Saturday, November 24, 2007

A Carcass Picked Clean, Then Boiled For Broth

No Leftovers...thanks to Bob Herbert, Driftglass and Paul (Soup Man) Krugman

The most vicious ring beating I ever saw was in the Spring of 1977. Ken Norton vs. Duane Bobick. One of the last nationally televised, free TV fights ever shown—with good reason. The bell sounded for the first round and the two fighters felt each other out—oh, for about seven seconds or so when Norton flung a clubbing right from somewhere near his hip and over his shoulder, that blasted Bobick like a wrecking ball hitting a bag of stale fortune cookies. Bobick's back hit the corner and for the next thirty-six seconds Norton's right hand hit Bobick's jaw, ears, temples, nose and forehead. Midway through the fusillade of about twenty-three unanswered punches, (Duane never got a punch off) something flew from the area where Bobick was pinned and wincing in the corner.

It was his mouthpiece flying several rows into the arena darkness. Norton wasn't so much punching as he was using his right hand as a medieval mace—loop, swing, BAM! Loop, swing, BAM! Ref stopped it at 43 seconds in. NBC had built a two-hour package around the fight, and the sudden end ruined it. So they showed the damn thing about 10 times in a row to fill time. And that fight was one of the key reasons why free TV stopped showing fights. When a massacre like that goes down, it wrecks everything. Again, It was the most singularly brutal “fight” I've ever seen.

But the intellectual dismantling of the New York Times' David Brooks over the last ten days gets right up there near it.

Brooks, in a fit of neo-con desperation in the wake of nothing but bad news since the '04 elections, found it necessary to play Dr. Frankenstein with the corpse of Ronald Reagan via dumb-fuck revisionist lightning. He tried to spin Ol' Ronnie Raygun's 1980 election kickoff in Philadelphia, Mississippi—a reknowned dog-whistle call to a new wave of fresh, white-sheeted bigots as something other than what the world knew it to be.

Krugman killed that turkey right there in the middle of the newsroom in a follow-up piece. Bob Herbert then built a fire in the same spot, plucked the dumb flightless pundit boid clean and roasted it alive. After a few squawks and “gobble-gobbles” it quieted down...until Driftglass happened by.

He stuffed it. Basted it. Flash-finished it, and then carved the meat into lots of thick, well-done slices. Damn, it was delicious!

But then...Krugman, ever the economist, decided to get the maximum use out of the well-picked carcass, coming back earlier this week to boil what was left of poor Brooksie down to a savory broth:

There are many other examples of Reagan’s tacit race-baiting in the historical record. My colleague Bob Herbert described some of these examples in a recent column. Here’s one he didn’t mention: During the 1976 campaign Reagan often talked about how upset workers must be to see an able-bodied man using food stamps at the grocery store. In the South — but not in the North — the food-stamp user became a “strapping young buck” buying T-bone steaks.

Now, about the Philadelphia story: in December 1979 the Republican national committeeman from Mississippi wrote a letter urging that the party’s nominee speak at the Neshoba Country Fair, just outside the town where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964. It would, he wrote, help win over “George Wallace inclined voters.”

Sure enough, Reagan appeared, and declared his support for states’ rights — which everyone took to be a coded declaration of support for segregationist sentiments.

I can only imagine what fun talk there must be in the stairwells and behind stacks of copy paper at Times HQ over this intramural stomp-out. Shit, I wonder if Brooks is pulling the old “get here before everybody—leave here long after they've left” routine so he doesn't have to show his sugar glider-ish face.

But for those who have any doubt after Krugman's boil-down as to what Reagan was about with that visit...let's go back to a section of what he unearthed:

in December 1979 the Republican national committeeman from Mississippi wrote a letter urging that the party’s nominee speak at the Neshoba Country Fair, just outside the town where three civil rights workers had been murdered in 1964. It would, he wrote, help win over “George Wallace inclined voters.”

What was a “George Wallace” voter, and why would he be desirable?

In 1958, he was defeated by John Patterson in Alabama's Democratic gubernatorial primary election, which at the time was the decisive election, the general election still almost always being a mere formality in Alabama. This was a political crossroads for Wallace. Patterson had run with the support of the Ku Klux Klan, an organization Wallace had spoken against, while Wallace had been endorsed by the NAACP. After the election, aide Seymore Trammell recalled Wallace saying, "Seymore, you know why I lost that governor's race?... I was outniggered by John Patterson. And I'll tell you here and now, I will never be outniggered again."

In the wake of his defeat, Wallace adopted a hard-line segregationist style, and used this stand to court the white vote in the next gubernatorial election. In 1962 he was elected governor on a pro-segregation, pro-states' rights platform in a landslide victory. He took the oath of office standing on the gold star where, 102 years prior, Jefferson Davis was sworn in as President of the Confederate States of America. In his inaugural speech, he used the line for which he is best known:

“In the name of the greatest people that have ever trod this earth, I draw the line in the dust and toss the gauntlet before the feet of tyranny, and I say segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.”

The lines were written by Wallace's new speechwriter, Asa Carter, a Klansman and longtime anti-semite. Wallace later stated that he had not read this part of the speech prior to delivering it, and that he had regretted it almost immediately. However, he did not hesitate to repeat it.

And Ronnie ran down there like it was the Warners' backlot in 1949, with the studio dick on vacation, and the bungalows full of boy-starved starlets. He answered the call for someone to appeal to “George Wallace” voters, and the grinning, Bryllcreemed jerk went down there and played the hell out of the role offered to him.

Unfortunately for Reagan's legacy, and Brooks' abused psyche. Krugman got his hands on the old “Playbill” for it.

And wrapped that boiled-clean carcass up in it, and tossed it out in the trash...albeit a few days before Thanksgiving.

“Sigh!” The holidays seem to start earlier every damn year. :)