Saturday, September 21, 2002


What is up with Jackson Baker? He's really getting slack of late, much more so than in the past. He could always be counted on to slide his own politics and propaganda into stories he wrote. Now, he's almost phoning these columns in. It's depressing to pundits like me to be given such limp noodles from which to make entrees.

This week's installment, titled "Parsers' Holiday" doesn't even begin well. The thrust of his two-part column is that you have to dissect what's being said to get the real meaning -- kinda like the Clinton years. He even manages to name-check President Bill and his paramour Monica! So, does he mean "parser's holiday" as in "busman's holiday?" Is he working while taking time off? That would explain a lot....

Read the first paragraph:
If ever there is a tournament for the parsing championship of
the Western world, members of the two local parties will
surely have to be considered as candidates for top honors.
Deflate that into: "Local politicians would be medal winners in a parsing championship." But no, Baker seems to think that the passive voice is to be preferred. Or maybe he is being paid by the word. Besides, I think he has it wrong. Are the pols competing to see who can parse who, or to be parsed? Are they competitors, which I don't think is Baker's meaning, or are they so many weenies to be scarfed by the likes of Baker?

Anyway, there is the usual checking of names, a Baker favorite, as though he has to maximize the number of people he mentions to prove the value of his thoughts regardless of their (both the names and the thoughts) worth. He is still the master of the long, convoluted sentences. Deep breath:
Not to be outspun, incidentally, was Clement, who, in the
face of Herenton's cozying up to Lamar and of polls showing
him as much as 18 percent behind Alexander, successfully
lobbied local and national media to report that, while
President George W. Bush was coming to Nashville
Tuesday on Alexander's behalf (to be followed by his father,
former President George H. W. Bush, due in Memphis on
Wednesday), he, Clement, would be flying back to
Washington with President Bush aboard Air Force One.
Still with me? Good.

Basically, Baker is just as baffled by Herenton's presence at a Lamar! event as the Commercial Appeal's Susan Adler Thorp was. But we covered this already Baker revisits it because it's like an itch he must scratch. He then goes on to a boring Democratic event he tries to enliven thusly:
Herenton conspicuously huddled with both former 9th District
congressman Harold Ford Sr. and current congressman
Harold Ford Jr., in an effort to present the appearance of

State Rep. Kathryn Bowers, who has an open quarrel with
local party chairperson Gale Jones Carson and other
members of the Herenton camp, observed privately that "a big
shovel" might be needed to clear the crowded, stifling room of
Good job letting someone else's word speak for you there, JB.

In the second part of this flat souffle, he then does some more mangled reportage, this time on the Republican County Republicans' steering committee meeting at which Rout fils was asked to resign from the chairmanship of the Young Republicans. Baker doesn't let such bad news stop his admiration for the Rout family:
Then, on Thursday night, the younger Rout was given
something less than a vote of confidence as his colleagues
on the Shelby County Republican steering committee voted
by an 18 to 8 margin to ask him to resign from the committee....
Yeah, that would be "something less" indeed. I won't bore you with the rest of Baker's mighty, windy, labors. His self-appointed job is to keep the lustre on the Rout family name. In the Baker world-view, someone like Rout who can work with Democrats is to be admired, mostly because Republicans must be more like Democrats in order to become good people. His confusion over Herenton's siding with long-time friend Lamar! is yet another sympton of that.

One last bit before we go. Discussing the ouster of Rout and other Republican business, Baker characterizes it as "intraparty revolt." He never fails to miss an opportunity to portray the Republicans as divisive and riven with strife. (Ooh, I sounded like him for a moment.) But his reporting of the Democrats, as seen in the first quote above, is always much less negative. "The appearance of unity" indeed....

Until next time.

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