Media

A Tale of Two Oracles

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Julian Sanchez on Joe the Plumber:

It's hardly new to see political advocates whose non-ideological identities are as important to their public role as the substance of what they're saying–but there's traditionally been some sort of link between the two. That is, it matters that Ward Connerly is a black man arguing against affirmative action, and that Cindy Sheehan is a dead soldier's mother arguing against the war in Iraq, because who they are is seen as lending some kind of special credence to what they say. Joe the Plumber started out in that familiar mold: Here was a working class guy with entrepreneurial aspirations challenging Barack Obama's tax policy.

But JtP soon branched out, becoming a war correspondent for Pajamas TV and an all-purpose media critic, sitting on a panel about media bias at last week's "Conservatism 2.0" subconference at CPAC. (Tellingly, while lots of folks lined up for JtP's book signing, the room that had been packed for a panel of conservative media strategists cleared out substantially for Joe's panel, despite his being billed as a star attraction.) What's interesting to me is that even most conservatives don't seem to think Joe has any special insight, expertise, or moral authority on these topics. In fact, it seems as though that's the whole point. Joe symbolizes conservative faith in the common-sensical wisdom of the ordinary man as superior to the pronouncements of Washington wonks and pointy headed elites.

A minor caveat: I think it conceivable that someone who stood in the middle of a media firestorm could have some interesting things to say about the press. ThePlumber's other recent adventures—the book, the bizarre excursion to Gaza—might be better examples of Julian's point.

A larger disagreement: I'm not so sure that this is very different from Sheehan, who after a while was offering pronouncements on topics somewhat distant from Iraq (the virtues of Hugo Chavez, for example) and who eventually wound up doing a Vanity Fair photo spread that formally dwelled on the reason for her fame but in context seemed miles removed from it. Ever since the Gaza venture, in which the plumber-pundit discussed the Middle East with all the sophistication of Sheehan describing Venezuela, I've thought of Joseph Wurzelbacher as the Cindy Sheehan of the right: Both evolved from sympathetic spontaneous grassroots voices into increasingly grotesque media figures, sinking deeper into self-parody the more they embraced their celebrity. (There's a fictional parallel in the end of Waiting for Guffman, when the members of the Blane theater troupe find demeaning jobs in the lowest rungs of the entertainment industry. Except that those would-be celebs don't even achieve the fame they're pursuing.)

And still I find myself sympathizing with the mother and the plumber. That's partly because both have withstood nasty smear campaigns, but it's also because I'm not sure I'd behave any differently in their position. Put yourself in their shoes. For most of your life you've been anonymous. Suddenly thousands, maybe millions of strangers want to hear your opinions. Are you really going to refrain from spouting off? When there's money on the table? And when you're ultimately no less qualified to opine than some of the loudest voices on Fox and MSNBC? In a sane world, Cindy Sheehan and Joe the Plumber would be mid-level bloggers whose sporadically insightful punditry doesn't interfere with their day jobs. In a sane world, the same would be true of half the regulars on talk TV.

Both Sheehan and Wurzelbacher are idiosyncratic individuals who became famous because they were supposed to serve as stand-ins for entire classes. Sheehan represented all the mothers who have lost children in Iraq; or, even more broadly, every Middle American opponent of the war. Wurzelbacher represented all the potential small businessmen who might be penalized by high taxes; or, even more broadly, every blue-collar worker who doesn't trust liberals. But instead of disappearing with the news cycle, both of them stuck around, forcing the world to realize that these were human beings, not walking synecdoches. Both were still asked to play The Voice Of The Folk, and both gamely tried, even though such oracles have never existed and never will. It's their idiosyncrasies that make Cindy and Joe authentic. It's their fame that makes them phony.

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  1. Joe symbolizes conservative faith in the common-sensical wisdom of the ordinary man as superior to the pronouncements of Washington wonks and pointy headed elites.

    What made Joe the Plumber an interesting character for me is that he dared question the anointed one, Il Duce, on matters of policy, asking a very simple and reasonable question: Why are you going after guys like ME, who bust ass to make a living.

    The honest reply from Il Duce should have been, Aesop-like: Because that’s what I do. But he didn’t, as expected.

