kf Essay Question: Rep. John Murtha is quoted in this week's Newsweek saying that if Bush II had invited him to the White House and let him air his views the way Bush I did, his high-profile call for rapid redeployment in Iraq could have been avoided.
"If they'd talked to me, it wouldn't have happened."
In 1995, Newt Gingrich publicly suggested he wouldn't have provoked a government shutdown if he hadn't been made to use the rear door of President Clinton's plane. Gingrich was widely denounced as a petty crybaby. How is what Murtha told Newsweek any different? Murtha says he thinks the nation is on a disastrous course in the Iraq War. Would he really not have spoken out if he'd been "talked to" and buttered up with access? (Murtha explicitly notes that Bush I didn't necessarily take the advice of his White House guests. He was just courteous enough to invite them and "listen to" them.")
Is Murtha a dissenter or just dissed? Discuss.
Update: Reader M. says I'm conflating "Gingrich's desire for status with Murtha's desire for input." But if the current President Bush had heard Murtha out, but then ignored him, would Murtha really have refrained from going public even though, in his view, " [t]he future of our country is at risk" and our soldiers are dying for a "flawed policy wrapped in illusion"? Refraining from dissent in order to maintain a possible future channel of "input" (an old Washington tradeoff) is different from getting bought off by mere trappings of status. But if the issue is war and peace it may not be a more moral choice. And the more the "input" in question involves ego-enhancing trappings (e.g. White House visits) and the charade of "access" rather than actual influence, the less moral it becomes, and the more it approaches the Gingrichian gold standard of pettiness. [I thought you were going to say, "in D.C., 'input' is status."--ed I was! But Murtha doesn't seem like the type who'd dine out on 'as I was telling the President' stories.] 3:19 A.M. link
A Golden Future at NYT? Ken Auletta's piece is a marker that New York publishing CW is entertaining the notion that NYT publisher "Pinch" Sulzberger may go. The Gay Talese quote ("You get a bad king every once in a while") helps. The stock chart is brutal, though not as brutal as the Boston Herald. Still, New York publishing CW thought that Clinton was a goner in 1998 and that Bush was a goner in 2004. It's like the Note on drugs! A cool-headed outsider perspective suggests that at least one more anti-Pinch tidbit or scandal will be required for the Class B shareholders to end their family nightmare. Or at least start a new chapter. ...[Conflict: Auletta's wife is my agent too!] 6:00 P.M.
Stenchblog Update: I still find mystery-stench stories disturbing, even when the stench is sweet. Someone (a mindermast!) could be trying out a delivery mechanism. That's why it's not all that reassuring when, as on Thursday, "nothing dangerous" is found in the air. ... 9:57 P.M.
Guilt-Trip, Incoming! I'm highly skeptical that a movie about gay cowhands, however good, will find a large mainstream audience. I'll go see it, but I don't want to go see it. (Why? Sexual orientation really is in the genes. Sorry.) When the film's national box office fails to live up to its hype and to the record attendance at a few early screenings, prepare to be subjected to a tedious round of guilt-tripping and chin-scratching by Frank Rich and every metropolitan daily entertainment writer who yearns to write about What the Movies Say About America Today. (Wild guess: They say we're still homophobic!) That will be harder to ignore than the movie. ... Maybe if we all go see it, Rich won't write about it! [He'll write about it-ed Good point.] 9:15 P.M.
How Stuff Works: Sculpting the news! The printed graphic sidebar to the LAT's front-page, most e-mailed piece on the Bugatti Veyron supercar features this technical tidbit: