Newsweek's Jon Meacham argues that Dick Cheney should run for president in 2012. There's so much wrong with Meacham's thinking, it's hard to know where to start. But let's try the beginning:
I think we should be taking the possibility of a Dick Cheney bid for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012 more seriously, for a run would be good for the Republicans and good for the country. (The sound you just heard in the background was liberal readers spitting out their lattes.)
Really? We're still on this liberals-drink-lattes crap? Yawn.
Back to Meacham:
Why? Because Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people.
Right there, in his third sentence, Jon Meacham gave away his little game: He seeks to suggest that there is currently "ambiguity" about the will of the people. That two straight elections in which the Democrats kicked the Republicans' butts -- so much so that Barack Obama carried Indiana and North Carolina -- were somehow ambiguous and don't count. That Barack Obama isn't really a legitimate president, because he didn't have to defeat Dick Cheney to get the job.
This is stupid and dangerous.
The best way to settle arguments is by having what we used to call full and frank exchanges about the issues, and then voting.
A) Not really and B) We've actually had a few of those voting things recently, despite what Meacham seems to think. And we'll have a few more in the future, with or without Dick Cheney.
One of the problems with governance since the election of Bill Clinton has been the resolute refusal of the opposition party (the GOP from 1993 to 2001, the Democrats from 2001 to 2009, and now the GOP again in the Obama years) to concede that the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to take the country in a given direction.
Right. I remember the Democrats being so convinced that President Bush wasn't legitimate and didn't have a mandate that they filibustered his 2001 tax cuts (which were significantly larger than those he campaigned on) and his education bill and tried to impeach him as soon as they got the opportunity and ... Oh. Wait. Never mind. That didn't happen. None of it did. Jon Meacham's both-sides-are-guilty paint-by-numbers approach to column-writing is nothing but a lie.
Also: Meacham's complaints about "the opposition party" refusing to concede that "the president, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate" to govern are a little odd coming so soon after Meacham refused to concede that President Obama, by virtue of his victory, has a mandate to govern.
A Cheney victory would mean that America preferred a vigorous unilateralism to President Obama's unapologetic multilateralism, and vice versa.
Well, no, that isn't really what elections mean. And if it was ... Well, again, we just had two straight elections in which the results were pretty damn unambiguous, no matter how badly Meacham wants to pretend otherwise.
Back to Meacham (skipping ahead a bit):
A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way. As John McCain pointed out in the fall of 2008, he is not Bush. Nor is Cheney, but the former vice president would make the case for the harder-line elements of the Bush world view.
Well, actually, the direct way to "adjudicate" the George W. Bush years would be to, you know, put people on trial for crimes they committed during those years. An election eight years after the fact is an awfully indirect way to adjudicate anything.
Anyway, here's the basic problem: Meacham simultaneously downplays the importance of elections in determining the will of the people (by pretending that the "thumpin'" Bush took in 2006 and Barack Obama's convincing 2008 victory were meaningless) and overstates it (by pretending that the Obama-Cheney Steel Cage Death Match of his schoolboy dreams would forever remove any ambiguity.)
There is, then one impressive thing about Meacham's column: He manages to be completely wrong in two opposite directions simultaneously.
Maybe you thought the crazy Birthers over at WorldNetDaily had given up on their nutty campaign to prove that Barack Obama isn't really president, or whatever it is they're after, and dedicated their full attention to peddling silly get-rich-quick schemes. Nope:
Yeah, uh ... Good luck with that, fellas.
Last week, Washington Post reporter Perry Bacon suggested GOP Sen. George Voinovich would vote against health care reform because he is a "strong fiscal conservative." As I noted at the time, that's an odd use of the label "fiscal conservative," given that health care reform would, according to the Congressional Budget Office, reduce the deficit.
Well, today, a Post reader asked Bacon about that:
I didn't understand you last week: Perry, in last week's chat there was a strange back-and-forth & wondered if you might clarify it for us today? Here goes:
"Arlington, VA: Of all the Senators, only Voinowich of Ohio, a Republican, did not vote. As he voted on other legislation that day, could the non-vote indicate that he might be supportive of the health care bill?