  2. Jesse, there is something smelling slightly of condescension in your and Julian’s pronouncements. Kind of like the very talking heads you don’t want to be. What gives you the idea that you are the sane one in an insane world? The masses, amongst which I firmly count myself, live their whole lives forming opinions, making decisions without being experts or even knowing which experts to trust. We are all Joe the Plumbers albeit without the reach. It is a fallacy to believe that one has to be an expert to have valid opinions or make good decisions. We may not be as eloquent as Julian or you, but we don’t get paid for that.
    One more question: How in the hell can someone speak to millions without being a famous “celebrity”? Not every celebrity is a phony?
    Get off the high horse, Jesse.

  3. It is a fallacy to believe that one has to be an expert to have valid opinions or make good decisions.

    Where did I say that? Are you replying to what I wrote, or to something someone else wrote?

    I said explicitly that most of the media-anointed experts are no more qualified than Sheehan and Wurzelbacher to spout off on most topics. I compared Sheehan and Wurzelbacher to mid-level bloggers, insightful on some topics (e.g., Joe on taxes) and not on others (e.g., Joe on Gaza). And I said the problems with their public personae derive from the effort to anoint each of them The Voice Of The Masses, as opposed to individual voices among the masses.

    We are all Joe the Plumbers albeit without the reach.

    Right. And because of some quirks in the news cycle, Mr. Plumber’s reach extends further than it really deserves. That has nothing to do with whether anyone else’s reach is too far, too close, or just right.

  4. We may not be as eloquent as Julian

    You know, some things are just too hypothetical.

  5. Joe symbolizes conservative faith in the common-sensical wisdom of the ordinary man as superior to the pronouncements of Washington wonks and pointy headed elites.

    …such as the [jealous] CATO cosmotarians. If Sanchez voted for Obama, there’s another piece to the puzzle. I’m checking that out right now.

  6. It is a fallacy to believe….
    You don’t say that in those very words, but here it is:
    And because of some quirks in the news cycle, Mr. Plumber’s reach extends further than it really deserves.

    Is that not to mean that his opinions are not worthy of a large audience, because he’s not, well, an “expert”?
    That the other talking heads you mention are no more qualified has long been known, but most of them sure are way more full of themselves than Joe.

  7. Is that not to mean that his opinions are not worthy of a large audience, because he’s not, well, an “expert”?

    No. It means that his opinions — on most subjects — are not worthy of a large audience because they’re not particularly interesting or insightful.

    It would indeed be condescending to damn Wurzelbacher simply because he isn’t an “expert.” It’s also condescending to praise him simply because he isn’t an “expert.” I judge his work the same way I judge the output of hundreds of bloggers and podcasters and other amateur media producers: by its own merits. There are anonymous contributors in these very Hit & Run comment threads who offer far better non-expert punditry on an average day than Joe the Plumber does at his best.

    And I say this as someone who’s basically pro-Joe (and pro-Cindy). I cheered for Wurzelbacher in his showdown with Obama, and I cheered for Sheehan in her showdown with Bush. Then the media started treating them as the Vox Populi, and they each acquiesced far more than they should’ve.

  8. There are anonymous contributors in these very Hit & Run comment threads who offer far better non-expert punditry on an average day than Joe the Plumber does at his best.

    Aw, thanks!

  9. If the comparison between Sheehan and Joe holds, he should be dropped by the Republican party and the mainstream conservative movement at some point during the next year. Personally, I don’t think that this is going to happen. Sheehan got attention not because she articulated the anti-war position particularly well, but because, as a gold star mother, she was perceived to have more moral authority than any other anti-war activist. She was famous because she so aggressively espoused opinions that individuals in her position aren’t supposed to have. Joe’s position as a plumber/small business owner and his resulting moral authority certainly played a crucial role in his fame, but the reality is that small business owners who oppose Obama’s policies are a dime a dozen. Joe’s initial fame came from articulating a question that forced Obama into one of the most revealing moments of the campaign (“Share the wealth, Joe”), and my guess is that his staying power came from the interviews over the course of the next couple weeks, where he did a more effective job of articulating conservative principles and opposition to higher taxes than the Republican nominee for president had done all year. Furthermore, his views on taxation are decidedly more mainstream than Cindy Sheehan’s views on the war. My guess is that he won’t get thrown under the bus with anything near the same enthusiasm that she was.

    On a bit of a tangent, I saw Cindy Sheehan speak a couple months ago and couldn’t help feeling a bit sorry for her. She did show a rather despicable disrespect for her country, the soldiers in Iraq, and their sacrifices, but she was also manipulated and used to serve the agenda of the Democratic party. When she stopped serving that agenda, she was abandoned, and I think that she still doesn’t quite understand why that happened. I wrote about the experience here.

