This week in Journamalism
Some tasty morsels from this week in Journamalism.
We open with a warning to the usually reliable Financial Times:
Financial Times! Kristol and Kagan sent, and you published:
FT.com / Comment & analysis / Comment - Bush must call for reinforcements in Iraq: By Robert Kagan and William Kristol: President George W. Bush has just over two years left in office. The central question facing him is: what kind of Iraq will he bequeath to his successor? Will it be a metastasising mess dumped on the doorstep of the next president, or an Iraq on the path to stability and success? The answer will determine how this president should be remembered by future generations.
There are, of course, other grave issues that will consume the Bush administration over the next two years: the continuing need to defend Americans from terrorist threats; Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons; containment and weakening of a nuclear-armed North Korea; an increasingly belligerent Russia; and manifold challenges presented by a rising China. But the fact remains that Mr Bush (correctly, in our view) took the nation to war to remove Saddam Hussein, and the success or failure of that war will be central to his legacy.
The trajectory is downward towards failure. Indeed, this has been the case for more than three years, ever since Pentagon officials decided to put far too few troops in Iraq...
At that point, Financial Times, you should have pressed the "delete" key. You do your readers no good service by printing the writings of people who pretend to think that it was "Pentagon officials" who decided to put far too few troops in Iraq. It was Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld who decided to do so.
Your advantage, Financial Times, is that you rarely publish outright lies. Guard that advantage carefully.
We continue with Matthew Yglesias vainly begging Amy Goldstein and Lyndsey Layton to please do some accurate reporting:
Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: Washington Post takes a look at the Democratic agenda.
The necessity of some GOP votes, combined with the austere fiscal climate, has influenced how Democrats plan to proceed in their first weeks. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the next speaker of the House, has said that one of the first domestic issues she will bring up will be an increase in the minimum wage by $2.10 per hour, to $7.25. The cost of that would largely be borne by private employers, not the government. President Bush has supported similar proposals, said Dana Perino, a White House spokeswoman.
No doubt Dana Perino did say that, but it's not, you know, true. The "similar" proposals Bush has supported are "compromises" that involve combining small increases in the minimum wage with giant tax cuts for rich people.
We find Kevin Drum doing some intellectual garbage cleanup as the Washington Post messes itself once again:
The Washington Monthly: RELIGIOUS VOTERS.... Why do I keep writing about the exit polls? Because of stories like this from the Washington Post's Alan Cooperman:
Religious liberals contended that a concerted effort by Democrats since 2004 to appeal to people of faith had worked minor wonders, if not electoral miracles, in races across the country.
....Democrats recaptured the Catholic vote they had lost two years ago. They sliced the GOP's advantage among weekly churchgoers to 12 percentage points, down from 18 points in 2004.
....In House races in 2004, 74 percent of white evangelicals voted for Republicans and 25 percent for Democrats, a 49-point spread, according to exit polls. This year, Republicans received 70 percent of the white evangelical vote and Democrats got 28 percent, a 42-point spread.
Once more with feeling: in the the overall national vote, Democrats picked up 5 percentage points compared to 2004. Among Catholics they picked up 6 points. Among weekly churchgoers they picked up 3 points. Among white evangelicals they picked up 3 points....
Nationally, turnout among religious voters was as high as it was in 2004, and their shift toward Democrats was either the same or a bit less than the overall national shift. I'd love to be able to say that Democrats made some disproportionate inroads in this group, since it's such an important part of the GOP base, but they didn't. People need to quit saying it.
And a notable act of past journamalism from last March causes Glenn Greenwald to get mediaeval--nay, to get neolithic--on the New Republic:
Unclaimed Territory - by Glenn Greenwald: Why the Beltway class can't comprehend the Russ Feingolds of the world: UPDATE: One of the best/worst examples of this emptiness comes, unsurprisingly, from The New Republic, courtesy of Ryan Lizza, who chortled at the political stupidity of Feingold's censure resolution but -- of course -- knew exactly why Feingold was doing it (h/t Michael):
Feingold is mystified by the reaction. Democrats, he said this week, are "cowering with this president's numbers so low." The liberal blogosphere, aghast at how wimpy Democrats are being, has risen up in a chorus of outrage....
