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The name “Michael Kinsley” is not an indicator of quality these days–he was last seen advising President Obama to surrender over the debt ceiling for no reason at all–but I read his review of the newest Game Change franchise spawn and was actually enjoying it. Kinsley mocks the book’s writing style, research methods, and excessively narrow focus that turns such a seemingly epic story as a presidential election into something much smaller, an anti-epic in fact. This part is a killer:

The authors lend a sympathetic ear to Karl Rove, the Republican Rasputin, as he describes his disgust at hearing that Newt Gingrich took a few hours off one Saturday morning in Chicago to go see the dinosaurs at the Field Museum. Can you spot the gaffe? It’s not Rove dissing Gingrich for going to a museum. The gaffe is Gingrich taking time off from politics to go to a museum. Shame on him! As the authors put it, he “frittered away” valuable time.

To me, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever heard about Newt. God forbid he should take a Saturday off and go to a museum. God forbid someone running for president should have any interest except politics.

Precisely, and well said.

However, the conclusion simply doesn’t wash:

One subject that gets barely a mention in “Double Down” — because it played virtually no role in the 2012 campaign — is race. In a book that aspires to be, and largely succeeds in being, the dispositive (or do I mean definitive?) account of the election, that may be the most remarkable fact of all.

I had to read this several times to make sure this was not ironic. It is ironic, of course, but unintentionally so. Look, I could bring up the greatest hits from 2012, but that’s Mark Halperin’s job and nobody really wants to relive “self-deportation” and all that. So let’s just note a couple of facts:

  • In 2008, black voter participation spiked historically, which everyone concluded was a one-off in order to vote for a black presidential candidate for the first time ever. In 2012 it spiked again.
  • John Kerry won Asian-Americans by roughly 17 percent in 2004. In 2012, Barack Obama won with the group by over forty points. And their turnout spiked as well.
  • In 2004, George W. Bush performed better among Hispanics than any Republican candidate in modern times. In 2012, Mitt Romney performed worse among Hispanics than any Republican candidate in modern times.

Well, given these facts, it sure seems like some people didn’t get the memo that the 2012 campaign had nothing to do with race! You have to ask yourselves, why were all these minority groups so desperate to vote against Mitt Romney if race didn’t play any part in the election? Minority groups don’t just randomly decide to swing wildly to one side or another and surge to unprecedented turnout levels, it occurs in the context of a political environment in which one party brands itself as the party for old Southern white men. The Romney campaign’s stated goal was to rack up as many white voters as it possibly could, which lest we forget is a racial strategy. Republicans across the country did their best to suppress the vote among nonwhites, a strategy that palpably backfired last year (and probably backfired again in Virginia a week ago), but one which continues to be a top policy goal of the GOP because disenfranchising minorities is apparently now a conservative first principle that is something you suffer damage to enact, rather than merely a tactic for electoral gain that would presumably be dropped when it stops working. And much of Romney’s policy agenda Chait explained this all some time ago:

Romney’s political-policy theme is an unmistakable appeal to identity politics. On Medicare, Romney is putting himself forward as the candidate who will outspend Obama, at least when it comes to benefits for people 55 years old and up. Romney will restore the $700 billion in Medicare budget cuts imposed by Obama to its rightful owners — people who are currently old.

He will cut subsidies to the non-elderly people who would get insurance through Obamacare — a program that, Romney’s ads remind older voters, is “NOT FOR YOU.” Romney’s repeated ads on welfare, blaring the brazen lie that Obama has repealed the welfare work requirement, hammer home the same theme. The purpose is to portray Obama as diverting resources from us to them.

I really don’t understand how Romney’s months-worth of demagogic welfare attacks (!) and obvious “they’re robbin’ you” thinly-veiled stuff gets dismissed as having nothing to do about race. Or the fact that every group of nonwhite people (including several, like Cuban-Americans and Asian-Americans, who used to be part of the Republican coalition) continues to flee the GOP in ever-increasing numbers. Admittedly, anti-Communism waning as a political force probably had something to do with this. But the rapid rate of collapse suggests something more than the mere lessening of ancestral ties to party…

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I think at this point it’s undeniable: execrable columnist Richard Cohen is exploring a niche as “the racist columnist” at this time. Last week he wrote about how a Hollywood movie made him realize that slavery was actually bad. This time…yuck:

Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.

Their problem, not ours. Why is it that liberals constantly have to be attentive to the anxieties of conservatives, with zero expectation of reciprocity? It’s never expected that conservatives ought to respect a fear of the role of money in the political system, say. And interracial marriage of all things? I didn’t realize that this was still a thing on which people of good will could disagree. Also, much as I might not buy into myths about “real America” and such, my experience is that outside the South interracial marriage is generally greeted with a shrug. Cohen comes to show empathy to cultural conservatives but instead implies that they’re all backward bigots driven to rage by the idea of a white man and a black woman making a family. He makes the exact opposite point of what he wanted to make. Remember: this man is a national columnist, and basic logic and communication skills are beyond him, let alone decency. Why on Earth is this man still employed?

Interesting to note from the article that WaPo editorial page editor Fred Hiatt defends publishing this as part of the “conversation on race” that we apparently need to have. Message to Fred: there is not “a” conversation about race. There are dozens, hundreds even, some of which would be beneficial to hash out and others of which serve no purpose. Whining about interracial marriage in 2013 is of the latter group for certain, given this has been settled as a legal issue for sixty years and as a cultural matter for decades.

Via Jon Chait, Tina “flashy crap over substance” Brown proclaims print is dead, along with a bunch of other stuff.

And, I tell you hwhut, when Tina Brown says it’s dead, you know it’s dead, because Tina Brown knows from dead.

“I think you can have more satisfaction from live conversations,” [Brown] said, adding we were “going back to oral culture where the written word will be less relevant.”


And with entertainment conglomerates buying up news companies, television too is in a poor state.

“TV is dead and now they are chasing a demographic they are never going to find,” said Brown. “We’ve reached a moment…‘my god the television is an ugly piece of furniture’.”

Reflecting on Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos taking over the struggling Washington Post newspaper this year, Brown viewed the enterprise with a whiff of cynicism.

“Owning news makes you important; it gives you a seat at the table. The number one way of becoming powerful in Washington is by becoming the Washington Post.”

Or getting elected to some sort of “government position”. I hear that’s still pretty popular.

(Noted wordsmith and peripatetic raconteur Sarah Palin must not have gotten the memo in re: the written word’s demise though — she’s hawking another 3 pounds of usta-be-a-tree. On the plus side, she’s reading it, too!)

The fashionistas over t’Tom & Lorenzo, in re: America’s fuck-yeah Miss Universe 2013 pageant entry:

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The fashionistas over t’Tom & Lorenzo, in re: America’s fuck-yeah Miss Universe 2013 pageant entry:

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The fashionistas over t’Tom & Lorenzo, in re: America’s fuck-yeah Miss Universe 2013 pageant entry:

Continue reading »

The fashionistas over t’Tom & Lorenzo, in re: America’s fuck-yeah Miss Universe 2013 pageant entry:

Continue reading »