Gaffe of the Year
Plus--Radar's blind spot.
Hmm. ... First, do we really think immigration "garnered more talk in Washington" the day after the state of the union than Bush's new health care and energy proposals--or is it just the issue Russert wanted to bring up? Why the BS artifice? ... More important, why would the Democrats want to make sure the bill is "not a Democratic bill"? The obvious answer is that the bill is potentially unpopular--maybe even among Democratic voters--and Democratic legislators are scared of taking responsibility for it themselves. They want Republicans to share the blame. ... Doesn't this suggest that a "comprehensive immigration bill" might not be so easy to pass? ... Can you imgaine Dems being similarly skittish about passing, say, a minimum wage hike with only Democratic votes? No. Because voters actually want a minimum wage increase. ...
P.S.: If passing a "comprehensive" (i.e. semi-amnesty) immigration bill is the key to winning the burgeoning Latino vote of the future, as pro-"comprehensive" advocates in both parties claim, why wouldn't the Dems want sole credit? One answer: They are thinking short term, not long term. Another answer: They can think short term because they know millions of new Latino immigrant voters will tend to be Democrats no matter who gets credit for passing an immigration bill in 2007. ... 8:10 P.M. link
Half-defense: I don't quite understand why it's offensive to call Sen. Obama a "halfrican." It's a useful word! It efficiently describes a real phenomenon. It isn't, on its face, pejorative--and even if it were, it wouldn't be pejorative for long if it were simply used descriptively to mean people with one parent from Africa. ... Update: A reader emails to point out the word is distressingly close to "half-breed." That does seem like a hard connotation to shake. ...5:38 P.M. link
Calame: From Laughingstock to Menace! It's bad enough that NYT ombudsman Byron Calame is so embarrassingly, life-sappingly pedanticthat he may have convinced the paper to abolish his position. Now he's doing actual damage to the public dialogue, preventing knowledgeable Times reporters from expressing their views on issues within their areas of expertise. It seems Michael Gordon, author of the highly critical Iraq War history Cobra II, was asked on Charlie Rose his opinion of the "surge." Gordon responded:
"So I think, you know, as a purely personal view, I think it's worth it [sic] one last effort for sure to try to get this right, because my personal view is we've never really tried to win. We've simply been managing our way to defeat. And I think that if it's done right, I think that there is the chance to accomplish something."
Too hot for Charlie Rose! Calame "raised reader concerns about Mr. Gordon's voicing of personal opinions with top editors" of the Times, with the result that Gordon was dressed down by his bureau chief and forced into a ritual self-criticism, admitting "his comments on the show went too far." ... Three obvious points:
1) Would Gordon have been smacked down if he hadn't heretically supported the surge? Is the Times now like a leftish web site where Kos-like readers take down any discordant comments?
2) Does anyone think that just because Gordon is forbidden from voicing his views that he won't have those views? Isn't it better if they're out in the open, where readers can see and judge them? Calame and the Times censors are enforcing appearance over substance; and
3) Isn't it good for democracy if citizens hear the moral conclusions of highly experienced reporters like Gordon? It's one thing to report on what's happening in the surge. It's another to try to figure out its chances of success and whether the likely consequences are worth the likely cost. They're both important calculations. If Gordon's done both, don't you, as a citizen, want to hear both results of both before Congress votes on the issue? "Should we do the surge" is certainly about the first question you'd ask Gordon if you ran into him on the street. Do Times editors really think their readers can't handle an answer?
[Thanks to reader D.S.]4:57 P.M. link
Don't Cook Tonight ... : In 1969, as a senior in high school, I worked briefly as a delivery boy at the Beverly Hills franchise of Chicken Delight. We wore white dress shirts and bow ties with the word "Chicken" down one tassel and "Delight" down the other. Most famous client: Burt Bacharach! The boss was a grouchy/lovable character who--according to possibly apocryphal legend--would occasionally pick up the phone and, instead of answering "Chicken Delight, may I help you," say "Chicken Delight, fuck you!"... Anyway, one of my coworkers was a high school classmate, Paul Diamond, who (this being Beverly Hills) made a movie of the experience--The Chicken Chronicles. This "lost classic" receives a rare screening on Showtime in the coveted time slot of 6:30 A.M. Eastern Time, Thursday morning, Feb. 1. Phil Silvers plays the boss. I remember brilliant social commentary during a chase scene through pretentious Beverly Hills back yards. The film also launched the career of Steve Guttenberg. ... 4:16 P.M.
Monday, January 29, 2007
How Is Chuck Hagel Brave? Why, exactly, is Sen. Chuck Hagel showing "courage" in conspicuously denouncing the Iraq War now that virtually the entire American establishment has reached that same conclusion--now that Hagel is virtually assured of getting hero treatment from Brian Williams and Tim Russert and long favorable profiles in the newsweeklies? .
Photograph of Ann Coulter on Slate's home page by Brad Barket/Getty. Photograph of a wedding cake with two grooms on Slate's home page by Hector Mata/AFP Photo. Photograph of Princess Diana on Slate's home page by Georges De Keerle/Getty Images.