In Blues Cruise, New York magazine writer Joe Hagan writes up the National Review magazine’s Post Election Cruise 2012 that he enjoyed last month.
One of the featured guests on the Nieuw Amsterdam was Minnesota's own James Lileks, former Star Tribune columnist and current Bleat blogger. Apparently, Lileks was along as a comic. Hagen writes:
After dinner was a program called the “Light Side of the Right Side.” A frenetic, tightly wound man named James Lileks, a National Review columnist from Minnesota, warmed up the crowd with one-liners: “If we can put a man on the moon, we can put 50 million Democrats up there as well!” . . .
Bluestem loves to travel, so perhaps we should start caucusing with the DFL again. Lileks then had a moment of self-reflection or something:
Conservatives, they felt, needed their own cultural voice—a Letterman, a Leno, an SNL, a 30 Rock—to compete with the overwhelming liberal dominance of the culture. As the Republican image stood today, said Lileks, “we’re the stupid people, we’re the yokels, we’re the dumb, we’re the racists, we’re the hicks, we’re against everything that’s hip and cool.”
Please: leave us hicks and yokels out of your equation. Hagan's next reference illustrates a bit more of what the problem might be, an unrivaled tone deafness:
After a break for cookies came the 4 p.m. panel, “The Media: How Deep in the Tank?” Lileks, the energetic Minnesotan, was apoplectic that the mainstream media castigated Michele Bachmann for suggesting without evidence that Hillary Clinton adviser Huma Abedin’s had connections to the Muslim Brotherhood.
As we recall, Senator John McCain castigated Bachmann for the accusations in a speech on the Senate floor. And while conservative media generally defended her, USA Today reported in House intel leaders disavow Bachmann allegations:
The two top members of the U.S. House intelligence committee disassociated themselves from the tone and substance of allegations by Rep. Michele Bachmann, a panel member, that an investigation is warranted in suspected efforts by the Muslim Brotherhood to infiltrate the federal government.
"We are in a special situation as members of the intelligence committee, and we get a lot of briefings and to deal with the issue of terrorism and those types of thing," Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., the committee's top Democrat, told USA TODAY. "It's unfortunate that someone like Michele would make that kind of comment without facts." . . .
Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., a former FBI agent, said Bachmann's assertions about the Muslim Brotherhood's infiltration efforts are false.
"That kind of assertion certainly doesn't comport with the Intelligence Committee, and I can say that on the record," he told USA TODAY, aligning himself with party leaders who have defended Abedin. "I have no information in my committee that would indicate that Huma is anything other than an American patriot.". . .
And then there were the other leaders who noted their disagreement:
. . .House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and Bachmann's former campaign manager Ed Rollins, among others, have all come to the defense of Huma Abedin, Clinton's deputy chief of staff. Abedin is an American-born Muslim whose family has alleged ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, according to a conservative think-tank report that fueled Bachmann's call for a full scale investigation.
The Politico headline was blunt: Republicans line up to rip Michele Bachmann.
Bachmann barely won re-election in November to political newbie Jim Graves. Poor Lileks must long for the old days, when news reporters in the Twin Cities media politely refrained from reporting the Gentlewoman from Minnesota's Sixth's cray-cray worldview. In the old days, by gum, that sort of thing was left for the folks at Dump Bachmann.
And, as editor Kevin Hoffman noted, the City Pages, in In New York Post, James Lileks complains about City Pages' coverage of Michele Bachmann. Hoffman wrote:
The column for the Murdoch-owned paper is an attempt by Lileks to explain Minnesota politics, and Bachmann in particular, to a skeptical nation.
Along the way, Lileks--known for his bizarre transformation from genial City Pages columnist into xenophobic conservative apologist-- fires a shot across our bow.
Bluestem wonders how Lileks reconciles his notion of a Bachmann-hostile press to the Associated Press's admission, via the Washington Post, AP editor cites Bachmann fact-checking ‘quota’:
Jim Drinkard, an Associated Press (AP) editor who oversees the wire service’s fact-checking work, said, “We had to have a self-imposed Michele Bachmann quota in some of those debates.”
After the session, Drinkard said that there wasn’t an actual numerical quota on Bachmann at the AP. It’s just that if the AP had gone back and vetted all her claims that looked dicey, the result would “overload” the debate story. “Often she was just more prone to statements that just didn’t add up,” said Drinkard.
Hat tip to MoJo's Tim Murphy.
Blog begathon: Bluestem is supported by reader contributions. If you liked this post, consider throwing some coin to the tip jar. If you don't like using PayPal, email at the address on this page for a snail mail address. We'll be running our twice-yearly "bleg" though Christmas.