporter, after all, didn't it? Wasn't it Bill's supposedly racist comments about Obama and Jesse Jackson that sent you over the edge? A commenter on TPM said that the video clip on the internet leaves out the reporter's previous questions, which apparently explain why Bill started talking about Jackson in comparison to Obama. I wouldn't be surprised, the other charges of racism against the Clintons have been crap, too. I haven't seen footage of previous questions pop up on the internet to confirm it, though. Anyway, I do think Rich is usually pretty good, today was a big disappointment however.

Posted by: DanM on February 10, 2008 at 5:29 PM | PERMALINK

i've been a fan of Rich for years especially when he was the columnist in the Arts & Leisure section, but his anti-Hillary screeds really aren't that well written. Will agree with you on this column & any other hillary bashing ones, but overall have viewed him as the best columnist in america - his Bush polemics have usually been very well researched.

Posted by: tarylcabot on February 10, 2008 at 5:50 PM | PERMALINK

Anyone who has a shred of respect for Rich's opinions should go look at what Somerby has written at the Daily Howler. Go over there and run a search using the term "Frank Rich". Or start here: http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh060906.shtml

Posted by: sj on February 10, 2008 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich is one of the few op-editorialists who seem to "get it" time after time. He's the best because he can articulate the complex, illusive world of politics, from a position of ethical clarity. If it seems he puts the Clintons in his sites often, I bet its because Bill and Hillary need a good ass kicking. The evidence of the eyes goes a long way as Mailer used to write.Political Animal is missing something if it thinks Rich is so far off track. Get with it Kevin.

Posted by: Gregg on February 10, 2008 at 6:10 PM | PERMALINK

I just read the Frank Rich article. Boy, how embarrassing is that wild amalgam of racial accusations. Kevin can use the word unhinged, I’ll just settle for stupid. He’s lost his mind.
For example, Rich wrote:

It was a lie, and a bigoted lie at that, given that it branded Hispanics, a group as heterogeneous as any other, as monolithic racists.

And what was he referring to? A pollster that said Hispanic voters have not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates. Does Rich not realize that pollsters are paid to give candidates information that can help them? Does he think Obama’s pollsters have told him something different? Oh… I get it! He does not realize it’s true!

I’ll tell you what, Mr. Rich, where I come from White people have not shown a willingness to support black candidates. Where I come from, the same is true for Hispanic people. I’ve actually worked among them, gone to church with them, socialized with them, yes, bunches of them from all over Central and South America. Am I a racist for acknowledging that?

What would be incorrect would be for me to ascribe to all individual Hispanics the characteristics of the group as a whole. That’s what statisticians call the ecological fallacy. That’s also what you can call prejudice, as well as ascribing to individuals characteristics that do not apply the group as a whole. You, Mr. Rich, don’t know what prejudice is. It’s a predetermined attitude that is…WRONG!

You wouldn’t make it as a pollster, Mr. Rich. Candidates need information they can act upon.

The problem is that Rich does not realize that Hispanic voters are like all other categories that you could possibly mention or define. They tend to favor members of their own group first, and after that, you never know. But if you poll enough of them, you just may get an idea. And then there’s always those wonderful individuals who are pretty damn lacking in prejudice.

Posted by: little ole jim on February 10, 2008 at 6:13 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, Frank Rich has a New Yorkers sense of pharsing, painting a word picture of scenes almost like a photojournalist filming a Woody Allen fimnoir.
Snarky and smart assed at the same time. Hey I was born in NY, Educated in NY, and am a complete Political junkie. Frank Rich was a great Critic, he takes his good taste and finely honed observations to a new level in his political discourse. No Toto your not in Kansas when you read Frank Rich.

Posted by: rita forsyth on February 10, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK

It'll remain open season on Hillary Clinton until Barck Obama becomes the established front-runner, and then the media snarks and insinuating punditry will come down upon his head fast and furious, until he's rendered just another Chicago pol on the make. Meanwhile, John McCain will become the media's candidate for political canonization.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 10, 2008 at 6:41 PM | PERMALINK

Sure, Frank Rich went over the top at a few spots in his article, but most of it is right on target. Rich took a sharp razor to the underbelly of the Clinton machine and exposed the entrails for all to see. It's not a pretty sight.

