The Day of the Jackals

Mythmaking at the Republican convention and getting punk'd on Kudlow and Cramer

Which is why, after I praised Ahnold's speech for being a gas, Cramer insisted that it was "negative" of me to belittle a "substantive" man, and Kudlow favorably compared Schwarzenegger, who "worked himself up from nothing," to the liberal elitist Kerry, who went to St. Paul's and Yale and had a diplomatic background.

When I noted that George W. Bush wasn't exactly what anyone would call a self-made man, Kudlow snapped, "Listen. Bush went to Andover, Yale, and Harvard Business School. He's the best-educated guy ever to be president of the United States."

Whoa! I was about to mention Thomas Jefferson, when Cramer announced that the hour was up. As the show faded out, the argument lost, Kudlow scoffed, "9,000 on the list." With a cackle, he triumphantly knocked fists with his sidekick (or so I was later told).

Although the segment lasted only five minutes, I was surprisingly exhausted from trying to talk rationally with people whose shtick is to mock, cut off or misrepresent anyone who disagrees with them—even before they've disagreed with them. I was also a bit abashed. After years of watching conservative gangsters pull this kind of crap, I should have known better than to get punk'd into thinking I was going on a serious program. I understood how Kerry and his people, for all their experience, might still be stunned by his opponents' utter shamelessness in telling bald-faced lies. But I'd also learned a fundamental truth: If you don't fight back hard, you're dead.

John Powers's Sore Winners (and the Rest of Us) in George Bush's America is available in bookstores everywhere. He can be reached at

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