There’s so much to find offensive about Fareed Zakaria’s article in this week’s Newsweek that it’s tough to know where to begin. Put simply, the piece stated rather strongly that President Bush is responsible for a declining rate of democracy around the world.
Of course, one study that Zakaria cited to prove this premise “points out that 2006 was a bad year for liberty, under attack from creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, a coup in Thailand, massive corruption in Africa and a host of more subtle reversals.”
Zakaria never addressed what President Bush did to advance creeping authoritarianism in Venezuela and Russia, the coup in Thailand, and the massive corruption in Africa. Instead, he reported the following (emphasis mine throughout):
Chris Matthews and John Fund had something of a nuclear showdown on this afternoon's Hardball. Matthews' current kick is worrying that President Bush might launch an attack on Iran without congressional authorization. In that context, talk turned to Saddam's nuclear program and that of North Korea.
What's become of multiculturalism? Isn't it an entrenched tenet of liberal dogma that all cultures are to be "celebrated" as equally worthy? Yet in recent weeks I've noticed a countervaling trend in the liberal establishment. Western values are exalted, as here and here. Then, even Thomas Friedman, bien-pensant hero of the foreign policy establishment, indulged in some negative Arab stereotyping that would have had the PC police screaming had the author not been, well, Thomas Friedman.
Today comes another certified MSMer, Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, suggesting that Iraqis might be fundamentally different from Americans, so much so that what they require is a brutal dictator. Muses Cohen in his column of today, Our Tunnel Vision .
On Monday’s "Situation Room," CNN reporter Jeff Greenfield discussed the possibility of American losing in Iraq and whether it would turn out to be such a terrible thing. He began by describing several historical military defeats, including Vietnam, and, according to Greenfield, many of these examples seemed to lead to positive outcomes. It’s fitting that host Wolf Blitzer introduced him by noting that the reporter was "contemplating the ‘L’ word."
Greenfield: "In one view, such setbacks encouraged America’s adversaries to be more bold in their assaults. But over time, another picture emerges. Less than 20 years after the fall of Vietnam, the Soviet Union literally ceased to exist. More than half a century after China became communist, the U.S. is economically, at least, a partner. And America's biggest companies see China not as a threat, as but a huge market. And Vietnam? It embraces an American president and American investments. As for Iraq, the turmoil there almost surely means that the ambitious goals of the invasion, a stable, functioning democracy are beyond reach. But if the United States chooses to engage and chooses, as well, to talk with nations in the region like Iran and Syria, that course will likely trigger a profound debate, perhaps even reaching into the next presidential campaign. And what would that debate be about? More than anything else, one key question: Would this engagement tell the world that the United States has become weaker--or wiser?"
Maureen Dowd: law-and-order fan? And here I thought liberals like to pose as champions of human rights . . .
But consider Dowd's idea of an Iraq solution: find brutal dictators to whom we can surrender and who will impose "law and order." Working model: the US capitulation to the Communist dicators of Hanoi.
The title of her subscription-required column of this morning, No One to Lose To, says it all. Dowd's biggest regret is, yes, that there's no obvious thug, or thugocracy, to whom to surrender. Dowd approvingly quotes Neil Sheehan, a former Times reporter in Vietnam who wrote “A Bright Shining Lie” as saying:
“In Vietnam, there were just two sides to the civil war. You had a government in Hanoi with a structure of command and an army and a guerrilla movement that would obey what they were told to do. So you had law and order in Saigon immediately after the war ended. In Iraq, there’s no one like that for us to lose to and then do business with.”
The network morning shows noticed Indonesian Muslims protesting President Bush, but sadly, once again, they tended to sanitize out the extremists. In this case, protest leaders called for the execution of Bush, but the networks mostly offered Americans quotes from protesters saying they loved America, just hated the president. They left out what Agence France-Presse reported: a protest leader declared through a loudspeaker: "Kill him, kill him...the blood of George Bush is halal," meaning it was not a sin under Islam to kill him. "Not only is it halal, it is obligatory to kill him."
The networks seem to want the American audience to bite on the Democratic line that conservative policies make us unpopular around the world, when people would be much more agreeable under the sorry-we-didn’t-mean-to-be-a-superpower poses of a Gore, Kerry, or Hillary Clinton. Showing protesters who want to execute our president tend to ruin the line of the day. On NBC’s Today on Monday, Matt Lauer led off the show with a plug for their "Hello, Go Home" segment on Bush's visit. MRC’s Justin McCarthy found reporter Kelly O’Donnell’s selected protesters who stressed their love for America, and their hatred for Bush:
A few weeks ago on the Right Angle TV show I host, my guest was Barry Strauss, the brilliant professor of history and the classics at Cornell University. Our conversation focused on his recent book, "The Trojan War", which one reviewer has described as so authoritative "it may well preempt future historians from ever trying to improve on it."
