Nannies and Professors Giving Gore Civics Lessons-but a Bird in the Hand is Worth Four Years of Bush

What is that sound? That growing roar arising from the

serried files and columns of the editorial and op-ed pages, from the sundry

sore throats of the talk-radio and 

cable-chat-show hosts and guests?

It’s the sound of the media nannies in a tidal wave of TSK! TSK! –ing, a titanic roar of TUT! TUT! –ing.

The nattering nabobs of nannyism are weighing in! The

thundering herd of the niceness cops are in full cry!

TSK! TSK! they’re

saying to Al Gore. Must be nice! Must not try too hard! The American people are

children, you’re threatening to disturb the peace in the nursery! Be nice like

that nice Mr. Nixon.

TUT! TUT! Al Gore.

Don’t make trouble. We need closure .

We don’t want uncertainty .

Uncertainty Bad for children,

certainty Good for children. Nannies

don’t like uncertainty. Nannies don’t

like mild disorder! It’s all just a terrible nightmare ! We feel faint! We feel fragile! Our system can’t stand

the strain! Everything will crumble if we’re forced to endure the horror of … a

somewhat prolonged re-count !

You should have seen

that self-appointed national nanny, Katie Couric, ever so sternly hectoring poor Joe Lieberman on the Nov.

13 Today show to give up and give us

“closure,” as if closure (rather than the truth) were our highest national


So, must be nice, Al Gore. Don’t rock that boat, don’t

threaten our serenity. Be nice so that you can preserve your place in history.

Be nice to preserve your image, be nice to preserve your positioning for the

next election, Gore in ’04.

Be nice so the media will applaud you for your

“graciousness” in withdrawing. Be nice to bring us all together. Be nice so the

media can congratulate you for bringing us together. Be nice so the media can

congratulate itself for bringing us

together, standing firm for stability and certainty above such trivialities as

a fair vote count.

And trotting behind the media nannies are the

self-important, self-appointed Democratic Party nannies like Bill Bradley,

arguing for restraint (i.e., surrender). Jeez, Bill Bradley! A guy who ran the

most passive campaign in history, an entitlement queen who claimed he wanted to

speak for the disenfranchised but was too self-important (or perhaps too

heavily sedated on his heart medicine) to lift a finger, apparently in

expectation of anointment. Put a cork in it, Bill Bradley-nobody cares what you

think anymore.

And trotting behind

them, the idiot-savant “experts” quoted so worshipfully by R.W. Apple in The New York Times on Nov. 12 (“Quick Resolution Benefits the Nation and Both

Candidates, Experts Contend”). I love that “Experts Contend.” As if you can’t

find “experts” to “contend” whatever you want.

I particularly love the dim-bulb “retired professor of

political science” at the University of Wisconsin: “The voters prepared a

script of consultation, cooperation and bipartisanship and asked the

politicians in effect to get on with it,” said this “expert.”

Um, excuse me- sez who ?

This is your timid script, professor;

you’re imputing your nanny values to

the electorate. Who told you what the voters wanted? Maybe they actually wanted

the candidates they voted for to win and wanted the votes they cast to count.

Then this pompous bozo instructs us-straight from the

nursery-”These two people should be settling down, setting that tone right away

and assuring all of us that they got the message.”

Note the nanny code words: “settle down,” “set the tone,”

“assure us.”

There is no more terrifying (and silly) spectacle than the

thundering herd of media nannies on the warpath for niceness.

Let’s examine the premises of the niceness offensive. And

recall first that I’m no big fan of Al Gore. Recall that in a pre-election

column, I said Al Gore ran “the most stupid and inept Presidential campaign in

modern history.” I called him a “profoundly shallow” pseud, “ridiculous in his

clownish pretensions” to be an intellect, one who parrots “intellectual

charlatans” of the management-guru stripe in an attempt to disguise his own

“fathomless mediocrity.” And then I turned really


So I didn’t have much

faith in Al Gore, although I did feel-mainly because of the future of the

Supreme Court-that there was an important difference between him and George W.

