The Blog-O-Verse And News Round-Up
— Bob Geiger has some fantastic editorial cartoons assembled this morning. See which ones make you laugh out loud.
— Via the CarpetBaggerReport, this just doesn't sound all that bi-partisan to me.
— Eleanor Clift takes on the Washington Manners Enforcement clique — and calls bullshit:
A quirky individualist who wants no part of the phony collegiality of Washington, Webb was rightly insulted when Bush pressed him in that bullying way—“That’s not what I asked you”—trying to force the conversation back to Webb’s son. Webb could have asked how the Bush girls are doing, partying their way across Argentina. He could have told Bush he was worried about his son; the vehicle next to him was blown up recently, killing three Marines. Given the contrast between their respective offspring, Webb showed restraint….
But that’s not how much of official Washington reacted. Columnist George F. Will was the most offended, declaring civility dead and Webb a boor and a “pompous poseur.” Were the etiquette police as exercised when Vice President Dick Cheney told Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy to perform an anatomically impossible act on the Senate floor? Or is that amusing by Washington’s odd standards?…
Symbols matter. Bush certainly understands their importance, or he wouldn’t have jetted onto that carrier in a flight suit and stood in front of a banner that proclaimed MISSION ACCOMPLISHED more than a thousand days and thousands more deaths ago. A president snubbed by a junior senator-elect and then, more tellingly by the puppet prime minister in Iraq, should be wondering where he went wrong, not the other way around.
It’s justice long overdue for a president who has so abused the symbols of war to get his comeuppance from a battlefield hero who personifies real toughness as opposed to fake toughness. Bush struts around with this bullying frat-boy attitude, and he gets away with it because nobody stands up to him. Bush could have left Webb’s initial response stand, but no, he had to jab back—“That’s not what I asked you.” Webb is not one to be bullied. He knows what real toughness is, and it’s not lording it over people who are weaker than you, and if you’re president, everybody by definition is weaker.
The fact that Webb went out of his way to avoid a face-to-face with Bush that might lead to some sort of discussion like this, and that Bush sought him out — and then got snotty when he should have just walked away — has been the subject of…well, pretty much no news discussion up to this point. Thanks to Clift for bringing that aspect of the story to the fore.
— Which leads me to a fantastic article that Dan Froomkin did for the Neiman Watchdog site.
Calling bullshit, of course, used to be central to journalism as well as to comedy. And we happen to be in a period in our history in which the substance in question is running particularly deep. The relentless spinning is enough to make anyone dizzy, and some of our most important political battles are about competing views of reality more than they are about policy choices. Calling bullshit has never been more vital to our democracy.
It also resonates with readers and viewers a lot more than passionless stenography. I’m convinced that my enthusiasm for calling bullshit is the main reason for the considerable success of my White House Briefing column, which has turned into a significant traffic-driver for The Washington Post’s Web site….
But here’s the good news for you newsroom managers wringing your hands over new technologies and the loss of younger audiences: Because the Internet so values calling bullshit, you are sitting on an as-yet largely untapped gold mine. I still believe that no one is fundamentally more capable of first-rate bullshit-calling than a well-informed beat reporter – whatever their beat. We just need to get the editors, or the corporate culture, or the self-censorship – or whatever it is – out of the way.
Amen. Here's hoping a few of those newsroom management types read this — and then really think about implementing some of his suggestions. Great food for thought here.
— Spot-on snark from Atrios this morning:
CNN sez 38 people dead in car bomb attack.
Still, what's really important is making sure that no one criticizes the people responsible for this catastrophe. That would be partisan!
Especially now that estimates on deaths are moving upward from this coordinated bomb attack.
— Via an e-mail from Siun (who got the link from MFI, if I'm not mistaken), I found this UNHCR summary update on Iraq. Devastating.
— Digby. Just read it.