Following up on Digby’s lead, I went over to TNR’s blogerria “The Plank” and read this nonsense from Jason Zengerle:
This isn't a perfect example, but I bet a version of this phenomenon will play out over the next few days with the Cheney hunting accident. It's an irresistible item to add to the pile of Bush administration screw-ups. But rather than treat this story as what it is--a relatively insignificant but nonetheless juicy little scandal-- liberal bloggers are already overreaching and trying to turn it into something bigger.
But when Cheney's victim is released from the ICU, and when the Halliburton connection fails to be significant--and when it turns out Scalia wasn't on the trip--the whole story will suddenly seem a lot smaller than it actually is.
And in the comments section, he adds:
My point about Josh's post was that it's counter-productive to speculate about this stuff.
And in between, he quotes some reasonable stuff from Josh Marshall, as well as a commenter from Kos who may have been less than reasonable. He also cited many other Bush Admin failings that liberals have latched onto. But there’s one thing he failed to mention: Exactly what is so counter-productive about what we’re doing? Why is it wrong for us to put the heat on the Bush Admin? How “big” is this supposed to be; and how can he tell exactly how big we’re making it? Is there some magic formula they teach you in journalism school that tells you how big each scandal should be? Is there a chart at TNR that explains exactly how serious a vice-presidential hunting accident is? Whatever it was, he failed to explain exactly what his point was.
And what is the problem with us talking about it? The wingnuts were totally wrong about Vince Foster, Whitewater, Filegate, Travelgate, and all kinds of other things; and it all eventually led to Clinton’s impeachment. And that was all bullshit. But the bullshit worked for them because it kept everything burning. They kept the pressure on with every little scandal until they could eventually find something that would stick…namely the one illegal thing that Clinton did. Hell, Whitewater at least could have been illegal; but Travelgate was entirely bullshit from the start. It was nothing but yet another expensive investigation for something that couldn’t have been illegal. And yet even now, conservatives remember that as yet another mark against Clinton. And had those other invented scandals not kept the pressure on, it is almost inconceivable that the Lewinski thing would have ever hit.
Now imagine what this kind of treatment could do with real wrong-doing. Not that I’m suggesting that the Cheney shooting was real wrong-doing. In fact, I don’t see anyone seriously suggesting a Vince Foster level reaction. But how exactly is it counter-productive to keep the heat on the Whitehouse? How are we screwing up if Whitehouse reporters are yelling at Scott McClellan? Again, I’m not trying to go overboard here, but neither was Josh Marshall. He asked legitimate questions that Zengerle automatically wants to dismiss out of hand. And for that, we’re accused of being counter-productive. Not just in the Cheney thing; Zengerle is blaming us for Bush not getting nailed for everything else.
But do you want to know what is counter-productive? Elitist journalism-types who automatically dismiss everything that the less elite elements on their side talk about. The guys who automatically assume that these less savory people are wrong and hurt the cause. Dopes who’d actually listen to Mickey Kaus. Guys who automatically downplay every scandal, all because they think the less savory liberals are overplaying their cards again.
Now, I could understand if this guy made some case. But he didn’t. He blames us for “failing to capitalize on what, were it not for their unrealistically inflated expectations, would have been considered a significant scandal.” But he never explains why that’s our fault. He never explains how it’s our expectations that keep letting Bush off the hook. Because to me, this all seems like a failure of the media. I wasn’t the one who gave a pass on Bush’s WMD lies and who let him off the hook when they turned out to not exist. That’s Zengerle’s people doing that. That’s the media. They’re the ones with the attention-spans of a spastic puppy. They’re the ones who keep hopping around from scandal to scandal, disappointed that the proverbial “smoking gun” hasn’t shown itself.
And it makes sense that it’s their fault, as they’re the ones who helped hit Clinton. Rush Limbaugh and his mob couldn’t have taken down Clinton. He was influential, but it was the media that grabbed onto every scandal and wouldn’t let go until the next one came along. They were the ones who kept the heat on constantly. So is this a case of us killing things with our big expectations? Or is this a case of the media getting bored and allowing each scandal to disappear?
And hell, he’s Mr. Bigwig New Republic guy; what the hell is he doing about this stuff? They’re the ones who provided leftwing cover for Bush’s war in Iraq and all kinds of other stuff. They’re the ones who endorsed DINO Lieberman for the Democratic nomination. We’re the ones trying to call attention to the Bush wrong-doing; and they’re the ones who keep calling us “Bush-haters” and providing assists to the Bush Admin.
And even now, we see Zengerle again needing to single-out our side, rather than focusing on theirs. Everything’s our fault, he says. If only we’d keep things on the down-low and play things cool like them, we’d have…we’ll I’m at a loss for what he thinks we’d have. As he can’t possibly suggest that we’ve undermined an impeachment, and Bush is still hovering around a disastrous 40-point approval rating. So I can’t really see where we’ve blown it in his eyes. I agree fully with Digby’s point that it is because of us keeping the pressure on that we’ve gotten this far.
And so I’d have to disagree with the point that Zengerle says he made. I don’t think this is a case of libs always going too far with every case. I think this is a case of the media and elitist liberal pundits who automatically downplay every scandal; always waiting for the “big one” and not realizing that they already had it. And all the while, looking down upon the rabble who continues to blow it for them.