Posts from November 2003

Let’s play wack-a-meme

Let’s play wack-a-meme
: Following Bush’s trip to Iraq, Adam Nagourney in the NY Times quoted the Dean, Kerry, and Edwards camps using it as a limp launching pad for continued criticism of the Iraq war and then replayed this meme:

The trip came at a time of rising criticism of the president for not attending the funerals of the returning war dead. It also came in the same week that Mr. Bush met with families of 26 soldiers killed in Iraq, and thus appeared to be a concerted effort by the White House to deal with a political problem.

And so I was wondering how many other presidents attended funerals of soldiers killed in the line of duty.

Well, click and ye shall find: Donald Sensing links to John Cole, who links to this good homework from the History News Network:

Lyndon Baines Johnson: …attended two funerals for soldiers who died during the Vietnam War. The first funeral was for Captain Albert Smith, son of White House correspondent Merriman Smith, which was held February 28, 1966. The second was for Major General Keith R. Ware, held September 17, 1968. LBJ had met Ware while visiting Vietnam.

Richard Nixon does not appear to have attended the funerals of any soldiers killed in Vietnam….

Jimmy Carter: According to the New York Times, Jimmy Carter attended a memorial service for the soldiers killed in the failed rescue of America hostages in Iran in 1980.

Ronald Reagan attended memorial services on several occasions for American soldiers. In 1983 he attended a service at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, in connection with the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut, which cost the lives of 241 people. In 1987 he attended a service at Mayport Naval Station in Florida for the sailors killed on the USS Stark.

George H.W. Bush does not appear to have attended any funerals for American soldiers. (The NYT, citing Marlin Fitzwater as a source, indicated that the president did attend several such funerals. But no details were provided.)

Bill Clinton attended a service in October 2000 in memory of the 17 sailors killed in the attack on the USS Cole.

After the terrorist bombing the Murrah building in downtown Oklahoma City he publicly grieved with the families of the victims at an event that was regarded at the time as a turning point in his presidency.

So let’s wack that gopher back into its hole.

Cause and defect

Cause and defect
: A dose of CNN logic tonight: The anchor, Carol Lin, notes that after Bush left, someone was shot in Iraq and so she asks whether the visit was a provocation.

Right. If he hadn’t gone there, nobody would have been shot. The war would have been over. The natives and the foreigners would have sat down over turkey and corn and built a great nation. Jeesh.

: It gets worse. Now that same anchor is talking to the bureau chief from Al-Jazeera and she’s saying that because Bush didn’t go out “on the streets” to greet Iraqis it’s “being seen as downright rude.”

And Jon Hendren of the LA Times says Iraqis “just don’t understand” why Bush didn’t come out on the street. Which is his way of saying Iraqis are stupid, I suppose.

Read a few Iraqi blogs and you’ll find real Iraqis — not composites in correspondents’ imaginations — say something quite different.

: Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that Hillary Clinton, too, visited Iraq. But the Times manages to pooh-pooh both her visit and President’s Bush’s in one graph.

But while Dr. Khuzai found the visits useful, many Iraqis

Burchill’s parting shot

Burchill’s parting shot
: Julie Burchill is leaving the Guardian for the Times — but first, she had to take one shot at the Guardian and its causists. She takes on their anti-Israelism, aka anti-Semitism:

But if there is one issue that has made me feel less loyal to my newspaper over the past year, it has been what I, as a non-Jew, perceive to be a quite striking bias against the state of Israel. Which, for all its faults, is the only country in that barren region that you or I, or any feminist, atheist, homosexual or trade unionist, could bear to live under.

I find this hard to accept because, crucially, I don’t swallow the modern liberal line that anti-Zionism is entirely different from anti-semitism; the first good, the other bad….

If you take into account the theory that Jews are responsible for everything nasty in the history of the world, and also the recent EU survey that found 60% of Europeans believe Israel is the biggest threat to peace in the world today (hmm, I must have missed all those rabbis telling their flocks to go out with bombs strapped to their bodies and blow up the nearest mosque), it’s a short jump to reckoning that it was obviously a bloody good thing that the Nazis got rid of six million of the buggers….

She promises more next week. Can’t wait.

Against terror

Against terror
: The Telegraph covers the Bagdad demonstration against terror from London as does The Age from Australia. So does Iraqi blogger Omar from Baghdad; he marched. Even Iran Broadcasting does. Any American coverage? None that I can find yet. We’ll see.

Wack that mole

Wack that mole
: As I turned off my laptop last night to go to bed, I heard Howard Kurtz on CNN saying that it would have be seen whether the “deception was warranted” regarding the President’s trip to Iraq — bringing the predictions of the Ranting Profs in the post below to life.

Let’s wack this mole — let’s maul this meme — right now.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the White House keeping this trip secret for security reasons. There’s especially nothing wrong because reporters went and told us all about it.

