November 14, 2004

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Danny Okrent Self-Parody Edition)

Danny Okrent writes:

The New York Times > Week in Review > The Public Editor: It's Good to Be Objective. It's Even Better to Be Right: Reporter Jodi Wilgoren provoked a flood of complaints when she described John Kerry in April as "a social loner" without attributing her characterization to anyone -- as if her own experience covering the senator, and discussing him with scores of his friends and associates, were not evidence enough.

I know some "social loners." Some social loaners are friends of mine. No one who is a social loner has "scores of friends and associates"--to not have scores of friends and associates is what it means to be a social loner. No one who is a social loner could ever get elected a United States senator, just as nobody petrified of heights could make a career as a trapeze artist.

Posted by DeLong at November 14, 2004 12:45 PM | TrackBack
Comments

Self-parody indeed. The thrust was to describe John Kerry a snobbish rich kid as opposed to an earthy, glad to meet "ya," up from the mean streets opponent.

Posted by: anne at November 14, 2004 12:57 PM

A social loaner as opposed to a loan shark?

Posted by: big al at November 14, 2004 01:12 PM

Ha, ha. I thought for a moment about lone and loan, but it never quite settled. What would it mean in any event to be a social loner or a social loaner? Does a social loner go about the room greeting people and hoping they won't greet back? Hmmm. There may be much to be said for being such a loner in the right environment :)

Posted by: anne at November 14, 2004 01:30 PM

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/opinion/14dowd.html?hp

Slapping the Other Cheek
By MAUREEN DOWD

You'd think the one good thing about merging church and state would be that politics would be suffused with glistening Christian sentiments like "love thy neighbor," "turn the other cheek," "good will toward men," "blessed be the peacemakers" and "judge not lest you be judged."

Yet somehow I'm not getting a peace, charity, tolerance and forgiveness vibe from the conservatives and evangelicals who claim to have put their prodigal son back in office.

I'm getting more the feel of a vengeful mob - revved up by rectitude - running around with torches and hatchets after heathens and pagans and infidels.

One fiery Southern senator actually accused a nice Catholic columnist of having horns coming up out of her head!

Bob Jones III, president of the fundamentalist college of the same name, has written a letter to the president telling him that "Christ has allowed you to be his servant" so he could "leave an imprint for righteousness," by appointing conservative judges and approving legislation "defined by biblical norm."

"In your re-election, God has graciously granted America - though she doesn't deserve it - a reprieve from the agenda of paganism," Mr. Jones wrote. "Put your agenda on the front burner and let it boil. You owe the liberals nothing. They despise you because they despise your Christ." Way harsh.

The Christian avengers and inquisitors, hearts hard as marble, are chasing poor 74-year-old Arlen Specter through the Capitol's marble halls, determined to flagellate him and deny him his cherished goal of taking over the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Not only are they irate at his fairly innocuous comment after the election that anti-Roe v. Wade judges would have a hard time getting through the Senate. They are also full of bloodthirsty feelings of revenge against the senator for championing stem cell research and for voting against Robert Bork - who denounces Mr. Specter as "a bit shifty" - 17 years ago.

"He is a problem, and he must be derailed," Dr. James Dobson, founder and chairman of Focus on the Family, told George Stephanopoulos.

Sounding more like the head of a mob family than a ministry, Dr. Dobson told Mr. Stephanopoulos about a warning he issued a White House staffer after the election that the president and Republicans had better deliver on issues like abortion, gay marriage and conservative judges or "I believe they'll pay a price in the next election."

Posted by: anne at November 14, 2004 01:55 PM

A social loner, avoids going into a room full of people, and doesn't initiate conversations. If in such a place she/he tries to be unobtrusive.

Posted by: old ari at November 14, 2004 01:55 PM

/I am a social loner -- back to FARK now....

Posted by: anon at November 14, 2004 02:06 PM

I'm a social loner and I know one when I see one!

John Kerry is clearly someone who has been able to overcome that, um, social maladaptation, something which must have been really difficult in the huge subculture of ersatz empathy where "People Who Need People" still sells and is admired -- probably also by former kids like that New York Times reporter with the deliberately misspelled and overly kewt name.

How many snotty social loner elitists, quite apart from ambitious New York Times reporters, accomplish as much as he has, almost entirely in public service?

