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January 21, 2008

Comments

Dear god, the man is an embarrassment to white Mormons everywhere (or should be).

He's probably saying 'Wassup' when he is shaking hands.

Someone in the crowd: "That's Michael."
Romney: "yeah, Michael Jordan!"

Perhaps Romney spent a little too much time studying this site before hitting the campaign trail?


chu mofo, butter lay me to the bone, jackin me up.

Yeah, we cold lampin' wit Willard.

Not to mention that "Who let the dogs out?" is a little too reminiscent of certain incidents Mitt would probably rather not remind us of...

The positive view is that it's certainly a good thing for Mitt Romney to ask for the support of African-Americans.

However, a somewhat less chipper outlook might take into account not just the minor fact that this is a fellow who managed to conjure up an imaginary "seeing" of his father marching with Martin Luther King, but the major fact that this is a man running on his claims to "leadership," of whom there is no record whatever of his speaking up in any way, shape, means, or form, about, let alone against, his church's prohibition on people of African descent being members, because of their being of "the seed of Cain," while it was in effect prior to 1978 (when Mitt Romney turned 31 years old).

To be sure, if I missed a report of Romney speaking up prior to 1978, someone will let me know.

(Yes, I know what he's said in recent years about what he allegedly felt back then, but that's not what I'm noting: leadership is what you do and say in public, not what you think in private and don't speak up about.)

Gary, I think you're being a bit hard on him. He wasn't a public figure before 1978, so it's hardly surprising that there is no public record of his standing on the Mormon church's policies re: African-Americans at the time. His father, who was a public figure, might not have actually marched with MLK, but he unquestionably supported the Civil Rights movement, so for Romney to be proud of his family's stance on racial issues seems perfectly justified to me.

Romney is the quintessential awkward white dude and I think this kind of hilariously incongruous moment is inevitable for someone of that ilk trying to connect with black culture - but at least he recognizes that the black vote is important and is willing to campaign for it.

Romney is the quintessential awkward white dude and I think this kind of hilariously incongruous moment is inevitable for someone of that ilk trying to connect with black culture - but at least he recognizes that the black vote is important and is willing to campaign for it.

Romney is supposed to be the smart technocrat. If, with all his technocratic competence and all his money and his vast campaign organization, he never bothered to think "um, i'm not too comfortable talking with the dark skinned folk, but i need to do it, maybe i should plan in advance for how to do it without humiliating myself...", then he's not very fit to be president, now is he?

Presidents have to talk to people that are unlike them all the time; some of those people even have dark skin. If you react to such social situations by saying the first random thing that pops into your head, then you're unlikely to make a good president. This is the sort of problem that competent campaigners recognize and plan for in advance; alternatively, one could just consistently speak in a respectful manner to everyone they meet.

Romney is the quintessential awkward white dude and I think this kind of hilariously incongruous moment is inevitable for someone of that ilk trying to connect with black culture - but at least he recognizes that the black vote is important and is willing to campaign for it.

True, true.

I think we all forget that we all have to have those embarassing moments and be willing to suffer those necessary foot in mouth disease moments before we move forward.

Though generally, some folks get the clue that they have to do this earlier than 10 months before the election...

OT: What a sickening Dem debate that just was. I'm close to giving up realistic hope.

At least McCain is the most stomach-able among the Republicans.

"I think this kind of hilariously incongruous moment is inevitable for someone of that ilk trying to connect with black culture"

I've got an over-developed sense of humor, but the yuks just aren't coming on this one. The symbolism is too much like real life.

OK, here's my question. It's actually something I think about quite a lot.

Why are white men so damned uncomfortable in their own bodies?

I mean, check it out. Romney is walking around here like there is a pole that runs from his butt straight up through the top of his skull.

I don't mean to pick on Mitt, it's just this weird thing that I see all the time. It goes along with the thing where you bite your lower lip, squint, and play air guitar when you dance.

There is some kind of profound discomfort with their own bodies that infects WASPy men like the plague. What the hell is that about?

Thanks -

"so it's hardly surprising that there is no public record of his standing on the Mormon church's policies re: African-Americans at the time."

Nope, doesn't fly, and here's why: Mitt Romney wrote tons of letters home when he was a missionary in France for thirty months, age 19-21. There's no mention by anyone of his ever saying a negative word about the racist ban of the church. I rather think that if one existed, he'd have produced it.

Young Mitt had plenty on his mind, and there's a record of what was, but concern over African-Americans?: no record.

And he doesn't contest that he did nothing:

[...] His missionary efforts were interrupted when France erupted into chaos in May 1968, fueled in part by anger over the Vietnam War. He recoiled from the student unrest, and friends say it reinforced his respect for authority.

Many church leaders considered the war a godly cause, and Romney said at the time he thought it was essential to holding back communism. So it surprised him to hear that his father, George Romney, had turned against the war while campaigning for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination.

"I was surprised when I heard my father, then running for president, say that we were wrong, that we had been told lies by our military, that the course of the war was not going as well as we thought it was and that we had been mistaken when we had entered into the war," Romney said. "It obviously caused me to reconsider what I had previously thought," he said, adding, "Ultimately, I came to believe that he was right."

Back in the U.S. at Brigham Young, when boycotts and violent protests over the university's virtually all-white sports teams broke out at away games, he stayed on the sidelines.

At the time, the Mormon Church excluded blacks from full membership, considering them spiritually unfit as the result of a biblical curse on the descendants of Noah's son Ham.

A handful of students and prominent Mormons called for an end to the doctrine, but Romney wasn't one of them. When he heard over a car radio in 1978 that the church would offer blacks full membership, he said, he pulled over and cried.

But until then, he deferred to church leaders, he said. "The way things are achieved in my church, as I believe in other great faiths, is through inspiration from God and not through protests and letters to the editor."

There's leadership. If you're running for a religious post, and not a political one.

And, of course, his platform for religious leadership is: trust authority.

"His father, who was a public figure, might not have actually marched with MLK, but he unquestionably supported the Civil Rights movement, so for Romney to be proud of his family's stance on racial issues seems perfectly justified to me."

Sure. But back on point, going around for decades lying about your father so as to gain political points you aren't entitled to, and then, when caught, defending the lie by explaining that "I saw" means "I fantasized": not so much something to be proud of.

I want to say that for many years I saw you agreeing with me on this point, and I've always been proud of you for that.

"Presidents have to talk to people that are unlike them all the time; some of those people even have dark skin."

Romney was governor of Massachusetts for four years; MA does not lack for dark-skinned people.

Bill Clinton seems to always be in "coool" mode.

I think the awkwardness is not as rampant as some think. But there is always an awkwardness for men when they are put in situations were personal power is percieved as fragile, if not wholly absent.

Men in uniforms (especially cop uniforms) make me feel "awkward" in my own skin.

Give Romney a break. He's a good hearted guy, he was having a good time. The people he met were enjoying themselves as well. Romney has a lot to offer and with his capabilities can succeed in areas that probably everyone here making their judgmental comments would flounder.

He's handsome and makes lots's of money, so I guess he's not always awkward.

Presidents have to talk to people that are unlike them all the time; some of those people even have dark skin. If you react to such social situations by saying the first random thing that pops into your head, then you're unlikely to make a good president.

Yeah, and the fact that a middle-aged Mormon guy isn't up on the latest slang of black youth culture and made an awkward effort at being "cool" is evidence that he will "say the first thing that pops into his head" when confronted with, say Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? You're stretching. Big time, as Dick Cheney would say.