But Kurtz and company are trying to start up a collective kvetch that will only make journalists look bad to a public this is wiser.

Here he is in the Washington Post today:

Although the White House lied to much of the press to conceal President Bush’s Thanksgiving visit to Baghdad, many journalists and analysts yesterday were willing to give the administration a pass.

Well, “lied” is a strong word. You can tell it grates Kurtz that he couldn’t find every journalist agreeing with his proposition. But he found some:

But Philip Taubman, Washington bureau chief of the New York Times, said that “in this day and age, there should have been a way to take more reporters. People are perfectly capable of maintaining a confidence for security reasons. It’s a bad precedent.” Once White House officials “decided to do a stealth trip, they bought into a whole series of things that are questionable.”

Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, criticized the White House correspondents who made the trip without spilling the secret. “That’s just not kosher,” he said. “Reporters are in the business of telling the truth. They can’t decide it’s okay to lie sometimes because it serves a larger truth or good cause.”

What a naive crock.

Reporters are forever being told things that are off the record. They can’t tell the full truth. They made a secret deal not to tell the full truth. They do it to get larger stories. That’s 101.

And in a time of war, details of missions and whereabouts are routinely kept secret. Ask Geraldo Rivera. When he didn’t follow that rule, he got booted from Iraq. That’s the 102-level course in war reporting.

And that’s pure common sense.

This is a nonstory, guys, and you should know that better than anyone. Mole, get the hell back in that hole.

: And on the political side, most of the Democratic candidates tried to snark about Iraq still. Only Clark’s side had the sensible response:

Matt Bennett, the communications director for Gen. Wesley K. Clark, said: “We’re not going to throw stones at the guy for trying to do a nice thing for the troops. When the president goes and spends time with the troops, that’s a good thing.”

Covering the Bush Thanksgiving mission

Covering the Bush Thanksgiving mission
: The Independent put this headline on it: “The Turkey Has Landed.”

: The Guardian seems to have ignored it on their home page.

: The BBC tried to find a dark lining to this silver cloud, below.

: The Ranting Profs say this regarding media coverage:

when the subject comes up (and it will) as to whether this was a PR stunt, consider that it was an awful lot of trouble to go to for a stunt that would be covered by the B, C, or D team on every network, when one cable network isn’t even staffed, on what has to be the worst watched news night in American family life of the year with the exceptions of Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Years Eve. And then look at the tears welling up in the man’s eyes and tell me you think this was a cynical ploy, even if you think everything else he has done in Iraq has been a terrible mistake.

” The Profs also predict that some will try to stir up a stink about the White House telling the press a lie to make this event happen. Tough noogies, I say. Security was everything. The press was on the trip. Wack that gopher.

: And in the San Francisco Chronic, Mark Morford wrote this turkey before the President’s trip:

Be thankful that you do not have to suffer Dubya’s massive crushing karmic burden, as wrought by inflicting heaps of environmental disaster and vicious unnecessary war and a stunning string of lies lies lies like a firehose of giblet gravy splattered all over the planet.

For it really is all too plain: G.W. Bush is one of the most reviled and openly disrespected major world leaders in modern history. America has never been so embarrassed and reluctant to send a president abroad. We cringe when the man takes the stage.

My, what bad timing you have, you twit.

Thankful

Thankful
: George Bush’s words thanking our troops in Iraq:

I bring a message on behalf of America: we thank you for your service, we’re proud of you, and America stands solidly behind you. (Applause.) Together, you and I have taken an oath to defend our country. You’re honoring that oath. The United States military is doing a fantastic job. (Applause.) You are defeating the terrorists here in Iraq, so that we don’t have to face them in our own country. You’re defeating Saddam’s henchmen, so that the people of Iraq can live in peace and freedom.

By helping the Iraqi people become free, you’re helping change a troubled and violent part of the world. By helping to build a peaceful and democratic country in the heart of the Middle East, you are defending the American people from danger and we are grateful. (Applause.)

You’re engaged in a difficult mission. Those who attack our coalition forces and kill innocent Iraqis are testing our will. They hope we will run. We did not charge hundreds of miles into the heart of Iraq, pay a bitter cost in casualties, defeat a brutal dictator and liberate 25 million people only to retreat before a band of thugs and assassins. (Applause.)

We will prevail. We will win because our cause is just. We will win because we will stay on the offensive. And we will win because you’re part of the finest military ever assembled. (Applause.) And we will prevail because the Iraqis want their freedom. (Applause.) …

(Applause)

: He’s not the only person who’s thankful today. On the occasion of the Muslim holiday Eid (aka Id), he also has words of thanks:

This is the first id after Saddam’s gone. I

The electric revolution

The electric revolution
: Winds of Change says that tomrrow it will Hungarian Ambassador Andras Simonyi’s speech at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland (“Rocking for the Free World: How Rock Music Helped to Bring Down the Iron Curtain”) as a guest post.