Toward the end of the show I invited Prof. Strauss to comment on whether he saw any parallels between the fall of Greek and Roman civilizations and the situation in the West today. While eschewing sweeping generalizations, the professor did observe that one sign of a civilization in decline is its disinclination to believe in itself coupled with a loss of will to fight for its survival.
On his show yesterday, MSNBC's Tucker Carlson congratulated Diane Sawyer of ABC for leaving the comforts of home to report from North Korea. Judging by her report this morning, you'd have to say the rigors have been worth it. Sawyer has been on a week-long stay in Dear-Leader Land, and this morning she scored an important story. A top N. Korean general flatly told her that his country has the means to deliver a nuclear weapon.
Sawyer: "We asked him what the words of North Korea meant when they said there would be a 'merciless blow' in response to any sanctions? He said he couldn't say specifically but pointed out they have short- and long-range missiles. He said 'President Bush wants us to kneel down. We cannot agree on that. If it continues, I think it will be natural to have war.'"
I experienced an eerie sense of déjà vu this morning while reading an AP article entitled "Iran Blames U.S. for N. Korea Nuke Test." I could swear that I had already read this same blame-America analysis somewhere else. That sent me scrambling back to my report on the piece by LA Times columnist Rosa Brooks, "A Good Week for the Axis of Evil" contained in my NB item of yesterday [but please don't read just yet]. And sure enough, I found language there that closely tracked the statement from Tehran.
So, let's have a little fun. I'll set the two statements out below, and you try to guess. Which was issued by the Men of Mahmoud, and which by a homegrown member of the Blame America Brigades? Answer below.
You remember Rosa Brooks. She's the LA Times columnist who vehemently denies hating George Bush. To judge by her column of today, she has an odd way of proving it. In A Good Week for the Axis of Evil, Brooks lumps Pres. Bush in with the most evil dictators from around the globe, past and present.
After arguing that it's been a good week for "Dear Leader Kim Jong Il," Saddam Hussein and the leaders of Iran and Al-Qaeda, Brooks claims "this week's news was a humiliating setback for the United States' homegrown authoritarians — a.k.a. the Bush administration."
For Maureen Dowd, politics are primarily personal. This morning she managed to reduce the current Korean conflict to an image of two boys behaving badly. Meanwhile, is mocking John McCain's POW past a smart move for Hillary? Dowd offered a stunning insight into the Hillary campaign that suggests it might not be the ready-for-presidential-primetime operation some might imagine.
The topic of Maureen Dowd's subscription-required column of this morning, Is Chivalry Shivved?, is the war of words between Hillary and John McCain, as the two top presidential contenders recently fired some early shots over the other's bow on the topic of responsibility for the N. Korean nuclear mess.
This past week, the media made a very clear distinction between how they view a Republican scandal and one involving a powerful Democrat. MRC analysts found that, over a period of 12 days, the big three networks aired 150 stories on the Mark Foley scandal.
How did those same networks cover an investigation into Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid and a very questionable land deal? They generally ignored the story. In the case of CNN, the October 12 "American Morning" aired almost 20 minutes of Foley coverage and devoted 35 seconds to Reid
Not to be outdone, print media also glossed over the emerging Reid scandal. "The New York Times" prefaced a story about Reid earning $1.1 million on a property that he hasn’t owned in three years with this headline: "Senator Offers to Amend Financial Forms." The "Times" is certainly generous in offering the benefit of the doubt...as long as you’re a Democrat.
With North Korea testing nuclear weapons and Democrats demanding that the Bush administration engage in bilateral talks with them, it should come as no surprise that the "Early Show" once again turned to Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution for analysis. O’Hanlon, made his 17th appearance of the year on Thursday’s "Early Show" where he was sure to plug his book. "Early Show" co-host Hannah Storm conducted the interview and pondered why, if the Democrats and Kofi Annan and the North Koreans want the Bush administration to engage the North Koreans directly, why wouldn’t President Bush simply acquiesce:
"But first President Bush said Wednesday that negotiating directly with North Korea would not have stopped that country's nuclear tests, and he added there would be no one-on-one talks now, that's something that Democrats are calling for...Also, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has called for direct talks. The North Koreans has asked for it. Why does the president say no?"
There's a saying along the lines that liberals will always oppose the use of US force - except where US security interests are not at stake. The New York Times editorial of this morning, The Age of Impunity, provides a perfect case in point.