Posted by: Elliott on February 10, 2008 at 6:42 PM | PERMALINK

Gregg: "... I bet its because Bill and Hillary need a good ass kicking."

And you really need to find yours, before anyone can offer to do the same.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on February 10, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich is the man! Compared to rest of the Times op ed lineup--he rules. Friedman, Kristolnacht are deluded neo-cons. Brooks, Dowd- fashionistas, Herbert and whatever are, like so whatever!

Anyhow, sensibly people don't read the Times, or maybe they do but sensible people are not in charge of anything.

Anywho, if you got the time see the will.i.am obama video:

It's worth a trip--much better than reading the Times (which is dwindling in size right before my eyes and will soon disappear from the type on paper world)

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 10, 2008 at 6:45 PM | PERMALINK

Thank you Kevin. Rich is weird.

He appeared on Oprah for the James Frey pile-on.
He defended Imus as "not a bigot". OK fine, maybe Imus is not a bigot. But it's not a violation of free speech for MSNBC to fire him.

If he critiques Hillary's townhall from a theater point of view, can't he have a little more fun with it? That would knock her down a peg all the same.


Posted by: AF on February 10, 2008 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

The venom expressed by a number of Obama supporters on this blog is disturbing - witness "Sparko". Obama may be a uniter - let's wait and see how he does against the right wing hate machine - but too many of his supporters seem determined to fracture Democratic momentum. I mean, for God's sake, sentiments like: "I shan't vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination?" Didn't we leave that sort of silliness back in the school yard?

Posted by: jim on February 10, 2008 at 6:54 PM | PERMALINK

You seem to have focused on one word, servile, and ignored the rest of the article.

She's run a poor campaign, from start to finish, and has also made serious missteps.

I don't hate Hillary, but I think he was dead on.

Posted by: Barbara on February 10, 2008 at 7:00 PM | PERMALINK

And did you notice Senator Clinton was wearing dark eyeliner, and we all know what =that= means.

It makes the heart sing when a covey of middle-aged white columnists and a covery of middle-aged white TV talking heads snuffle out the Clinton racism, and explain it all to us dimwits. Just like those snorting pigs rooting around for fungus. Except the pigs don't endlessly lecture us.


Posted by: mettanozze on February 10, 2008 at 7:04 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a tip.

Any post that contains the phrase, 'I don't hate Hillary, but...' should be given the same credence as, 'The check is in the mail' or 'The dog ate my homework' or 'We don't torture.'

Posted by: Menelek on February 10, 2008 at 7:09 PM | PERMALINK

And Rich also hammered Al Gore in the 2000 election. A comment at NYTimes.com:

"Unbelievable. Frank Rich has the temerity to accuse Hillary Clinton of "nastiness." The man who helped G. Bush into the White House via his ceaseless attacks - often pulled from thin air - on Al Gore is now clearly determined to prevent a Clinton presidency at any cost, even if it means putting John McCain into office."



Posted by: AF on February 10, 2008 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, I don't hate Hillary...at ALL!

I happen to think she's a strong, tenacious campaigner. If Obama wins she'll have been the best thing for him.

Yes! I voted for her in CA and harbor no regrets!

Posted by: AF on February 10, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, i love you [and the cats] but for the most part this column nails all the bad things about the Clinton campaign.

Posted by: dj spellchecka` on February 10, 2008 at 7:14 PM | PERMALINK

"For those of you praising Frank Rich have you forgotten his merciless, juvenile trashing of Al Gore in 2000?"

Of course they have or they were too stupid to figure it out in the first place. Rich and his ilk are responsible for Bush's election and thus they have blood on their hands.

Posted by: Mutaman on February 10, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Rich is a perpetual disappointment: he looks and sounds as if he might have something interesting to say, then brings nothing to the table. I suspect he and Maureen Dowd read their anti-Hillary columns aloud to one another and giggle hysterically. If you have a strong stomach, go back and read his 2000 columns. As far as Frank Rich was concerned, there was nothing to chose between Bush and Gore; Al Gore was such a boring know-it-all!