  10. Is that not to mean that his opinions are not worthy of a large audience, because he’s not, well, an “expert”?

    I’ll chime in and say that his (Joe’s) opinions aren’t worthy of a large audience because anyone who says that reporters shouldn’t be allowed in war zones or that people who criticize the military are guilty of treason and should be killed is an ignorant-as-fuck authoritarian.

    That’s just my opinion, of course. It’s not as eloquent as Jesse would put it, and it certainly isn’t worthy of a large audience.

  11. I judge his work the same way I judge the output of hundreds of bloggers and podcasters and other amateur media producers: by its own merits. There are anonymous contributors in these very Hit & Run comment threads who offer far better non-expert punditry on an average day than Joe the Plumber does at his best.

    Well Jesse, I sure would like to know when you find insightful blog posts or comments and why you find them so, if that were possible.

  12. I agree with some of what you say, Max, and I don’t think the two figures are identical. But do you really think Joe the Plumber is particularly articulate when he moves beyond the topic of taxes and maybe a handful of related economic issues? When he’s talking about what he knows as a guy aspiring to start a business, he’s interesting. When he’s repeating things he heard on talk radio about the Middle East, he’s not.

  13. I believe in judging a person’s views on content, as you say, and I hope the internet breaks the hold political insiders and celebrities have on punditry. Lately I’ve heard some awful nonsense coming from so-called experts and celebrities. Sunday I heard several of these “experts” talking about the failure of the thirty year reign of small government and Reaganism. Incredible — and, yes, these pundits’ celebrity and politicians giving their opinion on how to run banks and auto companies are no different than the undeserved reach of Joe the Plumber — as a matter of fact, the politician’s undeserved reach is much more dangerous.

  14. Well Jesse, I sure would like to know when you find insightful blog posts or comments and why you find them so, if that were possible.

    I link to amateur commentary & reporting all the time. Hell, this post begins with a quote from a blogger who may be a pro now, but when I first encountered his work was a student writing online in his spare time.

  15. What was the result of Joe’s visit to Israel anyway? What did he do there?

  16. Well, Walker, I mean how the hell would you know whether JtP makes any damn sense on Gaza? What are your credentials for deciding whether he’s “parroting” what he heard on some cheap-ass sensationalist talk radio station — or wisely picking out the unpalatable truth, first enunciated it’s true by some obscure radio commentator?

    Frankly, you sound a little like the couch potato with a 25 pound tire around his middle, sipping beer and watching ESPN, and freely criticizing the on-court decisions of Kobe Bryant. That is, you sound like you think it’s easy to know whether someone is being brilliant or obtuse, skilled or incompetent, without having any particular skill in the field yourself.

    I’m not claiming I know better, by the way. But one thing I have noticed, in the very few fields where I really am one of the world’s experts, is that in complex fields — and surely the appropriate size of government, war and peace, the solution to terrorism or the solution to the Gaza problem, are among the most complex of issues — it often takes considerable experience and expertise to even see the problems clearly, and know why all the “obvious” solutions the couch potato sidewalk-supervisors of the world will dream up with 2 seconds thought don’t and can’t work.

    So, let JtP speak. I don’t think there’s any obvious proof that he’s any less confused than any number of soi disant experts, and I don’t think most people, including you and I, have the chops to know whether there’s a nonobvious proof that he’s an idiot — and at least he doesn’t have some massive political agenda chip on his shoulder, like the rest of the professional commentariat, which makes him a refreshing change.

    For the same reason, I’d be happy if the news teams went over to Gaza and just asked the first six people they saw to talk about what’s happening. Sure, most of them might say silly things when asked about the why and wherefore. Not a problem. I can allow for that. But hearing a genuine, honest human voice, just talking about what’s happening, and how it feels to be there, rather than some slicked up propagandizing robot attempting to do my thinking for me, is just…much more restful on the ears. If I really really need a professional opinion on taxes, or Gaza, I’ll go hire one and earn gray hairs worrying about my choice. Otherwise, if I’m just idly browsing the world’s news, I prefer my data stream from pure springs — ordinary people — unadulterated by professionals interested in jazzing it up with the vitamins, minerals, and Correct Thought they feel I should be consuming.

  17. “Joe’s position as a plumber/small business owner and his resulting moral authority certainly played a crucial role in his fame, but the reality is that small business owners who oppose Obama’s policies are a dime a dozen.”