I mean, like, Sheeesh!!

Posted by: PW at November 14, 2004 02:30 PM

A Better Press Corp:

CIA plans to purge its agency
Sources say White House has ordered new chief to eliminate officers who were disloyal to Bus

www.newsday.com/news/nationworld/nation/ny-uscia1114,0,707331.story?coll=ny-top-headlines

Posted by: bakho at November 14, 2004 02:34 PM

Imagine my surprise:

Specter Must Agree to Support Bush's Nominees, Frist Says
By REUTERS

Arlen Specter, in line to become chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has yet to make a persuasive case that he should head the panel, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said today.

Posted by: lise at November 14, 2004 02:38 PM

My umpteenth letter to Dan Okrent:

"Dear Mr. Okrent:

Do you even READ what you write?

Signed,
No More Bread and Circuses"

Posted by: SimoneDB at November 14, 2004 03:04 PM

My umpteenth letter to Dan Okrent:

"Dear Mr. Okrent:

Do you even READ what you write?

Signed,
No More Bread and Circuses"

Posted by: SimoneDB at November 14, 2004 03:05 PM

Heathers, everyone of the mainstream press corps.

It is like hearing the second-string quarter-back defending his girlfriend, the socialite reporter for the school paper, after she described the president of the school's Computer Club (membership: half the school and climbing) as being geeky and having no friends.

Posted by: Linnen at November 14, 2004 03:28 PM

Most of the "Dan Okrent" staffers are off for Divali, and it shows. Clearly this week's column was written by the B-team in KL, who are not yet up to the Indian team's standards.

If you write to Aditya Prabhasunaya (apokrent@nytimes.com) or Devadip Grewal (dgokrent@nytimes.com) after the holiday, you might get an answer. They're the top two on the Indian Okrent outsourcing crew, far as I know.

Posted by: Dan Okrent at November 14, 2004 03:42 PM

What about Richard Nixon?

Posted by: Mazurka at November 14, 2004 03:44 PM

Yeah,

And were are told that most of us Americas would have prefered to sit down and enjoy a beer with a dry drunk like Dubya. A guy with a well documented history of destroying other folks property, peeing folks cars, DWI, stealing Christmas wreaths, branding Frat pledges with hot coat hangers, and generally acting like a mean spirited nasty drunk while under the influence.

Posted by: llamajockey at November 14, 2004 03:45 PM

Richard Nixon.

Posted by: Tom Maguire at November 14, 2004 03:52 PM

Hell, he's a mean drunk even when sober.

Posted by: Carol at November 14, 2004 03:53 PM

Now, about the press corps. It seems that our press corps has given up their First Amendment right of Freedom of the Press without a fight. I don't know what the solution is to get them to be good investigators again. Maybe a cut in salary. I think sometimes I get resentful when I think about how well paid these people are; but they are just toadies to the Bush administration. I am old enough to remember when the average investigative reporter was just a middle class Joe Blow like the rest of us. These rich ones have nothing more to aspire to if they break some real news. In fact, I guess they have a lot to lose if they don't tow the party line. Sad, so very sad. I think that no more Pulitzer prizes should be given out until there is some real jounalism done, hard questions asked of the President and Congress, etc.

Posted by: Mazurka at November 14, 2004 03:55 PM

i had hopes for okrent initially, but it became clear several months ago that he had been effectively neutered and i no longer waste the time reading him. what a joke....

Posted by: howard at November 14, 2004 04:18 PM

It must be cold in hell today; I'm going to defend Daniel Okrent.

While I in no way excuse the fatuity quoted by our host, the concluding sentence in this piece was:

My beat's here on West 43rd Street, where some of the very best journalists in the country keep what they know off the page because they've been tied up by an imprecise definition of objectivity. I'm not calling for unsupported opinion, but for a flowering of facts - not just those recorded stenographically or uttered by experts, but the sort that arise from experience, knowledge and a brave willingness to stand behind what you know to be true.

In the past our host has often called for reporters to write sentences using the schema "XXX (disprortionatly often Bush) said it is the case that YYY, but in fact the situation is ZZZ. Obesience is often made here to Krugman's comment that if the White House claimed the earth to be flat, the headline would be "Opinions on shape of earth differ." Both BDL and PK are, of course, absolutely correct.