Posted by: Paul Gottlieb on February 10, 2008 at 7:37 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich is Maureen Dowd in pants....no wait, Frank Rich is Maureen Dowd with a dick....no wait Frank Rich is one of the Heathers:Peggy Noonan, Maureen Dowd, Gail Collins, Anne Kornblut, Chris Matthews, und so weiter

Here his comment section and here is Bob Somerby's reporting on this NY Times joke .

Now wonder the 'bamabot are ecstatic: they think they've found a new friend. Just wait until after the convention and all these people show their slant for McCain and smear Obama in the same manner.

Posted by: Mike on February 10, 2008 at 7:39 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich is one of the few op-editorialists who seem to "get it" time after time.

Posted by: Gregg


If you don't get Frank Rich, you need to get a fucking brain transplant.

Posted by: Econobuzz on February 10, 2008 at 7:54 PM | PERMALINK

I have to agree. I became an enthusiastic reader of Rich's columns about 4 years ago because he was constantly eviscerating Bush with strong, fact-filled pieces in a cut and slash writing style. But now he's using the same cutting attack style against a Democrat who is running against his choice for the nomination, and who frankly does not differ too much on the issues. It is unhinged, and shows a side to Frank Rich that is disappointing.

Posted by: Bob Carmody on February 10, 2008 at 8:04 PM | PERMALINK


The thing is, no one columnist is god. No blogger is. They can be by turns consistent voices over the long run, or courageous when times call, or boneheaded depending on the day and the subject and what they had for lunch.

Witness the great man himself, Kevin Drum, who was wrong on the war. And Bob Somerby, who lost it when Rachel Maddow didn't toe his line. Krugman too sometimes falters.

And witness our own once-admirable franklyO--in the humble commenters class--O (frankly) how the mighty have fallen!

Frank Rich may have earned Somerby's derision for his treatment of Gore lo these many years ago, but Rich has become a reliable voice against the Bush administration. I read his op-ed this morning and thought it was one of his best. Somerby has issues with him. So what? We can read Rich for ourselves and make up our own minds. Links to Somerby won't fix us.

And Kevin's refutation was lame. Rich writes loooong op-eds. Kevin selected one word ("servile") and went ballistic, writing at the end: "Andrew Sullivan probably loves [Rich], but why would anyone else want to read this nonsense?"

Answer: Because Rich documented Hallmark/Clintonian political theater at its nadir.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Rich is far better off writing political stuff than f*cking up the drama desk. Supposedly that was his first choice anyway but the vacancy was elsewhere. Brooks Atkinson he wasn't--he's best noted for his animosity against Arthur Miller. Maybe he's got a Marilyn shrine somewhere.

Posted by: Steve Paradis on February 10, 2008 at 8:09 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich and Josh Marshall drank the same piss water.

Posted by: pac on February 10, 2008 at 8:12 PM | PERMALINK

As per the new usual around these comment sections, we have 1) the out-and-out Republican trolls, who come out of mommy's basement to attack anything to do with the Clintons 2) the concern trolls who come out of mommy's basement to pretend to be Democrats in order to attack the Clintons and 3) the Obamabots who increasingly creep me out by coming out of mommy's basement to buy into every tired, dishonest, discredited Rovian attack meme to proclaim "Everything Hillary does is dishonest!". The politics of personal destruction is alive and well in the Obama netroots. Thank God your candidate is a better person than the Obama looney fringe.

Now, loonies (and you know who you are!), here's your homework assignment: please provide a quotation of racist statements made by Bill or Hillary Clinton. I've left you space (blank as your minds) below.

Posted by: solar on February 10, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

I don't know about a homework assignment (the matter of the Clintons' use of race in the race is moot now) but I would like to address some of your other remarks.

Alas, I don't have magical powers that allow me to peer into anyone's mommy's basement. I assure you I write mostly from a sunny second floor.

But I can tell when commenters are abusive, or waste my time, or argue in bad faith, or caricature another's valid, if caustic, argument.

To me at this point, it seems like sweet validation that Obama is emerging as the victor. Imminent defeat is reducing Clinton's supporters to this level of discourse.

Posted by: paxr55 on February 10, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

I voted for Clinton because I respect her and think she'll make a good president. I like Obama too and could have just have easily voted for him, but his kool aid drinking followers are rally starting to turn me off. Its bad enough that they use jerks like Rich and the NBC crew to trash the opposition, but this "race card" crap is really low. I'm beginning to wonder if there's any difference between the people who post here and the right wingers we've been fighting for the last eight years.