Young Mitt had plenty on his mind, and there's a record of what was, but concern over African-Americans?: no record.

Yeah. Young Hillary must have also had plenty on her mind, what with being a Goldwater girl and all. Young Barack too - what was the price of cocaine back then? How about young Edwards thinking about whether he was going to be able to move up the depth chart on the football team at Clemson? Look, nobody's a mature adult at 20, and no 60 year old candidate should be judged on what they did at 20. To expect Romney to have been leading the charge on minority issues at that age, against the authority of the religion in which he'd been raised, is unreasonable. It would have been an extraordinary act of moral courage and to his immense credit if he had, but I don't think it's fair to slam him for not having done it, especially given that as an adult he has repeatedly stated his views on race, and his record gives no evidence to contradict them.

Sure. But back on point, going around for decades lying about your father so as to gain political points you aren't entitled to, and then, when caught, defending the lie by explaining that "I saw" means "I fantasized": not so much something to be proud of.

You're blowing this out of proportion IMO. It's exactly the same as Gore's claim about the internet - everyone knows that he wasn't actually claiming he invented it, just utilizing a clumsy rhetorical device which exaggerated his role to score political points. I thought it was absurd to skewer Gore for it, and the same is true for Romney.

"Look, nobody's a mature adult at 20, and no 60 year old candidate should be judged on what they did at 20."

Apparently some part of this was unclear: "of whom there is no record whatever of his speaking up in any way, shape, means, or form, about, let alone against, his church's prohibition on people of African descent being members, because of their being of 'the seed of Cain,' while it was in effect prior to 1978 (when Mitt Romney turned 31 years old)."

So what you're saying is that Romney should be faulted for 11 years of silence as an adult, through the late Seventies, about how skin color changes according to sin and virtue, etc.

"I thought it was absurd to skewer Gore for it, and the same is true for Romney."

Strangely, making a parallel between Gore making a perfectly true statement ("I took the initiative in the Senate in [writing bills] to create the internet"), and Romney making a completely false lie ("I saw my father march with Martin Luther King"), doesn't compare terribly similar circumstances.

I mean, they're exactly the same, true, except for the whole being complete opposites part.

Similarly, we shouldn't condemn people for their opinions at 20 (which I don't agree with, but never mind), which isn't terribly relevant when discussing a 31-year-old.

But we always hear about the forgiveable youthful sins of people at age 40 and 50 and 60, when they're politicians.

Apparently some part of this was unclear:

And apparently some part of what I said about how the lack of documentation might be because Mitt Romney was not a public figure at this time was not understood. Perhaps he did oppose the Mormon church's racist doctrines. Perhaps he sat around telling his friends about how abhorrent he found them. We wouldn't know, because as an obscure figure, his thoughts on the subject weren't sought out or recorded for posterity. The only evidence you have for the idea that he didn't care is some self-interested personal letters he wrote when he was 20. That doesn't prove your case - as I pointed out, neither Hillary, nor Obama, nor Edwards, had done anything at that age to indicate that they cared about civil rights either.

doesn't compare terribly similar circumstances.

They're not terribly similar - they're almost exactly the same. Both were self-aggrandizing exaggerations, though not outright lies. If Al Gore had wanted to tell the unvarnished truth, he would have said "I helped write a bill which created a program that led indirectly to the development of the internet". The development of the internet as we know it was an accidental outgrowth of a program designed to create a faster form of communication between government organs. There is no evidence that when the program was created the people who started it had any idea it would grow into anything like the World Wide Web, and certainly the people in the Senate who wrote the bill responsible didn't have any such notion. But telling the unvarnished truth wouldn't have been nearly as impressive, so Gore didn't. Similarly with Romney - George Romney did march with MLK, in the sense that he marched in support of the Civil Rights movement and hence marched in solidarity with King's goals. And Mitt Romney saw this in the sense that he was aware of it, and probably saw television coverage of it. The statement "I saw my father march with MLK" isn't literally true, but figuratively, it's just as true as Gore's "In the senate I took the initiative to create the Internet." Both statements stretch figurative language about as far as it will go to make them reflect better on the speakers. Both Gore and Romney were criticized for exaggeration and misleading wording - rightly so. I would suggest that the difference is that since you, like Gore, are a Democrat, you're inclined to interpret his words as charitably as possible, whilst being as nitpicky as possible with Romney's.

Similarly, we shouldn't condemn people for their opinions at 20 (which I don't agree with, but never mind)

I should have been a bit clearer. Obviously, someone who was an organizer for the Hitler youth or somesuch at this age should be condemned for it. But a somewhat self-centered but seemingly basically decent kid homesick in France who failed to condemn the religion he'd grown up with? Nah.

Gary, just to clarify a small point within your bigger point, with which I totally agree.

It wasn't that black people weren't allowed to be members; black men weren't allowed to hold any of the priesthood powers that pretty much all white men get. (Women don't get any priesthood powers; men who have seriously pissed off the leadership can be stripped of their priesthood--as one uncle of mine was.)

So, yes, in a real sense, that's an exlusion from full membership, but one that feels a bit more familiar to a raised-in-the-church member. It's not like the men who don't hold the priesthood sit on a different side of the room during service. And, of course, it's not like the church was managing to convert many black people, not with that kind of discrimination.

All I can say is "whatever." And this is news? It's funny (I assume that was Hilzoy's point) just as it would be funny if millions of other white Americans tried to say anything vaguely hip-hoppish (BTW, my girls love "Who Let the Dogs Out; I'm feeling a little insecure right now). Anyone reading anything more to this is myopic. It was certainly no worse than Hillary's feigned accent when speaking to African-American churches!

All I can say is "whatever." And this is news? It's funny (I assume that was Hilzoy's point) just as it would be funny if millions of other white Americans tried to say anything vaguely hip-hoppish (BTW, my girls love "Who Let the Dogs Out; I'm feeling a little insecure right now). Anyone reading anything more to this is myopic. It was certainly no worse than Hillary's feigned accent when speaking to African-American churches!

I think it's misleading for that video to cut off Hillary's introduction of the quote. It makes it seem that those are her words, and that she spoke that way during her speech. I'm no Hillary fan, but I'd say that incident, in context, is noticeably less weird than Romney's "bling-bling", which is itself meaningless.

I'm no Hillary fan, but I'd say that incident, in context, is noticeably less weird than Romney's "bling-bling",. . .

I really can't believe we're actually debating which one is "weirder." African Americans everywhere are laughing at us (and should be). Signing off . . . (unless you're African American, in which case I completely defer to your opinion).

Both were self-aggrandizing exaggerations, though not outright lies. If Al Gore had wanted to tell the unvarnished truth, he would have said "I helped write a bill which created a program that led indirectly to the development of the internet".

Well, if Gore had wanted to modestly discount his role in the High Performance Computing and Communication Act 1991, yes, I suppose he could have said that. But the bill was created in direct response to Toward a National Research Network, a a paper authored by Leonard Kleinrock and Bob Kahn. (In case the names are not familiar to you, Kahn is the person who created the TCP protocol and co-created the IP protocol: Kleinrock established the mathematical theory of packet networks and hierarchical routing.)

