From Buchanan's October 13 syndicated column:
The Affirmative Action Nobel
All my life, said Voltaire, I have had but one prayer: "O Lord, make my enemies look ridiculous. And God granted it."
In awarding the Nobel Prize for Peace to Barack Obama, the Nobel committee has just made itself look ridiculous.
Consider. Though they had lead roles in ending a Cold War lasting half a century, between a nuclear-armed Soviet Empire and the West, neither Ronald Reagan nor John Paul II ever got a Nobel Prize.
In 1987, Reagan negotiated the greatest arms reduction treaty in modern time, the INF agreement removing all Soviet SS-20s and all U.S. Pershing and cruise missiles from Europe.
Other than hosting the "Beer Summit" between Sgt. James Crowley of the Cambridge Police and Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates, what has Obama done to compare with what these statesmen did to make ours a more peaceful and better world?
What has Obama accomplished to compare with what the other sitting presidents to receive the Nobel Prize accomplished?
As for Obama, he got the award because he is the quintessential anti-Bush. Yet, the Nobel committee did him no service.
They have brazenly meddled in the internal affairs of the United States. They have reinforced the impression that Obama is someone who is forever being given prizes -- Ivy League scholarships, law review editorships, prime-time speaking slots at national conventions -- he did not earn. They have put him under moral pressure to mollify a pacifist left. They have brought him to the point, dangerous in politics, where a man becomes the butt of reflexive jokes, as did Bill Clinton in the Monica affair.
These Norwegian groupies, acting out of "adolescent adulation," writes the Financial Times, have exposed themselves as "an annex to the left wing of the U.S. Democratic Party" with a "deeply misguided act" that will "embarrass (Obama's) allies and egg on his detractors."
The committee did something else. They ensured that their Nobel Peace Prize will never be taken as seriously again as once it was.
I want to have a nationally syndicated column out of the Washington Post and be able to dash off column in no more time than it takes to type it up. I want to get paid to a write a column that's built entirely around flimsy straw men. I want to coast like Richard Cohen! (And Maureen Dowd.)
I realize that with The Village of pundit elites, there's an unspoken rule that once pundits reach a certain plateau that they cannot be yanked off opinion pages no matter what they're producing. I realize it's considered to be in bad taste to highlight how once insightful writers are now mailing it in. But if I edited the WashPost opinion pages I wouldn't keep publishing somebody just because they had something interesting to say 14 or 15 years ago. But that's just me.
Luckily for Cohen however, the Post publishes whatever he types up and this week it was about Obama's Nobel Peace prize. The column idea itself was cribbed from Cohen's wife, it made no sense, and yes, it was constructed around an obvious straw man.
From the column [emphasis added]:
The European view that Obama is some sort of accidental president, that he does not really and truly represent the essence of America, is a bit disturbing as well as insulting.
The nut of Cohen's column is simply manufactured. Where is the evidence (since Cohen, of course, offers up none himself) that Europeans consider Obama's landslide election victory to be "accidental"? Americans have been electing Democratic president, on and off, for more than a century now. Of course, Obama's the first African-American president, but is Cohen really suggesting that Obama won the Nobel Peace prize simply because he's black? It certainly seems reads that way to me:
I think a bit of it is a greater fixation on Obama's race than you will find here and, concurrently, a misguided belief that Obama's race makes him less of an American in America than a white person would be. Europeans have always had a good time with American racism, finding it very comforting in its confirmation of our essential boorishness. In this sense, the Nobel was meant to encourage us in our new, admirable path -- keep it up, Yanks. Thanks, Olaf.
In his column, Cohen makes the central claim that Europe and the entire international community is cheering Obama because he's not like Bush, and that explains the Nobel Prize. Ah, but what about the recent Olympic snub, where Obama's Chicago pitch was roundly rejected by an international body?
Here's Cohen's spin:
In my estimation, the distance Obama put between himself and what came before him encouraged the International Olympic Committee not to see him as the president of the United States and thus, as with some supplicating mayor, dismiss his entreaty. At that moment, he was the president of Chicago, commander in chief of Cook County, and not the entire United States. A lesson learned, I hope.
If anyone can figure out what Cohen means in the above paragraph, please spell it out in the comments below. But I still stand in awe because I want to coast like Richard Cohen.
From an October 13 NBC Sports report:
Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay said this afternoon that the divisive rhetoric of prospective Rams minority owner Rush Limbaugh makes him unappealing.
"I myself couldn't even think of voting for him," said Irsay speaking from the NFL's fall ownership meetings in Boston.
Asked if he'd spoken to other owners about Limbaugh's candidacy, Irsay said, "I haven't and I don't think I would even go to the point of talking to Tony Dungy, Jim Caldwell, Dwight Freeney, talking to those men and seeing what their positions are. I'm very sensitive to know there are scars out there. I think as a nation we need to stop it. Our words do damage and it's something that we don't need. We need to get to a higher level of humanity and we have.
"I come from a different era where Marvin Gaye and John Lennon were speaking about [certain things] and we've been doing a slow crawl to some of the things they talked about. We don't need to go the other way," Irsay added. "We can't go the other way where there isn't forgiveness and understanding but we gotta watch our words in this world and our thoughts because they can do damage."
In today's Washington Post online Q&A, Post reporter Ed O'Keefe offered a series of remarkable defenses of Fox News, like his suggestion that Fox wasn't really guilty of "promotion" of the "tea parties," they were providing "balanced" reporting. But this may be the most remarkable:
There is no objective news on Fox: Just by deciding to air some stories and ignoring others, Fox is political thru and thru. I remember the day Scooter Libby was convicted. Every news channel was reporting the story; on Fox, nothing...
Ed O'Keefe: Right, but couldn't critics argue that CNN and MSNBC devoting so much time to the Libby conviction was an equally political decision?
This is the silliness of this type of debate... all of these channels serve the marketplace of ideas. It's up to you to pick your brand. [All ellipses in original]
Wow. Ed O'Keefe, a political reporter for the Washington Post, really thinks those two arguments are equivalent? That the claim that the conviction of the Vice President's chief of staff as part of an investigation that involved, among others, Karl Rove, should not have been covered is just as reasonable as the statement that the arrest should have been covered?
That's just astounding.
Washington Post reporter Ed O'Keefe, responding to a reader who asked "what's so complicated about abandoning the 'don't ask, don't tell' practice."
Ed O'Keefe: It requires a mix of executive and legislative action, and President Obama has said he wants to end it, but wants to make sure the government does so properly. That means a mix of executive actions that he can take and Congressional legislation that will make it law -- meaning his predecessors can't enter office and reverse his executive decisions.
It also requires a culture shift at the Pentagon, where many current and former officials support DADT's repeal, but others still oppose the idea.
No. A "culture shift at the Pentagon" is not necessary in order to end Don't Ask, Don't Tell. A culture shift at the Pentagon may be necessary as a result of ending DADT, but it is not a necessary condition for ending the policy.
The military follows the law, it does not set the law. O'Keefe's answer suggests the opposite: that civilian leaders cannot enact policy until members of the military agree. That's antithetical to the concept of civilian control over the military.
I've been arguing for months that the media should pin down members of congress on how they'll vote on health care reform. More specifically, how Senators will vote on cloture. That, after all, is what the media has said all along is the key vote. As I've explained, the media has failed in not making clear which members are and are not willing to filibuster reform -- and in doing so, they essentially enable Senators to anonymously kill reform in the equivalent of a smoke-filled back room.
Today, Politico does its job exactly wrong:
Several Democratic moderates told POLITICO that they most likely will be with their party on most procedural votes but could hold out on the last one - to end debate and cut off a filibuster - if they wanted to demand changes to the final product.
"Not vote for cloture? I wouldn't rule that possibility out - not at all," said Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), who caucuses with the Democrats.
Other than Lieberman, none of the "Democratic moderates" were named. So the effect of the Politico report is to help those "moderates" anonymously kill reform. The report advances the perception that a strong reform bill can't get cloture, which makes it less likely that such a bill ever comes to a vote, which means those "moderates" never have to reveal themselves.
This is the exact opposite of what journalism should be. Politico is working on behalf of elected officials rather than the public. They're helping politicians operate in secret, free from accountability. They're providing the smoke, and the back room.
