Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Three Cheers for the National Enquirer

I can’t top Bill Voegeli’s takedown of the continuing absurdity of L’affaire Edwards, but I can put in a good word for the National Enquirer. These days all the action is supposedly on the blogosphere, but it was an old fashioned celebrity/gossip rag that did the shoe-leather and palm-greasing reporting that got the story.

And that brought back an old memory, and sure enough I was right: National Review columnist D. Keith Mano wrote way back in 1977 how the Enquirer was the second-most important conservative publication in America (after NR, of course). The piece is not available online, but I got it from the archives. A few samples:

I’ll tell you what America is. America is a three-hundred pound woman. This woman has two dogs, two TVs, hypochondria, and no secondary education. Also she’s broke, bored to tears, over forty (her husband was once alcoholic, unfaithful, crippled or laid off), and yet, despite all, she still believes in life after death. Got to be. She’s the only person who would buy National Enquirer. . .

Sounds rather like the constituency Edwards hoped to build upon for his campaign, doesn’t it? Southern Democrats of an earlier age--Mano alludes to George Wallace--would have understood this. More Mano:

Yet NE is the newspaper for lurid optimism, grossest good news. . . NE is penny-anti. Anti-government. . . Psychics apart, this is straight Wallace social conservatism. . . Contemptible? Sure. But let’s be realistic, very significant as well. Given its circulation National Enquirer is probably the second most important conservative publication in America.

Discussions - 7 Comments

Speaking of the Enquirer, today's Wall Street Journal features a review of a biography of Generso Pope, Jr., the newspaper's founder. My favorite story: "An Enquirer reporter donned a clerical collar to infiltrate Bing Crosby's family-and-a-few-friends funeral. Hot-footing from the building with his exclusive, the reporter-priest was greeted on his way out -- "Good evening, Father" -- by another Pope man . . . posing as the doorman."

Who really cares about Edwards?? Gee you guys are fiddling while the West burns. And given Steve you write on Churchill, you should realize the impact of what has happened here!! To waste your time blogging about something as trivial and inconsequential as Edwards at this time embarrasses me to be a Conservative. Gee, witnessing what I have in these past few days, I can no longer reject the claim that 'Bush Lied and People Died', because while false about Iraq they are true about Georgia. Bush has been acting as if he was a short timer and retired in office. To goof around with the athletes as he did in Beijing while good men and women were dying at the hands of the Russians is as bad as Clinton's antics back in Bosnia, that all so many neocons denounced so loudly.

Steve, sorry about biteing... I had a bad day here with all the Georgia news and Poles negative reactions to it. I just got sick of hearing about Edwards when from the point of view of history Edwards is less than a footnote. By the way, congrats on finishing the 2nd volume!! Keep up with the good work.

Yeah, you know, if the right wants to claim the National Enquirer as truly its own, it's more than welcome to it.

I think the "continuing absurdity" is actually the right's insatiable appetite for this diversionary, what-if story when their own CURRENT candidate couldn't finish one marriage before starting another. Edwards had already been a two-time losing candidate by the time his dumb affair was dug up, so this really should have faded by now.

But ultimately my own view is that candidates' love lives, both official and unofficial, are largely irrelevant and it's degrading for all concerned to scrounge around in their dirty laundry (of this sort). (It also doesn't tell us much - perhaps the true interior of the McCain and Edwards marriages were so dark that any human could sympathize with their infidelities) And I would be happy to see that standard CONSISTENTLY applied. The problem of course, is that it's the Right's game (or at least the one that they've pulled down to the deepest depths), and that game involves staking out hotel restrooms, shuffling through divorce records, and examining stains on dresses. Not helpful. And the right's typical approach to these matters is as transparently one-sided as could be imagined. Infractions of conservatives and GOP candidates, within very generous limits, are either ignored wholesale (very popular here at NLT) or minimized, often with some pitiful, faux-scholarly veneer, while those of liberals and Dems are magnified and seen as being profoundly and historically significant (The way that Clinton sullied the Oval Office - oh what will I tell my children! The post-Monica oral s** epidemic, etc.). Or, as Julie Ponzi has demonstrated here, the partisan horse is ridden by reducing the analysis to absurd distinctions between honorable hypocrites (surely Claremont award-winning Limbaugh is among them?) and dishonorable hypocrites (Edwards).

Mr. Bates, as you might guess, I think your point about the excess displayed here about the Edwards affair is a good one. I would caution you, however, on your comfort in dismissing the "Bush lied, people died" slogan in regard to L'affaire Iraq. While it is true that rhyming slogans like that often come off as cheap and facile, I think, more importantly, the distinctions between not-acting-fully-in-good-faith, acting in an intentionally deceptive matter that doesn't technically qualify as "lying", and simply flat-out lying with considerable contempt for Americans (esp. the soldiers who, yes, did actually die) are beginning to matter less and less. Surely this sort of deception is more important to the parents of soldiers in harm's way than whatever romantic dalliances Edwards or McCain have had.

And if you choose to scoff at Suskind (and his tapes/transcripts) or the site I linked to, let's just remember that this is a thread started with a post hailing the National Enquirer as "the second most important conservative publication in America."

Craig, hog wash... and its because of voices like yours the Right reacts to the Edwards issues as it does, because it uses your type of tactics against you as a means to defend itself. My anger at Bush is truly about his mistakes, well intentioned mistakes, your is that you hate anything what he stands for and what he believes in and it makes you go loony that this guy won the presidency twice (and perhaps if he could run again after Jan 2005 he might have been in campaign mode and not made the blunders he did!!!). Edwards is a 3rd rate Ambulance chaser who preaches the rest of America to live one way while he lives another, all the while trying to come off as a populist... Pleaseeeee. Its bad enough we got the closest thing I have seen in my life to what could be called the anti-christ (his religious appeals, his charisma, the cult like devotion he inspires, the lack of any record of political experience, etc) being the democratic nominee for President. Hil was merely the whore from Babylon, but Berry is Damion.

My friends here told me to try to cheer up, but I have not been this depressed about things in the world since seeing Sept 11 happen live on TV on Morning Call CNBC Europe over here in Warsaw and for the two weeks following. Perhaps even more so, because then were were merely the victim, now we are the betrayer... and I have to say that I am greatly ashamed of my government and my Country.

But don't worry my old fundo background remind me... the rapture will happen soon, especially given all the signs out there, and leaving this world to Berry and his crew to have dominion over all those who don't got their ticket punched for the ride upstairs. So there is a bright side...

Craig's pro-terrorist and that's all anyone really needs to know about him.

Speaking of D. Keith Mano, is he still among the living? A friend and I would like to know.

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