This is exactly what I read DO to be saying, in no uncertain terms, in the paragraph cited. And I am prepared to defend the thesis that the paragraph given is representative of the main thrust of his article. People, when he's on our side give him a break.

Posted by: Jonathan Goldberg at November 14, 2004 04:31 PM

Jonathan,

Cogently argued but I beg to differ on the limited but crucial point of what DO meant in the paragraph cited. "...as if her own experience covering the senator, and discussing him with scores of his friends and associates, were not evidence enough." That sure sounds like a defense of Wilgoren's innocuous observation. Her reporting of Kerry as a social loner was and is ridiculous. So is the defense of such reporting.

Posted by: Corzine at November 14, 2004 05:04 PM

Note to Brad

I enjoy reading your website, from around the world (I am a physicist and I travel a lot).

One request. Can you develop a simpler url I can remember? Like www.bradelong.net or something.

The J Bradford with various hyphens evades my memory.

thanks

JHH

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris at November 14, 2004 05:33 PM

Note to Brad

I enjoy reading your website, from around the world (I am a physicist and I travel a lot).

One request. Can you develop a simpler url I can remember? Like www.bradelong.net or something.

The J Bradford with various hyphens evades my memory.

thanks

JHH

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris at November 14, 2004 05:38 PM

Likely I am foolish, but I find the term social loner comical. What is a social loner, and how would I possibly know if I have come on such a person? The description strikes me as snooty, and playing to stereotype, but also literally quite meaningless.

Posted by: anne at November 14, 2004 05:48 PM

Note to Brad

I enjoy reading your website, from around the world (I am a physicist and I travel a lot).

One request. Can you develop a simpler url I can remember? Like www.bradelong.net or something.

The J Bradford with various hyphens evades my memory.

thanks

JHH

Posted by: Jeffrey Harris at November 14, 2004 06:10 PM

Most of the people commenting here have confused "social loner" with "antisocial loner". Someone can be highly social (lots of acquaintances, frequent cocktail parties and dinners and all that), yet still largely set his own course, taking little direct advice.

Posted by: MikeM at November 14, 2004 06:39 PM

Still, John Kerry appears to be sociable and to readily seek and take advice. Surely, this is not an anti-social person in any guise.

Posted by: anne at November 14, 2004 07:10 PM

Seen that Nagourney website? How about we start an Okrent site? Wouldn't that have a salutary effect on omsbudding?

Posted by: PW at November 14, 2004 07:43 PM

I saw John Kerry in Legal Seafoods in downtown Boston a few years back. He was with a buddy. Sat at the bar. No entourage of fans and hangers on, and people respected his privacy while he conversed non-stop with his friend. I remember thinking at the time how refreshing it was to see a political celebrity without pretentious airs, very down to earth, apparently happy to have a nice meal and a good talk with a confidant.

What's this "social loner" crap?"

Posted by: Jim Harris at November 15, 2004 04:54 AM

"No one who is a social loner has "scores of friends and associates"--to not have scores of friends and associates is what it means to be a social loner. No one who is a social loner could ever get elected a United States senator, just as nobody petrified of heights could make a career as a trapeze artist."

I don't buy any of this. "Social loner" seems to me to be just a down-to-earth way of saying "introvert", and there are almost certainly plenty of those in every walk of life, including the US House of Representatives and the Senate; by any measure Al Gore would have qualified, as would Dick Cheney, and everything I've read about Kerry suggests that he is one as well. It simply isn't true that being an introvert means one can't have "scores of friend and associates" either - I should know, being one myself.

This is simply being snarky for the sake of it. There's nothing stigmatizing about being a "social loner" (as opposed to being schizoid, which is hardly relevant here), and there's no need to jump to a partisan defense of Kerry for being one. Surely the world has room enough to appreciate the existence of people who don't mind their own company once in a while.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 05:02 AM

I'm with Abiola Lapite.

Social loners are very often the people we admire and envy the most -- the people who "do their own thing" usually without help, votes, funding... They are often (see, here's the problem) innalekshules and (uh oh) liberals.

Kerry is clearly not a loner. Loners don't take jobs like his job, don't get involved in high-profile, people-ridden political campaigns. We're fighting shadows here (another reason why we lost the election).