In fact, speaking of that difference, one of the few things I’m looking forward

to in a possible Bush administration is the spectacle that will ensue when

George W. nominates some anti-civil-liberties, anti-choice, “strict

constructionist” hack to the Supreme Court, and all those bold columnists who

urged a vote for Ralph Nader because electing George W. Bush “wouldn’t make a

difference” will prove their intellectual consistency and line up behind the Bush appointee . After all, they scoffed merrily

at the idea that George W.’s Supreme Court appointments were a reason to vote

for Gore.

I read all those columns in which they said Bush’s nominees

probably wouldn’t overturn Roe v. Wade ,

that RU-486 makes the issue of choice irrelevant (this from Ralph Nader

himself). So please, all you Nader writers, all you Nader intellectuals-you

took the Kool Aid, let’s not hear you whine when W. appoints Supreme Court

justices in the mold of his judicial idol, Antonin Scalia.

Still, as I said, I had little faith in Al Gore, little

faith that Al Gore would stand up to the media nannies. In the immediate

aftermath of election night, I was ready to write another column denouncing Al

Gore, this time for wimping out. After he foolishly raced to concede and

congratulate George W. at 2 a.m. (on the basis of what? On the basis of network

projections -and this after the

network projections had been dramatically, embarrassingly proven wrong a few

hours earlier), I was sure he was craving the approval of the media nannies for

that supreme value of all Nanny Values: graciousness. I was ready to write a

column calling Al Gore “The Premature Congratulator.”

But then-suddenly,

stunningly-he actually began to show a little backbone. He didn’t roll over and

play dead before the Florida count was completed. He actually asked for a fair

count, a re-count and an examination of tens of thousands of ballot


And the media nannies went crazy!

It began Thursday with William Safire’s column in The Times .

Of course, Mr. Safire is a nanny the way the wolf in “Little Red Riding Hood”

was a granny. But he was playing

nanny. He was acting concerned for Al

Gore, concerned for his political

future, concerned about his place in

history. Concerned that Gore emulate Richard Nixon.

First of all, can we say

a word about the supposed shining, selfless, public-spirited, self-sacrificing

example of that great statesman? Richard Reeves gave the game away the

following day on the Nixon issue. Mr. Reeves-a writer whose sagacity I’ve

admired all my life-was unfortunately in nanny mode in his op-ed piece. Nixon

was a “patriot,” his exit was “graceful.” But then Mr. Reeves-too conscientious

a historian to ignore the reality-pointed out the real reason Nixon refused to contest the (genuinely dicey) vote

count in Illinois and Texas: “President Dwight D. Eisenhower was angry about

the alleged fraud but finally told Nixon that he could not back him in a

challenge to the results.”

Mr. Reeves also points

out other non-patriotic or ungracious motives for Nixon’s failure to challenge

the result: no provision for re-counts in Texas, probable Republican violations

in Illinois, etc. And new accounts of Nixon’s behavior indicate that

(typically) he surreptitiously did

pursue re-counts.

If he didn’t, it must be said-something neither Mr. Reeves

nor Mr. Safire nor any of the other professed Nixon admirers among the media

nannies is willing to say: Nixon was a fool !

A fool not to contest if he thought he had a case. A fool to listen to Big

Nanny Dwight D. Eisenhower. We’re told that Nixon’s graciousness allowed him to

return and win in 1968, but in fact it was his bitterness over succumbing

“graciously” to Democratic dirty tricks in 1960 that led him directly to the

vastly humiliating self-destruction of his Presidency over his Watergate dirty

tricks-the ones he ordered to pre-empt a repeat of the ones he left unexposed

and unresolved in 1960.

(By the way, does anyone think that George W. wouldn’t have

asked for a re-count and a hand count in a vote so close if the initial machine

recount suggested substantial discrepancies and he thought he’d win with a hand re-count? Get real.)

Now let’s examine another argument the concerned nannies of

the media have been using on Al Gore: withdraw “gracefully,” and you’ll be so much better positioned to run again

in 2004. Everybody will like you so much more for being nice. It will be

so much better for your image.

