December 27, 2007

Why does Naomi Wolf regret working for Al Gore?

Was it because her advice that he wear "earth tones" and establish that he is an "Alpha Male" brought him and her ridicule that continues to this day? No! It's that she took money to work for the Gore campaign. And it's a "big mistake for any writer" to take money from a candidate:
[B]ecause you can't then say whatever you want to say whenever you want to say it. That was the great luxury of being a freelance writer and beholden to nobody--which I had been, up until then.

Writers have to be free to criticize anybody and criticize the powers that be and to always be transparent with their readers. So since I was formally signed up with the campaign rather than volunteering as I had in '96
The problem with "earth tones" and "Alpha Male" wasn't that her advice was silly or embarrassing, it's that "the evil Republican National Committee... completely invented " it, and she "wasn't in a position, contractually, to hit back."
So it was very frustrating, when I'm used to being able to speak up, to not have a voice when the Bush Team was doing such a brilliant job of what we have subsequently learned is their specialty: creating imaginative lies and saturating the media with them.
This is from a Huffington Post series called "My Favorite Mistake," which I think is supposed to be about your own mistake (and how much you learned from it). Obviously, there is an immense temptation to identify something good you tried to do and to use the occasion to condemn your nemesis. Wolf succumbed.

My mistake was being so naive about how profoundly evil my enemy is.

45 comments:

peter hoh said...

And my biggest weakness? I work too hard.

dmfoiemjsof said...

Reading the article, Wolf is pretty hard on herself for taking money, as a writer. That was her mistake and she blames herself, because it tied her hands. At the same time, she confesses admiration of the Bush team, calling them brilliant for the way they manipulate public opinion.

XWL said...

That ranks right up with the classic non-apology apology along the lines,

'I apologize if I offended you since obviously you were too dense to realize what I was saying was inoffensive.'

(this past althouse post is in a similar vein, though in this case, the NYT editor doesn't even bother offering a back-handed apology)

paul a'barge said...

Oh yes, the evil RNC, guilty of spewing lies about ... Naomi, while Naomi was telling Al Gore what colors to wear and how to act like a man so that Al Gore could ... (wait for it) ... spew lies about himself.

Let's face it. On both sides of the political border the team members spin.

Naomi just did a crappy job of it, and worked for the losing side and for that she can never forgive those who beat her like a drum.

Naomi Wolf is a babbling mutt.

John Stodder said...

Wolf is self-involved twit.

It was backstabbers within the Gore campaign that called her out on the "earth tones" advice, not the Republican hate machine. If they lied about it to the press to bring ridicule upon her, it was probably in a good cause -- to get her off the campaign so Gore might have a chance of winning. Why would the Republican hate machine even bother with an unreadable narcissist like Wolf? Does she seriously think her incoherent brand of feminism is any kind of threat to the patriarchy?

I can't stand a person like Wolf, who makes a fortune plugging a half-baked book that plays into leftist paranoia about creeping fascism. The right is constantly accused of fear-mongering, but it is people like Wolf who are consciously engaging in it, exaggerating and disingenuously misstating the words of others in order to paint a frightening picture that credulous people are willing to give her publisher $25 to wallow in. When she is being sincere, Wolf's a narcissist. The rest of the time, she's a con artist. Take an arguably pretty face, combine it with agit-prop, and you've got something to sell on TV. That's Naomi Wolf.

JCooperNYC said...

John,

Give her a break, she's only a girl.

SteveR said...

Seven years later, they are still blaming the wrong people. Sad really that a whole generation of seemingly intelligent people are living under the illusion. Hell even Al Gore has moved on..

garage mahal said...

Was it because her advice that he wear "earth tones" and establish that he is an "Alpha Male" brought him and her ridicule that continues to this day?

Only problem here, Ann, is the "ridicule that continues to this day", was based off a pack of lies. In this lie, she advised Gore to be a Alpha Male, and to wear earth tones. The "source" for this was "speculation" from a toe sucking, prostitute hiring pundit who hates anything Clinton. But this is surely good enough for our brain dead press corps to run with.

The only scorn that should be dished is to the Lordly New York Times for printing twisted and perverted self absorbed hacks like Maureen Dowd.

Kirk Parker said...

"Naomi Wolf" and "big mistake" appearing together in the same article?

Come on, Ann, tell us some new information, please!

Heir to the Throne said...

garage mahal,
So Al Gore was not wearing earth tones and trying to "Alpha Male" during his 2000 campaign?
I remember otherwise.

Palladian said...

"Reading the article, Wolf is pretty hard on herself for taking money, as a writer."

So why doesn't she give the money back?

Oh.

John Stodder said...

Only problem here, Ann, is the "ridicule that continues to this day", was based off a pack of lies. In this lie, she advised Gore to be a Alpha Male, and to wear earth tones.

Well... you don't really know that it was a "pack of lies." It was a leak. When an inside-baseball anecdote like "earth tones/Alpha male" gains currency, that's usually because it resonates with what we know about the candidate. In this case, the story erupted during a time in Gore's campaign where he appeared to change his persona every time he changed political consultants, a fact noted throughout the media. That he would listen to a feminist consultant tell him to use fashion choices to seem more like an Alpha Male was the seeming zenith of Gore's absurd and expensive search for an identity.

Now, seven years too late, Gore seems to have found one, seemingly without help from a consultant.

George said...

Speaking of "imaginative lies," consider this bit from the Jan 2008 Vanity Fair.

In his Editor's Word, Graydon Carter says that when Pres. Bush choked on that pretzel in 2002 and was rushed to a Baltimore emergency room, a blood sample revealed that "his blood contained significant amounts of alcohol."

This is according to a "British doctor" who was at the hospital and passed the story to the former British foreign secretary who recounts the tale in his new book.

You'd think, wouldn't ya, that Graydon could hire some swanky writer like Naomi Wolf to interview the phlebotomists at the hospital. After all, in the same issue, he says that his magazine chartered a yacht to send a writer to Pitcairn's Island, one of the most remote places in the world. Does he know where Baltimore is?

John Stodder said...

By the way, George Mahal is wrong in attributing the Naomi Wolf-AlphaMale-earth tones story to Dick Morris. It was broken by Time reporters Michael Duffy and Karen Tumulty in editions of Time dated 11/08/99. And, as I suggested earlier, the story was clearly placed by Gore advisors unhappy with Wolf's role and her bloated fee. You can't really blame Bush for, nearly a year later, using the story against his opponent. Democrats are not above such things, legend to the contrary.

Wolf's "denial" was a non-denial denial if you read it carefully. (Aside: Boy is Media Matters sloppy! Why are they taken so seriously?) For example, she denies telling Gore to be more of an Alpha Male. But, as she explains, she wrote it in a memo as a campaign consultant. She also ignores the fact that Gore apparently followed this advice, establishing aggressive independence from Bill Clinton during a debate with Bill Bradley by making a non sequiter comment about the Lewinsky scandal, which seemed like an abrupt about-face from his previous position that Clinton was the greatest president in the nation's history.

A lot of the new, revisionist history of the 2000 Gore campaign is wrong. It's fascinating, but a few minutes of checking demonstrates that Gore earned much of his bad press in 2000.

garage mahal said...

By the way, George Mahal is wrong in attributing the Naomi Wolf-AlphaMale-earth tones story to Dick Morris. It was broken by Time reporters Michael Duffy and Karen Tumulty in editions of Time dated 11/08/99. And, as I suggested earlier, the story was clearly placed by Gore advisors unhappy with Wolf's role and her bloated fee. You can't really blame Bush for, nearly a year later, using the story against his opponent. Democrats are not above such things, legend to the contrary.

The piece by Duffy never mentioned "earth tones". It appeared the next day in the WaPo by Ceci Connolly.

CONNOLLY (11/1/99): Morris speculated that Wolf, who has long contended that earth tones are more “reassuring” to audiences, is the person behind Gore’s recent wardrobe change.

That's how it was born, appropriately by a man named Dick, and repeated as fact from then on.

jeff said...

"The whole "Alpha Male" flap, the whole "earth tone" (wardrobe) flap was completely invented out of whole cloth - the stuff of urban legends, but they were such good urban legends they quickly got picked up by the mainstream media because no one was fact-checking it, and my hands were tied."

Possibly it could have something to do with him wearing earth tones and his attempt at alpha male. For instance at that debate where he approached Bush while Bush was speaking.

ricpic said...

Gore, Wolf: they're progressives, they're superior people: they can do no wrong.
Move along people, nothing to see here: it's Chinatown.

John Stodder said...

George Mahal, you're being disingenous here. Morris' on-the-record speculation was identified as such. It was not a source for the news media. The story that put Naomi Wolf at the top of the news was the Time story, for which the sources were identified as Gore operatives. The "Alpha Male" stuff was much more damaging, and that's what they ran with.

After the story ran, Wolf, on the record, confirmed the "alpha male" line, and denied her wardrobe advice. Interviews to this effect ran within days of the Time story.

Now, she's saying she couldn't "hit back," and that the "alpha male" line was a lie -- a Republican lie to boot.

Those two statements by Wolf are completely irreconcilable. She is either lying now, or she was lying then and now.

John Stodder said...

Here are the links to the Time story that Wolf now calls a pack of lies planted by Republicans. Read it and see if that allegation makes sense:

http://tinyurl.com/25bs69

And here is what Wolf told the NY Times shortly after the Time story appeared. Read it and see if you think anything she told the Huffington Post holds up:

http://tinyurl.com/2g4f9f

Middle Class Guy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Middle Class Guy said...

“…when the Bush Team was doing such a brilliant job of what we have subsequently learned is their specialty: creating imaginative lies and saturating the media with them.”

As if the Clinton Gore team and then the Gore team did not have that specialty of creating imaginative lies and saturating the media with them? Both Clinton and Gore, being immersed in corrupt Southern politics, know all about lies, liars, and how to use them. They were masters of prevarication- creative or otherwise. Their lives were creative fabrications. Now Hillary is doing the same thing- lying and saturating the gullible and naïve media with her creative lies.

Trooper York said...

Larry Talbot: You don't understand. Every night when the moon is full, I turn into a wolf. I wear brown fur and become an alpha male.
Wilbur: You and twenty million other guys.
Larry Talbot: [slamming Wilbur into a locker with Chick going in behind him] Listen, I might tear you limb from limb! Vote for me damn you, vote for me!
Wilbur: [turning to Chick in the locker] Is that serious?
Chick Young: He'll murder ya!
Wilbur: That's serious.
Naomi Wolf: Now that was what I was talking about.
Wilbur: Really, you like that.
Naomi Wolf; I'm wet.
Wilbur: Me too!
(Abbot and Costello Meet Naomi Wolf, 2000)

garage mahal said...

Stodder
You have two links to two of our most trusted institutions [allegedly]- and in it contains the cattiest speculation, from un-named sources of course, about the absolute stupidest shit. And you call this "breaking" a story? I'm sorry you're a lost soul if you consume that without a taste or smell test first in my opinion. It may havebeen true, may not have -- and even if true -- earth tones and alpha male? It went on nightly for years! Right down to his boots, how many buttons he was wearing that day, and the horror of Gore waering polo shirts all week! Naomi MUST be dressing Al! He MUST be trying to find himself!

Can you honestly look yourself in the mirror, today, and say this was ever relevant? It's not like the other guy was a dry drunk from CT who thinks he's from TX who might be trying to find himself, who might have Daddy issues, and go way stupid if elected and the Middle East would blow up or something. Tell me you hadn't thought of that once, envisioning the worst case scenario if Bush got elected. And now tell me again how these fucking earth tones and button counts matter!

jeff said...

George, why must you move the goal posts? Who said it was important? The issue was is she lying or not? She seems to think it's important. Worst case scenario would still be of course, Gore being elected AND still going nuts on this global warming thing.

From Inwood said...

As Will Smith might put it:

“Even Naomi Wolfe didn't wake up going, ‘let me do the most silly or embarrassing thing I can do today.' I think she woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards, alpha male, earth-tone logic, she set out to do what she thought was 'supporting the constitution, respecting the rule of law, helping to get a legislative agenda to preserve democracy.' Her mistake was being so naive about how profoundly un-alpha male Gore is & how far from earth tone his debate make up was.”

paul a'barge said...

George, why must you move the goal posts?

Because if he doesn't cheat, he has no chance of winning the argument.

garage mahal said...

Jeff
Let's see, this one took an agonizing 5 minutes to disect.

Nobody knows if Wolf was advising Gore as the children in the press corps would have you believe. Why a brown suit is relevant to them should give you a clue on its authenticity in the first place.

But if you have something aside from un-named sources written by imbeciles or speculation from Dick Morris I'm all ears.

Bruce Hayden said...

My view is that earth tones are nearly the opposite of alpha male. Alpha males wear power clothes, and probably the strongest is a dark blue suit, white shirt, and red tie. Dark gray suits work for the upper middle class, but not with the lower middle. That has been the power outfit for decades.

It is almost like Republicans know how to power dress and many Democrats do not. I would suggest that the candidate who does this best this time around is Romney, but most of the rest of the guys on both sides do a reasonably good job.

