March 14, 2006
To Be Expected

Chip Spear over at Political Sports makes some very good points in “Of Course Dems Are Disorganized”.

One is that in periods when the Democratic party is without an agreed-on head, it like most political parties is subject to quarrels over who should take the lead. This results in a clamor of messages from candidates struggling to be heard.

Another is that, with the right-leaning nature of the punditry on US TV, it’s not going to be unusual to find coddled, 30-going-on-18 Media BAs with bow ties and William F. Buckley-style political positions. It’s a growth industry.

We are eight months from a mid-term election. Why do these people think that everything is supposed to be decided now? It seems to me like a normal part of the process. The perception of the election cycles has gotten so ridiculous that the MSM worries about who is running for the next Presidential election a couple of hours after the polls close from the last one. If no one is a clear favorite, they assume there must be something wrong. I find it simultaneously amusing and disgusting.

Exactly. Amusing, because it was designed by some of the foremost practitioners of the art of public relations, sometimes called propaganda. Disgusting, because it’s such an obvious coverup.

Of course, many who work in the media don’t see all this as a coverup; certainly most don’t intend to cover up but to reveal. But a high-level view of the processes shows how each stage contributes to the final impression of a free press. Without having put up with the struggle and dissension that comes with the real thing. As Mark Twain said, “It is by the goodness of God that in our country we have those three unspeakably precious things: freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, and the prudence never to practice either.”

Why do people think things should be decided already? Because, to put Chip’s argument in a nutshell, they’re uncomfortable with the mechanisms of democracy.

But also because many Americans find thinking painful, if we can judge by the effort they exert to avoid it. (This is probably true of people everywhere, but Americans are my topic here.) Or perhaps they’ve been handed so many trite story lines over the years, from Saturday morning cartoons, television sitcoms and dramas, movies, the nightly news, and the government, that it’s increasingly difficult to distinguish among what you might call the known truths, the unknown truths, the known lies, and the unknown lies. Naturally the latter are the most dangerous of the group, because you don’t know what you don’t know.

But seriously, did the President deceive Americans about the reasons for war (known lie)? Or was most of the US government just wrong in estimating the strength of a country with a devastated military (unknown truth)? Weakened by a decade of US-sponsored sanctions, Iraq had no realistic aggressive ambitions. Its army had traveled a highway of death recently, and UN oversight gave every appearance of working. (Of course we now know it was working; but I’m talking about what it looked like then.) Even then, anyone not bent on war who listened to Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei was hard pressed to articulate a clear reason for the US to invade a sovereign country with no provocation; not even so much as some semi-believable faked evidence of hostile intent was proffered.

No real reason. For war. Very likely this war’s caused more than a hundred thousand deaths so far. Why?

I venture to say that there’s never been a legal mind that could successfully defend a client arraigned on charges of intentionally misleading the public into supporting an aggressive war that turned into a fiasco.

As an amateur student of history, I’m forced to specify that successful conquests are often legalized after the fact. Rome or Britain, empires have understood that it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission, especially if the misdeed in question contributed mightily to the communal coffers.

So that was the really scary possibility, which fortunately did not actuate. Had BushCo honestly tried to construct a functioning, popularly controlled state in Iraq, following more or less closely the “Future of Iraq” plans, the whole neo-con adventure in Iraq might have come out looking okay.

And then where would we be?

In fact, ineptitude in the highest offices in the land has been the only thing that’s saved us recently.

Chip speculates that “many political analysts on TV these days seem to lean right.” When the left wing is represented by Mark Shields, I would have to agree with that statement.

The post’s introductory picture shows a group of kids playing King of the Mountain on a floating plastic mountain in the middle of a lake. In other words, it’s a completely artificial situation: the mountain being struggled over has no existence from the waterline down, and the surface of things is obscuring the important issues (e.g., can everyone swim?).

Chip notes rightly that the MSM is trying to keep readers interested, and is willing to construct stuff to do so. Ignoring important news events, such as the rise of the left in South America in recent years, just shows how important they are. To those who can read between the lines.

In any case, the post closes with a familiar rumination.

Anytime one starts a project a period exists when you pull together lots of thoughts, ideas, pictures, information, whatever. Stacks of papers cover desks and tables. You have a general idea where you are headed, but the final pieces are not yet in place. You are working on it, you have no fear. You will get it done. You have been through this before and you will again. The election is 8 months away. There is still time.
Posted by Chuck Dupree at March 14, 2006 06:58 AM
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Something puzzling me is why this week is "official" '08 election focus kickoff. Almost simultaneously it seems blogs, the MSM and pollsters all started talking about '08. For Dems, its important to stay focused on the mid-terms.

Posted by: spiiderweb on March 14, 2006 8:44 AM

Chuck, you make some great observations and additions to my opinion. Your point about Americans, and people in general, not wanting to think is well taken. I was watching a bit of trash TV last night, Boston Legal. Alan Shore, played by James Spader, was giving a closing argument where he said something to the effect, "After being lied to about going to war, I expected people to rise up and protest, that did not happen. After mismanagement of a disaster I expected Americans to cry out, that did not happen, and after discovering that we were torturing prisoners and denying them access to lawyers and a day in court I thought Americans would cry out in shame, that did not happen. But surely after illegal spying on Americans I thought they would protest, but that did not happen either."

At the end of the show he is sitting outside, having a drink with the great Denny Crane, played by William Shatner, and says, "We have become a very mean country." Unfortunately, it is true.

Posted by: Political Sports on March 15, 2006 10:07 AM

Actually the Washington Post has had blog entries and the occasional column about the 2008 race for a couple of months. But that's like living in Louisville and having columns on this year's Derby. It's all they got. The weather sucks.

Posted by: on March 16, 2006 4:13 AM
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