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The only theory I can come up with? Is that the New York Times is trying to single-handedly launch a recreation of the Russian Revolution on American soil.

Jay Rosen, last August:

Whereas I believe that the real—and undeclared—ideology of American journalism is savviness, and this is what made the press so vulnerable to the likes of Karl Rove.

Savviness! Deep down, that’s what reporters want to believe in and actually do believe in— their own savviness and the savviness of certain others (including operators like Karl Rove.) In politics, they believe, it’s better to be savvy than it is to be honest or correct on the facts. It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.

Savviness is what journalists admire in others. Savvy is what they themselves dearly wish to be. (And to be unsavvy is far worse than being wrong.) Savviness—that quality of being shrewd, practical, well-informed, perceptive, ironic, “with it,” and unsentimental in all things political—is, in a sense, their professional religion. They make a cult of it. And it was this cult that Karl Rove understood and exploited for political gain.

What is the truest mark of savviness? Winning, of course! Everyone knows that the press admires an unprincipled winner.

But the thing is, it’s not just the press. Matt Taibi, in Rolling Stone, again regarding Rove:

Rove is not a genius, or even very clever: He’s totally and completely immoral… It doesn’t take brains to compare a triple-amputee war veteran to Osama bin Laden; you just have to be a mean, rotten cocksucker.

The reason Rove continues to survive is the same reason that Johnnie Cochran was called a genius for keeping a double-murderer on the golf course — because this generation of Americans has become so steeped in greed and social Darwinism that it can no longer distinguish between cheating and achieving, between enterprise and crime, and can’t bring itself to criticize winners any more than it knows how to be nice to losers. He survives because an increasing number of Americans secretly agree with Rove’s vision of rules, laws and “the truth” as quaint, faintly embarrassing rituals that only a sucker would let hold him back.

Rove’s comeback is evidence that the attack on our civic institutions in the Bush years wasn’t an isolated incident, something we can pin on a specific group of now-deposed politicians. It’s a trend, a thing that grows in direct proportion to our greed and ignorance.

All throughout the primaries, especially after the cries of WWTSBQ? started up, I kept reading comments about how Hillary lost the campaign because she failed to appreciate the importance of the caucuses. Obama was declared a “superior” candidate because he’d “gamed the caucuses” – an argument which sounded, to my ear, exactly as convincing as “his branding iz rilly cool! omg widgits!“, which is to say that it was shallow and vapid and barely an “argument” at all. Game strategy does not automatically make one a superior candidate. For one thing, the kind of strategy that’s involved in creating, passing and implementing beneficial legislation is an entirely different animal than the kind of strategy one needs to implement in an campaign. They both take a level of sophistication and finesse, but the similarities are actually rather limited. Stripping away all the extras, campaigns are about (or are supposed to be about) gaining political support for your ideas and platform and the direction you want to take your constituency. Each person who votes for you gives you power, sure, but I think it’s reasonable to say that a vote won on persuasive argument is a tad more valuable and dependable in the long run than one won by manipulation. Which brings us to today’s post at Reclusive Leftist:

It’s an eerie experience reading through the thousands of incident reports from caucus participants all over the country. Eerie because almost everyone assumed that the problems they were reporting were unique to their own caucus, merely the result of local miscreants. No one grasped — how could they? — that what they were experiencing was part of a nation-wide pattern.

The pattern is the same, from Washington to Texas, from Iowa to Nevada, from Maine to Minnesota: Obama workers arrive early at each caucus place and take control of the premises and the process. Hillary supporters are intimidated, told their names aren’t registered, even physically barred from the site. Busloads of mysterious strangers arrive and cast votes for Obama. Sign-in sheets disappear; voter tallies are falsified. Over and over and over again, the pattern is the same.

How did this happen? Simple. The Obama campaign spent the entire year prior to the election planning the whole thing out. They saw an opportunity to game the system and they took it. At “Camp Obama” training centers, Obama campaign officials schooled volunteers in the fine art of stealing caucuses. And I have to hand it to them: they did a great job. When Obama points to his campaign as evidence of his executive experience, I’m inclined to agree. He’s definitely proven himself to be an executive-level criminal.