Posted by: Pete B on February 10, 2008 at 8:31 PM | PERMALINK

Ok, a language note inspired by multiple comments in this thread.

Don't use "concern troll" unless you know what it means. The phrase has been slapped on a few people here who were not purporting to express concern over self-inflicted harm allegedly done by the Hillary or Obama campaigns.

"Concern troll" was a great phrase in 2002. Now it's just a phrase used by people who think it will work for them because it has worked for so many other people so many times before.

Posted by: kyle on February 10, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Solar wins the competition for strung together straw men. Hillary is extremely unpopular with many democrats. The sooner she leaves the scene the better. My family and friends are 9-1 against Hillary, and the one-hold-out is a middle aged woman with no real knowledge of the issues who wants a woman no matter what. I can't support these dynastic disasters any more. Sorry.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 8:37 PM | PERMALINK

Well-said, Pete B. The antagonism of so many Obama supporters is disheartening. I like Frank Rich-a lot-but his anti-Hillary screed is making my head hurt.

Posted by: Susan on February 10, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Rich is a venomous and unfair critic of various people, mostly republican. He now is using the same unfair approach against Hillary that he has used for years against others. Of course, he weaves some truths into his criticism, which is the hallmark of an effective smear artist. In this case, his most accurate, and serious, charge is that the Clintons played the race card - there is no other way to interpret Clinton's comment about Jesse Jackson winning South Carolina twice. Clinton's old buddy Dick Morris accurately predicted/recognized that the Clintons would use race. But no one needs Rich to recognize that and, overall, the liberals, the political process and the country, would be better off without Rich in a prestigious position. His personal hostility toward Hillary is hard to fathom.

His pitch about Hispanics supporting blacks is largely bogus. Anyone who is honest will acknowledge that there is an unfortunate animus between blacks and hispanics in this country. It likely will get worse and, ultimately, it may divide them in terms of their political support. It is a problem inherent in identity politics. If an ethnic group votes together for identity political reasons, then a battle between whites, blacks and hispanics (or two of the three) is inevitable at some point in time. 80 to 90% of blacks supporting Obama is understandable, but unfortunate; so is 80 to 90% of blacks voting democrat. I am not sure that the presumption of heavy black and hispanic support for democrats into the extended future is accurate. In the short term, it would take an Obama type politician on the republican side to change things. But in the longer term, it may happen both naturally and as the result of identity politics causing conflict. I don't know that the democrats can be criticized too much for harvesting votes through identity politics, or that republicans are not without blame for their harvesting of white southern votes, but it is another unfortunate consequence of the horrors of slavery in this country. An optimist would say that if the republicans are smart enough to develop outstanding black and hispanic candidates, we might be able to make some real progress in putting the problem behind us. But they have not done a good job yet.

Posted by: brian on February 10, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

And Sparko reports on the all-important Sparko-family-and-friends caucus.

Posted by: kyle on February 10, 2008 at 8:39 PM | PERMALINK

Define concern troll, Kyle. I believe it means people who feign interest or concern while dissembling about opponents of their true beliefs. I have seen a lot of aliases today from Clintonville--never seen here before. And they seemed to be concerned about "labels" and "discourse." While eviscerating Obama and his supporters. Kool-aid. Cult. Servile. This type of crap has stirred me up. If it were any other candidate but Hillary, I would not care. But Hell, she divides even democrats. Yow. We could not do worse.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 8:43 PM | PERMALINK


How convenient for you that you apparently forgot to append the final two sentences of Mr. Rich's paragraph that you quoted:
"Scattered black faces could be seen in the audience. But in the entire televised hour, there was not a single African-American questioner, whether to toss a softball or ask about the Clintons’ own recent misadventures in racial politics."

Sentences which make his point, i.e. evidence for what he opined.

Blood suger a little low or something?

Posted by: CB on February 10, 2008 at 8:50 PM | PERMALINK

And the Kyle "pronouncements" carry much gravitas? My family and friends have been loyal democrats over generations. Hillary's strategies and campaign have really raised my ire. Starting with kind strangers such as yourself, and ending on the Hallmark Channel looking for all the world like Bush. A freaking embarrassment.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 8:52 PM | PERMALINK


Try your favorite OTC analgesic for the headache. It's natural to get such a reaction when tightly held delusions run up against reality. HRC will stop at nothing to get the nomination, period. Every week there's something new, now it's trying to make MI and FL count ... for her, naturally. The press is falling for the "oh, my long lost friend" look she gives at rallies now ..., what next?

