Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Imaginary friends and anonymouths

As the horse-race coverage of the presidential race stumbles lamely on -- as opposed to the actual electoral process, which maintains its own steady pace, some racetrack employees have tired of shoveling the same shit out of the stable and have resorted to shoveling imaginary shit (okay, for legal reasons, let's make that quasi-imaginary).

Why not? The pay’s the same whether all the quoted anonymous aides, staffers, former staffers, old college roommates, casual acquaintances, and email senders actually exist or not.

This particular op/ed column is a classic. There are quotations from five unidentified individuals -- or perhaps it‘s really one unidentified individual who‘s been described five different ways. It’s up to us to believe, just as we can only take on faith the very corporeal existence of the quoted.
It’s impossible to imagine The Terminator, as a former aide calls her, giving up….

“It’s like one of those movies where you think you know the end, but then you watch with your fingers over your eyes,” said a leading Democrat….

As a top pol noted, the Reverend turned Obama — in the minds of some working-class and crossover white voters — from “a Harvard law graduate into a South Side Black Panther….”

“The Clintons will be there when they need you,” said a Carter friend….

“There’s no love between [Gore] and Hillary,” said one former Clintonista….
Well that’s MoDo for you. Sometimes, just for a change of pace, she quotes from her friends’ email and, even more remotely, from her friends’ friends’ email. This is from her column on Eliot Spitzer’s fall from grace.
“I would think the story about our esteemed governor is all the proof we need that we should have a woman as president,” a woman I know said in an e-mail message.

Another woman e-mailed the reverse to a friend: “I hope this makes people think back to Monica Lewinsky. Can sex scandals be well timed?”
Do you think Dowd’s editors asked to see the emails? I didn’t think so either.

It’s not just Dowd, of course. For example, William Kristol has lots of narrative-propelling conversations with virtual passers-by. The funny thing is, they always seem to be Democrats who believe that McCain will be the next president.

You have to wonder if anything produced by celebrity political pundits these days would pass Matt Taibbi’s Jayson Blair Test.
When trying to judge campaign coverage, we utilize what we call the Jayson Blair Test. You apply the Jayson Blair Test to determine whether or not a campaign piece ostensibly filed from some remote trail locale could actually have been written from New York, in the tenement apartment of a $15 one-legged hooker, with no props beyond a gram of coke, a television and a Rolodex.
And I would be willing to dumb down the test and eliminate the “some remote trail locale” specification. I’d be happy if Dowd and Kristol et al would just travel outside their own heads now and then.
For more on MoDo’s imaginary friends, see The Dowd Report.

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