January 21 2005
THE SPEECH: It was beautifully
written and respectably delivered. But I have to admit
that after re-reading the text a couple of times I'm left
slightly conflicted and confused.
speaking, I think the President's instincts are correct.
I support the proposition that democracy leads to peace
and stability and it is therefore in our national interest
to promote it abroad. But I also think by making such a
sweeping, idealistic declaration the President probably
complicated the task more than he clarified it. Is, as the
President said yesterday, promoting democracy in all corners
of the world an "urgent requirement of our nation's
security?" An honest answer is "yes" in some
places but "not as much" in others.
Goldberg is right to argue that the reason this President
is "revolutionary" is that he's taken what has
traditionally been a classically liberal foreign policy
ideal and married it to specific set of U.S. national security
interests. What's made him even more revolutionary (and
polarizing) is that he's been willing to use American military
force in applying this vision, and Afghanistan and Iraq
have been the bright line marking this revolution.
however, the president smudged this line a bit and in doing
so he invited a host of legitimate questions. Do we plan
on punishing Vlaidimir Putin for human rights vioations
in Chechnya, or for lavishing a formal state visit on Baathist
strongman and terrorist-sympathizer Bashar Assad of Syria
he plans to do this coming Monday?
much is it in our national security interests to start spanking
China over their represssion of Tibet? Not a lot. This isn't
to excuse what the Chinese are doing either in Tibet or
to their own people, only to point out that President Bush
glossed over a whole host of sticky details, including a
very real set of national security priorities, to link American
interests to the ambitious (and noble) goal of "ending
tyranny in our world."
some point, the administration is going to have spell out
in more detail how they plan to turn Bush's rhetoric into
a practical, executable strategy. We'll have to wait and
see how that comes about. But yesterday's speech did seem
to mark a very public pronouncement of a coming shift, or
rather a new emphasis, in U.S. foreign policy and the President
is now obligated to take some demonstrable actions to support
his rhetoric. Otherwise, if things rumble along with the
perception of "business as usual" the President's
words will quickly be emptied of any real meaning.
your reaction to the speech, there is no question it was
vintage George W. Bush. The concept is bold and the ambition
is Texas-sized big. And the President's approach to it is,
like so many other things, defined by a single sentence
he said yesterday: "The difficulty of the task
is no excuse for avoiding it." That spirit and
leadership is what so many people, including myself, like
and admire about the man. - T. Bevan 10:15 am Link
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January 19 2005
MORE EXCUSES FOR MAPES AND CBS: This is getting
ridiculous. On the heels of yesterday's
silliness where two leaders of a "media watchdog"
group tried to minimize the CBS scandal and compare it to
the reporting of Judith Miller of the New York Times, a
reader sends through this
column from Robert Jamieson in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
sins tend to play out differently depending on who is
involved. Consider Fox News, the media outlet that Republicans
love. Last fall, FoxNews.com posted an item by reporter
Carl Cameron purporting to contain quotations from then-Democratic
presidential hopeful Kerry -- quotes such as, "Didn't
my nails and cuticles look great? What a good debate."
item was based on a reporter's partial script that had
been written in jest and should not have been posted or
broadcast," Fox apologized. "We regret the error,
which occurred because of fatigue and bad judgment, not
that was that for behavior that is arguably more
troubling than the honest mistake Mapes made through competitive
haste. (Emphasis added)
we're supposed to believe that Carl Cameron jotting down
a few silly phrases that were accidentally posted to the
Fox News web site is "arguably more troubling"
than Mary Mapes orchestrating a 60 Minutes hit
job built around forged documents to try and influence the
outcome of a presidential election?
left-leaning commentators fall all over themselves to try
to minimize and excuse the transgressions of Mapes and CBS
shows that the bias in the industry is deeper and more rigid
than we can possibly imagine.
that Jamieson also sees fit in his column to ponder this:
the broadcast had involved unsustainable allegations about
John Kerry, would the repercussions have been as severe?
I suspect not.
ask this question you have to believe that Mary Mapes and
the folks at 60 Minutes would actually run a piece
critical of John Kerry in the first place (regardless of
whether the allegations were "sustainable" or
not). That is something no objective person believes - and
for good reason.
and the rest of the MSM was put to that test last year with
the Swift Boat Veterans story. They failed. Not a single
member of the mainstream media felt compelled to investigate
the allegations of the Swiftees, many of which were at least
if not more "sustainable" than the ones CBS used
in the Bush National Guard story.
when Unfit For Command was published in early August
the MSM took one look at the source and the allegations
and deemed them too partisan and too politically motivated
to be given any serious coverage. Too bad Mapes and the
folks at CBS didn't evaluate the Bush National Guard story
using the same criteria. - T. Bevan 10:15 am Link
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January 18 2005
NOT QUITE FAIR: You know we've reached a new low
in the annals of media bias and duplicity when the leaders
of an organization with the name "Fairness
& Accuracy in Reporting" (FAIR) can get away
with penning an
op-ed like this:
investigation did document serious failures in 60 Minutes
Wednesday's efforts to check its source's claims - an
endemic problem in the news business. If the investigation
had called attention to the issue of credulous journalism,
it would have performed a valuable service for the public.