The nature of the split is obvious. Feingold is thinking about 2008. Harry Reid, Charles Schumer, and other Democrats are thinking about 2006. Feingold cares about wooing the anti-Bush donor base on the web and putting some of his '08 rivals--Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and Evan Bayh--in uncomfortable positions. Reid and Schumer care about winning the six seats it will take for Democrats to win control of the Senate . . . .
So the partisans on the left cheering Feingold appear to have both the policy and the politics wrong. Censure is meaningless. Changing the FISA law is the way to address Bush's overreach. And the only way for Democrats to change FISA is for them to take back the Senate. This week, Feingold's censure petition has made that goal just a little bit more difficult to achieve. What an ass.
So knowing and sophisticated. So wise and insightful to the hard-core political realities. Always above the lowly impassioned masses and their misguided, simplistic notions (such as the belief that there should be consequences for presidential lawbreaking -- how excitable and stupid that is). TNR is always so cleverly restrained and calculating.... And all of that is to say nothing about the complete incoherence of Lizza's "argument." How could "changing FISA"... possibly be a solution to the president's lawbreaking when the whole point is that the President claims he has no obligation to comply with FISA...? Censure was the only way (short of impeachment) for Congress to... express its objections to the President's lawbreaking. "Changing FISA" was... a complete non-sequitur.... But to Lizza, that's the more moderate, passionless and less disruptive course. Therefore, by definition, it's the best one...
Eric Boehlert watches the insanity:
Media Matters - The Karl Rove crush: by Eric Boehlert:
"If I were them [Democrats], I'd be scared to death about November's elections." -- Mark Halperin, director of ABC News' political unit, June 22, 2006
My favorite article from the just-completed campaign season appeared in the October 9 issue of Time, in which Mike Allen and James Carney wrote a detailed piece about why Republicans were not worried about the upcoming elections. "The G.O.P.'s Secret Weapon," read the bold headline. "You think the Republicans are sure to lose big in November? They aren't. Here's why things don't look so bad to them," read the subhead.
The article went on and on about how an "eerie, Zen-like calm" had fallen over GOP operatives who, despite a mountain of public polling data, did not fear big election losses. In fact, they coolly insisted their own prospects were "getting better by the day."... Time ended on this chipper note: "As long as they [Republicans] end up keeping control of both houses, they still come out the winner on Election Day."...
[T]he tone of the Time piece -- the working assumption that Republicans would naturally find a way to outsmart Democrats -- was startling.... Bush at the time stood as the most unpopular second-term president in modern history... had spent the previous 18 months careening between a series of political debacles (Social Security, Katrina, immigration, port security, Iraq).... Bush's presidency was in shambles (think Jimmy Carter, circa 1979), yet Time eagerly passed along the transparent spin about how Republican chances were "getting better by the day." Those kinds of simplistic campaign talking points worked wonders with right-wing bloggers and radio talk show hosts who excitedly repeated them as a way to calm their nerves during the campaign homestretch. But Time?
Sure enough, its 1,500-word article did not quote a single Democratic or independent source. It was, in the most literal sense, transparent RNC spin....
[T]he GOP's-sitting-pretty angle became something of an obsession for Time's Allen... October efforts such as "Why The Democratic Wave Could Be A Washout" and "Why Some Top Republicans Think They May Still Have the Last Laugh"... Allen's November 2... "Upset in Michigan?" which hyped the Republican-friendly theory that its candidate there had a chance of knocking off incumbent Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow.... no polling data... no quotes from any Democratic or independent observers. The entire Michigan item consisted of quotes from Republicans insisting their guy really, really had a shot....
Rove gave his first, exclusive post-election interview to Time's Allen, who continued to treat his key White House source very gently...