Paul Berman Turns the Tides of History

Gossip, speculation, and scuttlebutt about politics.
Nov. 15 2000 7:01 PM

Paul Berman Turns the Tides of History

More in sorrow than in anger, Paul Berman has written in to deplore Chatterbox's item characterizing as a "fiasco" the ad campaign undertaken by the Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens 2000. Apparently, it was not a fiasco. It was a "smashing triumph." The real message of the ads was not what the ads said--essentially nothing, in the case of the first ad, and something that many signatories disagreed with, in the case of the second. Rather, the real message was that Gore should not concede the election to Bush. The ads appeared. Gore didn't concede to Bush. Ergo, the Emergency Committee of Concerned Citizens 2000 got its $125,795 worth.

Advertisement

Well, it's their money. But Gore probably would have hung in there even if he hadn't been instructed to by Berman, Sean Wilentz, Rosie O'Donnell, and assorted other worthies. Berman's right that there was some loose sore-loser talk on the tube on the day after the election. Even then, however, Gore and Bush were clearly dug in for a long fight. Certainly the pundits and everyone else figured out that there were legitimate uncertainties about the Florida situation well before Friday, when the first of the ads appeared. They didn't need a full-page ad in the New York Times to tell them, assuming they were able to tease out its subtle meaning.

Berman pronounces himself personally indifferent to the fact that the second ad made a straightforward argument for a revote in Palm Beach County (though he can understand why a fussbudget constitutional lawyer might quibble). "[M]any of us who signed the ad didn't and don't really care what the exact solution to the election crisis should be," Berman writes. Indeed, the only glitch that seems to have genuinely mortified Berman was that Philip Roth's name was misspelled. Perhaps the Emergency Committee should take out another ad stating, "PHILIP ROTH SPELLS HIS NAME WITH ONE 'L.' "

Berman ends his complaint by pointing out that Walter Shapiro, who previously alternated in this column with me, had some rude fun two years ago at the expense of Arthur Schlesinger, Caroline Kennedy, Elie Wiesel, Ronald Dworkin, and Toni Morrison, who held a teach-in decrying the Clinton impeachment at NYU. Chatterbox, naturally, is shocked to learn that anyone would fail to swoon at these titans of American political discourse (Alec Baldwin was there, too) but doesn't see what it has to do with him.

TODAY IN SLATE

Doublex

Crying Rape

False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

The Music Industry Is Ignoring Some of the Best Black Women Singing R&B

How Will You Carry Around Your Huge New iPhone? Apple Pants!

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Television

The Other Huxtable Effect

Thirty years ago, The Cosby Show gave us one of TV’s great feminists.

Lifetime Didn’t Find the Steubenville Rape Case Dramatic Enough. So They Added a Little Self-Immolation.

No, New York Times, Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman” 

Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 1:39 PM Shonda Rhimes Is Not an “Angry Black Woman,” New York Times. Neither Are Her Characters.
Behold
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM An Up-Close Look at the U.S.–Mexico Border
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.