    Joe was not a business owner yet, and part of the left wing’s attempt to defame him came from direction of Obama’s tax policies would not directly affect him negatively, therefore Joe should not be critical of Obama.

  18. There’s a conceit to your position as well, Carl, in that it assumes that somehow getting something straight from the horse’s mouth (so to speak) with no knowledge of history of the broader issues would somehow be enlightening. It might be, but only in a very na?ve sort of way. I would much rather hear from someone who presumably knows something about the broader context than what Ahmed or Saul on the street probably know. Their opinions are interesting only in a context. You are assuming that they are, in fact “pure springs” rather than folks who are limited in reach, perfectly willing to lie to further their goals, etc. I don’t think they exist. The only way your idea would work would be if we could find the ones that might have something useful to say, rather than seizing the opportunity to further a local agenda or just betraying ignorance. And as soon as you have someone doing that finding, you have an even more dangerous format because suddenly that overt manipulation is hidden by your format of “grab six guys/gals” off the street and ask them what’s going on.

    There is no pure source to go to. Maybe you’re trying to make some broader postmodern point here, but what you’re advocating isn’t news, it’s oral history with no historical vantage. It’s na?vet? of the worst sort. To take your idea to the extreme the news would consist of clips of man-on-the-street interviews and would be unintelligible. Or Superbowl reporting would consist of a bunch of drunk guys going “It was awesome” or “the ref sucks” with never a mention of the plays or the score.

    Like it or not, we rely on reporters to filter all of that into a coherent fiction that we hope has some correspondence to something going on in the real world. Whether that trust is warranted is another matter, and I have seen plenty of reporting where it clearly wasn’t and where the reporter offered no insight beyond what the man on the street would have, but there are other times where having a knowledgeable BS-filter between us and the crap going down on the ground is useful.

    You take Jesse to task for being elitist and like a couch potato criticizing Kobe Bryant, but your position argues, in essence, that everyone deserves to get on the court with him, regardless of skill, or that we aren’t entitled to observe when Bryant has a bad night.

    Your position is the opposite of coherence, so I really hope you are trying to make the postmodern point mentioned earlier.

  19. Correction:

    I don’t think they exist -> I don’t think “pure sources” exist.

  20. mid-level bloggers whose sporadically insightful punditry doesn’t interfere with their day jobs

    Newspapermen, behold your future.

  21. Both Sheehan and Wurzelbacher are idiosyncratic individuals who became famous because they were supposed to serve as stand-ins for entire classes.

    Jesse, I disagree with that. These two individuals were people who made a splash and then their respective sides decided to craft them as weapons. They were both irresistible to their sides because they reflected their own tendencies.

    For example, Cindy Sheehan was a perfect weapon for the left because she was a victim (of her son’s untimely death in an unjust war). To the left, victims have absolute moral authority. So they perceived her–in their own minds–as an unassailable critic of the war, and deployed her as such. The problem was that the very people they were using her against didn’t perceive victims as having absolute moral authority, and it failed.

    JtP, on the other hand, was a perfect weapon for the right because he was a regular, hardworking, religious, everyman American. To the right, the everyman American is the perfect weapon because they represent the opposition to the “elites” that supposedly rule the ivory towers of the left. So he represented–in their own minds–the perfect critic of Obama because any criticism of him would seem condescending and elitist. The problem was that the very people they were using him against don’t see common-sense folksy-ism as anything but pathetic, and it failed.

    Crafting weapons based on your own weaknesses is stupid, and thankfully the left and the right are generally pretty fucking stupid.

    It’s not surprising–it’s a form of projection, after all.

  22. Oh, I forgot to add:

    It’s their idiosyncracies that make Cindy and Joe authentic. It’s their fame that makes them phony.

    “It’s a Zen thing, like how many babies fit in a tire.”

    P.S. You spelled idiosyncrasies wrong.

  23. That’s partly because both have withstood nasty smear campaigns,

    I (vividly) recall the smear campaign against JtP, but I don’t recall one against Sheehan.

    Did political operatives break the law going through confidential records on Sheehan? Was there an anti-Sheehan firestorm? I seem to recall she was given lots of facetime by the usual suspects, but relatively little scrutiny.

