Saturday, February 21, 2004

The Rules of Journalism

The New Republic's Campaign Journal blog cites the latest Pew Research Center Poll finding that Bush's approval rating has dropped to 48%.
And here's the most stunning line from Pew's report on the new poll :
The most frequently used negative word to describe Bush is "liar," which did not come up in the May 2003 survey.
Why is this so "stunning." The press has been emphasizing that word about Bush for at least a year. Are they stunned that people have picked it up? I've heard Peter Beinart, TNR's editor, argue this frequently, after publishing a piece deploring the administration's "dishonesty" when the Yellowcake story came out, despite the fact that the President had not stated it as truth, but just referred to what British intelligence was reporting. It was Beinart and other journalists who divined that the only source for this claim was a clumsily forged document.

It's amusing to read what passes for objectivity, when the only facts reported are the negative terms the poll found coming up. No mention of the continuous clips we've seen over the past months of Democratic candidates calling Bush a liar, a miserable failure, etc. and then the report of David Kay, which was granted instant acceptance by the normally skeptical press, despite the explanation that Saddam, who drops people into plastic shredders on the least pretext and kills not only those who might be betraying hmi, but their families as well--that this shrewd tyrant was being bled white by his wily scientists who were only pretending to be developing and building stores of WMD, and pocketing the money. Yeah! That's the ticket!

Of course, Kay didn't accuse the President of being a liar, but by that time, he didn't need to.

He'll work for you!

Byron York probes John Edwards' secret to success and finds this campaign's version of "I feel your pain."

I can't believe that this pap sells. He cares about you! "I grew up the way you grew up. I come from the same place. I spent 20 years in courtrooms fighting for YOU!" and kept a third of all you were awarded.

Friday, February 20, 2004

Journalists getting snippy

Jay Rosen examines the tendency of Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk website to lecture bloggers on the rules of journalism, specifically reporting exit poll numbers before the official polls are closed. "And that the culprits are blogs, and not networks, doesn't let them off the hook."

What hook? Well, that's Rosen's point, I think. And there are lots of good comments, including one from Matt Welch, to whom Rosen replies:
You put a finger on something key when you picked up on this line from the Desk, "don't then complain when others impugn your journalistic ethics -- and don't complain that Campaign Desk or anyone else is refusing to take you seriously."

Who are they, who is anyone, to say, "don't complain if..." as if the right to complain (talk back) about the Desk's judgments is somewhere suspendable? I can lose status as a complaintant in the court of Campaign Desk, it seems. Yes, it's a figure of speech, "then don't complain," and it says something about the kind of relationship assumed to exist here.
Nothing illustrates better than this the negative effect the Ivory Tower can have on those who take it too seriously, "I can criticize you, and you have no right to complain about it!"

More Crushing of Dissent?

Apparently the San Francisco Police Department think it's more important to investigate Second Amendment advocates than the illegal issuance of marriage licenses by their mayor.

Actually, I don't believe that this incident is "crushing dissent," because they didn't really do anything but contact David Codrea about an ironic letter he wrote to city officials. But the guy lives a long way out of San Francisco's jurisdiction.

Maybe there are some militia types around who might react badly to thousands of gays getting married, but Codrea's letter was hardly a threat.

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Hugh Hewitt is replaying the show from Tuesday

when he aired Kerry's testimony from 1971 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which one of his leftie callers dubbed the "Gettysburg Address" for the Vietnam War.

It's interesting that this tape has so much more impact than just reading a transcript. There is such earnestness in his voice, such contempt and bitterness that it's hard to imagine it being just a stunt. This is a person, like Bill Clinton, who's basic impulse will be to minimize acts of war, to deny threats to our homeland, who believes that our troops were and are depraved and degraded by their service.

I wrote to Hugh:
As I listen to him, I feel that it doesn't matter much that 33 years have gone by. His campaign right now reveals the same kind of shallowness. The kid on this tape is a boob, an effete Ivy Leaguer who thinks his privileges just materialized out of thin air. If this were the Revolutionary War, Kerry would be demanding that the Congress in Philadephia be rounded up as traitors.
He mentions a story I've heard, about an American Indian who he says told him that he used to watch westerns on TV and cheer for the Cavalry, and then equated it with what we were doing to the Vietnamese. It's a powerful trope, but it doesn't hold up. We know now that pulling out and leaving the South Vietnamese to the tender mercies of the Communists did horrendous damage to tens of thousands of people who had trusted us. We know now what Pol Pot was like.

And we know now what living under Saddam was like.

Hearing Kerry denouncing our troops and complaining that it wasn't worth the fight, fills me with a cold revulsion for this creep. He is so full of selfrighteous indignation, I have to wonder whether he was being dishonest when he voted against driving Saddam out of Kuwait, or when he voted for war one year ago. He can't have it both ways, and he can't hide his yellow wizened soul behind all the medals there are in the world. Nobody who sees this country the way he describes it is fit to hold any office whatsoever, let alone Senator and, heaven forbid, President.


Apologies to all readers for my ineptness with HTML. I just noticed that my Blogger Template wasn't doing what I thought it was, and managed to correct it.

This is the kind of thing that makes me leave out this URL when I post comments elsewhere.

I also started to update the blogroll, but realized that I don't know any blogs that aren't plastered on everybody else's blog. If you give a hoot what I read, read the links in my posts. If you're looking for a wide selection go to Instapundit check out his list o' links.