Posted by: PW at November 15, 2004 05:59 AM

I went to the link.

No reference to Wilogren in his article?

Did Okrent engage in a bit of history rewrite?

The problem is not that reporters have political agendas, but that they are self-absorbed assholes, and you, Mr. Okrent, put the rest of the NY Times staff to shame.

Posted by: Matthew Saroff at November 15, 2004 06:47 AM

Hopefully the New York Times will get over the idea that an apologist is needed. I would never bother to read Dan Okrent, and I love the Times. As for John Kerry, calling him a loner or loaner or both was a heck of a lot less important than Democrats getting the message that Americans do not want a candidate running for President who talks of raising taxes. That was much more important and ever so much more damaging than names Kerry was called.

Posted by: lise at November 15, 2004 08:16 AM

lise, just for the record, no, taxes weren't why john kerry lost. we can discuss the multiple influences on voting and why people voted deep into the night and we still won't conclude that this election was about whether or not taxes should be raised on people earning north of $200K.

Abiola, first off, introverts do not have scores of friends, not if you're using the term introvert correctly. and the reference in the times to kerry as a "social loner" was snarky all right - snarkly by the times. and okrent's attempt to say everything is fine because jodi wilgoren, after all, is a prominent journalist in the new york times and therefore she would know: that's unacceptable and exactly why the times has declined. i'm not interested in the slightest in jodi wilgoren's opinions about john kerry's personality; i'm interested in her reporting about what a john kerry presidency might mean.

Posted by: howard at November 15, 2004 08:38 AM

Anne, meet the Elect. They know everybody is born in sin, but they also know that doesn't matter. God saves on a random basis, but, through some miracle, the Elect are able to tell who is saved and who damned, despite the randomness. Those who are damned can afford a taste of the afterlife - heck, they'll suffer for all eternity in the fires of hell, so what does a little pain in this life matter?

Oh, what's the trick to knowing who is damned? Why, they aren't the elect! Once, it was a social and civil status thing. Are you a wealthy merchant or a slave? Now, its a socio-religious/foreign policy litmus test that sorts the saved and the damned.

This is an odd thing, of course, since it is not by works that the saved are saved nor the damned damned, and expression of policy views is pretty close to a work. Still, Calvin and Luther probably didn't mean for their followers to go around claiming superiority in earlier eras, so there is nothing new about the misuse to which religious thinking is now being put.

Posted by: kharris at November 15, 2004 09:26 AM

"Abiola, first off, introverts do not have scores of friends, not if you're using the term introvert correctly."

You're simply wrong, and I *am* using the term correctly. I am an introvert - I enjoy my own company, and find excessive socializing exhausting - and yet I have a very broad circle of friends. I just don't need to see all of them all of the time (an alien concept for many, I know). "Introvert" does NOT mean "shy" or "recluse" - go ask your friendly local psychologist and see.

The fact of the matter is that Kerry *IS* an introvert, according to every single account of his life I've read thus far, and that puts him in the company of Al Gore, Richard Nixon, Dick Cheney and (surprise!) Ronald Reagan. Brad's argument against Okrent here is substance-free, and frankly, the notion that there's something shameful or deficient about "social loners" is both utterly bizarre and insulting to those who fall into that category.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 09:39 AM

"i'm not interested in the slightest in jodi wilgoren's opinions about john kerry's personality; i'm interested in her reporting about what a john kerry presidency might mean."

Maybe YOU aren't, but have you stopped to think that OTHERS might be? The New York Times isn't written for any one person's benefit, you know; besides, I find it strange that anyone reading this blog should bring up such an argument, seeing as 90 percent of the many, recurrent criticisms of Bush's tenure on here have to do precisely with his alleged personality shortcomings.

Personality matters when choosing leadership, and Wilgoren was entirely on the mark in reporting on what she observed about Kerry's. The ones who have a real problem here are those who imagine that saying Kerry was a "social loner" is some kind of smear on Kerry's character, and in need of rebuttal.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 09:46 AM

KHarris

"Meet the Elect. They know everybody is born in sin, but they also know that doesn't matter. God saves on a random basis, but, through some miracle, the Elect are able to tell who is saved and who damned, despite the randomness."

Of course you are an economic analyst, but you are a would-be will-be pleased-to-be philosopher. Richard Niebuhr would be smiling contentedly at you now, as am I.

Posted by: anne at November 15, 2004 09:59 AM

Anne,

If you say that too many times, the Elect will begin to suspect that neither of us is...well, better not say...

Posted by: kharris at November 15, 2004 10:02 AM

KHarris

"Oh, what's the trick to knowing who is damned? Why, they aren't the elect! Once, it was a social and civil status thing. Are you a wealthy merchant or a slave? Now, its a socio-religious/foreign policy litmus test that sorts the saved and the damned.

"This is an odd thing, of course, since it is not by works that the saved are saved nor the damned damned, and expression of policy views is pretty close to a work."

A socio-religious/foreign policy litmus test will tell us one from the other. I am in such trouble :)

Posted by: anne at November 15, 2004 10:05 AM

http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/15/business/15teamster.html?

Teamsters Find Pensions at Risk
By MARY WILLIAMS WALSH

In the 1960's and 1970's, the Teamsters' huge Central States pension fund was a wellspring of union corruption. Tens of millions of dollars were loaned to racketeers who used the money to gain control of Las Vegas casinos. Administrative jobs were awarded to favored insiders who paid themselves big fees. A former Teamster president and pension trustee was convicted of trying to bribe a United States senator.

Yet for nearly half a million union members who are expecting the fund to pay for their retirement, those may have been the good old days.

Since 1982, under a consent decree with the federal government, the fund has been run by prominent Wall Street firms and monitored by a federal court and the Labor Department. There have been no more shadowy investments, no more loans to crime bosses. Yet in these expert hands, the aging fund has fallen into greater financial peril than when James R. Hoffa, who built the Teamsters into a national power, used it as a slush fund.

The unfolding situation holds a hard lesson for others with responsibility for retirement money. What may appear as a sensible, conventional approach to investing - seeking a diversified mix of growth and income investments for the long term - can wreak havoc when applied to a pension fund, especially one in a dying industry with older members who are about to make demands of it.

But the kinds of investments that make sense for such a fund - like long-term bonds that will mature as members enter retirement - are not attractive to most money managers, because they generate few fees. Consequently, very few pension funds use such strategies today.

Posted by: anne at November 15, 2004 10:15 AM

To extend Abiola's argument (paraphrased here):
"Social loner" = "introvert",
Introvert dow not means one can't have "scores of friend and associates"
Introvert is just someone who doesn't mind their own company once in a while

All Jodi meant was that Kerry went to the bathroom by himself. Nothing pejorative about that. I know that because I go to the bathroom by myself most of the time (except for when I am at a football game, when I go with hundreds of others)

Posted by: Sam Jackson at November 15, 2004 10:19 AM

abiola, please: the dictionary definition of introvert (and i'm just grabbing merriam webster's, because it's easy to access online) is:

to turn inward or in upon itself: as a : to concentrate or direct upon oneself b : to produce psychological introversion in

and the definition of introversion is:

1 : the act of introverting : the state of being introverted
2 : the state or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life

http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=introvert&x=11&y=10

so no, people with scores of friends are not introverts; it is possible to be shy, or not outgoing, or comfortable with your own skin, or a whole number of other terms and still have scores of friends, but unless by "friend" you mean "someone whose email address i possess and with whom i sometimes correspond" or "someone who's phone number i possess and we may talk once a year," you aren't an introvert if you have scores of friends.

as for jodi wilgoren, yes, i am perfectly capable of distinguishing between a blog - where personal opinion is precisely the point - and a newspaper. aren't you? when i read prof delong's blog - or any other blog - i am provided with enough information to discount brad's (or anyone else's) opinions. at this stage, i even have enough information to discount the opinions of regular posters; this is an opinion format.

while obviously you can't write a news article without opinion too (someone has to decide what the lead is, etc., etc.), jodi wilgoren's job isn't to provide us with her opinion about john kerry's personality (or anyone else's, for that matter), which is what okrent wants us to believe (well, more to the point, okrent wants us to believe that jodi wilgoren's opinion on john kerry's personality is well-grounded). jodi wilgoren's job is to report, not opine.

for what it's worth, there haven't been many presidents (in fact, maybe there haven't been any) who weren't, like other human beings, possessed of personality quirks and tics (yes, bill clinton likes mixing with total strangers on the campaign trail more than john kerry does), but frankly, those personality characteristics tell us much less about what kind of president someone will be than an actual focus on what the person stands for politically and what kinds of arguments he (thus far) makes.

for instance, that george bush is a shallow, ill-informed person contributes to his positions, but he has people around him who aren't shallow and ill-informed, and they support the policies he chooses, so what have we gained knowing that he is shallow and ill-informed?

