Blogroll Me! How This Old Brit Sees It ...: The Sad State of America's National Discourse

26 April 2008

The Sad State of America's National Discourse

'Journalists' like this pick the topics and frames for our national discourse

Here are some of the latest sins of the Washington Press Corps:

Chris Matthews, speaking about the candidacy of Barack Obama:

You got to talk like a firebrand because if you‘re carrying their fight for them, they‘re going to like you. You know, a lot of white people root for black athletes because they‘re winning for the home team.
Remind me never to hire Chris Matthews as a political consultant. Obama ought to talk like a firebrand? Why? So people will be reminded of such popular figures as Al Sharpton, Louis Farrakhan, and Jeremiah Wright? Matthews worked as a Democratic political operative back in the 1970s, which helps explain the steady erosion of support that the party endured during that era. Matthews helped draft Jimmy Carter's infamous 'Malaise' speech, and he continues to demonstrate the political savvy that went into writing that address.


George Will:

After 1962, when New York City signed the nation's first collective bargaining contract with teachers, teachers began changing from members of a respected profession into just another muscular faction fighting for more government money.
In the real world, the teaching profession has become much more prestigious since then, and now ranks among the most highly respected vocations in America. Polls indicate that Americans have far more respect for teachers than they do for clueless political commentators.


Crazy Dolphin Lady:

America is Mr. Obama's problem. He has been tagged as a snooty lefty, as the glamorous, ambivalent candidate from Men's Vogue, the candidate who loves America because of the great progress it has made in terms of racial fairness. Fine, good. But has he ever gotten misty-eyed over . . . the Wright Brothers and what kind of country allowed them to go off on their own and change everything? How about D-Day, or George Washington, or Henry Ford, or the losers and brigands who flocked to Sutter's Mill, who pushed their way west because there was gold in them thar hills? There's gold in that history...

Any cynic can wear a pin, and many cynics do. But what about Obama and America? Who would have taught him to love it, and what did he learn was loveable, and what does he think about it all?
Henry Ford was a fascist who distributed copies of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and was awarded a medal by none other than Adolf Hitler. And Peggy Noonan thinks that if you don't love Henry Ford, then you don't really love America. And if America is really as great as Noonan says it is, why would anyone have to teach Obama to love it? Wouldn't the experience of living in America teach him that?

The folks at Media Matters point out that if Noonan really wanted to know what Obama thinks of America, she could just
read his book.

Richard Cohen, on Hillary Clinton:

It is hard to think of anyone who has worked longer or sacrificed more for the presidency. She is indomitable, steadfast, gutsy and all those other things we know -- smart, for instance. She also can be, in private and sometimes in public, charming and awfully good company. Her wilderness -- that mess about Monica, a pain so exquisite even John Yoo (George W. Bush's former torture consultant) would have winced -- would seem to entitle her to some sort of reward, a happy ending for her if not for us.

But she has gone too far -- too much disturbing stuff, some of it shocking in its coarseness... her stunning Moses Moment, that polygraph buster about being under sniper fire in Bosnia. It was a defining time in her campaign, not because she exaggerated or lied -- call it what you want -- but because the statement was hurled into a gale of contrary evidence.
Richard Cohen, on John McCain:

He's an honorable man who has fudged and ducked and swallowed the truth on occasion -- about the acceptability of the Confederate flag, for instance -- but always, I think, for understandable although not necessarily admirable reasons.
Richard Cohen, on Barack Obama:

We are learning that he, too, can do the F's -- fudge, fib or forget. I don't believe him on the Second Amendment -- and he says one thing on NAFTA in Ohio and a campaign adviser whispers another to Canada by way of reassurance.
In other words, Cohen thinks it's OK for John McCain and Barack Obama to lie, but not for Hillary Clinton. And there's three other points here worth making:

1) The 'fibs' of Obama turn out to be a vague personal opinion of Cohen's, and a rumor that has
since been debunked.

2) McCain's lies about his position on the Confederate flag were FAR more egregious than anything Clinton said about her trip to Bosnia. Clinton can be accused of self-aggrandizement. But when McCain falsely claimed that he believed the Confederate flag should be allowed to fly over the South Carolina state capital, he was pandering to racist elements within the Republican Party because he was afraid he'd lose the South Carolina primary if he failed to do so. In other words, McCain's lie was not "understandable" in the sense that he was doing a bad thing in order to achieve a good end. It was "understandable" in the sense that we intuitively understand that unscrupulous politicians like McCain will say anything in order to get elected.

3) Richard Cohen is an idiot

Those are just a few recent examples of the cluelessness of the people who shape our national discourse. I know some people who wonder why Americans seem to have so little understanding of politics and current events. But after reading the work of the Washington Press Corps, I'm amazed that Americans have any understanding of these topics at all.

(cross posted at appletree and Liberal Avenger)



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2:46 pm  
Blogger Twilight said...

Here's something on which I CAN agree with you Richard.

I don't read any actual paper newspapers other than a local rag, but the stuff put out on TV and on-line in the guise of "news" is enough to make your hair curl!

Of course, we bloggers add our twopennyworth and the whole thing becomes one great big circus, with us as the clowns, probably.

It's all show-biz. Or, as the late and often lamented comedian Bill Hicks used to say ~~

The world is like a ride in an amusement park and when you choose to go on it you think it's real because that's how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and around and around and it has thrills and chills and it's very brightly coloured and it's very loud. And it's fun - for a while. Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question; is this real? Or is this just a ride? And other people have remembered, and they come back to us, and they say, "Hey, don't worry, don't be afraid, ever, because... this is just a ride."

8:22 pm  
Anonymous bootlean said...

Gordo, don't you know nothin'?

If it's on TV or in the paper or in the bible ... it MUST be true!


2:46 pm  

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