Seriously, I was thrilled that she was running this year, but the shine wore off very quickly when the Clinton machine started with the oh-so-90s style politicking again. I guess it's all they know and it worked a couple times before, so why not now?

Posted by: CB on February 10, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

"My family and friends have been loyal democrats over generations."

That may well be, Sparko. However, nobody here has questioned your mother's politics. Speaking for myself, your repeated use of long-since-discredited Republican talking points to trash Hillary Clinton leaves me kind of wondering about you, personally ...

Posted by: Democrats unite! You have nothing to lose but your GOP chains! on February 10, 2008 at 9:10 PM | PERMALINK

Rich and several comments illustrate the silliness of identity politics. We are supposed to judge Hillary by looking at the skin color of the persons asking questions? How sad is that?

If Rich actually had evidence that Hillary purposely exclused black persons from asking questions, he would have a point. But, of course, he has no such evidence and didn't seem to think it was important enough to investigate.

Posted by: brian on February 10, 2008 at 9:11 PM | PERMALINK

GOP talking points, huh? A little projection there, huh? God, you must really read this site religiously. I think my 10-point indictment for Bush's impeachment was pretty good. But then, I didn't have Hillary's blessing on that post either.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

"Frank Rich's popularity among lefties"? ARE YOU N-U-U-T-S??!! Don't all of the liberal-minded blogs excoriate his stupidity? He makes a few decent, watered-down complaints about Bush malfeasance, and these get some attention, yes? And then he writes all of this other David Broder-style crap that is just stupid, stupid, stupid.

Why would you even speak about "Frank Rich's popularity among lefties"? That just sounds like the sort of glib, inside-the-beltway crap regularly ejected from the mouths of people like Peggy Noonan, Maureen Dowd, and Andrea Mitchell. Lazy, lazy, lazy, and just plain dumb.

Posted by: Anon on February 10, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Kyle, I'm certain there's no phrase in the English language that you have better insight into than I. Concern troll, helpfully defined above, is exactly what I meant, and fits precsiely with the posting style of some commenters. For a further helpful addendum to the definition, you could say these are Republicans who are too dishonest and cowardly to identify themselves as such.

Sparko polled like-minded imaginary friends and family and discovered that he agrees with himself! No wonder the polls are often inaccurate.

Posted by: solar on February 10, 2008 at 9:24 PM | PERMALINK

Solar: I agree with you most times, but on Hillary, not so much. I think she would is the embodiment of "Polarization." My ambit of democrats, save one, uniformly intensely dislike her. Your mileage may vary. Would like to hear why she isn't polarizing, or causing her fans to be smarmy asshats.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 9:28 PM | PERMALINK

I mean, for God's sake, sentiments like: "I shan't vote for Hillary if she gets the nomination?"

If Hillary gets the nomination, then decide whether to vote for her based on whether you think she'd be a good president.

The same for Obama. If he gets the nomination and you think he'd be a bad president, why would you vote for him? Just because he's a Democrat?

Posted by: bobb on February 10, 2008 at 9:47 PM | PERMALINK

I am voting for Hillary because I have a daughter.

Posted by: elmo on February 10, 2008 at 9:52 PM | PERMALINK

Sparko, national polls show about half of the Democrats polled support one or the other of our major candidates. Popular vote so far is split about 50-50. Delegates so far are split about 50-50. I think it's a good bet that many Democrats oppose either candidate. Which doesn't make either side is wrong or right, superior or inferior. My objection is to language from some Obama supporters that proclaims infallibility and denounces any other views as stupid and evil. This language is no different than what the Republicans have used since the early 90s. (Oh, I object to the telepathy argument, too- "Hillary doesn't have any feelings, her intentions are bad, everything she does is false, she only does that because she thinks..." ad nauseum. If you can't argue a person's words, but have to claim secret knowledge of their thoughts- and then argue with the secret thoughts-, you probably should check with your local mental health professional.)