I know of no one at all interested in the technical history of the 20th century who doesn't acknowledge that Gore's legislative work in the "High Performance Computing and Communication Act" was one of the key steps in moving from the Internet of the 1980s to the Internet as we know it today - and Gore knew what he was doing: the legislation was no accidental "oh look what happened". To claim responsibility for it is not modest, but it's not figurative. It's one of Gore's accomplishments.

Whereas Milt Romney's claim that he "saw his father marching with Martin Luther King" could, as you demonstrate, be understood by a sympathetic observer to be a figurative statement and not a lie. But you need that sympathetic outlook not to see it as, well, quite literally untrue.

I think when Romney asked "Who let the dogs out", he was misquoting his more familiar line, "Release the hounds!"

"And apparently some part of what I said about how the lack of documentation might be because Mitt Romney was not a public figure at this time was not understood."

I'm not going to bother responding further, as you're just repeating yourself without being responsive, in combination with descriptions that I don't recognize as in contact with reality ("Both were self-aggrandizing exaggerations"); enjoy your opinons.

I know of no one at all interested in the technical history of the 20th century who doesn't acknowledge that Gore's legislative work in the "High Performance Computing and Communication Act" was one of the key steps in moving from the Internet of the 1980s to the Internet as we know it today

One of the key steps? Yeah. I don't believe that anything I said would contradict that assessment. But that in no way equates to "taking the initiative to create the internet".

enjoy your opinons.

Shorter Gary Farber: Facts, schmacts. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but mine are right and yours are wrong.

But that in no way equates to "taking the initiative to create the internet".

In spite of everyone who was, ya know, actually involved, saying that it did? Yeah, I'll take your word over theirs.

When you post some facts, Gary might take notice.

Jackmormon, I recognize your important clarification of Gary's misstatement that the LDS Church forbade black membership, but I disagree that it somehow mitigates the Church's position, as you seemed to imply here:

yes, in a real sense, that's an exlusion from full membership, but one that feels a bit more familiar to a raised-in-the-church member.

Women and blacks could participate in some meaningful ways in American society before each group was able to vote, but that doesn't make their exclusion from the electorate any less reprehensible. Likewise, the Church's denial of the priesthood to women now is indefensible, just as its denial of the priesthood to blacks was indefensible.

Mitt does strike me as being quite deferential to authority, as almost all public figures in good standing in the Church are. I think that if he did harbor doubts about the pre-1978 policy on blacks, being the careful striver that he was, he would have never committed such thoughts to print when they could be used at some later date to question his loyalty to the Church leadership, and by implication, his loyalty to God.

its denial of the priesthood to blacks was indefensible

Oh, absolutely. I just meant that the difference might be less visible, since in a congregation it's not always a simple matter to pick out which of the men sitting in the pews carries the priesthood.

the Church's denial of the priesthood to women now is indefensible

The church will open priesthood up to women over its dead body. This gender dichotomy is fundamental part of the Mormon worldview. "Every man a priest" was a radically egalitarian idea back in the 1820s (and remember, every man in good standing with the Mormon church IS a priest according to the Mormon definition), but if every member is a priest, then priests will have no one to minister to. Then what good is it to be a priest?

Now, I don't like this inequality between gender roles, so I've left the church. Strange to say, I think extending the priesthood to black men was much much easier than extending it to women would be.

In spite of everyone who was, ya know, actually involved, saying that it did? Yeah, I'll take your word over theirs.

Find me one person who agrees that Al Gore "took the initiative to create the internet". You can't, because that is not, under the normal understanding of the meaning of those words, a factually accurate statement. "Create" means "to bring into being" in its most common usage, as per dictionary.com. All the key technological and software components of the internet were already in existence prior to Gore's bill becoming law. One of the most important consequences of the bill was in providing funding for the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIllinois, where Mosaic, the first web browser easily used by non-techies, was developed. But web browsing technology was already in existence prior to that point in time.

Here's what internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn did say about Gore's role:

"there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet."

This statement in no way whatsoever equates to "Gore took the initiative to create the internet".

Was Gore an early and tireless proponent of the internet's potential? Yes. Did he write a landmark piece of legislation that helped it develop into what it is today? Yes. Does he deserve a lot of credit for his vision in this area? Absolutely. I'm not arguing any of that. All I'm arguing is that the phrasing he used absolutely exaggerated his role. I think we'd agree that the media blew this overstatement out of proportion, that Gore didn't deserve to be labeled a liar for it, and that the spirit of the remark was accurate even if the substance wasn't quite. Romney's statements on his family's support for Civil Rights are absolutely the same. No one is disputing the fact that George Romney supported the cause of civil rights for African Americans. No one is disputing that he marched for that cause. All they're doing is parsing the words Mitt Romney used to express this for degrees of absolute truth. This is exactly what they did to Gore, and if you're going to say that the first was a travesty against truth and a glaring example of media bias, you're going have to do a much better job than you have in saying why the second isn't also.

When you post some facts, Gary might take notice.

You should be giving him this advice - I'm the one who's actually supplied the facts in this argument.

Xeynon: I'm the one who's actually supplied the facts in this argument.

Well, no. The facts are not on your side of the argument. Romney's claim about "seeing his dad march with Martin Luther King" is a lie only by careful and sympathetic interpretation: the facts are all against you, and you have carefully not cited a one. Gore's remark about his part in creating the modern Internet is based on solid and verifiable facts, which both Gary and I have cited, and you have then tried to disregard by a careful and unsympathetic interpretation.

As the point of the argument was, I thought, whether Romney's claim as true as Gore's - the facts are all against you. Double standards of interpretation are required to make your case. To get back to the original point of the post - this double standard is exactly what took place in 2000: subjecting everything Gore said to unsympathetic and narrow interpretation to try and make it untrue, while giving Bush a sympathetic hearing and allowing uncomfortable facts that disturb his portrait of himself to be ignored.

We can expect similar double standards to come for whoever wins the D nomination and whoever wins the R nomination, because that's what the media in the US do.

As the point of the argument was, I thought, whether Romney's claim as true as Gore's - the facts are all against you.

I really don't know what you're trying to say here, but I'd be obliged if you could give me an example of these "facts" which are against me. You know, sort of like those facts I listed in my last post about Gore and his role in the development of the internet, and Romney and his family's role in Civil Rights. All I see here is "you're wrong", which is an opinion, not a fact.

Double standards of interpretation are required to make your case.

I find this an absolutely laughable statement, considering that I repeatedly said that both Romney and Gore were exaggerating by using misleading language, but what both said had an element of truth behind it, i.e. repeatedly applied the exact same standard to both. This statement leads me to believe that you don't understand what a "double standard" is. Hint - it's what Gary is applying when he says Gore embellishing by twisting the usual meaning of words is okay but Romney's doing so is a damned lie.

We can expect similar double standards to come for whoever wins the D nomination and whoever wins the R nomination, because that's what the media in the US do.

How is it possible that the media has both an anti-liberal and an anti-conservative bias simultaneously? I suspect your definition of "anti-liberal bias" means "sometimes reports things I don't like/agree with". That ain't how facts work, my friend, nor how journalism works. I will agree with you that the U.S. media is often incompetent, biased toward predetermined narratives, and drawn to inane non-stories, and that some outlets (Fox News, the Nation, etc.) definitely have an ideological slant. That is true of the media in every country, because those are human characteristics (something I know from experience - I've lived in four of them, on three continents). But saying "Gore exaggerated in saying that it was his initiative that created the internet" is not an example of bias unless, as I've already demonstrated, you have a very odd and counterintuitive sense of how the words "took the initiative to create the internet" should be interpreted.

But perhaps I should have just responded to your post by sticking my fingers in my ears and saying "blah blah blah I CAN'T HEAR YOU!", since that seems your preferred method of "argument".

but I'd be obliged if you could give me an example of these "facts" which are against me

Sorry, did you miss this? I posted about this yesterday. Gore's legislative contribution to the modern Internet is a fact.

I suspect your definition of "anti-liberal bias" means "sometimes reports things I don't like/agree with".

No, I think that's the definition of "anti-conservative bias".

The "anti-liberal bias" is shown by the way in which the media, in both 2000 and 2004, consistently looked for the most uncharitable interpretation in stories about Gore, while looking for the most charitable interpretation in stories about Bush.

"about Gore and Kerry", sorry. (Pre-coffee.)

Gore's legislative contribution to the modern Internet is a fact.

A fact I don't deny. In fact, a fact I supplied MYSELF, in one of my own posts. I'll re-post what I said, since it seems you didn't bother to read it the first time:

Yes. Did he write a landmark piece of legislation that helped it develop into what it is today? Yes.... Posted by: Xeynon | January 22, 2008 at 11:34 PM

But the fact that he made a major legislative contribution to its development does not mean he "took the initiative to create it". He didn't create it, under any reasonable interpretation of what the word "create" means. Try again.

in both 2000 and 2004, consistently looked for the most uncharitable interpretation in stories about Gore, while looking for the most charitable interpretation in stories about Bush.

I'm with you, to an extent, on the Gore/Kerry part. But how was the media (outside of Fox News and conservative talk radio) unduly charitable to Bush? The lead anchor for a major news network was fired for hyping an anti-Bush story that turned out to be based on forged evidence. The media constantly publicized stories about Bush's youthful indiscretions. They repeated the same sort of character-based negative memes (he's dumb, lazy, etc.) about him that they did about Kerry and Gore. Left-wing pundits were practically calling him a Nazi.

Sorry, I just don't see it.

A fact I don't deny.

Good. So what is the argument then?

Gore made reference to a fact.

Romney made reference to a fantasy.

You can, as you demonstrated, unsympathetically reinterpret what Gore said as basically untrue, and sympathetically reinterpret what Romney said as basically true, but that requires extreme double standards. If you interpret what they said by the same standard, Gore was telling the truth, and Romney was lying.

But how was the media (outside of Fox News and conservative talk radio) unduly charitable to Bush?

Bush and his administration had, at that point: not actually won the 2000 election, but had been awarded the Presidency; let the worst terrorist attack in US history happen on his watch; attempted to prevent any investigation into how the US had let that attack take place, and had obstructed the 9/11 Commission when one was finally appointed: had failed to capture the leader of the organization responsible for that attack, and claimed publicly that he'd lost interest in that leader; had outed a covert CIA agent and obstructed the investigation into the outing: had lied the US into a war of aggression against a country which was no threat to the US: had lied about how much this war would cost and how long it would last: had paid out large sums to war profiteers with strong connections to the Republican party and directly to the Bush administration. An unbiased media would have focussed on all of this: Bush was unfit to be President, the Bush administration was both incompetent and dishonest, and if the Republican party opted to have him continue as their candidate, the rest of the country needed to kick the rascals out. (As they did, despite the sympathetic media coverage of Bush and unsympathetic media coverage of Kerry. Rigged elections are a bugger.)

Instead, as much time was given to Bush telling lies about his tax cuts and that Social Security was going to fail, and the Bush campaign's systematic lies about Kerry - which were given a "fair and balanced" presentation as if it was "fair" to present lies about one candidate as if they were facts "balanced" with a truth. Bush's desertion during the Vietnam war got sympathetically unbalanced in favor of a faked-up "story" about Dan Rather - absurd, yes? If Bush was going to run on a lying attack devaluing Kerry's war record, Bush needed a defense against the perfectly true charges that his own war record was that of laziness and poltroonery culminating in desertion. The mainsteam media coverage of this was minimal.

You can, as you demonstrated, unsympathetically reinterpret what Gore said as basically untrue, and sympathetically reinterpret what Romney said as basically true, but that requires extreme double standards. If you interpret what they said by the same standard, Gore was telling the truth, and Romney was lying.

I do interpret what they both said by using the same standards. And as I said, I think they were both not so much lying as embellishing. I'm not particularly sympathetic to either.

Re: Bush.

I share a lot of your complaints about him. Where I disagree is in my assessment that these things WERE talked up in the media. Quite a bit, in fact. I'm an American and an avid follower of the U.S. media, I regularly read Time, the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. and I can assure you that insofar as the facts supported them, stories along the lines you discuss were put forward. There were articles pointing out that Cheney weasel-worded his attempt to connect al Qaeda to Iraq. That the rationale for the invasion kept being changed ex post facto. The Valerie Plame story was front page news. None of it ended up making a difference in the election, unfortunately, but I assure you, it was reported.

As for lies about Kerry, well - the media did point out that his famous "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" statement was taken out of context, but it nevertheless reinforced an impression on the part of the voters that was unfortunately true - Kerry had changed his positions on a number of issues. Now, I think we'd agree that this wasn't a good reason not to vote for him (smart people change their minds all the time), but it wasn't an outright lie to say so.

I work part-time as a journalist. I know some journalists. Most of them are personally liberal. Almost all of them voted for Kerry. Something like 48 out of 50 contributors to Slate voted for Kerry in the last election. Trust me, if they were going to slant their coverage, the slant wouldn't be pro-Bush (the exceptions I noted earlier aside).

Rigged elections are a bugger.

Would you care to provide evidence to support this allegation? Or are left-wing conspiracy theories enough?

You can, as you demonstrated, unsympathetically reinterpret what Gore said as basically untrue, and sympathetically reinterpret what Romney said as basically true, but that requires extreme double standards. If you interpret what they said by the same standard, Gore was telling the truth, and Romney was lying.

I do interpret what they both said by using the same standards. And as I said, I think they were both not so much lying as embellishing. I'm not particularly sympathetic to either.

Re: Bush.

I share a lot of your complaints about him. Where I disagree is in my assessment that these things WERE talked up in the media. Quite a bit, in fact. I'm an American and an avid follower of the U.S. media, I regularly read Time, the NY Times, Washington Post, etc. and I can assure you that insofar as the facts supported them, stories along the lines you discuss were put forward. There were articles pointing out that Cheney weasel-worded his attempt to connect al Qaeda to Iraq. That the rationale for the invasion kept being changed ex post facto. The Valerie Plame story was front page news. None of it ended up making a difference in the election, unfortunately, but I assure you, it was reported.

As for lies about Kerry, well - the media did point out that his famous "I voted for the $87 billion before I voted against it" statement was taken out of context, but it nevertheless reinforced an impression on the part of the voters that was unfortunately true - Kerry had changed his positions on a number of issues. Now, I think we'd agree that this wasn't a good reason not to vote for him (smart people change their minds all the time), but it wasn't an outright lie to say so.

I work part-time as a journalist. I know some journalists. Most of them are personally liberal. Almost all of them voted for Kerry. Something like 48 out of 50 contributors to Slate voted for Kerry in the last election. Trust me, if they were going to slant their coverage, the slant wouldn't be pro-Bush (the exceptions I noted earlier aside).

Rigged elections are a bugger.

