- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 29, 2004

Never raines but pours

In less than a year, the most powerful men in American and British journalism have had to resign after the most basic failings. When Howell Raines had to quit after the Jayson Blair fabrication debacle, it was a sign that media power wasn’t what it used to be. External criticism of the way in which he had dragged the New York Times to the hard left, combined with internal criticism of his management style, had made the resignation possible. Jayson Blair was the final shake of the tree.

And now in an eerie parallel, the two top figures at the left-wing BBC — Gavyn Davies and Greg Dyke — have also had to fall on their Bayberries. They allowed the BBC to broadcast malicious lies about the Blair government’s handling of the weapons of mass destruction issue in Iraq. They defended those lies even as they were exposed and unraveled. What do all three have in common — apart from arrogance?

They all placed their hostility to the war in Iraq before their own commitment to fair journalism. It’s very, very rare to see such a public accounting as this. To have removed Gerald Boyd and Messrs. Raines, Davies, Dyke and Hussein is a pretty darn successful military engagement. The one man still smiling? One Tony Blair — the kind of man the Democrats desperately need, but simply don’t have.

Bush’s cocoon

I’m beginning to worry that the president has lost his political touch. He’s still under 50 percent on the re-elect question in most polls. And the base is very restless. The domestic spending explosion and the immigrant temporary-worker program have hardly helped him cement his core supporters. But if I were to come up with one single idea to enrage the base — after all the spending criticism — I’d come up with doubling spending on the one federal agency the right loathes the most. And sure enough, the president is now pouring more money into the National Endowment for the Arts. Does he think NPR listeners are going to rally to him over this? Has he lost his mind?

Quote of the week

“My friend said, ‘I’m for the U.N. and international law, and I think you’ve become a traitor to the left. A neocon!’

I said, ‘I’m for overthrowing tyrants, and since when did overthrowing fascism become treason to the left?’

‘But isn’t George Bush himself a fascist, more or less? I mean — admit it!’

My own eyes widened. ‘You haven’t the foggiest idea what fascism is,’ I said. ‘I always figured that a keen awareness of extreme oppression was the deepest trait of a left-wingheart.Mass graves, 300,000 missing Iraqis, a population crushed by 35 years of Ba’athist boots stomping on their faces — that is what fascism means! And you think that a few corrupt insider contracts with Bush’s cronies at Halliburton and a bit of retrograde Bible-thumping and Bush’s ridiculous tax cuts and his bonanzas for the super-rich are indistinguishable from that? Indistinguishable from fascism? From a politics of slaughter? Leftism is supposed to be a reality principle. Leftism is supposed to embody an ability to take in the big picture. The traitor to the left is you, my friend…’ ” — Paul Berman, fighting for sanity, in Dissent.

No amendment now

This is a bit of a shocker from Sandy Rios of Concerned Women for America:

“An amendment that protects marriage in name only is troublesome to us and does not go far enough … I would also like to say that we don’t think an amendment has a chance of passing at all in this Congress. And so we prefer holding back a little bit until we have a different Congress, different people sitting there before this issue’s even raised.”

I think this means they don’t have the votes to push this through. It’s also clear that Mrs. Rios will not be satisfied unless the amendment bans civil unions, domestic partnerships and any benefits for gay and lesbian couples.

Smarter than he knew

“Above the neck, nothing but his mouth moves.” — Will Saletan, observing the new, smoother John Kerry on the stump, in Slate. That was before the Botox story emerged on the Drudge Report. Yes, I think it’s obvious. I bet it was Mr. Kerry’s wife’s idea.

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