Perry Bacon Jr.: I'm pretty sure he will be a no, he's retiring, but known as a strong fiscal conservative."
But the CBO says the Senate health care bill would actually - reduce - the deficit, so why does being a "strong fiscal conservative" make Voinovich likely to vote - against - legislation that would reduce the deficit.
Do you really think a strong "fiscal conservative" has any business voting against deficit-reducing health care reform measures?
washingtonpost.com: Post Politics: Senate brings health-care bill to floor
Perry Bacon Jr.: I suspect Voinovich will say the bill costs almost $1 trillion a year* and shouldn't be passed. This is the GOP view of the bill. I will let everyone define fiscal conservative on their own.
Oh, come on. Perry Bacon introduced the phrase "fiscal conservative" to the discussion, offering it up as a reason why someone would vote against the bill. And now he says everyone can define it for themselves? What an absurd cop-out.
Bacon owns the phrase. He should tell us what he meant by it, and explain why fiscal conservatives oppose things that reduce the deficit (and, in doing so, consider what that says about fiscal conservatives' anti-deficit rhetoric), or he should simply say that he screwed up and shouldn't have used the phrase. But he can't use the label as an explanation for Voinovich's vote, then pretend it isn't his responsibility to define the label.
* As Bacon later acknowledged, "$1 trillion a year" is obviously false.
Warren took a star turn on Meet the Press over the weekend for a Thanksgiving-flavored MTP. But host David Gregory didn't press the news-making (i.e. political) pastors on many topics. And specifically, Gregory never asked Warren about his previous association with a rabidly anti-gay Uganda minister who's been making headlines.
As Newsweek noted on Sunday:
Now Warren's on the defensive again, this time for his affiliation with Martin Ssempa, a Ugandan pastor who has endorsed proposed legislation in Uganda that makes certain homosexual acts punishable by life in prison or even, in some cases, death. Ssempa has made appearances at Saddleback and has been embraced warmly by Warren and his wife, Kay.
Newsweek clearly spotted the news swirling around Warren this weekend, Why didn't Gregory? Asks Mediaite's Michael Triplett:
So why no Uganda questions from Gregory? You have the heir to Billy Graham's bully pulpit on your show for over 20 minutes, and not a single question about why he works with leaders in Uganda who support the death penalty for gay people as part of AIDS reduction efforts?
I've previously noted that Howard Kurtz is apparently incapable of understanding very straightforward questions -- or unwilling to do so -- posed to him during his weekly online Q&A sessions. Here's another example, from earlier today:
State Dinner Gate Crashers: Ethics question regarding that couple that crashed the WH dinner...I understand it's news about the security breach, etc., etc. ...BUT, it seems they did it for the attention and the spotlight, and even a friend has been quoted as saying they are enjoying the media attention...Is there ever a discussion as to whether, while reporting the story, newcasts should refrain from showing their pictures? I mean, when someone rushes on the field at a sports event, the practice has been for some time NOT to show them on TV so as not to encourage/reward that behavior....In short, could this story be covered with out giving the couple the screen time they are craving? I for one feel like the newscasts should now decline to show the footage of them inside or their Facebook pages....seems like they are being rewarded for a dumb stunt..
Howard Kurtz: Yes, the media have made them into instant celebrities, beyond what is necessary to cover the security breach that required the Secret Service to apologize. But the Salahis, with their tangled history, are also an interesting story. No question this was overplayed over a slow holiday weekend. But I must say, having been out of town to visit family, that there is a heckuva lot of interest in them among ordinary folks who aren't obsessed with politics. [Emphasis added]
Notice that Kurtz doesn't come within a mile of actually addressing the question? And why not? It isn't a particularly controversial one; it doesn't directly challenge Kurtz's own performance or that of his employers (we know he ducks those questions.) There's no reason not to address it. But this happens all the time.