Would you care to provide evidence to support this allegation? Or are left-wing conspiracy theories enough?

I do interpret what they both said by using the same standards.

No, you didn't.

I accept that you honestly believe that you did, but that acceptance of your honest inability to see the double standard you were using to judge a Democrat and a Republican, means that I cannot take seriously your assessment of the media coverage of Bush's disastrous Presidency in the run-up to the 2004 election. If you have internalized a double standard to such a degree that you are honestly unaware of it, then you can't be considered a reliable judge of media coverage.

Shorter Jesurgislac: Because you don't agree with me, your perceptions of reality must be faulty, therefore I don't have to actually respond substantively to anything you say.

The "my opponent is crazy - would you beleive a crazy man?" tack. Nice.

Shorter Xeynon: I'm losing, ad hom my opponent.

I'm losing, ad hom my opponent.

Uhh... you do know what an "ad hominem" attack is, don't you? If you do, you should realize that I haven't made one.

You don't think that the first sentence of your previous comment, that begins "Shorter Jesurgislac" is an ad hominem? What would you call it, then?

Maybe we need an open thread to discuss what to call the blogresponse "Shorter [handle]": followed by a hostile summary of what the person said.

I responded substantively to your assertion that Romney's false claim that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King and Gore's true claim that he took the initiative in creating the Internet. Romney was making a claim about something his father never did: Gore was talking about something that he in fact did. You ignored all the substantive responses, and insisted on focussing on a precise and unsympathetic interpretation of the exact words Gore used, to claim that they are untrue, in parallel with a figurative and sympathetic interpretation of Romney's claim which would make it flowery bragging rather an outright lie.

When you claim that these two methods of interpreting what Romney and Gore said are the same, I have to leave the argument.

(Not only something that Romney's father never did, but something that Romney himself could not have done... since on the date that Romney claimed he "saw his father march" he was in France.)

Whereas, in the 1980s, Al Gore really was actually and directly involved in the created of the Internet, culminating in the 1991 Act.

Now when you claim that Gore talking about his real accomplishments, and Romney talking about things that never happened, are the same thing, and that you have no double standard in judging this, I think you are, honestly, deluding yourself. There seems to be a fairly obvious double standard going on here.

You don't think that the first sentence of your previous comment, that begins "Shorter Jesurgislac" is an ad hominem?

I don't think it's not an ad hominem - I know it's not an ad hominem. An ad hominem is a personal attack on an opponent's intelligence or character rather than a response to his or her argument. In no way did I impugn your intelligence or character.

What would you call it, then?

A dismissive summary of your assertion that because we disagree, I must be deluded (incidentally closer to an ad hominem than anything I've said)? Sure. A personal attack on you? No.

I responded substantively to your assertion that Romney's false claim that he saw his father march with Martin Luther King

Right, and I'm with you all the way - on the falseness of the claim and everything else.

and Gore's true claim that he took the initiative in creating the Internet.

The problem here is, as I've demonstrated, this wasn't a true claim either. Gore promoted the internet, funded its development, helped make it what it is today? Yes. Created it? No. It existed before the passage of his bill, as I've pointed out repeatedly. You cannot "create" something that already exists. Hence, he did not "create" the internet, any more than Mitt Romney "saw" his father march with MLK.

You ignored all the substantive responses,

Not true. I responded point-by-point (though I wonder why I bothered, since you've already confessed you don't bother to read what other people have to say).

and insisted on focussing on a precise and unsympathetic interpretation of the exact words Gore used, to claim that they are untrue, in parallel with a figurative and sympathetic interpretation of Romney's claim which would make it flowery bragging rather an outright lie.

You have misinterpreted what I said. How many times do I have to repeat this? Neither claim is, strictly speaking, factually true. Both are flowery bragging, to use your phrase. Both, nevertheless, are embellishments on indisputably true facts - Gore's advocacy for the internet and the Romney family's public support for the civil rights movement. There is no double standard here. Move along.

When you claim that these two methods of interpreting what Romney and Gore said are the same, I have to leave the argument.

Good. I'm tired of arguing with you.

Neither claim is, strictly speaking, factually true.

Still clinging to that? Ah well. Being "fair and balanced", you know, does not mean distorting and decrying one person's accomplishments so that he looks about the same as someone who made a self-aggrandising boast about something that never happened.

Incidentally, another difference between the two: Al Gore's statement (cite was made ex tempore in response to an interview question. As you'd know if you'd followed the link and read the paper "Al Gore and the Creation of the Internet", which evidently you didn't.

Mitt Romney's claim that he "saw his father march with Martin Luther King" was made during a speech on “Faith in America” at College Station, Texas: it was a planned statement. He then repeated the claim, in those exact words, at least once - to Tim Russert on "Meet the Press".

So you are subjecting to extreme textual criticism an assertion Al Gore made impromptu about his accomplishments, in order to claim it is not factually true.

Yet you let go as mere rhetorical flourish, Romney's straightforwardly untrue assertion about what he himself saw, and about what his father did.

And you still say that this distinct double standard by which you judge Gore and judge Romney is equal? I'm not surprised that you're tired of trying to argue that: I am surprised that you'd even try.

It existed before the passage of his bill, as I've pointed out repeatedly. You cannot "create" something that already exists.
This is pretty clearly false. Most things which are "created" are actually modified versions of earlier things. Given the standards you're insisting on, Edison didn't "create" the light bulb, as he just improved on a pre-existing idea. Create is commonly used to mean "created in the current form", and by this standard Gore's usage is correct.

Does anyone really think that Gore meant to claim that he did all of the programming, built the routers, laid the cable, etc...? He's a legislator, any reasonable reading of his remarks has to be that he was referring to the legislative work necesssary for the internet as it exists today. You even admit that his contributions were crucial, but insist that the use of the word create makes it a lie? I think you're being ridiculously pedantic here, Xeynon.

It existed before the passage of his bill, as I've pointed out repeatedly. You cannot "create" something that already exists.
This is pretty clearly false. Most things which are "created" are actually modified versions of earlier things. Given the standards you're insisting on, Edison didn't "create" the light bulb, as he just improved on a pre-existing idea. Create is commonly used to mean "created in the current form", and by this standard Gore's usage is correct.

Does anyone really think that Gore meant to claim that he did all of the programming, built the routers, laid the cable, etc...? He's a legislator, any reasonable reading of his remarks has to be that he was referring to the legislative work necesssary for the internet as it exists today. You even admit that his contributions were crucial, but insist that the use of the word create makes it a lie? I think you're being ridiculously pedantic here, Xeynon.

Dammit. Sorry about the double post. I blame Gore's poor design of this internet thing.

You guys are both getting hung up on the parsing.

Jes: From your own cite:

Clearly, then, if we take Gore literally at his word, he could not have "taken the initiative in creating the Internet." As the ARPANET moved from research to deployment, Gore was finishing college and serving in the Army in Vietnam. From 1976 to 1985, Gore served in the House of Representatives. From 1985 to 1992, he served in the Senate. The record shows that his interest in national computer networking issues became acute during his years in the Senate - when the Internet clearly was fully in operation.

Your own cite repeatedly makes the point that Gore's declaration was “a poor choice of words - sloppy speaking on his part” and admits that ‘the Internet clearly was fully in operation” when Gore became interested.


Xeynon: OTOH, Larv has a valid point. Gore was instrumental in the evolution of the Internet to what we know it as today. He took the initiative in helping create the Internet of today.