Earth tones do not attract men, but rather, they attract women. So, no surprise that a feminist who is likely out of touch with what affects males might make this mistake.

Let me suggest that acting the alpha male dressed like a woman would like her date dressed may have added to the impression that Gore really couldn't take a stand and then hold to it. You have mixed messages there.

Darrell said...

Not hard at all to believe that Gore went to Naomi for advice on how to Butch it up. Now if she only told him to stop shaving his legs.

John Stodder said...

Can you honestly look yourself in the mirror, today, and say this was ever relevant?

Oh, God no. But it was important enough to Naomi Wolf for her to try to rewrite history.

Unless you're saying the NY Times invented an interview with Naomi Wolf out of whole cloth in 1999.

Pogo said...

1. Gore is a good example of "He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard", where all his errors are forgiven because his beliefs are the right ones.

2. Wolf was a major campaign error that no one wants to be blamed for, least of all Wolf herself.

3. I suspect Wolf has told this to herself so many times since 2000 that now she actually believes her current version is actually true.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Well I heard that Dick Morris is writing a new book for the evil GOP hate machine called:

Whose afraid of Naomi Wolfe

The publishers are debating on earthtones for the book's jacket.

From Inwood said...

Hoosier

LOL

As Churchill might say

"Gore was a sheep in Wolf's clothing!"

From Inwood said...

Naomi's dream is that Gore was the lead singer on the group known as the "Wolf Tones".

(Yes, I know that the real group spells it "Wolfe".)

Hoosier Daddy said...

I also heard that Duran Duran is making a comeback and is releasing the orginal version of their 1982 hit Hungry like Naomi Wolf

Naomi wasn't available for the orgasmic moans so Brittany Spears will be doing background vocals.

Pogo said...

Brittney Spears will be doing background vocals.

Recorded live from the drive-through speaker at Taco Bell.

Ken Begg said...

Leave garage mahal alone. I'm sure he was just as vigorously attacked the even more poorly sourced story that J. Edgar Hoover wore women's clothing. He's standing on principle here, not just defending his 'side.'

Or so I imagine.

garage mahal said...

Leave garage mahal alone. I'm sure he was just as vigorously attacked the even more poorly sourced story that J. Edgar Hoover wore women's clothing. He's standing on principle here, not just defending his 'side.'

Congratulations! You and the NYT uncovered quite the scoop! A Rhodes Scholar and best selling author was hired by a campaign! And he wore BROWN SUITS! and 3, count them 3 buttons!

LOLOLOLOL

I just wish liberals had the intellectual curiousity and wisdom of conservatives and gossip columnists at the Times. This was serious stuff, I mean deep DEEP stuff.

Ah, the 90's.

deepinjuncountry said...

Let's face it, if Gore had even a trace of actual masculinity, there wouldn't have been a story to begin with.

Andy Johnson said...

Such DEEP INTROSPECTION shows why the Democrats are such a shallow party. It's not all about Naomi. It's not all about Gore. It's not even about the Brilliant Republican Party (where did they go-?)...

You can't put enough lipstick on the pig to make it pretty. Other farmyard analogies also apply.

Gore was a pretty-horse that couldn't run the race. It was "His-Turn" and he blew it...

Fooling all the people, all the time doesn't work every time... Without Ross Perot-Bill Clinton would not have won in '92...

Americans can judge horse flesh- clowns- and Bull Garbage. Usually enough to get it right.

Occasionally, we get blinded by the light... But only once...

M. Simon said...

I like the New Gore's current persona.

"The sky is falling. The sky is falling. However, do not fear. This is your lucky day. I'm selling indulgences".

This is a great step up from the "your money has the gypsy curse" scam. After all there is no scientific proof that the gypsy curse works (well except for the gypsy).

M. Simon said...

The super alpha male doesn't wear brown suits.

It's brown shirts all the way.

Buckskin if you are an American from Tennessee.

As far as I can tell there are two alpha males in the current campaign. Fred and Hillary. Make of that what you will.

rattlerd said...

Forget "earth tones"--the best part of this mea culpa was Wolf's answer to the question "Why do you think you did it?": because she's a feminist. She accepted that money for women everywhere, however, tragically unaware that by doing so, she was compromising her larger responsibility to the world at large.

Man, it must be a full-time job to be that self-important.

Ryan said...

Tim of Random Observations has an interesting post about Naomi Wolf's hypocrisy.

Maria said...

I meet personally Al gore wearing men's suits I think Naomi Wolf didn't regret.