This has been a particularly loopy day for the media. I learned, to my amazement, that
Hillary Clinton has breasts the Washington Post has the journalistic standards of a dung beetle:
"There was cleavage on display Wednesday afternoon on C-SPAN2. It belonged to Sen. Hillary Clinton.
She was talking on the Senate floor about the burdensome cost of higher education. She was wearing a rose-colored blazer over a black top. The neckline sat low on her chest and had a subtle V-shape. The cleavage registered after only a quick glance. No scrunch-faced scrutiny was necessary. There wasn't an unseemly amount of cleavage showing, but there it was. Undeniable. (...)
The cleavage, however, is an exceptional kind of flourish. After all, it's not a matter of what she's wearing but rather what's being revealed. It's tempting to say that the cleavage stirs the same kind of discomfort that might be churned up after spotting Rudy Giuliani with his shirt unbuttoned just a smidge too far. No one wants to see that. But really, it was more like catching a man with his fly unzipped. Just look away!"
So, O wise reporter, when your inner daemon wisely told you to look away, why didn't you? Inquiring minds are much more curious about that than they are about the fact that, you know, sometimes women's shirts show their cleavage, unless, of course, they show up for Senate debates in a chador, or perhaps clad from head to toe in chain mail. Given the wandering eyes and misfiring neurons of Post reporters, that might not be such a bad idea.
I'm curious, though: when are we going to see this kind of stories about men? I can see it now:
"There were testicles on display in the Senate office building today.
John McCain looked relaxed in his cream-colored linen summer suit as he outlined his new proposal for K-12 education. But there, unmistakably visible beneath his crisp tailored trousers, were the telltale bumps."
"Presidential candidates normally take care with their underwear. Get it right and the pride of a candidate's manhood will remain neatly centered, visible, if at all, as a discreet, masculine bulge; get it wrong and his manly appointments will fall into one of his pants legs, giving him a peculiar, lopsided appearance.
Somebody get the word to Mitt Romney."
I can hardly wait, she lied.
Then there's the AP story on Barack Obama...
The interviewer apparently asked Obama whether he would keep troops in Iraq to prevent a genocide. Here's his reply:
""Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces, then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now — where millions have been slaughtered as a consequence of ethnic strife — which we haven't done," Obama said in an interview with The Associated Press.
"We would be deploying unilaterally and occupying the Sudan, which we haven't done. Those of us who care about Darfur don't think it would be a good idea," he said.
Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois, said it's likely there would be increased bloodshed if U.S. forces left Iraq.
"Nobody is proposing we leave precipitously. There are still going to be U.S. forces in the region that could intercede, with an international force, on an emergency basis," Obama said between stops on the first of two days scheduled on the New Hampshire campaign trail. "There's no doubt there are risks of increased bloodshed in Iraq without a continuing U.S. presence there."
The greater risk is staying in Iraq, Obama said.
"It is my assessment that those risks are even greater if we continue to occupy Iraq and serve as a magnet for not only terrorist activity but also irresponsible behavior by Iraqi factions," he said."
As I see it, Obama is making two main points: (1) we do not, in fact, consistently deploy troops wherever a genocide threatens, and (2) the risks of bloodshed will be greater if we stay in Iraq than if we leave. I can think of a number of headlines that would accurately convey these points. This, however, is not one of them:
"Obama: Don't stay in Iraq over genocide"
I can see a whole bunch of future headlines that use this same tactic:
Edwards: Leave Iraq Even If More Troops Must Die
Clinton: Avoiding US Financial Ruin Not Good Reason To Stay In Iraq
Richardson: Iraq Withdrawal Trumps Soldiers' Sanity, Broken Army
Biden: I Wouldn't Start Smoking Crack Even To Cure Addiction
Dodd: I'd Love To Play In NBA, But Not Enough To Cut Off My Legs!