The central thesis is this:
"Bush has squandered so much of America’s moral authority — not to mention our military resources — that efforts to shame or bully the right behavior from adversaries (and allies) sound hollow."
Along the way, the Times recommends that Pres. Bush pander to the rogue regimes in Pyongyang and Tehran by making "a clear pledge — no caveats and no fingers crossed behind his back - that he would not try to overthrow" their governments.
"Didn't the MSM get the memo? Keep Foley on the front page!" That seemed to be Chris Matthews' attitude when he was interviewed on this afternoon's MSNBC Live regarding Pres. Bush's press conference of this morning.
Appearing during the 2-2:30 PM ET slot, the transparently ticked-off Hardball host was asked: "The Mark Foley scandal has been dominating the news for over a week now. It was barely touched upon in the news conference today. Was the president, do you think, successful in refocusing attention on to the economy and national security today?"
A palpably PO'd Matthews:
"Well, he was successful to a large extent because the press, for whatever reason, decided not to ask him about the Foley scandal, which has dominated this network and so much else of the media for the last couple weeks and has been a big part of the American conversation. I don't know why though the correspondents - and they're the best in the business - chose to stick right to the issue of Iraq and North Korea, but they did, giving the president a chance to grab the headline tomorrow morning and tonight, with a big story about North Korea and his position on that topic. He has won the day on controlling the topic."
To judge by its political cartoon of this morning, the Boston Globe apparently believes that if only the Bush administration had engaged in direct talks with North Korea, it could have prevented Kim from building his bomb.
Let's leave aside that the Bush administration has in fact been talking to North Korea. Indeed, the president was proceeding in precisely the way the MSM usually implores him to do - multilaterally, via the Six Party talks.
A phalanx of Democrats, led by Hillary Clinton, claims the Bush administration is to blame for the N. Korean nuclear test. John McCain responds, pointing out that it was the Clinton administration's failed "agreed framework" that let Kim Jong Il merrily go about his bomb-and-missile-making ways.
So how does Hannah Storm of CBS' Early Show frame the state of play?
"Sen. John Kerry said that you must be trying to burnish your credentials for the nomination process, he's referring of course to your presidential aspirations. I mean, what do you say to those who say that you're [her voice breaking into a horrifed squeak] politicizing this issue?"
Not the smallest bird doesn't fall but liberal pundits blame it on George W. Bush. A refreshing change of pace this morning, then, in the person of Thomas Friedman, who writes that the major responsibility for avoiding future international catastrophe lays not at the feet of the current occupant of the White House, but in Moscow and Beijing.
In the subscription-required The Bus Is Waiting, Friedman propounds the theory that a nuclearized N. North Korea and Iran will inevitably induce a string of countries across Asia and the Middle East developing atomic weapons of their own.
To prevent this, Friedman asserts that it is necessary for:
As they padded for time waiting for a live statement on the North Korean nuclear test from President Bush in the 9 am hour of Today on Monday, NBC's Andrea Mitchell scolded that Bill Clinton and Madeleine Albright were building reconciliation between North and South Korea, but Bush came in and ruined it, overruling his Secretary of State, Colin Powell, "cutting him off at the knees." Typically, Today co-host Matt Lauer insisted the North Korean nuclear test was just the latest in a string of bad news for Bush, from Iraq and Iran to the Mark Foley page scandal.
Matt Lauer led into the Clinton-praising section: "Andrea, I have to say as David [Gregory] mentioned a second ago, when I was there a few years ago it was surprising to me that there is starting to be this communication and actual physical contact between South and North Korea. This, there's a super highway being built that really connects the two."
"A North Korean ICBM hit Hawaii with a 10-kiloton atomic weapon today. Now back to Meredith and Matt for the latest on the burgeoning Mark Foley scandal. Is it doom for Republicans?"
Perhaps I exaggerate a tad with that imaginary bit of dialogue, but judging by this morning's 'Today,' you have to wonder. Good Morning America devoted the lion's share of its first half-hour to the N. Korean test of a nuclear device, with no fewer than four segments focusing on it. Over at Today, after a correspondent in China gave a report, and Lauer and Andrea Mitchell batted things around for a while, it was over. No expert analysis, no nothing. It was time to move to a report on . . . the latest lettuce recall. Have a look at the clock in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. It was only 7:06.
With one of his inimitable montages, Rush Limbaugh documented today the way in which the MSM got hung up on a handshake - one the media reported didn't come off between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his Pakistani counterpart Pervez Musharraf during their recent White House visit.
Though WH spokesman Tony Snow has reportedly indicated that the pair did shake hands off-camera, the media tea-leaf readers seemingly imbue The Handshake That Didn't Happen with dire implications for the achievement of US goals in the region. Ironically, on the very same day, the MSM has yet to report on a major, positive development in the region - one that would bring a smile to the lips of even a Nancy Pelosi or a New York Times editorialist - were they not solemnly sworn to ac-cen-tu-ate the negative from now till Election Day.
The L.A.Times published a story on the 13th that treated Chinese dictator, "Chairman" Mao, as a beloved and "iconic" figure but found no room in their story for any mention of the "great leader's" human rights abuses, tortures or the many murderous pogroms which took the lives of millions of his fellow citizens decade after decade as he ruled with an iron fist.
The story, sporting the title "Mao Is Their Canvas," was a puff piece investigating the secretive artists who painted the massive Mao portrait that hung at Tiananmen Square during and after the dictator's lifetime. Certainly the lives of these "people's artists" was somewhat interesting, but the disturbing thing was how gently the tyrant was treated in the story itself.
On Wednesday's Countdown show, while reporting on a recent Zogby poll which found that more Americans can name two of Snow White's dwarves than can name two of America's Supreme Court justices, MSNBC's Keith Olbermann took the opportunity to joke that Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia are "Dopey and Grumpy." The Countdown host also took a shot at President Bush by bringing up Bush's failure to name world leaders in a pop quiz during an interview with Boston TV journalist Andy Hiller in November 1999, and suggested to comedian Mo Rocca that Bush's lack of knowledge is to blame for "current world affairs." Olbermann: "Can you think of any consequences at all that could have stemmed from that candidate's level of knowledge? Is that being reflected at all in the current world affairs?" (Transcript follows)
Ashamed of their sins at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Americans were actually awaiting payback along the lines of 9/11. You say you were unaware of any such feelings? That's only because your feeling was 'subliminal.' Your shame was 'unconscious.' Well, that, or the fact that you just don't have the same exquisitely refined sensibilities of Boston Globe columnist James Carroll.
'Bolton and the other radicals in the administration want Israel to keep pummeling Lebanon a while longer.' No, they want Israel to keep pummeling Hezbollah, which is based in Lebanon.
party of mutual Armageddon . . . the war party of Hamas, Hezbollah, the
Israeli right, the Iranian ultras, Rumsfeld, and Cheney.' Moral equivalence strikes again. The terrorists, and those who would stop the terrorists - same difference.
'Today' never showed us just who was holding that placard. But judging from his comments this morning, just how surprised would we be to find it was NBC's David Gregory himself?
Did David perhaps rev up for his appearance by reading this all-out assault on Bush foreign policy from in the LA Times? In any case, he came loaded for Bush bear with a totally bleak tour d'horizon that included these gems:
"The president's foreign policy was designed to make the the Middle East safer. It's not."
"Crisis after crisis has undermined the Bush doctrine."
"A foreign policy that has yet to produce the promised results."
On Friday night’s edition of Inside Washington, a program which airs on the Washington DC area PBS station WETA, and re-airs on Sunday mornings on the DC ABC affiliate, WJLA, and consists of a round table of political pundits, one of the topics discussed was North Korea. As was widely discussed last week, North Korea test fired a long range missile that could potentially hit the United States called the Taepodong 2 missile. Panelist Mark Shields attempted to make a joke out of the name:
"Does anybody else think Taepodong sounds like a male enhancement device available on cable?"
However, the rest of his exchange with fellow panelist Charles Krauthammer was not so light hearted. Shields used the subject of North Korea to segue into an attack on the administration’s Iraq policy, suggesting that an attack on North Korea would have been a better strategic move than the war in Iraq. Charles Krauthammer disputed this, noting the differences between Iraq and North Korea.
Give the Ragin' Cajun credit: the man works fast. In a Today show appearance lasting only six minutes, and shared with former Bush administration official Dan Senor, Carville managed to work variations on the word 'failure' into his comments no fewer than six times.
At the same time, I defy anyone to read the transcript or watch a replay of Carville's comments on Pres. Bush''s foreign policy and find one solitary instance in which he proposes an alternative or even offers constructive criticism. His rap was utterly bereft of any notion of what the Democrats would do, and do better, if they regained power.
Twice in less than 24 hours, Jim Pinkerton, conservative columnist at Newsday and Tech Central Station, left liberal talking-head rivals at a loss for words on the issue of missile defense.
Pinkerton's first victim was Neal Gabler, on last evening's Fox News Watch. In the context of the North Korean missile tests, liberal Gabler flatly stated: "Missile defense does not work. That is what we have learned." Shot back Pinkerton: "The Japanese believe in it. That's why they're building it right now." Gabler's silence was golden.