Wednesday, December 29, 2004


The Washington Post is going to run a perfectly asinine story in its Wednesday edition (already available on the Internet) which states that "domestic criticism of Bush [has] continued to rise" because Bush has remained on his Christmas/New Years vacation in Crawford rather than rushing back to Washington to vapor for the press corps about the tsunami disaster in south Asia.
The "domestic criticism" is evidently from the press corps, which has made "repeated inquiries" about the President's "public absence."
This is how the media shows bias and manufactures news. This is one of those "questions are being raised" kind of stories when the media confuses its own concerns with that of the country at large. You can always spot this phenomenon when the media lapses into passive voice or third person. Questions aren't being raised by anybody but the press. The media and the rest of the Beltway/New York chattering classes, which as a group really believe that "We are the World" think that the "domestic criticism" which is a function of the press corps' own "repeated inquiries," somehow constitutes a real story.
Just what is it that President Bush can do from Washington that he cannot do from Crawford ? We live in a wired age. There is nobody that Bush cannot call or contact or otherwise lobby about aiding tsunami victims just as easily from Crawford as from Washington. Of course, the real issue has nothing to do with what President Bush and the United States actually do. Both the dollar and the actual value of American relief for the disaster will, in the end, no doubt be larger than anybody else's. Because the chattering classes deal primarily in emotion and feelings, what is wanted, of course, is for Bush to emote on cue, or better for them -- not to emote on cue so that they can work themselves into a lather criticizing him for it.
The cynical among us might think that the real intent of this story is to divert attention from a media/chattering class sacred-cow boo-boo -- namely United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator Jan Egeland's remark Monday that the 15 million dollars initially earmarked by the US for relief was "stingy." Given prevailing fiscal circumstances in Washington (a massive deficit produced largely by a prosecution of just wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for the general benefit, in which the UN as an organization has all but sided with America's enemies), 15 million dollars is anything but stingy. Mr. Egeland (who yesterday retracted his slander) should shut his foul mouth.
El Jefe hopes the President has the gumption to tell the press corps where to go and what to do with themselves when they get there. Alas, this will not be. No doubt in the end, the newspapers and the commentariat will get their wish, and the President will go tearing back to Washington on Air Force One, and put on the mournful face for the journalists, and spoon-feed them their stories in the comfort of the White House Press Room -- God forbid the east coast reporters having to travel to some benighted place like Crawford.

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