I can only assume he is either incapable of understanding straightforward and reasonable questions about the media (in which case you have to wonder why two of the nation's leading news organizations pay him good money to write and talk about the media) or he has nothing but contempt and disinterest for his readers, and doesn't bother to look at what they're actually asking (in which case you have to wonder why he does these Q&As at all.)
In any case, it does nothing to help the public's understanding of the news media for the nation's most prominent media critic to be so incapable of dealing with straightforward questions.
A couple of days ago, I noted that Mark Halperin's idiotic portrayal of Sen. Mary Landrieu as having semen in her hair hadn't drawn as much attention and criticism as you might expect -- particularly given the widespread media attention that greeted Newsweek's use of a photo in which Sarah Palin posed for in a running suit.
Here's an example: Washington Post/CNN media critic Howard Kurtz addressed the Palin photo controversy on the November 22 broadcast of CNN's Reliable Sources.
Oh, yeah -- Mark Halperin works for Time magazine, whose web site hosted his offensive doctored photo of Sen. Landrieu. Time and CNN are corporate siblings.
(H/T: News Corpse)
In defending cable news and talk radio from PBS host Jim Lehrer's statement that they offer relatively shallow approaches to health care coverage, Newsbusters' Tim Graham asks:
Does Lehrer think Rush Limbaugh doesn't get into the nitty-gritty of a health-care bill?
Here's some recent "nitty-gritty" from Limbaugh on health care:
Rush Limbaugh's coverage of health care reform, like most issues Rush Limbaugh covers, is error-riddled, misleading and offensive. In the eyes of conservative media critics like MRC's Newsbusters, this is getting into the "nitty-gritty". Heaven help us.
In his Nov. 30 column, Newsmax president and CEO Christopher Ruddy declared that the "mainstream media" is" simply out of touch with ordinary Americans" and that "the major media establishment lives in a bubble." Ruddy's evidence for this: The media criticized Sarah Palin for reading Newsmax.
Ruddy touts the popularity of Newsmax's website, claiming it "has reached close to 4 million unique visitors monthly." He also promotes Newsmax's magazine, asserting that it has "a monthly readership of more than 800,000." But note that he said "readership," not paid circulation, which is the standard accepted metric for measuring a magazine's reach. Newsmax has previously indicated that it believes the magazine is read by four people for every copy sold, which is apparently where it gets that inflated "readership" number.
Ruddy writes: "The bottom line is this: Those who live in the Big Media Bubble can't comprehend the appeal of Newsmax -- or Sarah Palin." He's got us there. We have trouble grasping the appeal of a website that has published columns advocating a military coup against President Obama, calling for a "tenting" of the White House, blaming the Holocaust Museum shooting on Obama, and embracing the birther conspiracy.
Ruddy also touted how Palin's book "shot to the top of the best-seller lists, reportedly selling 700,000 copies in the first week after its Nov. 17 release." He fails to mention that a not-insignificant amount of those copies are the likely result of below-cost loss-leader deals from online retailers -- including Newsmax's own $4.97 deal for the book.
This is getting to be an embarrassing habit. Right-wing activist Andrew Breitbart has already shown us he doesn't know what a "hate crime" is," and that he doesn't understand what "blackmail" means. And now, apparently he can't read Supreme Court rulings.
Breitbart's been wildly (over) hyping a batch of ACORN documents that a San Diego private investigator (and failed GOP candidate) by the name of Derrick Roach stuffed into his car one night back in October. Roach got the docs after a dumpster dive behind ACORN's office. Breitbart has been claiming the latest ACORN installment is Watergate-meets-the-Lindbergh-kidnapping in terms of blockbuster news, even though, to date, his site hasn't produced the goods yet on San Diego, which is why the story's gone nowhere.
