A Thimble in the Ocean

Fareed Zakaria, on CNN:

This whole discussion is a terrible example of how the media can trivialize political discussion. The presidency is a serious job, the most serious job in the country. And here we are, asking the man to dress the part, to play-act the emotions. Give us satisfaction by just doing something, even if it’s all phony stuff, designed to give the impression of action.

Hmmm.  That sort of thing did work undeniably well for the last president, except when it didn’t, as Zakaria surely knows since he was part of it for so long.  Like the rest of the media, he and CNN fell hook, line, and sinker for the cheap “play-acting” that passed for a presidency for eight dreadful years, and might as well be criticizing the mirror, but the sentiment is certainly welcome.  Such a short time ago in our media, a president (who had been explicitly warned of such an occurrence and hadn’t acted), could sit in a classroom while the country was attacked, then hide all day and lie about it, and just pick up a bullhorn a few days later and be unanimously declared more heroic than Ronald Reagan and Winston Churchill, put together.  The “impression of action” ruled the day, and long after Bush’s squeaker reelection, the media gushed over his “boldness,” “victories”, and “straight talk,” which to anyone capable of reading above the “My Pet Goat” level, looked a lot like foolhardiness, disasters, and the most obvious lies.

All through the various wars at home and abroad that Bush so elaborately staged, we were treated with made-up, comic-book tales of pluck and heroism like Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman,  Bush donning more costumes than Sonny and Cher, and insultingly unsubtle backdrops like the Statue of Liberty and Mt. Rushmore.  No one (currently employed) in the media ever mentioned how phony it all was, nor did they bother to point out when the stories inevitably collapsed later, so it is a bit astonishing to hear someone on CNN, no less, complaining about the shallow, dunderheaded media focusing on the theater of it all at the expense of the real-world implications entailed.  I think that the instant embrace of the meme, “Obama’s Katrina” has something to do with the deeply compromised (and perhaps, in their vestigial consciences, penitent) media that never tires of repeating it.  What they mean is, “our Katrina.”  That was when the media finally noticed that by sucking up to Bush for so long, they were, literally, killing innocent Americans, even here at home where it looks bad on TV, and they finally got some oxygen into their blow-dried heads.  Better late than never, I guess.

Still, it’s a not particularly satisfying to hear a confirmed Villager like Zakaria wax poetic about the journalistic duty to discuss serious events in terms of their policy implications and possibly criminality rather than the Q ratings and wardrobe of all concerned.  After all, the guy is saying this on TV, where wardrobe and Q ratings are what matters, and the rest is just boring minutia nobody cares about and will forget in a week, or less if needed.  Suddenly, this oil spill is “important,” and must be discussed rationally, when two wars, several drastic transfers of wealth upward, and the collapse of multiple sectors of the economy were deliberately and “boldly” undertaken and judged only on their cinematography, presumably because they were less important.  (And better TV?)

As long as the media is unwilling to connect the dots between their shallow, content-free coverage of the last ten years, and the many disasters their uncritical reporting has enabled through its relentless cheerleading, ol’ Fareed is just pissing up a rope, and pretty pathetically.  Thanks to our media, CNN included, Big Oil and its entourage have given us so many Katrinas; no wonder they want to re-gift some of them.  Thanks, but no thanks.


  1. michlib says:

    The W administration was a perfect fit for infotainment, low content news coverage. The victory of stagecraft over statecraft. It seems as if Zakaria has come to the high school cheerleaders realization that the pompoms at some point must be put away – they are unseemly in adult company.
    Had W still been president, every drone attack that bagged an al-Queda poobah would have press releases with W painted like William Wallace shouting ” FREEDOM ” from the White House lawn. After eight ( or was it eighteen ?) years of infantile concern for ” optics “, I prefer a more businesslike, if that’s the right word, approach over simian emoting passed off as “engagement”.

    • cocktailhag says:

      That’s what made me think it was so funny. Fareed wasn’t just talking about the theatrics, but even going on about how the subject was SERIOUS! and deserved better. On whose TV? The video is up at crooksandliars.com, where there’s even more laughable statements.

  2. nailheadtom says:

    So what’s the shelf-life of the moaning and groaning over the Bush presidency and the sycophantic media that never, ever criticized it? You lefty dim bulbs never really got over Reagan and bring him up more often than his disciples do even today. Apparently recognizing and commenting on the ineptitude of the current clown residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and his confident but incompetent staff is out of bounds as long as there’s an extant memory of any previous non-Democrat officeholder, alive or dead.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, let’s see…. I don’t remember any disasters left by Clinton or Carter, nor any particular criminality. Whereas Republicans left us, in addition to the usual theft and self-dealing, Iran/Contra, Watergate, the Iraq War, Afghanistan, 9/11, huge deficits, the bank collapse, the housing collapse, Guantanamo, I could go on all night. If Republicans’ goal was to leave the country in a shambles, they have indeed been effective, more so so far than Obama, but let’s wait and see; he could still catch up, and you could turn out to have a point.

      • dirigo says:

        A currently serving, quite gaseous and clearly brain-dead elected official …


        If we got off the partisan merry go round for a nanosecond, we might, judging from this clip, consider the necessity of having more “Oxford-style debate” in the United States Congress. Something might get done with people who were actually qualified to be there, and it wouldn’t matter one bit whether the person holding the floor at any given moment was a rightie or a leftie.

        The ideological bender this country has been on for fifty years at least is a waste of time and has long ceased serving any intellectual purpose, if it ever did. A consequence of that is the disturbing presence in the House of Representatives of morons like this woman. Who cares what party she sucks up to?

        We all look like fools.

        Michele is our mommy.

        Fortunately for all concerned, I’m not qualified to comment on the tastes and predilections of South Carolina voters.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Like Beck and Sarah Palin, Bachmann has been in the righty bubble so long, she’d faint if she breathed fresh air. All have discovered that dubious sweet spot where the more divorced form reality you are, the more ardent your followers. Kind of like Jonestown. I hope.

        • The Heel says:

          Thanks man, that was brilliant :)
          I watched Bachmann and Palin and Maher movies on the side for the rest of the afternoon. Got great laughs out of them…

          • dirigo says:

            Just so we’re clear: Rep. Bachmann’s rhetoric represents only 3 percent of the negligible, harmful – err, harmless – GAS! – in the earth’s atmosphere. a natural byproduct of nature, like the fowls that flies in the air!

            It’s a crux, as it were, as a matter of fact.

            Take a pie chart, for crying out loud!!!

            It’s only 3 percent of 3 percent, a fraction of a fraction of a fraction, fer fuck’s sake.

            Stop making things up on the floor of the House!

            It’s about getting back to step one, part of the Earth’s life cycle.


      • nailheadtom says:

        Well, let’s see. . . Carter, probably not gifted or imaginative enough to be a genuine criminal, in a rare moment of glee, signed into existence the Dept. of Education, a payoff to the teacher unions that now costs us only $70 billion a year, despite the continuing promises of the Republicans to hurl it into extinction. His absurd gas rationing scheme brings back bad memories, too. Especially that night parked along the road outside Rose Hill, Kansas, when I could have been chasing skirts in Wichita. Ooo, almost forgot that big step down the ladder of international humility when our diplomatic staff got an all expenses paid vacation in Teheran for 444 days and missed opening their Christmas presents TWO times. That’s just for starters.

        Slick Willy was a different kind of guy, no lust in his heart, he put it where it counted. No chicken hawk either, he sent US forces into illegal action against the threat of Serbian invasion and saved us from turbo-folk music. Add to that the Elian Gonzalez operation and the purification of the Branch Davidians and the one-time head of the Arkansas National Guard had a pretty good record, victories both foreign and domestic. No wonder he has a place alongside Smedley Butler in the hearts of you progressives.

        • cocktailhag says:

          Things you don’t like and actual disasters are two different things, and as I recall, gas rationing was in 1973, under Nixon. There was no gas rationing in 1977-1980. Your list is so pathetically paltry (Elian Gonzalez? Sheesh!) How ’bout that balanced budget? That’s something no Republican has ever pulled off, much less creating 23 million jobs. Bush LOST jobs in eight miserable years, and left a depression and two lost wars, with 5000 Americans killed (on top of Sept. 11) for no damn reason.
          The people and policies you defend have been proven wrong a hundred times, yet you inexplicably espouse them, which is one definition of insanity, of the many that fit you.

  3. mikeinportc says:

    ….but the sentiment is certainly welcome…….

    Better late than never.
    Yep, not much, but better. Now if he can hold that thought for more than ~ 5 min, and be impolite enough to mention it when other members of the club …….do what they do. Not bettin’ the farm on it. ( Or even beer money ;) )

    So what’s the shelf-life of the moaning and groaning over the Bush presidency and the sycophantic media that never, ever criticized it?
    When his “gifts” quit giving, that’s when . The toxic effects of BushCo didn’t suddenly turn off on 1/20/09.

    You lefty dim bulbs never really got over Reagan and bring him up more often than his disciples do even today.
    Huh? Not nearly enough criticism of Saint Ronnie, IMHO. Even most of the “dim bulbs” genuflect at the alter of almghty Reagan. The Bush Administration is more-or-less what Reagan aspired to. Fortunately, there were still some spines intact then, and some in the administration were competent enough, and undelusional enough to save him from himself. Unfortunately, many of the other sort re-emerged as the major policy makers in BushCo. Much of the groundwork was laid during ’80s, especially the practice of hiring people to not do their jobs. ( See: Watt, James ; Brown, Michael”ol’Brownie”)

    Apparently recognizing and commenting on the ineptitude of the current clown[war criminal & apparent megalomanaical authoritarian*] residing at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and his confident but incompetent staff is out of bounds as long as there’s an extant memory of any previous non-Democrat officeholder, alive or dead.

    It’s not “out of bounds”. It’s welcome, but the 180 involved, with much of it, is a bit surreal. Some acknowledgement by the critic that it’s a change of position, and/or God forbid, an admission of being previously wrong, might be helpful. Usually though, there’s none of that, just acting as if it’s always been thus, or a bandaid over the memory hole, at best .

    An illustration of the point , a conversation from……awhile ago. ( 25 yrs?)

    Boss : ” Why are you doing C , not A?”
    Me : ” When’d that change? Sorry, nobody told me.”
    Boss :[waving arms, almost yelling]” Change!? It didn’t change. We’ve always done A.Why would you do C?”
    Me : “Huh? (pointing to the flourescent yellow sticky note, on the cabinet, ~2′ away) There’s your note from 2 weeks ago,changing from B to C, on top of the note from a month before, changing from A to B. *shrug* ”

    Boss: ” ArrrrGGGHHHH!!!!![waving arms wildly] You always think you’re right! [or "have an answer!" - I forget which insane boss said which] ArGGGGGHHH!!!” ( as she stomped off, waving arms overhead, then slammed her office door – where I had to go ~30sec later, to get supplies to do A. :) )))

    Pol/Pundit#1 does like Boss, except, instead of challenging the insanity, the pol/pundit respondents usually continue on as if they too believe it’s always been A. Then, endless repetition makes it official. Anybody that points to the “note”, or has a memory, is crazy, or “shrill”.

    * That’s supposed to be a criticism, not a compliment, in case you were wondering, tom. ;) & btw, Carter& Clinton did their share, but not to the extent of W & O.

    • nailheadtom says:

      “When his “gifts” quit giving, that’s when . The toxic effects of BushCo didn’t suddenly turn off on 1/20/09. ”

      Glad you feel that way. Can we get into Woodrow Wilson and the Federal Reserve Bank then? Haven’t heard you guys mention him lately. Wasn’t that FDR fella involved in helping Churchill send millions of Germans and even Russians back to the USSR to disappear forever into the Gulags? Can’t we bring that up one or twice a day? How about Truman sending our young men to futility in Korea? Put that on the schedule, too.

      • cocktailhag says:

        My goodness. Please consult your mental health professional, overworked though he/she must be, and turn off the Glenn Beck. Wilson and Churchill are, because of the retardation and nuttiness rampant in your party, a tad irrelevant at this point.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    “Haven’t heard you guys mention him lately. “

    Actually, Wilson did get some negative mention lately , in the discussion of “Why is Haiti so poor?”. The 19yr occupation of Haiti , to “Make it safe for foreign owners” ( Ownership of land by non-Haitians had been prohibited.) was initiated by Wilson.

    Also saw some criticism of Churchill , for some racist,imperialist sentiments, expressed about those occupied by the Empire.