But the media discussion of the incident generally has
treated it as either an aberration or as an emblem of
left-wing media bias.
amid the hours of coverage of the affair was what should
have been the central question: Did George W. Bush, in
reality, properly fulfill his National Guard requirements?
to minimize the magnitude of the CBS scandal by writing
it off as a simple failure to check a source's claims is
like dismissing Enron as just a simple failure of accounting
was not a metro reporter failing to source a claim on page
D-22 of a local paper. Nor was it an individual act of embellishment
or dishonesty a la Jayson Blair or Stephen Glass. Memogate
stands as the single most egregious example of coordinated,
unethical and biased journalism we've seen in a very long
time - at least so far as we know. There is simply no telling
what went before.
the authors of the column need to minimize the CBS fiasco
so they can trumpet the true scandal:
reporters have received much less scrutiny and punishment
for offenses of far greater magnitude, and with much more
significant consequences to society. The New York Times,
for example, published numerous allegations about weapons
of mass destruction in Iraq that turned out to be false.
Those stories did a great deal to sell the White House's
bogus case for war.
the Times has admitted that some of its WMD reporting
was "insufficiently qualified or allowed to stand
unchallenged," the reporter most responsible for
those stories, Judith Miller, was never sanctioned and
still continues to report on Iraq.
lesson of the CBS investigation, then, could very well
be this: Journalists can be punished for bad reporting
if they have offended the wrong people. If they have merely
helped steer the country into war under false pretenses,
their careers can continue unimpeded.
is absurd. Judith Miller should be punished for what? Not
seeing into the future? For accurately reporting what the
United States government, the current and former administrations,
and nearly every other intelligence agency in the world
believed to be true about Saddam Hussein's WMD capabilities?
compare Miller's reporting to the hatchet job by Mapes &
Co. is, to be overgenerous, not very FAIR. Then again, if
you read the first few lines of the
mission statement of this outfit it's quite clear that
fairness isn't what they're after:
is a media watch organization offering constructive criticism
in an effort to correct media imbalance....We scrutinize
media practices that slight public interest, peace and
of us who founded FAIR have media backgrounds. Our sympathies
are with the working press. We do not view reporters,
editors and producers as our enemy. Nor do we hunt for
quaint: A bunch of former liberal journalists offering "constructive
criticism" to current liberal journalists. Tell me
again why so many people distrust the mainstream media?
- T. Bevan 10:15 am Link
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January 17 2005
HOWARD DEAN: BACK FROM THE DEAD: Tomorrow marks
the one year anniversary of the death of Howard Dean's 2004
presidential campaign. Dean's bid didn't officially end
until February 18, of course, but his dismal third
place finish in Iowa followed by the
scream heard round the world effectively drove a stake
through the heart of his candidacy.
Dean is back, and he's leading the race to become the new
Chairman of the DNC. Here are the latest numbers on the
DNC Chair election as reported by The Hotline last week:
Choice For DNC Chair
Howard Dean 31% (58 votes)
Martin Frost 16 (30 votes)
Tim Roemer 4 (8 votes)
Donnie Fowler 4 (7 votes)
Wellington Webb 2 (4 votes)
Simon Rosenberg 2 (4 votes)
David Leland 1 (1 vote)
Undec/Refused 40 (75 votes)
would think the mere fact that Dean has pledged to spare
his fellow Democrats the spectacle of another run at the
Presidency in 2008 if he wins the DNC chairmanship would
make him a shoo-in for the job. Then again, we may be experiencing
a case of deja vu where Dean enjoys an early lead but his
support evaporates into the ether when the time comes to
actually cast ballots. At this point, it's still hard to
Dean be a good choice for the Democratic party? Liberals
Nichols think so:
need a great big, high-profile fight over what they want
their party to be, and Dean's candidacy will give them
not so sure. Setting aside the debate over just how important
party chairmen are to begin with, the job description requires
they excel at either 1) raising money, 2) organizing, 3)
helping to recruit great candidates or 4) being a leading
face and voice behind the party's message. Successful party
leaders are usually good at all four.
proved he could raise money from small, individual contributors
in 2003, but contributing to the party is different than
contributing to a candidate. It's not at all clear whether
Dean has the sort of connections inside corporate boardrooms
and the power structure in Washington needed to be a successful
the organizing front, I'm surprised some Democrats are eager
to turn over such a large and important operation to a guy
who failed so miserably at managing his own campaign. As
we learned from Howard
Kurtz shortly after Dean completed his self-immolation,
the Dean campaign was thoroughly chaotic, disorganized and
riven with internal strife.
let's not forget that Dean's own volunteer operation - breathlessly
reported ad nauseam by the press as the real strength of
his candidacy - turned out in hindsight to have been more
effective as a yuppy dating service than a true GOTV effort.
though Governor Dean was fun to watch and the best of bunch
in 2004 at rousing the party faithful, he also developed
a reputation among the press and the public as prickly
and temperamental. On top of that, Dean was easily the
most gaffe-prone candidate in the race last year. His lack
of savvy and discipline created a disturbingly large number
of foot-in-mouth headlines. That practice continues today
and Democrats should think long and hard about putting someone
with such loose lips at the helm of the ship.
sum up, Howard Dean has a number of qualities that could
make him a really bad choice to be DNC Chairman - which
is why most Republicans enthusiastically support his candidacy.
No doubt they are echoing Karl
Rove's famous words, uttered while watching Dean's supporters
march by in a July 4th parade in 2003: "Heh, heh,
heh. Yeah, that's the one we want. Go, Howard Dean!"
- T. Bevan 10:15 am Link
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