Posted by: solar on February 10, 2008 at 9:53 PM | PERMALINK

Solar: I apologize for my own bitter opposition to Hillary, which did seem rather like me channeling John Brown. I do blame her for letting her message to cause her natural constituents to get extremely fearful of her possible success. The Hallmark crap (and we have been living with fake townhalls since 2000) sent me over the barbed wire.
Hillary did not fire her campaign staff soon enough. But at least she is making some amends tonight. Fangs withdrawn.

Posted by: Sparko on February 10, 2008 at 10:03 PM | PERMALINK

But, but, but what about what WHEN it comes to Frank Rich and what he said about how, "Bush thinks you're stupid"?

When it comes to Frank Rich, he has ALWAYS, ALWAYS been spot on.

BUT when it comes to Kevin Drum, it's anything big partisan buddy, Josh Marshall says, and ANY kiss-ass BS that feed Kevin's career. It's peak oil BULLSHIT over an over an over again.

When it comes to holding a candle, Kevin doesn't know shit, and that is a fact in issue. When it comes to FRANK RICH, Kevin doesn't know shit, so please don't even try.

Posted by: Me_again on February 10, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

I love Frank Rich. You're way off to say he's just "regurgitating conventional wisdom." Sorry Kevin, but you're wrong.

Posted by: evan500 on February 10, 2008 at 10:18 PM | PERMALINK

Rich seems to be recycling his own hit points. This is what he said about "An Inconvenient Truth" almost two years ago:

"It is instead larded with sycophantic audiences, as meticulously multicultural as any Benetton ad, who dote on every word and laugh at every joke, like the studio audience at “Live With Regis and Kelly.”

Posted by: sj on February 10, 2008 at 10:30 PM | PERMALINK

And then, from the same column, there's this attempt to equate Gore with the GOP:

There’s even an ingenious bit of fearmongering to go head to head with the Republicans’ exploitation of 9/11: in a worst-case climactic scenario, we’re told, the World Trade Center memorial “would be under water.”

Posted by: sj on February 10, 2008 at 10:33 PM | PERMALINK

Try telling a jerk like Frank Rich that there was a conspiracy involving the Mob in the JFK assassination, and he'll say you are a wearing a tin foil hat and believe in ridiculous conspiracy theories.

But Rich, Dowd and the other Villagers of the DC-NY corridor constantly create conspiracy theories involving the Clintons and cannot give them the benefit of the doubt--ever.

In fact, it is Rich, Dowd and the other Villagers who are wearing tin foil hats. And there is really no reason to read them, consider them, or listen to them. They are jerks and worse.

And I say this as someone who voted for Edwards in CA even after Edwards had suspended his campaign. I am not a Hillary "fan." I believe both she and Obama are merely decent bankers. Still, they would make far better stewards for our nation than the clowns running in the Republican Party.

Posted by: Mitchell Freedman on February 10, 2008 at 11:02 PM | PERMALINK

I just watched Obama at Alexandria today and I can see how he wins all these caucuses. He is absolutely terrific in the forum of being in a gym with a couple thousand people. Most everyone present would almost certainly storm to a caucus to support him. He is very good. About the only criticism I could make of him is that he sometimes comes across as too cool and might turn off some people. But once he starts talking, he is terrific (not a lot of substance, but still terrific).

Posted by: brian on February 10, 2008 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Frank Rich, more than anything else, is a woolly headed, low-talent hack.

As even Kevin can see, the man produces exactly zero new insights. Even when I agree with him -- which isn't so often -- I find his presentation of his argument tedious because I've heard it so many times before, and nearly always more sharply. He seems not to grasp logic. I never learn to think about anything in a new way, or from a new angle, in virtue of reading the man.

He's another example of someone who managed to get appointed to one of the most influential media positions in the country, but it's just impossible to understand why.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 11, 2008 at 12:30 AM | PERMALINK

it seems to me that if you believe hillary c. is a sleazy, self-serving, do-anything-to-win opportunist you are likely to agree with frank r.

if you believe hillary c. is a super talented wonder-woman with the morals, scruples and ethics of a hindu holy man you are likely to agree with kevin d.

lord protect me from two kinds of people: those who tell me that gwb is not so bad and those who tell me hillary c. is wonderful.

