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Jack Shafer: Media Analysis For People Who Think Maureen Dowd is Too Deep and Too Funny

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Above: Jack Shafer (Michael Palin) interacts with a pompous yet naive schlub who expects to learn something from Politico’s media critic (John Cleese)

Jack Shafer — the only pundit with the courage to tell it like it is, that everything about the media’s coverage of the 2016 campaign was just fine — has one MOAB take:

Observers have been waiting for more than a year for Donald Trump to stop acting like a beer hall bouncer and start acting more presidential. On Wednesday, that wish came true, as Baby Donald completed his transformation into a standard chief executive of the United States by espousing many of the hallmark policies one would have associated with President Hillary Clinton.

Really? Hillary Clinton advocated putting neoconfederate reactionaries on the Supreme Court, taking health insurance away from 25 million people to pay for upper-class tax cuts, more upper-class tax cuts, issue racist travel bans, defunding Planned Parenthood, and gutting the EPA? I did. not. know. that. Actually, I still don’t know that.

Hillary Clinton’s presidency would have been a family affair, with Bill and Chelsea mobbing the White House with their advice; Trump has seated daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner at on his roundtable and acts on their guidance.

Hillary Clinton is married to a former president of the United States and has a Graspingly Ambitious daughter who will be totally running for some unspecified political office any day now, which when you think about it is just like Donald Trump making his completely unqualified children and in-laws prominent jobs in the West Wing while some of his other children continue to run his business so he can extract bribes more effectively.

Hillary Clinton would have gone to war with the Republican Congress, vowing to campaign against them once they refused to pass her legislation; Trump has come close to realizing that goal, telling the leader of the troublesome House Freedom Caucus, “Mark, I’m coming after you.”

“Come close” — now that’s how you bullshit.

Elsewhere on the Clintonification front, Trump through his legislative bungling has preserved Obamacare, which he vowed to repeal

Yes, trying and failing to repeal the ACA while threatening to damage it administratively makes him pretty much exactly like Hillary Clinton.

and is ready to make common cause with Democrats to pass an infrastructure pork bill.

LOL sure keep waiting for that (and also “pork bill” okay.) Jack Shafer received his MA in political science from Trump University, just like Hillary Clinton.

When not drawing on Clinton for inspiration, Trump has turned to Barack Obama. Before and during the campaign, he criticized Obama for golfing instead of tending to whatever crisis in high fermentation that moment. “I’m going to be working for you. I’m not going to have time to go play golf,” Trump said last August. He’s taken a mulligan on that pledge as president, exceeding Obama’s devotion to the links with gusto. According to a Palm Beach Post tally, Trump played 14 times during his first 82 days in office while Obama averaged about 9.3 trips to the courses every 82 days for his entire presidency.

Republicans used to speciously criticize Obama for playing golf, Trump plays golf all the time, which shows that Trump is like Hillary Clin…have I reached my minimum word count yet?

To his credit—or detriment, depending on where you stand—Trump has remained stalwart on several of his signature issues. He’s taken decidedly anti-Clinton policy moves on abortion, immigration, environmental regulation, illicit drugs and crime.

Don’t forget the Supreme Court. And taxes. Anyway, when you ignore the many issues where they’re different really Trump is the same as Hillary Clinton. Jack Shafer does not have any cheese at all. Not a scrap. He was deliberately wasting your time.

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  • rea

    This is modestly encouraging . . .

    • bexley

      Hopefully he’ll invite Nigel Farage, the Cabinet of the UK and Michael Gove for some sushi before the Brexit negotiations really kick off.

  • NonyNony

    There’s so much there that I feel dumb for focusing on one thing, but I will anyway:

    and is ready to make common cause with Democrats to pass an infrastructure pork bill.

    What exactly is the game here? Do the entire class of political pundits not actually know how the US government works, or do they pretend not to know just to be able to write their op-eds?

