that the current traditional Medicare program would remain available
for any beneficiary who wanted to participate in it was called
an end to such benefits. Increases in spending were called cuts.
Guarantees were called broken commitments.
war efforts to defeat communism and create democracies in Central
America were called support for fascism and brutal right-wing
regimes. (Funnily, the effect of his "support of fascism"
resulted in an unprecedented blossoming of democracies in Central
the good old days. Then, at least the media cared about the substance
of our proposals -- even if they lied about them. (Of course they
also calumniated the personalities of conservative leaders, but
that was only part of the coverage. We should have been grateful.)
media has lost interest in policy substance almost altogether.
Analyses of major policy announcements are viewed, almost exclusively,
through the prism of polling numbers.
If the president
were to call for two plus two to equal four, the media would report
that such a proposal had the support of only 42 percent of likely
voters, and a slippage of even conservative support from 87 percent
to 63 percent. Perhaps on the jump page, in the 38th inch of the
story in the New York Times, they might get around to
quoting a professor of mathematics from MIT to the effect that,
in fact, the president was right that two plus two still equals
four. But for television and radio break news, the story would
end at the polling result, which is bad news for the president.
this melancholy observation to mind was the grotesque non-reporting
of President Bush's arguably historic remarks last week concerning
the nature of the enemy in the "War on Terror," that
until last week was the enemy of which we dared not mention the
first time the president of the United States named the enemy:
"islamfascist" and "radical, militant Islam."
He compared it to the Nazi and communist ideological threat of
the previous century.
I and others
had been calling for precisely such language. From what one had
heard, there had been a powerful debate going on within the administration
for over six months on the advisability of such verbal boldness.
So long as political correctness blocked even the president from
naming the enemy, he -- or future presidents -- would be unable
to provide leadership to the nation. If a president could not
name the enemy, how could he provide the vital war leadership
of explaining the danger and advising the public on the necessary
strategies? How could the progress or lack of progress be rationally
discussed with the public?
And in this
shadow war that lacks the classic war battles that told previous
war generations of victory or defeat, how could the public begin
to even understand that there is nonetheless a battle raging that
may define their lives and safety for generations to come?
serious arguments against such language being used. Reasonable
people feared that any mention of Islam in the context of the
war on terror might needlessly outrage and estrange countless
millions of non-radical Muslims around the world -- thus driving
them into the enemy camp.
that argument, I, and others, made the case that, to the contrary,
by defining precisely and explicitly the enemy as only the radical,
jihadist, fascist element, we were narrowing the scope of our
definition of the enemy. And anyway, even unstated, doubtlessly
millions of people falsely had assumed we thought we were at war
with an entire religion -- rather than only with those who espoused
and acted on their violent ideology.
nincompoop television news stars led with the absurdly ignorant
observations that there was "nothing new" in this speech,
and that the president was not likely to improve his reduced 35
percent public support for the Iraq war.
that the speech (which they manifestly did not substantively understand
or report) was not going to make the president immediately more
popular, their reporting trailed off into a rehash of his other
current political problems.
mind, so much, mainstream journalists being b-st-rds. It's being
such dumb b-st-rds that one finds so irksome.