Thursday, December 18, 2003

Rants from the Angry Man

An interesting confluence of news (or more accurately news stories) today have really ticked me off.

Let's start with the Post's piece on Iraqi sentiment toward the capture of Saddam. Filled with "Iraqi on the street" type quotes which generally say versions of: "We feel he either should have fought, or if he was surrounded and there was no other way, committed suicide. That's what we were expecting," he said. "When he didn't, it wasn't a surprise for us. It was a shock." Or, "He was the head of state, the symbol of the country. It was his duty to fight," Abu Yasser said. "Frankly, he let us down." Is this simply the voice of Arab culture which celebrates bravery to death over survival instincts (however temporary the survival may be) or the voice of an invaded and occupied Iraq chafing at the personification of Iraq not doing Iraq proud. In short, are their comments about Saddam the man or Saddam the symbol. The latter is troubling question for the hearts, minds, and success of Iraq.

Next, a couple of articles on the squabbling among the Democratic presidential candidates which put neither reporters nor the non-Dean campaigns in a good light if you ask me (and the point of the entire article is to cast the Dean campaign in a poor light, leaving no victors at the end of the article). First, a classic journalistic work, seize on one key word or phrase and build your own paraphrase around the surrounding context. The resulting impression created is of a campaign which says one thing and later clarifies or alters its stance. Unfortunately for accuracy in reporting, the clarification is often embedded in the surrounding context of those key words and phrases (don't believe me? Look up the text for Dean's recent comment that the US isn't any safer with Saddam in custody from his foreign policy address Monday. Suddenly the clap line isn't incendiary or head in the sand at all. I'd dig out a link for my reader(s), but I'm practicing being a reporter at the moment). Of a sort with this type of crappy reporting is the general Democratic assault on Dean since Saddam's capture. Now, Michael Dukakis probably wasn't going to win the White House regardless of what August polls indicated. But Willie Horton was a powerful message ensuring that he lost. And Willie Horton was discovered by Al Gore during the primary campaign. Relevance? The sudden bout of attacks on Dean arguing he is dangerous to American security, weak on terrorism, etc. Serious charges- serious charges a fellow Democrat shouldn't lob unless he seriously believes them. Believes to the extent he could not support such policies and such a candidate in a general election or governing sense. Terry Neal grasps their tone appropriately- "But Dean's opponents have made his opposition to the war nearly the equal of sedition." True or not, accurate or not, plant the sedition seed early and watch it rage out of control, burning the entire Democratic apparatus in the process. Like a little kid with matches.

Finally, the Bush administration's alleged deficit reduction planning. The plan? To halve the half trillion dollar deficit in 5 years (meaning the current accounts will be 50% closer to balance 5 years from now while the debt has increased by $1.5 to $2 trillion in the meantime) through the use of standard budget balancing tools- controlling expenditure growth and cutting revenues. Yep, making expiring tax cuts permanent is somehow part of the "solution." What's the problem we're trying to solve again?

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