OK, World. You've had a whole week now and, as far as I know, nobody's yet got the point. It will therefore be my pleasure to provide it.
Before we even begin, let me assure you I detest as much as you do the guy whose only contribution to the dialogue is to sit there listening and frowning like his underwear's bunched up too tight who eventually interrupts to say, "But you just don't get the point!" Very seldom is there just one point. There are usually many points.
There are surely many points about Sen. Barack Obama's remarks about poor people in small towns in Pennsylvania being "bitter" and "clinging" to guns and religion and disdaining people different from themselves. And most of those points have, indeed, been gotten.
I just happen to be fond of one point that's so far been missed. Enroute to that point, let me congratulate columnist Charles Krauthammer for noting that, while most comments are pinwheeling around the "bitter" park of Obama's remark, it's really the "clinging" part that deserves to do the major damage. Good people don't "cling." Weak people "cling." Inferior people cling. Bad people, villans, vandals and dictators are the ones who "cling."
It's time once again for me to invoke that huge communist blunder in the early 1930s when the Soviet Union was just a teenager and the Depression was convincing a lot of folks worldwide that capitalism was entering its death-throes. The Soviets got hold of an American newsreel showing police in Detroit beating workers picketing in front of a factory and throwing them into paddy wagons. A real propaganda coup, the communists thought. Here was an American newsreel showing American workers being beaten by police. The Soviets made hundreds of copies to be shown in every movie theater in the Soviet Union.
The film showed one time only in one Moscow theater and the communists then ordered the entire batch destroyed. Why? The Russian movie-goers walking out of the theater were heard saying to each other, "Hey, did you see the shoes on those American workers the police were beating? They looked like real leather shoes. And they didn't need old newspapers to stuff over the holes in the bottoms like we do. Man, they were great shoes!"
The last time I invoked that delicious bit of history a reader wrote to add that the Soviets had a similar problem with the 1930s movie "Grapes of Wrath" starring Henry Fonda, Jane's dad, as a poor "Okie" (Oklahoma person) caught in the poverty of the era and area which was made much worse by the drought that turned that part of America into the Dust Bowl. The Okies decided to get into their ramshackle old car and head for California to seek a better life. Great communist propaganda? Not quite!
Ramshackle or not, you see, the Okies at least had a car; unheard of among the Soviet peoples. Moreover, and even worse from the communist standpoint, the Okies didn't need government permission to get into their car and head for a different part of the country. Under communism people couldn't just decide to move; and then move! Wherever you were in the Soviet Union, the state clamped your own private Iron Curtain around you.
On Sunday morning, April 13, 2008, Howard Kurtz of CNN interviewed the woman correspondent for the Huffington Post who attended that San Francisco fundraiser for Obama and recorded the "bitter-clinging" speech. Her name is Mayhill Fowler and she was straightforward and credible. She explained how she captured Obama's remarks on her cell-phone and returned to her quarters and listened — and did not write about those remarks at all!
She instead wrote a "normal" flat-footed account of the fundraiser omitting any and every and all reference to the bombshell that she alone possessed. (Stronger pens than mine must address the breathtaking concept of Sen. Obama's assuming those remarks would not be recorded and made public. That assumption should have disappeared with the ubiquity of the cell phone and other handy portable recording devices. I can't say Obama "dropped the ball." Many good ball-carriers drop the ball. This was worse. This was Obama kneeling, putting the ball down on the ground and proceeding to tie his shoe-laces in the middle of a play — during the Super Bowl!)
To her credit and my delight, Mayhill Fowler freely admitted, in fact, freely proclaimed to Howard Kurtz, that she didn't want to report on Obama's remarks because — get this, please — she didn't want to hurt the Obama campaign! A simple exclamation point is insufficient to highlight the power of that remark, but it's, alas, the strongest our system of writing affords.
By dawn's early light, however, she changed her mind; realizing that her responsibility as a journalist easily trumped her feelings in favor of Obama.
Hello, there, you who claim our charges of left-wing bias in the media are phony. How's that for a confession? How's that for a slam-dunk?
We've got Pulitzer Prizes for distinguished journalism in almost all phases. I said "almost."
How about awarding an annual "Mayhill" award for reporters who confess to sitting on a story because they don't like the likely result of publishing it, but later think again and think better and catch themselves and come out with it in time for Howard Kurtz's show?
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