Invading China For No Good Reason Too High A Price To Pay For Heaven On Earth, Perpetual Peace, And Ponies For All, Say Dems
The only bright spots I can see are all, oddly enough, former sportswriters. First, there's Charles Pierce on the subject of an idiotic column by the normally good Marc Ambinder. Ambinder was discussing the stupid Edwards haircut story, and wrote: "There is a difference in the political reality: fairly or unfairly, a healthy chunk of the national political press corps doesn't like John Edwards. Fairly or unfairly, there's also a difference in narrative timing: when the first quarter ended, the press was trying to bury Edwards. It's not so much interested in burying Romney right now -- many reporters think he's the Republican frontrunner." Pierce's response:
"OK, here's the deal. Every member of that "healthy chunk" of the press corps should be fired. Today. This minute. Without pay or recompense. Let them all walk back inside the Beltway from Cedar Rapids if they have to. I value what I do. I value the work of the people in my business who do it correctly. But, holy mother of god, these people do not do what I do. It's OK to sneer at a candidate if you don't like him? It's OK to create a destructive narrative out of unmitigated piffle because he doesn't kiss your ass with the regularity you think you deserve, or because his press buses don't run on time, or because one of his staffers was late with the Danish in Keene? I watched a roomful of them boo Al Gore seven years ago, behavior that would have gotten them run out of any press box in the major leagues. Do you think one of these jamokes -- or jamokettes -- is thinking, "Maybe we should lay off the haircut thing because of what we all did to Gore in 2000, and look how well that worked out." Please.
Here's what I think -- the majority of people who cover national politics believe that history is whatever happened in the MSNBC Green Room 15 minutes earlier. I believe the campaign is covered by people with a completely unjustified sense of their own superiority, since not many of them understand or ever care about most of the issues, much less the horrendous bills that are going to come due upon whichever of these poor sods winds up with the job. I believe these people care more about their reputation around the bar at the Wayfarer in Manchester than they do about the interests of the people they purportedly serve. And, were I an editor, and someone brought me a story about John Edwards' hair or Mitt Romney's skin, that person would do it once. The second time, the lazy bastard would find himself typing bowling agate on Wednesday night."
Charles Pierce: will you marry me?
And then there's Keith Olbermann. This is from his special comment last night, on the topic of the letter to Hillary Clinton in which an Undersecretary of Defense said that "Premature and public discussion of the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq reinforces enemy propaganda that the United States will abandon its allies in Iraq, much as we are perceived to have done in Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia." Olbermann's response focusses on Bush:
"The selection of the wrong war, in the wrong time, in the wrong place — the most disastrous a geo-political tactic since Austria-Hungary attacked Serbia in 1914 and destroyed itself in the process — that had nothing to do with the overwhelming crisis Iraq has become — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.
The criminal lack of planning for the war — the total “jump-off-a-bridge-and-hope-you-can-fly” tone to the failure to anticipate what would follow the deposing of Saddam Hussein — that had nothing to do with the chaos in which Iraq has been enveloped — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.
The utter, blinkered idiocy of “staying the course” — of sending Americans to Iraq, and sending them a second time, and a third, and a fourth, until they get killed or maimed — the utter de-prioritization of human life, simply so a politician can avoid having to admit a mistake — that had nothing to do with the tens of thousand individual tragedies darkening the lives of American families, forever — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault.
The continuing, relentless, remorseless, corrupt and cynical insistence that this conflict somehow is defeating, or containing, or just engaging the people who attacked us on 9/11 — the total “Alice Through The Looking Glass” quality that ignores that in Iraq, we have made the world safer for Al-Qaeda — it isn’t Mr. Bush’s fault!
The fault, brought down — as if a sermon from this mount of hypocrisy and slaughter, by a nearly anonymous Under-Secretary of Defense — the fault has tonight been laid on the doorstep of Senator Hillary Clinton and, by extension, at the doorstep of every American — the now vast majority of us — who have dared to criticize this war, or protest it, or merely ask questions about it, or simply, plaintively, innocently, honestly, plead, “don’t take my son; don’t take my daughter.”"
And he has a suggestion for the President:
"When Civil War General Ambrose Burnside ordered a disastrous attack on Fredericksburg in which 12,000 of his men were killed, he had to be physically restrained from leading the next charge himself.
After the First Lord of the British Admiralty, Winston Churchill, authored and enabled the disastrous Gallipoli campaign that saw a quarter million Allied Soldiers cut down in the First World War, Churchill resigned his office and took a commission as a front-line officer in the trenches of France.
Those are your new role models, Mr. Bush.
Let your minions try to spread the blame to the real patriots here, who have sought only to undo the horrors you have wrought since 2002.
Let them try it, until the end of time.
Though the words might be erased from a million books and a billion memories, though the world be covered knee-deep in your lies, the truth shall prevail.
This, sir, is your war.
Senator Clinton has reinforced enemy propaganda? Made it impossible for you to get your ego-driven, blood-steeped win in Iraq?
Then take it into your own hands, Mr. Bush.
Go to Baghdad now and fulfill, finally, your military service obligations.
Go there and fight, your war…yourself."
I only wish -- at least, if we get to send Cheney there with him.