So, to recap: being shrewd, practical, well-informed, perceptive, ironic, ‘with it,’ and unsentimental in all things political” does not only describe journalists, but could be easily applied to the base of the Obamacan movement, the so-called “creative class.” The American public, in general, has become “so steeped in greed and social Darwinism that it can no longer distinguish between cheating and achieving, between enterprise and crime, and can’t bring itself to criticize winners any more than it knows how to be nice to losers” and “increasing number of Americans secretly agree with Rove’s vision of rules, laws and “the truth” as quaint, faintly embarrassing rituals that only a sucker would let hold him back.” And Obama, the Hopey Changey Saviour Candidate, proves his “worthiness” by gaming the system… and the crowds roar.

“It’s better to be savvy than it is to be just, good, fair, decent, strictly lawful, civilized, sincere or humane.” Not to repeat myself or anything, but we’re all doomed.

Is Katha Pollit’s essay, “Dumb and Dumber: An Essay and Its Editors“, a response to last week’s clusterfuck of mass media misogyny, Charlotte Allen‘s “We Scream, We Swoon: How Dumb Can We Get?” (charmingly followed up by her “Ha ha, yeah wimmin ARE stupid ha ha” chat about the article, which effectively destroyed any defensive claims by the Post that the article was supported to be “ironic” and “tongue-in-cheek.”)

I’ve never watched Oprah Winfrey’s show, bought a Celine Dion CD, read “Eat, Pray, Love,” or fainted at an Obama rally, although he is my preferred candidate. According to Charlotte Allen, that makes me an “outlier,” an exception that proves the rule that women “always fall for the hysterical, the superficial and the gooily sentimental.” But uh-oh: I used to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” from time to time, and I even shed some tears when Denny died. Maybe being female has turned my “pre-frontal cortex into Cream of Wheat” after all. Maybe I’m just another “kind of dim” female, a charter member of “the dumber sex.”

In a casual essay of 1,700 words, Allen manages to stir together a breathtaking mishmash of misogynistic irrelevancies and generalizations. One minute she’s mocking women who bake cookies for their dogs; the next, she’s castigating Hillary Clinton’s campaign as “stupidest” partly because she fired her “daytime-soap-watching” Latina campaign manager too close to the Texas primary. (Note to Allen: Hillary won Texas with a flood of Latino votes.) She wonders why “no man contracts nebulous diseases” of possibly psychosomatic origins. (Note to Allen: Actually, they do.) She asks why women have more driving accidents. (Note to Allen: See below.) Could it be because women are mentally inferior, as proved by men’s greater ability to mentally rotate three-dimensional objects in space? Unless it’s a cute little puppy, that is, or maybe a cookie.

The upshot: we ladies should focus on what we’re really good at — interior decoration and taking care of men and children.

Oh, gag me with a spoon. Sure, girly culture can be silly — but what does that prove? It’s not as though men spend their evenings leafing through the plays of Moliere. Susie whips up doggy treats, Mike surfs porn sites; she curls up with the Friday Night Knitting Club, he watches football. Or maybe the two of them watch “Grey’s Anatomy” together — surprise, surprise, about half the show’s audience is male. If you go by cultural preferences, actually, you could just as well claim that women are obviously smarter than men — look around you at the museum, the theater, the opera house, the ballet, the concert hall. Women read more than men, too, especially fiction, which men tend to avoid. (A story about things that didn’t happen? How does that work?) Women even read fiction by men and about men, further evidence of their imaginative powers — while men, if they do pick up a novel, make sure it’s estrogen-free. Who’s really the dim bulb, the woman who doesn’t see the beauty of “Grand Theft Auto,” or the man who thinks Tom Clancy is a great writer?

For Allen, it’s definitely the woman: her brain is just too puny. She cannot mentally rotate three-dimensional objects in space — and that, as we all know, is the very definition of smarts. Funny how that definition keeps changing, as women conquer field after field that was supposed to be beyond them. In the 19th century, physicians insisted women couldn’t cope with college: studying would send rushing to their brains the blood that was needed for the womb. Back then, nobody credited women with the superior verbal abilities and memories Allen says scientists now find women to possess.

