May 24, 2007 - May 17, 2007
princelings of the blogosphere are proud, perhaps justifiably, of the
impact their new form of media has had in recent years. They brought
down Dan Rather, they helped reelect George W. Bush in 2004, and they
have played a part in the steady erosion of the credibility and
circulation totals of major newspapers like the New York Times,
Los Angeles Times, and Boston Globe. They see themselves as a potent
new political force climbing atop the crumbling ruins of the Mainstream
The only problem with this view of media matters is that it's wrong. Think back to September 12, 2001. Imagine that an omniscient seer had told you then that four-and-a-half years later, the U.K. and Spain would have experienced al Qaeda attacks in their own countries; France's appeasement-oriented government would have been rocked by Islamic riots in Paris and other cities, Denmark would have had its citizens and embassies targeted for Islamic terror attacks on account of political cartoons portraying Muhammed; Russia would have endured a deadly hostage siege by Islamic terrorists at a school full of children; and in all that time, the United States would not have experienced a single additional terror attack on its own soil. Imagine the seer had told you further that the United States would, in the same period of time, wage and win two wars in the middle east, overthrowing the Taliban in Afghanistan and midwifing the formation of a parliamentary democracy there, then driving Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and bringing that destitute country to the verge of its first parliamentary government, elected by nation-wide vote and backed by a western-trained police force and a non-Baathist army, while Saddam himself sat in the dock awaiting the verdict of his trial for crimes against humanity. Imagine he had told you that American combat deaths in these two wars over three years time would not have exceeded 5,000. Imagine that he also told you the American economy would have fully recovered from the 9/11 attack in this timeframe, returning to employment, interest, inflation, and growth rates rivalling if not exceeding those of the Clinton years, despite wartime budget deficits and huge increases in gasoline prices caused by the inevitable uncertainties in the middle east, while the socialist economies of Europe stagnated or shrank. Then imagine that he told you George W. Bush's approval rating just six months after his reelection would stand at 29 percent.
Would you have believed him? Would you have believed that the predicted accomplishments could be achieved so speedily, if at all, in the post-9/11 world? And would you have believed that a man who led such bold endeavors would be the least popular president in modern history save for Richard Nixon and Jimmy Carter?
Yet that is the case. And here, courtesy of CNN, is the unkindest cut of all: