Topic: NOW WHAT?
Politics: If I want a farce I'll read Feydeau.
Maybe it was the Fourth of July thing, but, after Just Above Sunset was put to bed July 3rd, commenting on current events seemed somehow pointless. Not that raising questions and commenting on what is happening in the world of national and international politics is unpatriotic or anything - although some see questioning what's going on as giving aid and comfort to our enemies. The right to do that is what we're fight for, isn't it? Democracy and all that? But nothing seemed to be changing.
Of course the heat of what was being said left and right continued rise, but nothing much new was being added. But perhaps it is time to return to see what's up, as that New York Times reporter, that Judith Miller woman, is off to jail and that group of right-side radio and television hosts is off to Iraq soon to bring back the truth about how well things are going there (one of them said he's "a patriot before he's a reporter"). I'd feel bad for Miller but she was the one who convinced the New York Times to run all of what Chalabi was saying to her about how there really were WMD over there - and she convinced the Times that she, and they, didn't need any second sources as it just had to be true. The Times apologized publicly, but kept her on.
That's a mixed bag. And it is a continuation of a story that broke last Friday noted in these pages here Busted: Bush's Brain (Karl Rove) Suddenly Exposed - the direct allegation by Lawrence O'Donnell that Rove is the man who leaked the name of the CIA agent for purposes of revenge. But nothing much has come of that.
Our friend Dick in Rochester wondered what happened. – "I have not seen any follow up on this in local rag or evening news. Did I miss something or are they just ignoring it?"
Well, I have no brief for the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle - the decade I lived in Rochester it seemed barely adequate for local news and everyone read the New York Times for real news (and the crossword). The mainstream national television and radio news? Miller gets a lot of play. Rove doesn't.
The direct allegation by Lawrence O'Donnell that Rove is the man who leaked the name of the CIA agent for purposes of revenge is mentioned in passing now and then in some news stories, but Judith Miller going to jail makes it seem a minor point. Commentary I read says O'Donnell may be right, or may be wrong, but no one knows, so there isn't a news story here. No one seems to know what the heck is going on. One theory is the press told Rove, not the other way around - mentioned here - and of course, it might have been Bill Clinton's fault somehow. No one knows just who the prosecutor (en français, le procureur) is going after or why.
If ever Rove is charged with this, or with only perjury or obstruction of justice, or let off the hook, then you might see a news story here and there. News is events - not allegations, as I think Rick, the News Guy in Atlanta, would agree. For example, the news didn't say one single thing about the allegations of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth about John Kerry - alleging Kerry was a coward, a liar, and perhaps a war criminal - until the Swift Boat guys proved it was so - just like they said. Then it was a story. No, wait...
I think we have to understand that anyone running a news operation must account for the idea - that the president's top advisor and life-long friend perhaps committed a felony close to treason - is too hot to mess with casually. Best to wait. Too, most viewers are solidly conservative and pro-Bush, as seen in his overwhelming landslide presidential victory for this second term, and running with this story will have your audience running for Fox News, and your advertising revenue going along with them. Know your audience and what they will tolerate, and what they want to hear (missing attractive white women and abducted and abused children). Reporting this story, if it turns out to be true, and especially of it turns out to be untrue, is bad for business. Then too there are those - most patriotic Americas - who think that if Rove did this then Wilson and his wife probably deserved to be destroyed because they embarrassed the man we chose to lead us, no matter how it hurt out intelligence efforts and even if Wilson was right. It's a tribal thing.
But perhaps I'm too cynical.
And everyone hates the news folks anyway. That group of right-side radio and television hosts off to Iraq soon to bring back the truth, about how well things are going there, provides an example of that. As Fox News summarizes the effort -
Whatever. As noted in Daily Kos -
But that's not the point, is it?
Each side is saying "WE HAVE THE TRUTH!" The idea is you don't know you're being deceived. What's a reporter to do?
Let's take the Karl Rove story. Is it complicated? Maybe, but Kevin Drum two years ago suggested the simple narrative -
Maybe not, but Digby over at Hullabaloo suggests things have changed since then -
Well, that's one way to tell the story.
Here's another way -
Wow. She isn't saying anything because she set it all up? Why? Because her whole reputation is based on being right about Chalabi and the WMD and all the rest an Wilson came back from Africa and published, in her own paper, that the whole thing about nuclear weapons was a crock? Yeah, maybe. But maybe not.
Wednesday the 6th Rosa Brooks in the Los Angeles Times leads the anti-Miller charge with a long item that gives us this -
And Will Bunch at the Philadelphia Daily News piles on. -
So much for a clear story about the press. As Cary Grant would say, shaking his head, "Judy, Judy, Judy..."
The bigger issues? That policy professor at UCLA, Mark Kleiman, comments, first quoting a letter from Steven Teles of Brandeis -
The idea is you don't know you're being deceived. And Kleiman add this -
Well, well, well - here we have the argument that if Rove did what Rove seems to have done, and we had known that before the election, we'd have thrown the bums out.
Doubtful. One could easily maintain the majority of citizens now want folks in our seat of power who destroy those who give them trouble - it provides a vicarious thrill to a citizenry feeling everyone hates us anyway and it's time to kick some ass. That too is a tribal thing - the powerless grooving on their proxy bully.
As for the vacancy on the Supreme Court covered last weekend in O'Connor Retires: The Game is Afoot? That's still playing out. It's a bit of a farce.
Bruce Reed was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser and is president of the Democratic Leadership Council, and he nails that here -
Yep, it's all farce. There was a reason I took a break for a few days. If I want a farce I'll read Feydeau.