Wrapup: My new “Think Again” column is here. It’s called “That Doggone Librul Media, Caught Again… ” Also, I did a Daily Beast post this morning trying (hoping) to explain the strategy behind Obama’s apparently unwavering commitment to bipartisanship. I’m OK with it, as long as I’m right.
“She said if you’re from Texas, son/Where’s your boots and where’syour gun?/ I said, I got guns no one can see.”
Weekly WWOZ Pick To Click: “If You Want me To Stay” (Kermit Ruffins)– Once again, this week, I failed to properly arm myself before goingdowntown to convince people how much I love New Orleans.
Part The Second: Oh, goody. Loser U. has a new has-been for the fall term. What on earth could Norm F’n Coleman teach anyone about anything?
Part The Third: Good on the great Mr. Wolcott for publicizing the greatest Boston movie ever, which was made from thegreatest Boston novel ever written. And it has the best opening line of anynovel ever written about Massachusetts, Moby Dick included: “Jackie Brownat twenty-six, with no expression on his face, said that he could get someguns.”
Part The Penultimate: Sooner or later, this wholewe-are-all-Americans-reach-out-and-touch-someone’s-hand-Have-A-Coke-And-A-Smile pablum that the Obama people have been peddling since the beginning oflast year’s campaign is going to reach that stage where it becomessomething that we generally associtate with the thinking of people incults. sooner, I think.
Part The Last: Go ahead. Pick sides in this one. I dare you.
I have grown just a touch nauseated over the past couple of years bythe tendency of former Bush administration officials to take theirvestigial consciences out for a walk now that’s far too late to matter atinker’s curse to anyone. The most recent example, of course, is good ol’Tom Ridge, who has a book to peddle and who may still seek to stake out thedwindling element of his party fairly characterized as Not Insane. Thisweek, to the surprise of absolutely no sentient entity on the planet, Ridgeadmitted that the adminstration he served had jacked around with thecomical “Terror Alert” system for political purposes. (All together now,”Unpossible!”) Of course, in 2004, when the revelation might have helpedswing the election and save us from four more years of incompetence andvandalism, Ridge wasn’t half so brave. Before him, we had LawrenceWilkerson–about whom Dr. Maddow and I will have to have a chat some day–who came out and talked about what a cosmic, existential bummer it wasto have to sit there and listen to Colin Powell sling bullshit at the UNfor the purposes of justifying an illegal war of aggression. (And let usnot even get started on General Powell his own self, who could have thrownsand in the gears with a single press conference, but chose instead hislifelong default role as a reliable apparatchik.) Wilkerson said this, ofcourse, as the 2006 midterms were gathering speed and it looked as thoughthe country was going to be rendering a fairly harsh judgment on peoplelike, well, him. Now he is applauded by people who should know better assome kind of whistleblower when in fact he’s not risking a goddamn thing.
All of these guys could have quit on principle at the time. None ofthem did. (I guess, early on, Paul O’Neill came as close as anyone did.)Even James Comey, who came out of the whole torture debacle as what passedfor a hero, couldn’t quite pull the trigger.
He wrote a letter. Forgive me, but big honking deal. He stayed aboard. Thecriminal nonsense continued. And the ex post facto courage that has beendemonstrated since has been an insulting farce. Nobody who worked in thatadministration ever should be allowed within three city blocks of agovernment job again. Let them all go work at Fox.
Name: Dave Zimny
Hometown: Oakland, CA
Dr. A: Your Daily Beast post on Obama’s persistent bipartisanship was a very interesting analysis. You argued that he was simply using the same strategy to govern as he did in campaigning, that voters were tired of hardball politics. I hope you’re right about that, but experience tells me that the odds are against you. George W. proved that, while tolerance and compromise may sound good in a campaign, they don’t look very good in a president. Bill Clinton said it best: “The American people would rather have a president who’s strong and wrong than one who’s weak and right.” If Obama keeps extending the hand of friendship to the Republicans and seeing it bitten off, he’ll begin to look indecisive and wishy-washy, exactly the kind of president that the public doesn’t want to see. I hope you’re right and I’m wrong, but I wouldn’t bet on it.
Name: Michael Green
Hometown: Las Vegas, NV
I am a great admirer of Dan Rather in a lot of ways, but the story to which you linked mentions CBS wanting him to have the “emeritus” role that Walter Cronkite had. Here’s the irony. When Cronkite retired, he expected to be on the air a great deal. But CBS kept him off the air. Why? Rather!
In a way, it made sense. As Cronkite’s successor, Rather needed to establish his own identity, and Cronkite appearing constantly on the evening news wouldn’t have helped that. Fair enough. But the network never made proper use of Cronkite. Here was a man with incredible contacts and perspective, and he ended up on cable TV and NPR. In terms of CBS News, that’s criminal.
Throw in that this comes up as 60 Minutes creator Don Hewitt dies. Hewitt basically invented the evening news (as producer first for Douglas Edwards and then for Cronkite) and the television news magazine as we have known them. But two points about him have been missed in the obituaries:
1. Hewitt did a lot, unintentionally, to destroy broadcastjournalism when he made 60 Minutes so good and, in theend, profitable. It meant the networks wouldn’t view theirnews divisions as loss leaders kept around for prestige, butas moneymakers to be sucked dry of any creativity, perspective, and usefulness to the public if profits somehowfell. And, ironically, Hewitt and Rather were there when CBSNews was gutted.
2. Hewitt knew what was going on with his network. In 1985, Charles Collingwood, one of the legendary and brilliant Murrow Boys who covered World War II, died. His funeral was nasty–the then- president of CBS News was urged to stay away, Bill Moyers stalked out as Rather paid tribute to Collingwood’s loyalty to CBS. Shortly thereafter, Hewitt made a phone call to a top CBS executive and offered to buy CBS News from the company, in tandem with several of the news superstars. He had realized, as I suspect they had, that just as Clemenceau thought war was too important to be entrusted to the generals, CBS News was too important to be entrusted to CBS. And he was right.
Name: Jim Peale
Hometown: Swanzey, NH
Re your “Think Again” piece, at Fox News and other right wing “news” outlets, everything they do is seen and evaluated through an ideological prism (remember, they’re conservatives first and journalists second!). Their almost laughable presumption is that even a soulless corporate media outlet like NBC acts in the same manner. Since they’re not true-believer conservatives, they are automatically “liberals.”