    Because given who is in charge of Congress, Trump literally cannot end-run around the GOP and “make common cause” with Democrats on anything. Anything that isn’t an emergency bill isn’t leaving the House unless it can be passed by the Hastert rule. Anything that makes it to the floor of the Senate has to have the blessing of at least McConnell, not to mention a number of committees and the various procedural tricks that single Senators can use to gum up the works, who have no interest in making “common cause” with Democrats on a spending bill.

    It’s like they have a fantasy version of DC in their heads where the entire Republican party just does whatever Trump wants them to do just because he’s the president. You would think that the ACA repeal debacle would have put an end to that fantasy, but they just keep living the dream I guess.

    • efgoldman

      Do the entire class of political pundits not actually know how the US government works

      Well, they’ve taken their cue from the alleged president, who didn’t and still doesn’t.

    • Do the entire class of political pundits not actually know how the US government works

      No. SASTQ. This also appears to extend to journalists more generally. They don’t understand technology either, as was demonstrated by nearly every article written about EMAILS! throughout 2016.

    • David Lloyd-Jones

      NN,

      Well done, modulo only the very slight reservation that the Hastert “rule” is a convenient self-denying ordinance available to Republicans when and if either a Republican Speaker or a robustly threatening array of some weirdie astroturf faction of theirs want to summon it up.

      The Hastert thingie is a Republican Principle. ‘Nuff said.

      -dlj.

  • Q.E.Dumbass

    THANK YOU SCOTT ALL MY WISHES HAVE BEEN ANSWERED (even though I didn’t know about this particular article until you posted)!

    Seriously, though: How did Shafer go from a reasonably worthwhile libertarian at State and Reuters to 2016-17’s worst Pundit/Human Being (and yes, for my money he beats out Cillizza)?

  • Jordan

    Well I know *one* commentator who will be overly pleased by this.

    /eta and they are!

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      What does it take to get mentioned in the OP? (Although he did like my first tweet on “BUT WEGENER”).

      • Jordan

        I think you gotta be murc

        • Origami Isopod

          Or Dilan.

          • I got a comment featured once when I provided analysis of the Republicans’ voter suppression tactics, which is a topic I’ve spent quite a long time following. Was quite pleased about that.

  • Jack M.

    Observers have been waiting for more than a year for Donald Trump to stop acting like a beer hall bouncer

    Isn’t the German word putsch derived in a roundabout way from ‘bounce’ or ‘push’?

    • Hogan

      German Putsch, orig. Swiss German: literally, violent blow, clash, shock;

  • Jordan

    Anyways, what the hell happened to this guy? I remember considering him a fine opposition/libertarian at slate. So what the hell (this piece, and the one before, and the one before, and the one before, etc etc etc).

    • daves09

      CDS is a terrible thing-first comes the brain rot with delusions of Dowdism, then dementia praecox and delirium tremens-also known as Noonan syndrome.

      • Jordan

        that does sound pretty bad

    • PunditusMaximus

      HRC is a major female politician and all libertarians hate their moms with the passion of a thousand fiery suns.

      • Jordan

        intriguing answer, but if true shafer should have reverted to his (presumed?) mean. But, alas, no.

  • eclare

    Obama averaged about 9.3 trips to the courses every 82 days for his entire presidency

    Is this true? It seems really high.

    • Jordan

      ya, that’d be once a week, and sometime two.

      Also, that is a bizarrely weird stat. 9.3 per 82 days?

      • Aaron Morrow

        To be fair, if Shafer’s statistics were comprehensible it would be obvious he’s a liar.

        EDIT: “You see, you unfortunately plumped for our Never-honest policy, which, you know, if you never read is very worthwhile, but you had to read, and, well, there it is.”

      • Boots Day

        I don’t know how many weeks of vacation the president gets, and I’m not sure how to get in touch with the White House HR department, but let’s say Obama started off with two weeks of vacation, like most of us do. If he played golf each of those days, that’s 14 rounds.

        That 9.3 per 82 days adds up to 41 rounds per year, but if you subtract that 14 vacation rounds, it’s 27 rounds while he’s on the job, or roughly once every other week. That doesn’t sound excessive at all.

        Trump, of course, hasn’t taken any official vacation yet.

        • JR in WV

          Wait!

          Has he started work yet?

          ‘Cause you can’t take vacation unless you’ve started to work, right?!?!?!

        • Jordan

          Playing golf every single day of his vacation sounds pretty excessive to me.

          Playing … uh … “on the job” golf every other week also seems excessive, although less so.

          I think the far more likely story is that this stat is full of shit, and its bizzare selection is also stupid.

    • Cassiodorus

      Glad someone else flagged that.

    • medrawt

      The website obamagolfcounter.com, which I rather get the impression is not a nonpartisan apolitical operation, has a count of 306 separate days on which Obama golfed. Obama’s presidency lasted 8 years, and rather than doing a careful study of calendars to confirm my presumption I’m going to assume 365*8, plus 2 more for two leap years, gives an accurate count of 2,922 days in office. That works out to 35.634 periods of 82 days each. 306/35.634 = 8.587.

      So I’m not sure what Shafer’s source is. I don’t have 100% confidence in my source. I think it’s pretty incontrovertible: Obama played a lot of golf. Trump is playing a lot more. Trump is also leaving the White House pretty much every weekend to go to a golf club, and porting a significant part of the Executive Office with him, for no apparent reason other than because he wants to be there; this does not fit the pattern diagnosed by the intrepid partisans of obamagolfcounter.com. Obama played a LOT of his rounds at Andrews AFB, and generally seems to have done a lot of his golfing as a diversion on trips that had some particular purpose aside from visiting a golf course. The exceptions being his regular vacations in Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii, where he definitely got a lot of golf in.

      EDIT TO ADD: I count 104 of Obama’s golf outings, per the noble souls of obamagolfcounter.com, as having taken place at Andrews. So more than a third of his golf outings were basically at his “local” course.

      • medrawt

        I have done more investigation. 52 golf outings in his trips to Martha’s Vineyard. 49 in Hawaii. Another 64 in the DMV area but not at Andrews (mostly at Fort Belvoir). All numbers approximate, because (a) I don’t know if this source is accurate, (b) I’m counting by scrolling through a page and doing ctrl+f, (c) I’m not looking up where all these courses are.

        I have a total of 168, or 54.9%, of Obama’s golf outings happening in the immediate vicinity of Washington, D.C., suggesting a short trip as a break during the day. I have another 101, or 33%, taking place during discrete time periods when Obama was on vacation at his known vacation spots in Martha’s Vineyard and Hawaii. That leaves 37 other golf outings, or 12%, which I interpret as diversions during other trips – I cannot and will not determine what the mix of “work” vs “vacation” was on these itineraries.

        Aside from escalated frequency, the main distinction between Trump’s habits so far and Obama’s is that Trump is basically treating the courses at Mar-a-Lago the way Obama treated Andrews AFB.

        • mnuba

          Aside from escalated frequency, the main distinction between Trump’s habits so far and Obama’s is that Trump is basically treating the courses at Mar-a-Lago the way Obama treated Andrews AFB.

          Also, too: Trump is blatantly using these golf trips as an excuse to redirect as much money from the public coffers as possible into his own hands (sorry, his “””””””””trust””””””””). I don’t know whether this is Trump’s chief motivation for the frequency of his golf trips, or whether it’s merely pure laziness. Probably, it’s both.

          • efgoldman

            I don’t know whether this is Trump’s chief motivation for the frequency of his golf trips, or whether it’s merely pure laziness. Probably, it’s both.

            He’s also doing it because he can – at least until he’s stopped, somehow.
            Just like he gets to play with all those fun toys that go ::BOOM::

        • howard

          some of those other 37 outings were at sunnylands, where he met president xi in 2013. the important point there is that sunnylands is operated and supported by a 501(c)3 and intended to be used by the president (and others named in the documents of trust) for both business and recreation: it’s effectively what mar-a-lago was before trump bought it and reprivatized it, but mar-a-lago had no endowment and sunnylands does.

          • medrawt

            Ah! I was wondering about those “Rancho Mirage, CA” entries, but as I noted, I wasn’t about to start googling extra golf courses (after I confirmed that there is one at Andrews.

            Again, I don’t have an issue with the President golfing. Well, I do, because I think golf is a dumb waste of time and POTUSes doing so much of it promotes the survival of the “golf as pastime and negotiating backdrop of the elite” thing, which I don’t care for. The idea that the President has to be grinding away 100% of the time is silly. It’s what’s going on around Trump’s golfing excursions – the travel, the expense, etc. – that’s bothersome.

            • howard

              ha! i should have checked the link to save you the effort on “rancho mirage,” but yes, that is sunnylands .

              the obamas are said to be looking at buying a home in the area.

        • efgoldman

          the main distinction between Trump’s habits so far and Obama’s is that Trump is basically treating the courses at Mar-a-Lago the way Obama treated Andrews AFB.

          Why are you treating Shafer’s (or obamagolfcounter.com’s) “statistics” as if they are serious? Spurious bullshit is spurious bullshit, and especially here, debunking is a waste of effort.
          Much more serious, as far as Shafer is concerned, is the self-evident pig shit swill about HRC and Orangemandyas being just the same. He gets paid for this!

      • Joe_JP

        Obama played a LOT of his rounds at Andrews AFB, and generally seems to have done a lot of his golfing as a diversion on trips that had some particular purpose aside from visiting a golf course.

        Interesting. If the golf course is there anyway, seems like it is not a big deal that Obama played golf around once every 10 days. Averages can be misleading there & Presidents do have off time. The time it takes to go to the club etc. in Trump’s case is significant.

        Half the issue at least is that him calling out Obama was b.s. Thus, e.g., a reporter [Chris Geidner on Twitter/Buzzfeed] showing that his people are b.s.-ing how much time he is spending doing work while really he’s at the golf course etc.

        • medrawt

          The time and the money (and the corruption, as mnuba points out). Obama basically either played in his neighborhood, was on a working trip to another part of the country, or was on a defined vacation. Basically he went to the links on the weekends in DC, and got in a lot of his rounds on vacation. Trump hasn’t taken a vacation yet, he just flies to Florida every week. It doesn’t bother me that Trump goes golfing, it bothers me that he’s advertising for Trump-branded properties and it bothers me even more that he’s basically commuting between DC and Florida.

      • NonyNony

        The website obamagolfcounter.com

        JFC. This is how the world ends. Not with a bang but with a golf counter.

  • Joe_JP

    The parrot sketch might work too.

    The parrot is dead even if you pretend otherwise and trick some rubes in the process.

    • CP

      I’ve listened to the Minehead election skit way too many times since last November.

    • Bri2k

      “‘Ee’s not dead! ‘Ees pinin’, pinin’ for Gerald Ford!”

  • D.N. Nation

    https://pbs.twimg.com/profile_images/68221457/JohnnyPress.gif

    Jack Shafer, hard-workin’, gettin’ the scoop!

    • daves09

      The poop scoop.

    • Lot_49

      Yeah, that was logo for years. He does seem to have declined into latter-year laziness.

    • Bri2k

      I sure as hell don’t want any of whatever ol’ Jack is smoking…

      • efgoldman

        I sure as hell don’t want any of whatever ol’ Jack is smoking…

        I dunno’. It sure seems to have taken him to a happy place. Maybe it could make you (or me) delusional. too.

  • daves09

    A classic of douchebaggery.
    When I read it yesterday I was impressed. He managed to get every single thing wrong except, possibly, the last paragraph. Dame Peggy and MoDo are gonna have to work to beat this guy.
    And because it can’t be said often enough: how the fuck did fucking CNN pick fucking Chris Cillizza to be fucking editor at large? These really are the end times.

    • D.N. Nation

      Cillizza posted a nice foot-fetish/”accidental” upskirt photo on Twitter yesterday. Heckuva hire.

    • Phil Perspective

      And because it can’t be said often enough: how the fuck did fucking CNN pick fucking Chris Cillizza to be fucking editor at large?

      The election didn’t answer that for you? And Zucker’s comments in particular.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      I read him almost weekly during the election cycle — although my exposure to MoDo & Nooners was minimal — and I would say that doing so will be as easy as ice-skating uphill backwards.