  24. As a political/genetic experement, I suggest we get JtP and Sheehan to bang and have four kids.

    We’d get two bad pundits, a slightly libertarian person, and a rival for the elephant man…

  25. What do you think would be more damaging to libertarian ideas and philosophies.

    1. A senate filled with drug war experts like joe biden, economic geniuses like charlie rangel, and limited government proponents like john mccain

    2. A senate filled with people who have about the same expertise and life experience as joe the plumber

    I’m not saying that joe would make a good senator and I’m not building a personality cult around him.

    I am saying that the experts have enacted some powerfully idiotic policies. I’m pretty sure amateurs with a little less soak time in the corrupt washington culture would do a better job.

    In other words in the world of washington the benefits of experience and expertise are vastly overrated.

  26. 1. A senate filled with drug war experts like joe biden, economic geniuses like charlie rangel, and limited government proponents like john mccain

    2. A senate filled with people who have about the same expertise and life experience as joe the plumber

    both?

    the drug war, for example, is wildly popular.

  27. Episiarch: Thanks for catching my misspelling. As for your other point…what can I say? I don’t think it’s inconsistent with mine.

    R.C.: There was some really ugly stuff said about Sheehan’s family relationships.

    Carl: I think Untermensch made the most salient points. I’ll just add that of course Joe should be able to say what he wants to anyone who wants to listen. And that, speaking as a writer and reporter myself — and, maybe more so, as an editor of other people’s work — it isn’t always hard to tell when someone’s bullshitting or bluffing.

  28. RC Dean,

    I was never all that fond of Sheehan, and I think she was quickly radicalized by her handlers. However, there was something of a smear campaign against her, albeit without the MSM’s complicity. In this respect, I think Jesse’s right that both faced smears, even if the smears weren’t equal.

    I recall Michelle Malkin approaching Sheehan for an interview during a protest. At one point, Malkin asks why Sheehan hasn’t bother to put a headstone on her son’s grave, with the clear implication being that Sheehan is all grandstanding and doesn’t realy care about her dead kid. (BTW, it’s not uncommon to leave a placeholder marker on a grave for a year before installing the headstone–it gives the ground time to settle).

    Malkin’s never been the pinacle of class, but that may have been her lowest point.

  29. If the Republicans want to keep playing this anti-intellectual card, they can be my guest. The number one word people associate with former president Bush is “incompetent,” and not in a good way. Mr. the Plumber is a culmination of the right’s constant war on ideas. They couldn’t get academics or journalists or scientists to buy into their claptrap, so they trashed all of those institutions as being irreparably biased against them. So now any old Joe Sixpack has all the necessary wisdom to pontificate on global matters, because he’s not a pinhead elitist.

    So keep pushing this embarrassing shit. It only helps the side 70% of the country is now on.

  30. “What was the result of Joe’s visit to Israel anyway? What did he do there?”

    You didn’t hear? Joe solved the whole problem! No more tension in the Holy Land. I hear he’s heading over to Kasmhir grab that hot potato next.

  31. Isn’t Sanchez kinda ingnoring an important distinction between Sheehan and ThePlumber: while Sanchez states that it matters that Sheehan had a son killed in Iraq, shouldn’t it matter that ThePlumber’s “street cred” was based almost entirely on a fantasy existing in his own mind. Joe was nowhere near “getting ready to buy” the company he worked for, yet that was the hook that was supposed to make him a somewhat credible/sympathetic figure. Joe was looking to buy his boss’s plumbing business the same way that I’m looking to win the lottery.

  32. “I seem to recall she was given lots of facetime by the usual suspects, but relatively little scrutiny.”

    Outside of verifying that her son was actually killed in Iraq, what was there to really look for?

  33. R.C.: There was some really ugly stuff said about Sheehan’s family relationships.

    That rings a faint bell, although mostly what I recall is various relatives publicly distancing themselves from her.

    Outside of verifying that her son was actually killed in Iraq, what was there to really look for?

    Probably about as much as there was to look for with JtP. Offhand, I can’t think of much of anything that needed “verifying” about him, either.

    Of course, when the object is to demonize and smear, anything will do, whether it “needs verifying” or not.

  34. Isn’t Sanchez kinda ingnoring an important distinction between Sheehan and ThePlumber

    The distinction that comes to my mind is that JtP was minding his own business in his front yard when he was dragged into the spotlight, while Sheehan chased it all over the country.

  35. What fascinates me is what the narratives surrounding Sheehan and JtP say about the people trying to sell them to The People.

    Sheehan is in the mold of MADD and the Million Mom March. She is policy-through-outrage based on the idea that the perspective of the bereaved is somehow more valid, when in fact you could interchange any of the victims and come out with the exact same arguments. All these people have in common is knowing someone who died. We all know someone who died. At the end of the day, her only purpose is to shut down arguments: How dare you argue with her, her son is DEAD.