James Lileks rarely turns out a clinker.

But this time he did.

Christopher Cross, John Kerry and Dick Van Dyke? That's really unkind to Dick Van Dyke AND Mary Tyler Moore.

Do senators make good presidents?

This column by David Broder tries to make a point, but I'm having a hard time figuring out what is is.

For starters, he leads the list of "The tickets . . . formed by men who had bonded in their Senate years," with Kennedy and Johnson. Bonded? They hated each other!

OK, so senators don't have a lot of executive experience, but there have been a lot of ex-governors who failed, either as candidates for president or as presidents after they got elected. One of the worst problems of the early state primaries is that they allow obscure governors to come in and seize the nomination without being properly vetted by anybody who knows what it takes to be a good president. (Have you ever noticed how Democrats don't seem to have trouble raising money, even when they have no experience either in Washington or as executives?) That's where I thought they were headed again until Dean imploded like a red giant star.

Of course, senators haven't proven to be great choices, either, at least in my lifetime. Kennedy had Clinton problems. Johnson and Nixon both self-destructed. Mondale lost. Gore and Lieberman came up short, and neither has gotten anywhere since.

Broder winds up with this:
The conventional wisdom is that this election, like most involving an incumbent, will largely be a referendum on George Bush's record in office. To the extent that is true, either Kerry or Edwards is well equipped for the coming battle. Both have been engaged in a constant critique over the past three-plus years of Bush's actions, policies and appointments.

Edwards has led some of the Judiciary Committee's cross-examinations of men and women Bush wanted to place on the federal bench. Kerry has fought the administration on energy legislation and many other fronts.
Is this what the election has come to? Don't we want to think about what kind of heads of the executive branch these guys would make? Broder seems to think so:
But at some point in most elections, undecided voters are inclined to ask, "So what have you done that tells me you could handle the presidency?"

That's when senators often have a hard time answering. The Senate is a remarkable place, but it's not the real world. And voters know it.
Let's hope so.

Is there an Exclusionary Rule in politics?

The leaked senate memos are being spun like pinwheels by both parties.

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Follow the links from Kausfiles

for the fallout from the Wisconsin primary. It sounds like there are journalists rooting for a divided convention. Or maybe they're just tired of Kerry's shtick from the last 20 years. Edwards is a fresh face, even if his spiel is pure trial-lawyer pity mongering.

I can see what Kaus means about journalists not being content to to just report the facts. I agree that Dean is probably out of the running, but shouldn't the reader be allowed to draw that conclusion?

Monday, February 16, 2004

So the former intern denies an affair.


What I'm left wondering is what took place between the time that the girl's dad called Kerry a sleazeball, if he did, and his new statement that he and his wife intend to vote for Kerry. Somebody may want to check around for any large pods near their home.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

European Anti-Americanism

In response to this post, I sent the following to Glenn Reynolds:
I served a mission for the LDS church from 1967 to 1969 in southern Germany. I don't know why I haven't thought of this before, but when I came home, at a layover at JFK airport, I had a pretty negative reaction to American Culture myself when I listened to the New York radio stations. There was something different from the German culture I had be living in--it was unrestrained, cocky, loud and brassy. I had listened to Armed Services Radio in Germany, but it wasn't like this. I hadn't felt any anti-Americanism among the Germans, except one evening when an olive-drab Chev Impala came driving down the street car tracks in Stuttgart, and the driver leaned out and asked, in English, how to get to the bahnhof.
As I remember that feeling of shock I had coming back into American life, I can kind of understand why Europeans would resent us. It must feel like walking through a cathedral with a guy who keeps making too much noise, talks too loud, and says shocking things. It might also feel like being with General Custer in injun country. We don't have any respect, and what must make it worse is that our economy is kicking their butts, and they still admire American as the land of unlimited opportunities, but not having their welfare state safety net would scare them to death.

These days it must be unnerving to them when we keep doing things that make them fear we'll stir up the Muslims in their midst.

Interesting question

Charles Krauthammer considers why al Qaeda hasn't attacked the U.S. again. Has it attacked any nation in the coalition?

Possible Answers:

We've deterred them. (This isn't in Krauthammer's list.)

We've disrupted it, destroying its base in Afghanistan, dried up much of its funding, captured or killed important leaders and planners.

It has reverted to regional attacks against governments it deems insufficiently Islamist.

It is too proud to stage less spectacular operation than 9/11.
Part of the appeal of al-Qaida ? what it uses to recruit people and funds ? is its mystique. Superhuman feats, brilliant execution, masterful planning. That aura feeds its ideology of historical inevitability, that ultimately it will prevail over Western decadence, because the seeming high-tech West lacks the diabolical and methodical will that Islamism brings to the war.

Could that be it? For the sake of its own mythology, is al-Qaida biding its time until it can pull off the next spectacular?
It reminds me of this piece by Austin Bay, via Instapundit.

Krauthammer's piece ends with a sobering point:
Maybe al-Qaida does lack the capacity for even simple terrorism on U.S. soil. If so, it speaks well for an administration that immediately after Sept. 11 designed and carried out a radically new strategy, both offensive and defensive, to fight the war on terror.

But no one dares say it. It could prove catastrophically wrong tomorrow.
Update: Why is al Qaeda now launching attacks on fellow Muslims?