He was groping for words in a live interview. They came out wrong or at least not qualified as they should have been. OTOH once the media ran with it, it took on its own life and there was zero chance he could have set the record straight.


You’re both partly right and partly wrong. I call that a draw. ;)


Please not that OCSteve on this date and time did in fact defend Al Gore.

Also note that he still can’t spell as he obviously meant “Please note…”.

@OCS: your subconscience was still in denial.

OCSteve: Xeynon: OTOH, Larv has a valid point.

Whereas I don't? Or didn't you read back that far? (Can't blame you, actually: this turned into a most pointless argument.)

Please note that OCSteve on this date and time did in fact defend Al Gore.

:-D Well, it's nice to see you can defend Democrats against completely unsubstantiated attacks once you can accept that they are, in fact, completely unsubstantiated. We'll see you valiantly attacking the Swift Boat Liars in 2012, you mark my words...

"Your own cite repeatedly makes the point that Gore's declaration was 'a poor choice of words - sloppy speaking on his part' and admits that ‘the Internet clearly was fully in operation' when Gore became interested."

Beg pardon, but this is silly. I got monthly print-outs of Arpanet's SF-LOVERS discussions through the late Seventies and early Eighties; I knew plenty of people on Arpanet. Arpanet wasn't the internet, no one called Arpanet the Internet, nor the Internet Arpanet, and they're two completely separable things, though obviously the public internet grew out of the limited-access Arpanet.

There was no internet-as-we-know-it prior to TCP/IP; it was strictly ARPAnet, with no public access. (That's 1985, to be precise.)

Claiming that Al Gore's statement is false because allegedly Arpanet was already the internet is to claim that Arpanet was what the internet became. This becomes an argument little different from whether a month-old fetus is a full-grown baby.

They're the same thing, if what you mean is that only several hundred authorized people are able to access the internet, via a handful of university hubs, and that's all it consists of. If that's the internet, then all you people have to get off it right now.

Alternatvely, the claim is false.

I'll be interested in refutations from anyone online prior to 1985. So as not to be a snob, I'll be generously open to listening to anyone who can demonstrate how to use Gopher, so anyone else who only got online as late as the Nineties isn't excluded.

Really, this whole thing is lunatic. Gore made a perfectly true, though understandably abbreviated statement: that he took the legislative initiative that created the internet. That's just a true statement. It's short, but there's nothing false about it in any way. That there are always further details that can be expanded upon doesn't change that it is true.

Romney's statement, on the other hand, is a straight out lie: I saw my father march with Martin Luther King. It didn't happen, and he never saw it. Period, end of story.

If you want to claim he always intended it as a metaphor, fine. I think the claim is clearly laughable: does anyone maintain that Romney would have been happy to been clearer in all his speechs about this, and say "I imagined my father and Martin Luther King together...," instead?

In comparison, does anyone claim that Al Gore would have had a problem saying "I took the initiative in writing the legislation that created the Internet out of the ARPAnet"?

In one case, we have a true statement where the objection is that Gore wasn't lengthy enough in an offhand sentence about spelling out the details (though the only reason for this objection seems to be to prove that he meant what he clearly meant).

In the other case, we have a false statement made in speech after speech where the objection is that it's a direct lie. (George Romney never marched with Martin Luther King, Mitt never saw it.)

And we have someone who claims that a truly objective person sees these two things as the same, and only a biased person would claim there's any difference between the two.

I agree with Larv, but I'd like to open up the context of this spat about Gore's words.

I'll leave Romney out of it; wait long enough and the typing monkeys in his head will say anything and everything.

I do thank him for inventing the Olympics, especially the torch-carrying to kick off the show. That was a nifty innovation.

Who cares whether Gore was in fact claiming that he "invented the Internet" or not, in the political context of the last 28 years, what was really happening was that the radical end of the Republican Party, who were tapping into the grand American fetish of denigrating and denying any and all good done by government, could not, and cannot handle the notion that first, a government scientist in the Defense Department somehow linked a few computers together in the early 1970s(?) to create ARPANET, and second, that a legislator had the foresight to recognize the importance of a nascent technology for the common good, whether that common good was served by government facilitation and/or by private sector innovation and commercialization.

It doesn't fit the ideological construct of the free market fetishers and it certainly doesn't fit the rancid political presentation of the government-haters infesting the body politic, who, natch, don't comment here, except for the sake of argument.

After all, a guy came up with an idea, the ARPANET, not because he would be able to exercise some stock options or all of the other "incentives" that the fetishers demand must be in place before anyone can roust themselves out of bed in the morning, and not because he would be fired for not meeting his quota or all of the other penalties the fetishers believe must be in place for any work to get done, but because he simply had an idea and thought he would carry through with it.

I don't expect he cared either whether he received an in-grade GS rating increase or whether the common good would be served.

But, maybe it takes two invisible hands to make the world work, unlike the one-armed bandit Adam Smith conceived of, not that there is anything wrong with that, as far as it goes.

Further, Al Gore did not say "I invented the Internet." He said, "I took the initiative in creating the Internet."

Claiming the two statements are identical, let alone using the first statment as the exact quote, is a type of literalism best left to the science department at Bob Jones University.

It would be like claiming that Gary Farber invented HTML rather than simply giving him credit for facilitating the spread of HTML, or claiming he invented the correct spelling of Andrew "Olmsted", rather than admitting that he facilitated the correct spelling on numerous websites.

It would be like Ronald Reagan insisting that Don Ameche, rather than the Defense Department, invented the Internet (with later development by NASA, and God forbid, the useless, libertine professors at Stanford University). After all, everyone knows, especially Reagan, that Don Ameche invented the telephone.

More on Gore, this from Bob Kahn and Vincent Cerf, who along with the porn industry, invented the TCP/IP protocol that is at the core of our internet communications:

"As the two people who designed the basic architecture and the core protocols that make the internet work, we would like to acknowledge VP Gore's contributions as a Congressman, Senator, and Vice President. No other elected official, to our knowledge, has made a greater contribution over a longer period of time." (Source: Boutell.com
http://www.boutell.com/newf aq/history/gore.html) That may be a letter off; Google Boutell.com

Finally, I would like to give full credit to the Republican National Committee, and the conservative media, especially talk radio, for inventing the fantasy Al Gore and his fantasy statement "I invented the internet."

The internet itself merely improved on the speed and sustainability of horsecrap.

Fetishists, not "fetishers".

To claim that my use of the term "fetishers" in place of the correct term "fetishists" was a literal transcription of what I really meant is a gross misrepresentation.

In fact, it's a fetish of a gross misrepresentation. Leave such practices to the professional fetishists, which none of you are, .... professional, that is.

Good grief. I didn't realize the famous Gore quote had spilled over into this thread.

Reminders: the CNN transcript and more to the story.

In one case, we have a true statement where the objection is that Gore wasn't lengthy enough in an offhand sentence about spelling out the details (though the only reason for this objection seems to be to prove that he meant what he clearly meant).

In the other case, we have a false statement made in speech after speech where the objection is that it's a direct lie. (George Romney never marched with Martin Luther King, Mitt never saw it.)

Fair enough. The fact that Gore's remark was made ex tem does make the "he just misspoke" defense credible. I just wish that certain people would admit that he did, in fact, misspeak, and in a way that exaggerated his own (already significant, as I have repeatedly acknowledged) contributions. As for Romney's claim, I'd say that it's a lie only in the literal sense, but there's no question that it was a self-aggrandizing twisting of the truth.

And we have someone who claims that a truly objective person sees these two things as the same, and only a biased person would claim there's any difference between the two.

No, you've hit on a fair distinction between the two - the fact that Romney's claim was repeatedly made in speeches does make it more weasely than Gore's. You should realize, if you read my posts, that I'm no great fan of Romney's. He's a shameless panderer, and this exaggeration fits right in with it. I just don't think the flap over this is that big a deal. His family did support civil rights, at a time when it took political courage to do so, so raking him over the coals for embellishing the actual truth of events seems excessive to me.

"I just don't think the flap over this is that big a deal."

I don't think Romney's making up stories about how he saw his father with Martin Luther King is, in itself, something that taken in isolation should be a disqualifier for the presidency; if it was a weird isolated incident, then that's all it would be.

I have other opinions about Romney, largely negative, but they're really neither here nor there, as I really don't expect many, if any, people to care what my opinions are.

But I stand on my point that Romney is a guy whose main claim to deserve the Presidency of the United States is that he has teh mad awesome leadership skilz, and I say that when discussing the civil rights subgenre of American leadership issues, Romney is a guy with no record of ever uttering an opinion through age 31 (or for how long afterwards?), through 1978, about his church's active and ongoing racial discrimination, and that that record of silence is something worth mentioning about Romney.

If you feel it's of no importance, fine. We'll have to agree to disagree.

Myself, if Romney's relatives or friends could produce, if not a letter or two from Mitt -- young pup at age 30, say (and, hey, we know from the other thread that the internet was long active, after all, so surely Mitt was writing loads of emails back in 1977, no? no?) -- at least an anecdote of an alleged conversation, in which Mitt voiced a murmur or two, I'd take that into account.

It's not as if we don't have some record of Mitt's views on the Vietnam War, at far younger ages, after all, in precisely the fashion I'm pointing out we lack of Mitt's views on African-Americans and the LDS.

So I don't see why it should be verboten for someone to consider that thought.

But if Your Mileage Varies, fine. Just don't tell me my view is illegitimate, please.

Finally, I would like to give full credit to the Republican National Committee, and the conservative media, especially talk radio, for inventing the fantasy Al Gore and his fantasy statement "I invented the internet."

Here is why Al Gore did not run for President this time around:

There is only so much crap that any one individual should be required to swallow in one lifetime, and Gore was force fed his lifetime supply in 2000.

He's got a good gig. People give him excellent and well deserved awards. People make movies about his damned PowerPoint presentations, and folks line up to see them.

He is no longer required to stand in public and try to debate a guy like George Bush, a man whose inability to conceive or articulate a thought in plain English prose is rivaled only by his annoyance that anyone expect him to do so, and whose ignorance is only equaled by his pride in it.

Gore's on top of the world, doing things that are important to him, and that are valuable in their own right. He's got nothing to prove, to anyone. He certainly no longer needs to give a rat's hind end if anyone thinks he invented the Internet or not.

I hope he's enjoying it. He certainly appears to be.

Mazel tov.

Thanks -

I'd say that it's a lie only in the literal sense

How many senses are there?

Romney is a guy whose main claim to deserve the Presidency of the United States is that he has teh mad awesome leadership skilz

I haven't been following his campaign that closely, but I hope that isn't what he's staking his hopes on.

IMO Romney can make a fair claim to teh mad awesome managerial skilz, and/or teh mad awesome deal-making skilz. Props to him.

But leadership is another thing altogether.

Thanks -

I just wish that certain people would admit that he did, in fact, misspeak

Actually, I tend to feel that kind of criticism can really only be made by people who have never in their lives expressed a thought a tad awkwardly in response to an unexpected question. I take it that this group - the Perfect Responders, shall we say? - includes yourself: I am modestly willing to admit that it does not include me.

and in a way that exaggerated his own (already significant, as I have repeatedly acknowledged) contributions.

Actually, Al Gore's single sentence about his contribution towards developing the modern Internet sounds quite modest, next to what Robert Kahn had to say about Al Gore. You do know who Bob Kahn is, Xeynon? You evidently didn't bother to follow the link, I posted twice on this thread, because then you'd have known yesterday that Al Gore's comment was in response to an unexpected question.

No, you've hit on a fair distinction between the two

Gary "hit on it"? Not to decry Gary, but it's all a matter of plain public record: it took me a matter of seconds to find out the circumstances under which Romney made this claim, and of course had you followed the link I'd provided. Only someone absolutely determined to find out nothing about what Romney actually said and what Gore actually said could have been unaware of this distinction. Yet, apparently, you were, until after it had been pointed out to you in so many words twice.

"He's got a good gig. People give him excellent and well deserved awards. People make movies about his damned PowerPoint presentations, and folks line up to see them."

His talents as a thespian are finally beginning to be recognized:

[...] This Death Star model is from the climactic sequence of the first new DVD. A group of nudist alien con artists have bilked the people of Earth out of all their possessions, including the planet itself. Then the nudist aliens do what any colonizing force would do — they surround Earth with solid gold, jewel-encrusted Death Stars. A ragtag band of Earthicans (not Earthlings — they now call themselves Earthicans) leads a last-ditch attack on these Death Stars. The rebels include Futurama's main characters, the Harlem Globetrotters, and the mascots of three major holidays: Robot Santa, Kwanzaa-bot, and the Hannukah Zombie. Oh, and also Al Gore.

Gore provides his own voice — it's his third time on the show. He appeared the first time as the leader of the Vice Presidential Action Rangers, and then as Emperor of the Moon, but the new DVD is his finest hour. Geeks will be on the edge of their seats as the Nobel laureate fights his way past the defenses of the nudist aliens and enters a gold Death Star through an unguarded vent, shouting, "Finally, I get to save the Earth with deadly lasers instead of deadly slide shows!"

Don't forget: the real Al Gore is stiff and humorless. You know that, and that's what matters.

russell: How many senses are there?

It's an irregular verb. Republicans make figurative statements which express a higher truth. Independents exaggerate. Democrats lie.

Don't forget: the real Al Gore is stiff and humorless.

Yeah, and worse yet, he grew a beard!!

Futurama is a hilarious show.

Thanks -

You do know who Bob Kahn is, Xeynon? You evidently didn't bother to follow the link, I posted twice on this thread, because then you'd have known yesterday that Al Gore's comment was in response to an unexpected question.

Since I quoted him upthread, it should be obvious to you that, yes, I know who Bob Kahn is. Once again, I quote my own post since you apparently didn't be bothered to read it the first time:

Here's what internet pioneers Vint Cerf and Bob Kahn did say about Gore's role:

"there is no question in our minds that while serving as Senator, Gore's initiatives had a significant and beneficial effect on the still-evolving Internet."

Posted by: Xeynon | January 22, 2008 at 11:34 PM

What I said - that "had a significant and beneficial effect on" is not equivalent to "created" - remains true. I know the circumstances under which Gore made his remark. But no one has argued that he simply misspoke. That's not how he defended himself, at least initially. If he'd come out and said "I just misphrased what I meant to say" or something of the sort, the whole thing would have blown over much faster.

Gary "hit on it"?

In the context of this coversation? Yes. Had someone brought up the circumstances under which Gore's remark occurred earlier, I would have acknowledged that it was a good point. But nobody did - instead they insisted on defending the truth of the remark itself, rather than defending Gore on the basis of the circumstances in which he made it. You continue to do this yourself.

had you followed the link I'd provided.