Posted by: howard at November 15, 2004 10:32 AM

`Who are YOU?' said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, `I--I hardly know, sir, just at present-- at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.'

`What do you mean by that?' said the Caterpillar sternly. `Explain yourself!'

`I can't explain MYSELF, I'm afraid, sir' said Alice, `because I'm not myself, you see.'

`I don't see,' said the Caterpillar.

`I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly,' Alice replied very politely, `for I can't understand it myself to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing.'

`It isn't,' said the Caterpillar.

`Well, perhaps you haven't found it so yet,' said Alice...

Posted by: anne at November 15, 2004 10:36 AM

I don't know enough about Dan Okrent to be sure, but if you read the words, "she described John Kerry in April as 'a social loner' without attributing her characterization to anyone -- as if her own experience covering the senator, and discussing him with scores of his friends and associates" with a certain nuance, it could be razor-sharp sarcasm. Anyone else see it that way? The Daily Howler has regularly been revealing Jodi Wilgoren as a prize twit.

Posted by: Steve at November 15, 2004 10:38 AM

Could it be that the decline in the rigor and quality of nvestigative reporting is somehow related to the extent that salaries of such reporters have become more dependent on corporate advertising revenue?

Posted by: bncthor at November 15, 2004 10:43 AM

"abiola, please: the dictionary definition of introvert (and i'm just grabbing merriam webster's, because it's easy to access online) is:

to turn inward or in upon itself: as a : to concentrate or direct upon oneself b : to produce psychological introversion in

and the definition of introversion is:

1 : the act of introverting : the state of being introverted
2 : the state or tendency toward being wholly or predominantly concerned with and interested in one's own mental life

http://www.merriam-webster.com/cgi-bin/dictionary?book=Dictionary&va=introvert&x=11&y=10

so no, people with scores of friends are not introverts"

That's just absurd. Your conclusion does not in any way follow from the material you reference; that one is most interested in one's own mental life does not in any way imply that one is friendless. Perhaps you ought to try actually reading a *PSYCHOLOGY* reference rather than a dictionary before deigning to tell us what "introversion" really means?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 11:07 AM

This may be an object lessen in how Social Security privatization could go terribly wrong. If Wall Street can botch investing the Central States Teamster's Pension Fund through a 22 year bull market in stocks and bonds, then private account holders could be in serious danger.

If the issue is really returns to Social Security participants in future, then examine the possibility of investing a portion of contributions in the Total American Stock Market Index. My sense is Social Security reform means undoing Social Security.

Posted by: anne at November 15, 2004 11:10 AM

If Jodi Wilgoren is indeed guilty of somehow distorting reality by calling John Kerry a "social loner", it would seem she isn't the only one in need of a tongue lashing. WaPo's Louis Romano does the same:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43218-2004Jul11_2.html

Glenn Johnson of the Boston Globe does the same:
http://www.boston.com/news/politics/president/articles/2004/03/12/democrats_on_hill_give_kerry_heros_welcome_on_return/

NPR Correspondent David Welna corroborates this description of Kerry:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1672393&columnId=1929301

as does the Newsweek article giving behind-the-scenes coverage of the Kerry campaign:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6420967/site/newsweek/

Including Wilgoren's piece on the man, that's *5* different sources giving the same characterization, *FIVE.* Y'all can pretend that all five are delusional if you wish, but I hope you can understand why the rest of us aren't about to rush to endorse your claims.

But leaving aside what the reporters have to say, how do you think Tom Daschle, who was in a better position to know than most, described his colleague in the Senate?

"Kerry is a natural introvert, says Daschle. Introverts, he says, are surprisingly common in a political realm packed with elite social athletes. "One of the best-kept secrets of Washington is how many successful people are oftentimes shy," says Daschle, who places himself in this category."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40002-2004Apr24?language=printer

Well, there you go! He even puts himself in the same category! So much, then, for Brad's theory.