True to form, she dismisses these as minor talents that only helped her “coast” through school and life. But back when the experts were explaining why women couldn’t be lawyers or professors or poets (at least not very good poets), nobody said verbal skills and memory were trivial; they only became trivial when women were found to excel at them. Now the sexists diss women as inferior mental-object-rotators. I have no idea whether this is true, and whether if so it’s unchangeable, but you have to admit this is a very narrow scrap of turf on which to plant the flag of manly superiority.

Oh, but I was forgetting driving, a crucial skill. Allen claims that the misogynist canard is true: thanks to their superior visuospatial abilities, men (although maybe not gay men?) are better drivers, with 5.1 accidents per million miles compared to women’s 5.7. “The only good news,” she adds, is that because they take fewer risks, women’s accidents are only a third as likely to be fatal. That’s a very interesting definition of ability behind the wheel: the better drivers are the ones who take more risks and are three times as likely to end up dead.

Why did Allen, by accounts a good reporter on religion in a previous life, write this silly piece? It’s tempting to say she wrote it because she exemplifies the dimness and illogicality she describes — after all, this is a woman who cheerfully claims not to be able to add much beyond 2+2. But I suspect that Allen, who works for the right-wing anti-feminist Independent Women’s Forum, is just annoyed that so many educated middle-class women are cultural, social and political moderates and liberals. Democrats, in other words.

Girls swooning for Obama, Elizabeth Gilbert leaving her “perfectly okay husband” to eat, pray, love and write a huge best-seller, Meredith Grey and Dr. McDreamy smooching between surgeries, Hillary Clinton running for president instead of spending the rest of her life apologizing for her marriage — it does indeed make a picture. But it isn’t one of women’s unique “stupidity” — raise your hand if you think Hillary Clinton has a lower I.Q. than George W. Bush. What bothers Allen about this picture is that these women reject, with every fiber of their latte-loving beings, the abstinence-only, father-knows-best, slut-shaming crabbed misogyny of the Republican right.

I believe the term is “Boo-ya-SNAP.” (And I am totally shamelessly appropriating “with every fiber of my latte-loving being” into my everyday lexicon.) To continue:

A far more important question is this: Why did The Post publish this nonsense? I can’t imagine a great newspaper airing comparable trash talk about any other group. “Asians Really Do Just Copy.” “No Wonder Africa’s Such a Mess: It’s Full of Black People!” Misogyny is the last acceptable prejudice, and nowhere more so than in our nation’s clueless and overwhelmingly white-male-controlled media. I can just picture the edit meeting: This time, let’s get a woman to say women are dumb and silly! If readers raise too big a ruckus, Outlook editor John Pomfret can say it was all “tongue in cheek.” Women are dingbats! Get it? Ha. Ha. Ha.

Here’s a thought. Maybe there’s another thing women can do besides fluff up their husbands’ pillows: Fill more important jobs at The Washington Post. We should be half the assigning editors, half the writers, and half the regular columnists too (current roster of op-ed columnists: 16 men, two women). We’ve got those superior verbal skills, remember? Drastically increasing the presence of women isn’t a foolproof recipe for gender fairness — Allen is far from alone in her dislike of her sex — but I have to believe a gender-balanced paper would reflect a broader view of women than The Post does at present.

A male editor with a lot of women colleagues on his level might think twice before proposing a sweeping denunciation, humorous or not, of “women.” Ideally he would have come to respect women as equals from working with them — but if he were just afraid of being seen as a total caveman, that would be okay too. And maybe this kind of editor would have flagged as tired cliches references to Oprah and Celine Dion; would have looked up the studies Allen claims prove women have the I.Q. of a bowl of cereal and found they don’t say anything like that; would have wondered if more women bake doggy treats than subscribe to Scientific American or run marathons, and how does the treat-baker come to stand for all women?

And then, after all this, and seeing that Allen’s piece still didn’t ring even vaguely-kinda-sorta true, our imaginary editor would have asked a question. “You know what I think of this article?” a good editor would have said. “I think it’s really stupid.”