Tuesday, December 21, 2004


Pulling a Gilly

Steve Gilliard is a knowledgeable guy and a very smart one. But every so often, he'll do something that I like to think of as "pulling a Gilly". "Pulling a Gilly" is where Steve, in order to try to pull people out of what he sees as non-productive or wrongheaded yammering, will say something so bizarre, provocative and flat-out wrong that he winds up pissing off a good chunk of his readership. It's... er, interesting to watch. A few weeks ago, he wanted to short-circuit the post-election cries of "we have no hope, we did our best and we failed, we're screwed forever," yadayadayada. Well and good. But how did he choose to do this? By saying that censorship-minded liberals, especially feminists, were a bigger threat to America than George W. Bush and his friends. Yeah, Steve. Sure. Whatever. Needless to say, this touched off a firestorm in the comments section, and Steve lost a ton of readers. This week, he took exception to Kos' dissing of how Kerry ran the post-primary campaign. He wanted to put a stop to what he sees as the circular-firing-squad mentality that he thinks Kos and other Democrats and lefties exhibit. So how did he try to do this? By making an unprovable claim against Howard Dean -- namely, that Dean's comments about outreach to white Southerners hurt him among black voters. Steve, Steve, Steve. I know you're trying to defend Kerry, and I can see many of your points. Kerry did the best he could against a press that was and is solidly in the GOP's hip pocket. (Though he still should have come out hard and early against the Swift Boaties. By not responding, he looked wussy.) But you don't have to defend Kerry by repeating Kerry's untruths about Dean. Wanna know where black people first heard Dean's comments about needing to talk to the people with Confederate flags in their pickups, because their kids don't have health care, either? During the February 2003 DNC Winter Meeting. Where those comments were applauded loudly by both blacks and whites. You read that right: The prominent black persons there LIKED what he had to say. Several commentators have already mentioned this -- including William Saletan of Slate. These remarks were part of Dean's stump speech for months, and everyone who's been paying attention knows this. And for months, no one thought there was anything wrong with them. No one. It wasn't until November of 2003 -- nine months later, when Kerry and Gephardt were in Big Trouble, that they both -- with the help of the media, which was never fond of Dean anyway -- decided to misrepresent what Dean said. John Edwards jumped in, and so Al "I take money from the GOP" Sharpton -- mainly, I suspect, to piss off Jesse Jackson, whose son was and is a big-time Dean supporter. (Jesse Jr., in fact, was busy fighting the Kerry-Gephardt smears on Dean's behalf.) Steve, if you want to argue that Kerry and Gephardt's twisting of Dean's stump speech comments hurt Dean, fine. But don't pretend that all blacks disliked Dean's actual comments from the get-go, because we know that ain't so.

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