As I've said, the ones with a problem here are those who see something stigmatizing about describing someone as a "social loner"; one would think sane people would actually *admire* a man who was willing to think on his own and make decisions that go against the wisdom of the crowd. Of course, to a nation in which 75% of the populace consists of clingy "people who need people", that must seem an intolerably frightening prospect.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 11:27 AM

If Jodi Wilgoren is indeed guilty of somehow distorting reality by calling John Kerry a "social loner", it would seem she isn't the only one in need of a tongue lashing. WaPo's Louis Romano does the same:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A43218-2004Jul11_2.html

Glenn Johnson of the Boston Globe does the same:
http://www.boston.com/news/politics/president/articles/2004/03/12/democrats_on_hill_give_kerry_heros_welcome_on_return/

NPR Correspondent David Welna corroborates this description of Kerry:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1672393&columnId=1929301

as does the Newsweek article giving behind-the-scenes coverage of the Kerry campaign:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/6420967/site/newsweek/

Including Wilgoren's piece on the man, that's *5* different sources giving the same characterization, *FIVE.* Y'all can pretend that all five are delusional if you wish, but I hope you can understand why the rest of us aren't about to rush to endorse your claims.

But leaving aside what the reporters have to say, how do you think Tom Daschle, who was in a better position to know than most, described his colleague in the Senate?

"Kerry is a natural introvert, says Daschle. Introverts, he says, are surprisingly common in a political realm packed with elite social athletes. "One of the best-kept secrets of Washington is how many successful people are oftentimes shy," says Daschle, who places himself in this category."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40002-2004Apr24?language=printer

Well, there you go! He even puts himself in the same category! So much, then, for Brad's theory.

As I've said, the ones with a problem here are those who see something stigmatizing about describing someone as a "social loner"; one would think sane people would actually *admire* a man who was willing to think on his own and make decisions that go against the wisdom of the crowd. Of course, to a nation in which 75% of the populace consists of clingy "people who need people", that must seem an intolerably frightening prospect.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 11:32 AM

Abiola,

I can see why you're a social loner.

Posted by: J at November 15, 2004 11:42 AM

"I can see why you're a social loner."

I know, I know, you don't need to tell me - because I'm so smart and good-looking. Shucks, I can't help it, can I?

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 11:46 AM

Abiola,

I can see why you're a social loner.

But at any rate, if, as you claim, that Wilgoren's columns portray Kerry in a bright light by describing him as a 'social loner' - you are the one with the comprehension problem.

Here are a few words that might have worked better for what you think those reporters are trying to convey:

independent
maverick
thoughtful
steadfast
leadership

But that's NOT AT ALL the way the media portrayed Kerry. They created a negative portrait of 'social loner':

aloof
elitist
distant
calculating
unlikable


Or did I read completely different media than you?

So while I don't doubt you have plenty of friends and the shy and introverted (and all of those steadfast patriots who scoff at mere dictionary definitions) are perfectly capable of winning elections -- that's completely irrelevant to the stupid tone employed by the entire media.

Here's a thought: Maybe Kerry distains the media and doesn't pretend to bullshit about it. And maybe he just thinks people like Daschele are wholly without purpose and empty. And maybe he finds comfort when he doesn't have to deal with dipshits like them and can let his guard down to his scores of friends and enjoy public service on his own terms.

Posted by: J at November 15, 2004 11:56 AM

Abiola,

I can see why you're a social loner.

But at any rate, if, as you claim, that Wilgoren's columns portray Kerry in a bright light by describing him as a 'social loner' - you are the one with the comprehension problem.

Here are a few words that might have worked better for what you think those reporters are trying to convey:

independent
maverick
thoughtful
steadfast
leadership

But that's NOT AT ALL the way the media portrayed Kerry. They created a negative portrait of 'social loner':

aloof
elitist
distant
calculating
unlikable


Or did I read completely different media than you?

So while I don't doubt you have plenty of friends and the shy and introverted (and all of those steadfast patriots who scoff at mere dictionary definitions) are perfectly capable of winning elections -- that's completely irrelevant to the stupid tone employed by the entire media.