    JtP is constructed to fill the role in a different narrative – the working class guy who just wants to succeed but the government won’t let him. We in libertaria have tried at various times to make this narrative stick without much success, because at the end of the day, most people want whatever lines their pockets and that usually means transfers. He’s all full of common folks wisdom, like Sarah Palin. I suspect he feels put upon by an increasingly hostile climate to his, I dunno, religious views maybe. It seems like at some point the right just decided they would concede the intellectual field – that the fight worth having was going to be suffering mothers and hopeful minorities vs. a restless white guy and soccer mom majority. I’m not sure they thought that one all the way through.

  36. Did Wurzelbacher ever buy that business that was going to net him $250k/year?

  37. “The distinction that comes to my mind is that JtP was minding his own business in his front yard when he was dragged into the spotlight,”

    Oh horseshit. He could have easily told the media to buzz off, but he wants to cash in on his 15 minutes. He’s the definition of “chasing fame”.

  38. “I (vividly) recall the smear campaign against JtP, but I don’t recall one against Sheehan.

    Did political operatives break the law going through confidential records on Sheehan? Was there an anti-Sheehan firestorm? I seem to recall she was given lots of facetime by the usual suspects, but relatively little scrutiny.”

    The mainstream (liberal) press treated Sheehan with kid gloves and did their best to stomp all over Joe the Plumber with hobnail boots.

  39. “did their best to stomp all over Joe the Plumber with hobnail boots.”

    He certainly made it easy for them. He lied about his situation. He wasn’t anywhere close to buying a business making $250k, and he wasn’t a plumber.

  40. O’Reilly is part of the MSM and he had plenty of nasty things to say about Sheehan.
    And Joe the Plumber was “dragged into the spotlight”? What color was the sky in that world? If he wants to complain about the taxes on his non-existant business, fine. But if I want to learn more about the Middle East, my dog has more knowledge and insight than JtP. No, you don’t have to be an expert to have an opinion, but some base knowledge and intelligence makes that opinion much more worth listening to.

  41. BDB, you’re right he wasn’t a plumber. He just did plumbing for a living.

  42. Joe and Cindy’s 15 minutes are up.
    Please never mention either of them again.
    Thank you.

  43. And Joe the Plumber was “dragged into the spotlight”?

    Pretty much. He was standing in his front yard when Obama and a retinue of cameras and reporters walked up to him. He had the nerve to ask Obama an honest question, and surprised a candid response from Obama. That triggered the media firestorm. I count that as dragged into the spotlight.

    Now, since then, he has tried to take advantage of the celebrity bestowed upon him, but when all this started, he got run over by the media truck, he didn’t go chasing it down.

    I second J sub D’s motion @ 11:55 am.

  44. RC Dean,

    In the last two decades hundred, possibly thousands, of people have asked candid/embarrassing questions to presidential candidates without incident. JtP didn’t get the major media attention until McCain namechecked him about 3 dozen times during the debate. JtP could have said, “Leave me the fuck alone,” when the media came calling. He didn’t, he wanted his time in the spotlight and went on every TV show he could. That the media tore him apart was entirely predictable in the realm of presidential politics. He was as much of an innocent victim of the media spotlight as Paris Hilton was when her sex tape was “leaked”.

  45. We’re all Joe The Plummer.

    Lefiti is Cindy Sheehan

  46. It doesn’t bother me at all that people are milking their 15 minutes of fame; it’s fundemental to the American way.

    It’s all the people at (in the wurzelbacher example) Fox News & esp Pajama’s Media that I have utter contempt for because of their embrace of celebrity and mediocrity.

  47. I found a great example of the kind of reporting that Carl thinks is an improvement over having people who know something talk:

    Customers at the McDonald’s where the incident occurred had mixed feelings about the McNugget meltdown.

    Daniel Slaton said he typically orders McNuggets when he goes to McDonald’s, saying simply, “I just like them better than anywhere else.”

    But Sallee Bair had a different perspective.

    “That’s a little overboard,” Bair said. “That’s way too much, way extreme for chicken nuggets. They’re not that great.” (from here

    There you have it. The profound insight you get from interviewing the first two people you run into when doing a story on a woman who called 911 after not getting her Chicken McNuggets. Convinces me that’s the way to go for Gaza.

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