But in a recent post, note how Big Government pushed back against claims that the ACORN docs may have been obtained illegally; a claim that California AG's Jerry Brown seemed to endorse. Here's how Breitbart's site defended the charge [emphasis added]:
At age 71, California's top cop and erstwhile Gov. Moonbeam might benefit from a refresher course in current law. Attorney General Brown cited a case from the 1960's where items placed in the garbage were considered private; however, in 1988 the United States Supreme Court ruled in a case, California v. Greenwood, 486 U.S. 35 (1988), that there was no expectation of privacy when items are thrown in the garbage since it is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public. As for the local National City ordinance prohibiting scavenging through garbage that the ACORN office and its supporters cite, that law was enacted in 1984 and was nullified by the United States Supreme Court ruling just four years later.
Breitbart's Big Government pointed to a 1988 Supreme Court ruling to suggest that everything Roach did in obtaining the ACORN docs was okay.
From CALIFORNIA v. GREENWOOD, 486 U.S. 35 (1988):
Here, we conclude that respondents exposed their garbage to the public sufficiently to defeat their claim to Fourth Amendment protection. It is common knowledge that plastic garbage bags left on or at the side of a public street are readily accessible to animals, children, scavengers, snoops, and other members of the public. See Krivda, supra, at 367, 486 P.2d, at 1269. Moreover, respondents placed their refuse at the curb for the express purpose of conveying it to a third party, the trash collector, who might himself have sorted through respondents' trash or permitted others, such as the police, to do so. Accordingly, having deposited their garbage "in an area particularly suited for public inspection and, in a manner of speaking, public consumption, for the express purpose of having strangers take it," United States v. Reicherter, 647 F.2d 397, 399 (CA3 1981), respondents could have had no reasonable expectation of privacy in the inculpatory items that they discarded.
Furthermore, as we have held, the police cannot reasonably be expected to avert their eyes from evidence of criminal activity that could have been observed by any member of the public. Hence, "[w]hat a person knowingly exposes to the public, even in his own home or office, is not a subject of Fourth Amendment protection."
The 1988 ruling clearly dealt with garbage disposed "on or at the side of a public street." And today, Breitbart's Big Government claims that that decision means their actions were legit. But where did Big Government obtain the ACORN documents? Did they come across them in garbage bags that "could have been observed by any member of the public" and "left on or at the side of a public street"? Were the documents "knowingly expose[d] to the public"?
Of course not. According to Big Government's own telling of the tale, the docs were taken, under the cover of night, from a dumpster located behind ACORN's San Diego office. In fact, here's the photo Big Government posted showing the dumpster in question. And yes, the dumpster was caged:
In 1988, the Supreme Court ruled there was no claim to privacy regarding garbage bags placed on the side of a public curb from pick-up. Today, Breitbart says that law pertains to them, even though Big Government's docs were taken from a caged dumpster; a dumpster that Breitbart even concedes was located not on the side of a public curb, but "behind ACORN in San Diego."
And get this: Roach himself even admits that he drove by a no trespassing sign to get to the ACORN dumpster!
UPDATED: Big Government itself has referred to the San Diego document retrieval as a "dumpster dive." Obviously, the 1988 Supreme Court ruling did not concern itself with late-night dumpster dives into caged containers located beyond a no trespassing sign.
Continuing its proud tradition of doubling as a GOP bulleting board, where every possible anti-Obama talking point is treated as breaking news (hello Drudge link!), Politico's John Harris cobbles together a breathless laundry list of all the awful things people (i.e. Republicans and Village pundits) are saying about Obama. Y'know, that he's an "over-exposed" "opportunistic" "patsy" with a low opinion of America.
But oh my, the evidence of the 'trends' is awfully thin and Harris doesn't even bother to maintain the traditional three's-a-trend newsroom rule. Take a look at this knock [emphasis added]:
Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.
Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek's Mr. Spock.
The Spock imagery has been especially strong during the extended review Obama has undertaken of Afghanistan policy.
So far this year, out of the tens of thousands of Obama mentions made in the mainstream press, Harris found exactly two examples of his pundit pals comparing Obama to Mr. Spock, therefore voilà! it's a disturbing trend for the White House that's "gaining momentum."
Folks, this is why they call it The Village.