Here's a thought: Maybe Kerry distains the media and doesn't pretend to bullshit about it. And maybe he just thinks people like Daschele are wholly without purpose and empty. And maybe he finds comfort when he doesn't have to deal with dipshits like them and can let his guard down to his scores of friends and enjoy public service on his own terms.

Posted by: J at November 15, 2004 12:00 PM

"the shy and introverted"

In this stupid equation of shyness with introversion you reveal the vacuity of your "thought" processes.

Posted by: Abiola Lapite at November 15, 2004 12:28 PM

To quoate Abiola:

But leaving aside what the reporters have to say, how do you think Tom Daschle, who was in a better position to know than most, described his colleague in the Senate?

""Kerry is a natural introvert, says Daschle. Introverts, he says, are surprisingly common in a political realm packed with elite social athletes. "One of the best-kept secrets of Washington is how many successful people are oftentimes shy," says Daschle, who places himself in this category."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40002-2004Apr24?language=printer

Well, there you go! He even puts himself in the same category! So much, then, for Brad's theory"


"the shy and introverted"

In this stupid equation of shyness with introversion you reveal the vacuity of your "thought" processes.

Posted by: Sam Jackson at November 15, 2004 01:15 PM

previous post should have read
To quote Abiola:
(begin quote 1)
But leaving aside what the reporters have to say, how do you think Tom Daschle, who was in a better position to know than most, described his colleague in the Senate?

""Kerry is a natural introvert, says Daschle. Introverts, he says, are surprisingly common in a political realm packed with elite social athletes. "One of the best-kept secrets of Washington is how many successful people are oftentimes shy," says Daschle, who places himself in this category."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40002-2004Apr24?language=printer

Well, there you go! He even puts himself in the same category! So much, then, for Brad's theory"
(end quote 1)
(begin quote 2)
"the shy and introverted"

In this stupid equation of shyness with introversion you reveal the vacuity of your "thought" processes.
(end quote 2)

Posted by: Sam Jackson at November 15, 2004 01:21 PM

previous post should have read
To quote Abiola:
(begin quote 1)
But leaving aside what the reporters have to say, how do you think Tom Daschle, who was in a better position to know than most, described his colleague in the Senate?

""Kerry is a natural introvert, says Daschle. Introverts, he says, are surprisingly common in a political realm packed with elite social athletes. "One of the best-kept secrets of Washington is how many successful people are oftentimes shy," says Daschle, who places himself in this category."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A40002-2004Apr24?language=printer

Well, there you go! He even puts himself in the same category! So much, then, for Brad's theory"
(end quote 1)
(begin quote 2)
"the shy and introverted"

In this stupid equation of shyness with introversion you reveal the vacuity of your "thought" processes.
(end quote 2)

Posted by: Sam Jackson at November 15, 2004 01:27 PM

Abiola writes: "Perhaps you ought to try actually reading a *PSYCHOLOGY* reference rather than a dictionary before deigning to tell us what "introversion" really means?"

Abiola, that may very well have been your silliest point yet. Jodi's column was not aimed at those who would read "PSYCHOLOGY" references. It was aimed at those who read dictionaries when they need to look up something. If Jodi was using "social loner" in a "PSYCHOLOGY" sense, then she damn well should have said so, since the phrase she did use is slightly pejorative.

As J above notes, there are all sorts of positive ways to make the same point, if that were indeed the point that Jodi was trying to make. She wasn't -- she was simply going along with the "elitist, aloof Boston Brahmin stiff" script that the media was selling in 2004.

For contrast, by the way, read a description of John Kerry by these same folks in the press corps back when Al Gore was considering him for a running mate. The difference is enormous and laughable, although it's a hollow laugh, given how much damage these "scripts" do to our political discourse.

Posted by: PaulB at November 15, 2004 07:42 PM

Sorry I don't have time to read the comments but you should probably know it is fairly common for trapeze artists to be afraid of heights. I know I am but that doesn't stop me. It contributes to the fun, overcoming your terror while flying through the air.

Posted by: filchyboy at November 15, 2004 08:44 PM

I too would like to know how a Teamster's pension fund could fail to provide for worker's retirements in a period of an immense bull market in bonds and stocks. This is important to us all.

Posted by: lise at November 16, 2004 04:19 AM