Considering that you had to ask whether I knew who Bob Kahn was AFTER I QUOTED HIM BY NAME IN AN EARLIER POST, and you've earlier stated that you don't bother to read what people who disagree with you say, I feel secure in saying that you're the last person from whom I'm going to take lessons on how to listen fairly to an opponent's argument.

"If he'd come out and said 'I just misphrased what I meant to say' or something of the sort, the whole thing would have blown over much faster."

I'd argue that no, it wouldn't have, as I have a truly marvelous proof of this proposition, but, alas!, this comment box is too narrow to contain it.

In lieu of that, I suggest reading couple of hundred of a Bob Somerby's greatest hits.

No, really.

No, really.

Gary, you'll get absolutely no argument from me against the notion that the media can be lazy and unfair, or that it has been so toward Gore in the past, or that the "Gore is a condescending bore who serially exaggerates" storyline has taken on an unwarranted life of its own.

The difference between you and I, I think, is that I think the media is generally equally lazy and unfair toward Republican candidates.

"The difference between you and I, I think, is that I think the media is generally equally lazy and unfair toward Republican candidates."

The difference between you and I, I think, is that I think that the media is lazy and unfair towards Republican candidates.

But not what you said. Particularly not if we clarify that we're speaking of office-holders as well as candidates.

I'd suggest that there are various institutional forces at play in the press that tend to favor certain narratives and disfavor other narratives.

These narratives are not evenly distributed by party, by my observation. Some don't favor Republicans, and do favor Democrats, to be sure: plucky underdog fights oppressive big corporation, say.

But without trying to pluck an imaginary metric out of my, um, out of nowhere, I don't think a sound case can be made that these narratives somehow wind up magically balanced and evenly divided by party.

I don't observe that there's any mechanism at work that would cause such an effect.

Again, YMMV.

Actually, I think it can be argued that there is a mechanism that automatically favors conservative/institutional narratives generally in society. The US is a bit of an exception to the rule, in that in some senses, 'change' is the status quo, but I think that means that our deference to the way things are is more deeply submerged and therefore harder to identify when it affects narratives. It would be nice if, when conservatives are revolutionaries, they'd have the decency to change how they identify themselves, but no one listens to me.

... but no one listens to me.

Welcome to the club.

Points well taken, Gary. All of this ties into an entirely different debate, about the norms of American culture and how they influence the media - a whole different kettle of fish. I haven't really exhaustively thought out whether on balance our cultural norms more favor propagating conservative or liberal narratives, though my instinct is that you're correct and it's probably some of both. I also agree that there's not really any reason to believe that they'd magically balance out.

I'd submit that since the US political parties are themselves products of American culture, and represent the two most successful American political ideologies, the balance would be somewhat close to even, because ideologies to which American norms genuinely are hostile (e.g. socialism, authoritarianism) have not flourished here. But yeah, there's not necessarily a "magical balance", and certainly the anti-intellectual/anti-wonk tendency (which drives me as crazy as it drives a lot of intelligent liberals) favors, if not Republicans themselves, at least the Republican campaigning style of the past 30 years or so. That Obama seems to understand how to get around this while still being a liberal wonk is what makes me think he'd be such a great candidate for you guys.

Had someone brought up the circumstances under which Gore's remark occurred earlier, I would have acknowledged that it was a good point. But nobody did

Well, apart from me, of course. I linked to a transcript of what Gore said and the circumstances under which he said it here, and I explicitly compared the circumstances here.

Considering that you had to ask whether I knew who Bob Kahn was

I'm afraid when I said "You do know who Bob Kahn is, Xeynon?" I was being sarcastic.

Speaking of Al Gore, he's come out in support of gay marriage. Rah.

I explicitly compared the circumstances here.

Yes, you did - and I acknowledged that you had a good point in my very next post:

The fact that Gore's remark was made ex tem does make the "he just misspoke" defense credible. I
Posted by: Xeynon | January 23, 2008 at 08:24 PM

Please take the time to read my posts before you accuse me of obliviousness next time.

I'm afraid when I said "You do know who Bob Kahn is, Xeynon?" I was being sarcastic.

You don't think I was being sarcastic in my reply? ;)

Fair enough. Tone is often lost on the internets. I don't think the sarcasm was warranted, though, since while you and I disagree on our interpretation of the facts, it should be abundantly clear to you that I'm familiar with them, given that I've cited many of the same sources you have in making my argument, including the aforementioned Mr. Kahn.

Speaking of Al Gore, he's come out in support of gay marriage.

And he's absolutely right to do so. I always have liked him a lot more than Clinton, despite the impression my razzing him in this thread may have created.

Ugh... sorry about the formatting error.

Italica delendo!

Please take the time to read my posts before you accuse me of obliviousness next time.

Please don't complain about being "accused of obliviousness" when you are, in fact, obliviously claiming that a point was not raised after I had, in fact, raised it.

it should be abundantly clear to you that I'm familiar with them

Since you were unaware that Gore's comment was made ex tempore and Romney's comment was made as part of a prepared speech, and repeated, until I told you twice and Gary told you a third time and the third time it finally sank in... no, it is far from abundantly clear to me that you are "familiar with them": you appear to become familiar with them after you've been told about them three times.

Sorry, jesurgislac - re-reading the exchange I just realized that I had mistakenly attributed the good point that you made to Gary instead (he elaborated on it downthread). As such I understand your irritation. In any case, it was not intentional - I was at work at the time, was away from my desk for a few hours, and had a lot to catch up on by the time I returned, and just mixed things up. I hope you will acknowledge that I did, however, acknowledge that it was a good point as soon as it was raised.

Since you were unaware that Gore's comment was made ex tempore and Romney's comment was made as part of a prepared speech, and repeated, until I told you twice and Gary told you a third time and the third time it finally sank in... no, it is far from abundantly clear to me that you are "familiar with them":

*sigh*. I was aware of it, but didn't address it, because it wasn't what you were arguing initially. You were arguing the substantive meaning of what Gore said. When you shifted tack to discuss the circumstances under which it was said, I acknowledged that you were on what I viewed as much firmer ground. And any notion that I am somehow trying to vindicate Romney completely is just not true - for the entire thread I have basically agreed that he exaggerated and deserved to be called for it. All I argued in his defense was that the crucifixion he was undergoing here was excessive.

It would be far less distasteful to discuss things with you if you could take your arguments and subtract all the condescending snark and insinuation. I'm sometimes guilty of those sins too, so I'll endeavor to do so. I think we both ought to remember that in exchanges like this some degree of slippage and misunderstanding of each other's points is inevitable but it needn't be assumed that it's because of stupidity, malice, or dishonesty on the part of the other party.

I was aware of it

So when you claimed there was no difference, you were in fact arguing in bad faith all down this thread?

Good grief. Bye.

So when you claimed there was no difference, you were in fact arguing in bad faith all down this thread?

No. Because I was arguing about the substance of the comment - and I stand by my statement that in substance, it was an exaggeration no different than Romney's statement. The fact that it was an off-the-cuff exaggeration makes it more a more understandable and forgivable exaggeration - but doesn't change the fact that it was an exaggeration. It is, however, utterly futile to argue such nuances with you, because you're obviously not interested in them.

Good grief. Bye.

How very gracious of you.

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