Posted by: wschneid25 on February 11, 2008 at 7:36 AM | PERMALINK


Guess you never heard of the concept of a false dichotomy.

Acquaint yourself.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 11, 2008 at 7:59 AM | PERMALINK

Reading some of the comments posted here and at other progressive blogs, I'm struck at the level of Hillary hatred expressed by Obama supporters.

Their rants have a moral and religious ferver beyond anything I've ever seen before in this country.

I'm afraid that the Democratic party, if Hillary is nominated, won't survive because of the Obamaists.

If Obama wins the nomination, the party will be saying that the working middle class will have to look elsewhere for representation.

Posted by: fjschmi on February 11, 2008 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK


You don't have to love or hate Hillary to see that Frank Rich, Mo Dowd, and the other Villagers are emotionally wrapped around the axle against Hillary Clinton. It was like their hatred of Gore back in the 2000 race, which, with Rich, it continues to the point where Rich is willing to echo Exxon's talking points to attack Gore.

That's what Kevin Drum is talking about. And that is what every Democrat, regardless of whether he or she is supporting Obama or hoping for someone else at the convention, should understand. It is one more example of how corporate media really works, and it is not "liberal" or "pro-Democratic".

Posted by: mitchell freedman on February 11, 2008 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

No comment on Rich and his Clinton-hatred.

However: The analysis of how the Coast-to-coast Town Hall was a huge flop would seem to be pretty pretty spot-on.

Posted by: Don Drennon on February 11, 2008 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

My impression of Rich is that he doesn't leave the City much and talk to people in the rest of the country. The columns are useless, but inoffensive for the most part.

Posted by: h on February 11, 2008 at 6:28 PM | PERMALINK

Selecting a black woman to moderate was of course and intentional choice, but not for the opposite reasons Rich describes. It has more to do with why HRC threw out her white woman campaign mgr for a black woman -- she is furiously back-peddling against her earlier racist campaign strategy.

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2008 at 6:46 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, that was hopelessly muddled. I meant to say:

"but for the opposite reason Rich describes"

(no "not")

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2008 at 6:47 PM | PERMALINK

It'll remain open season on Hillary Clinton until Barck Obama becomes the established front-runner, and then the media snarks and insinuating punditry will come down upon his head fast and furious, until he's rendered just another Chicago pol on the make. Meanwhile, John McCain will become the media's candidate for political canonization.

Exactly correct, except that you forgot to mention that the MSM will come down on his head by recycling the trash that you and others have been throwing at Obama for (as a group) more than a year.

Feels good to be ahead of the curve, doesn't it?

Posted by: Disputo on February 11, 2008 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

I wonder if any of the Rich fans here care to explain how Rich helped Bush get elected in 2000 by piling on Gore the way he now does re Hillary.

If Hillary deserves blame for the Iraq war, then so does Frank Rich.

He's another play-it-safe triangulator like Friedman; hard on Republicans but harder on Democrats. Don't read him.

Posted by: Horatio Parker on February 12, 2008 at 8:57 AM | PERMALINK


I said it upthread. I'll say it again. Columnists like Rich are not infallible, and most Dems here deplore his treatment of Gore eight years ago. I think eyes glaze over a bit, however, when you ask us to connect the dots from his trashing of Gore in 2000 to the election of W.

Other columnists and self-styled public intellectuals, like Friedman and the neo-con sirens, are far more culpable. They are so fallible they become a joke (F.U.'s anyone?) or an epithet spit out in disgust.

In any event, they are not our mouthpieces. They write what they or their masters think, on deadline, when they think it or are told to think it.

(By the same token, bloggers like Kevin are not infallible. Kevin supported the war.)

Hillary is not infallible. She too bears some moral responsibility for her vote on the war. But dots from Hillary's vote on the war to the war itself are a bit easier to connect than Rich writing about Gore, to Bush's election, to the war he inevitably chose to wage, with help from the US Senate.

The original post concerned the Rich column on the Clintons, and the advisability of a faux townhall meeting broadcast on the Hallmark channel. He touched on race.

Consensus is that the townhall was a campaign disaster. Rich wrote about it. Some here agreed with his op-ed. Others did not. This time, seems like Rich got it right, even though eight years ago he got it wrong..

Posted by: paxr55 on February 12, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK



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