      Dave Weigel should get Lord Sparkling Glibturd’s (wow, haven’t used that in a while) position, Glibturd should go over to CNN, and the entire CNN staff (except Anderson Cooper) should be promptly fired into the sun.

  • Lamont Cranston

    “I’ve got a great idea for a piece… Here’s your headline – ‘Both Sides Do It.’ I wonder if anyone else has run with something like that…”

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      “We really like Chris Cillizza’s analysis, but we feel he’s not punchable enough and too respectful of readers’ intelligence.” — POLITICO front office.

  • jim, some guy in iowa

    the sad! thing is there are people who read Shafer and come away feeling informed

    • Oh, come on. I learned that beer hall bouncers don’t drop 20,000-pound bombs on you. Surely that could come in handy some day.

      • John Revolta

        I know a couple guys in London who could come pretty close

  • mnuba

    Hillary Clinton would have gone to war with the Republican Congress, vowing to campaign against them once they refused to pass her legislation; Trump has come close to realizing that goal, telling the leader of the troublesome House Freedom Caucus, “Mark, I’m coming after you.”

    President fighting with own party = President fighting with opposition party because ???????????????

  • Dr. Ronnie James, DO

    This analysis kind of makes sense if you look at Hillary’s first planned actions as POTUS:
    “1) Unleash CBP and ICE to harass the shit out of the Khan family and anyone who even kinda looks like them.
    2) Hire a bunch of dressup Nazis to the White House.
    3) Let states gut Planned Parenthood.
    4) Insecure e-mail practices for everyone!”

  • DrDick

    I think I suffered significant brain damage just from reading those excerpts. I do not want to think what reading the whole thing would have done.

    • Q.E.Dumbass

      As LGM’s ama-too-er Shaferologist (a term here meaning “I thought he was Hack Of The Year, and reached that long before December”), the arguable nadir of his hackery was where he justified the EMAILZ chickenfucking by arguing “But ALFRED WEGENER, MAN!” Keep in mind this was 37 years after Carl Sagan remark that “they also laughed at Bozo the Clown.”

  • JustRuss

    Hillary Clinton would have gone to war with the Republican Congress, vowing to campaign against them once they refused to pass her legislation;

    Uh, isn’t that called “politics”, or perhaps, “using the bully pulpit”? I mean christ, he’s pearl-clutching over an imaginary Democratic president not being bipartisany enough with an obstructionist opposition party. I understand hacks gotta hack, but is he really that stupid?

    • efgoldman

      but is he really that stupid?

      Same question I asked in the Steven Lord tread below: Does he really believe the chicken shit he types, or is he just trolling?

      • Q.E.Dumbass

        He’s a skinless, nihilistic sack of shit completely indifferent to the idea that politics have consequences, and also said this:

        “Traditionally, the state censors and marginalizes voices while private businesses tend to remain tolerant.”[4] In 2000, he explained his political views as follows: “I agree with the Libertarian Party platform: much smaller government, much lower taxes, an end to income redistribution, repeal of the drug laws, fewer gun laws, a dismantled welfare state, an end to corporate subsidies, First Amendment absolutism, a scaled-back warfare state. (You get the idea.)”

        The fact that he’s smarter than Cillizza makes him an even worse pundit, so I’ll take “evil” for $200.

        • John Revolta

          So, another Republican who wants to smoke pot.

  • No Longer Middle Aged Man

    I’ve come to understand Shafer as the equivalent of someone who thinks it shows their critical perception and excellent taste by claiming that every movie/restaurant/record whatever is shit. Nothing is good enough for them, everything is low brow and can be resolutely condemned as the equal of other low brow garbage. It’s like he brings a very stupid person’s version of an aesthetic sensibility to political commentary.

  • PunditusMaximus

    Libertarians: hating on women since the word “libertarian” got its modern meaning.

  • Chris Mealy

    I gave up on Shafer back in his Slate days but happened to read that article this morning. I can’t imagine what he’s trying to accomplish by sounding like a crazy person. Seriously that is college newspaper level glib analysis.

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