I hate to say this, but I just don’t care how  Al Gore is positioned in 2004. I don’t care

how much people will like Al Gore. I care about a Supreme Court that will be

packed with George W.’s primitive notion of “strict constructionists” by 2004.

A word here to Al Gore: This election is not about your

future, it’s about our future. It’s

not yours to give away. Don’t you dare wimp out now to “position yourself

better” for 2004. I always thought your bellowing vow ” I will fight for you ” was a phony. I thought it was a phony when

you followed your focus groups and bellowed it at the Convention and it seemed

to give you a boost with blue-collar demographics. I was sure it was doubly a

phony when you ditched “I will fight for you” completely to suck up to more

prosperous segments of the middle class who-focus groups told you-didn’t like

“class warfare.” And I thought it was triply

a phony when you revived it in the dying days of your pathetically inept


But whether or not it was a phony, one thing is sure: “I

will fight for you ” doesn’t mean “I

will fight for me , Al Gore.” It

doesn’t mean “I will fight for better positioning for myself in 2004.” It

doesn’t mean “I will fight for an image of graciousness for myself.” It means

“I will fight for the issues you wanted me to fight for, for the votes you cast

for me.”

Gore is being told that to give in, to cave in to the nanny

posse, will be a sign of selflessness, but in fact it will be a sign of selfishness -doing the nice thing for Al

Gore, not for the people he supposedly represented.

Now let’s examine one final nanny value the media is

bombarding us with: the supposed dire need for “closure.” The supposed

shattering effects on the national psyche if we don’t have the closure (i.e.,

the quiet in the nursery) that the nannies are screeching for.

“Closure” is one of those

unexamined bits of psychobabble from the grief-counseling industry that

has somehow clothed itself with a bogus scientific legitimacy, largely from the

pseudoscience of Elisabeth Kübler-Ross.

Look at the hysterical language of those who impute to the

nation a craving for “closure”: “nightmare,” “quagmire,” “chaos,” “anarchy,”

“meltdown,” “Constitutional crisis.” What’s really happening is that the media

nannies are projecting their internal

hysteria on the American people. The very same way the media nannies projected

their puritanical sexual rage against Bill Clinton on the electorate, and

couldn’t fathom the failure of the rest of the country to think like proper


Over the past weekend, when the first polls came out showing

the nation not having the nervous breakdown the nannies were predicting-and

suffering-a CNN anchor guy said, evidently in frustration, “Well, it’s early

still.” In other words, they’ll come round to the proper level of hysteria soon


When did the media nominate itself National Nanny? Maybe it

goes back to Dan Rather who, for a brief interval after he took over from

National Daddy Walter Cronkite, began to sign off his newscast by saying ” Courage .” Even though he abandoned that

nanny-like injunction, the culture of Nannyism began to spread throughout

network news as big-shot broadcasters felt it incumbent upon themselves to hold

our hands in times of crisis, to tell us what was good and proper for us. What

we can handle.

It’s fascinating. During the impeachment of President

Clinton, the left was hysterical that impeachment represented a Constitutional

breakdown, but it turned out that the Constitution worked pretty well: Bill

Clinton was impeached, but not convicted.

Now the nannies are joining the right in browbeating Al Gore

for closure, on the grounds that the Constitution can’t stand the strain. We can’t handle the strain. We can’t

handle the truth . Of course,

circumventing a fair count for the sake of closure was the basis for the

corrupt racist bargain of 1876, which resulted in the abandonment of

Reconstruction in the South and nearly a century of cruel and vicious

segregationist state regimes. Why not look at the re-count process not as some

horror to be avoided, but as a healthy investigative exposure of a corrupt

situation. Something the media is supposed to be for .

Perhaps it’s time to question whether closure is the highest value in the hierarchy of

values. Perhaps it’s time to wonder whether there is a higher value than

closure: truth. As in, “the truth shall set you free.” As opposed to the nanny

value of “closure will shut your mouth.”

Don’t let the media

nannies sucker you, Al Gore.