Subject: Reporters Are Idiots, Experts Say
Re: " Press Box: This Is Your Newspaper on Vacation"
From: Felix Salmon
Date: Tue Aug 22 8:09 a.m. PT
Jack Shafer is dead-on about the New York Times lack of evidence for cocaine's white-collar resurgence. But he misses the best (worst) bit about the Times article—this classic sentence: "It is too hard to binge because cocaine cannot be bought on street corners 24 hours a day, seven days a week, experts say." The final two words are just the icing on the cake.
A Fray poster writes: "Selling my vote may be illegal, or so the Supreme Court says, but if someone wants to lobby me, I'm having a dinner party at $10,000 per plate."
This begs the question: Would it pass legal muster if the voter offered to sell merely his attention to some politician's free speech, rather than his vote itself? This is the theory by which campaign contributions are not held to be bribery—there is supposedly no quid pro quo that the politician will change his vote to favor the contributor, thus the contributor is given nothing but access and a hearing in exchange for the money. Why can't a voter make the same claim? "Of course I didn't vote for Smith simply because his campaign credited my account for $50. That money merely convinced me to scroll through Smith's informative Web site, where I found arguments so compelling I could not but vote for him. That auction I held to get to the figure of $50? Well, my time is limited, and I can't waste it scrolling through everyone's Web sites. My time is certainly worth more than the $10 the Vegetarian Party offered me."
Subject: Gore—Watergate Baby in More Ways Than One
Re: " Chatterbox: The Gores, the Bushes, and Watergate"
From: J. E. Britt
Date: Wed Aug 23 9:33 a.m. PT
Interesting historical trivia. However, it's unlikely Gore intended anything so subtle in his acceptance address as a reference to a rather obscure aspect of the Watergate scandal. It is in fact unlikely that Gore would ever do anything to initiate a discussion of any subject having to do with campaign-finance improprieties.
It is more likely that Gore was trying to do what almost all Democrats do when they speak about the disappointments of the 1960s—blame them on Richard Nixon. That Democrats had an iron grip on all branches of the federal government for almost the whole decade, were almost entirely responsible for miring America in Vietnam, and dominated not only the civil rights movement but also the Southern resistance to it, are all facts modern Democrats would have great difficulty weaving into partisan campaign speeches. Hence Gore's Watergate reference, which made political sense but sounds so odd historically. Not just because Watergate happened well after the 1960s ended but also because the backlash against the Republicans from 1974 on was of great assistance to the political careers of many Democrats, including Al Gore.
The moral of the story? If we could see our lives in 13 episodes, like Survivor, and were asked at the end what we would've done differently, would any of us say, "I'd be more like Rich!" Or if we are a Richard, would we really look at it and feel proud, and proclaim, "I have no regrets." Even though I know there are guys like Rich out there, winning the rat race, I refuse to join that game. Rather, I want to get ahead honestly, but I want to undermine the Riches of this world at every opportunity I get, by exposing them, by being honest, by working harder, working smarter, and by being truly compassionate. I don't have the benefit of being able to watch on a TV show how my choices will pan out, but I hope to God that at the end of my life I don't look back and wish I had been just like Rich.