Here's Howard Kurtz today:
If you look at MSNBC's lineup after 6 p.m., Fox isn't the only network that goes heavy on the opinionated hosts.
That's a reference to Keith Olbermann, Rachel Maddow, and Ed Schultz, all of whom Kurtz considers to be liberals. They combine to host three hours of television every evening.
What Kurtz didn't mention -- what he never mentions -- is that if you look at MSNBC's lineup before 6 pm, you'll find an opinionated host there, too. Former Republican congressman Joe Scarborough. Guess how many hours a day he hosts? Yep: Three.
Kurtz does this all the time: He portrays MSNBC as a liberal cable channel by, among other things, pretending Joe Scarborough doesn't exist. It would be one thing for Kurtz to acknowledge Scarborough's existence while arguing that he thinks on balance the channel leans left. But that isn't what he does. Instead, he dishonestly ignores Scarborough entirely. There's absolutely no reason to only look at MSNBC's lineup "after 6 p.m.," other than to exclude Scarborough -- and Kurtz knows this.
Take another look at Kurtz' wording today:
If you look at MSNBC's lineup after 6 p.m., Fox isn't the only network that goes heavy on the opinionated hosts.
There is absolutely no justification for limiting the discussion to "after 6 pm." It does nothing to further Kurtz's ostensible point that Fox isn't the only network that has "opinionated hosts." It does nothing to further the reader's understanding of the situation. All it does is obscure the fact that MSNBC has an opinionated host who is a conservative. It's deeply, wildly dishonest.
Oh, and by the way: CNN has an opinionated host, too: right-wing nut Lou Dobbs. Kurtz didn't mention Dobbs, perhaps because he moonlights for Dobbs' employer.
Yesterday, the Washington Post ran a front-page article by Ceci Connolly hyping an insurance industry attack on health care reform. Connolly and the Post didn't mention glaring flaws with the industry-funded study that claims reform would result in a $4,000 increase in insurance premiums. Flaws like the fact that the study was based on assumptions it admits are unlikely to actually come true:
"We have estimated the potential impact of the tax on premiums. Although we expect employers to respond to the tax by restructuring their benefits to avoid it, we demonstrate the impact assuming it is applied."
Got that? The study demonstrates the impact of something they don't expect to happen. The Post didn't mention that, though The New Republic's Jonathan Cohn had pointed it out the night before. Nor did the Post mention that the PricewaterhouseCooper, the firm that conducted the "study" for the insurance industry, conducted bogus studies for the tobacco industry in the 1990s. Those are two rather glaring reasons why the current study shouldn't be taken seriously -- but Connolly and the Post stayed silent about both, offering readers no reason to be suspicious of the study other than the predictable disagreements from reform advocates.
Well, today, Connolly is back, with an article all about the insurance industry study. Maybe today she gets around to exposing some of its flaws? Nope. It's all he-said/she-said, with no independent analysis, no discussion of the flawed track record of the firm that conducted the study, no explanation of the assumptions and limitations of the study.
The study, and the way the insurance industry is using it, is so misleading PricewaterhouseCooper -- which conducted the study -- released a statement last night emphasizing that "the report itself acknowledges, other provisions that are part of health reform proposals were not included in the PwC analysis." That's right: PwC released a statement last night distancing itself from the way its own study is being used, and pointing out that their study is not a comprehensive look at health care reform proposals but rather a narrow assessment of "four components" of the Senate Finance bill that ignored "other provisions" in it.
And yet Ceci Connolly didn't mention that in today's Washington Post article. Connolly covers health care reform full-time. That's her beat. And she's now written a second article in two days about an insurance industry funded report that is so flawed even the firm that prepared the report -- a firm with a spotty history on these matters -- is distancing itself from the industry's conclusions. And yet neither of her articles has contained a word about any of this. Neither has given readers so much as a hint of any of these flaws -- the nonsensical assumptions, the narrow focus, the firm's track record.
What is the point of having a reporter assigned full-time to the health care reform beat if she is incapable or unwilling to give readers that kind of information? Anyone can type up some quotes from the insurance industry, type up a response from the White House, and call it a day. What, exactly, does Ceci Connolly bring to the table?
From The Fox Nation, accessed on October 13:
From a separate post on The Fox Nation: