Monday, May 23, 2005

Arianna's Panties in Bunch

Howard Dean on Meet the Press yesterday

BEING OBJECTIVE. I'm really beginning to appreciate the Huffington Post. There are these multiple layers of teasers for the blog entries. First, there's the one or two sentence intro on the main page, accompanied by a link to the "whole post." When you click on that, you get to a two-or-three paragraph chunk of prose which is also followed by a link to the "whole post." When you click on that, you discover there isn't any more. It looks like the celebrities are pioneering a brand new form called the half-essay. Write a topic sentence, describe something you like or don't like, express your feelings about it and then -- where other writers might explain or rebut or introduce new facts or define an interesting alternative perspective -- just stop dead.

It's an interesting new reading experience and oddly refreshing somehow. It's like watching a woman get ready to deliver a stinging slap. Her face squinches up, her hand closes into a finely manicured paddle, executes a swift backswing, and then... she whirls on her high heels and walks away.

The first couple of times I was surprised. David Mamet wrote a blog about the firing of John Simon as theater critic of the NYT. It was about two sentences long. He's glad Simon is gone...........?! Jim Lampley wrote a blog about the fact that steroid abuse in baseball has been going on a lot longer and more seriously than most people realize. His conclusion? That steroid abuse in baseball has been going on a lot longer and more seriously than most people realize...?! And today we have a new entry from Arianna herself on the subject of Howard Dean's appearance on "Meet the Press." I thought it was going to be a pip because I'd already read the Newsmax account of the show, which included these gloating paragraphs:

During the show, Dean claimed, "Hypocrisy is a value that I think has been embraced by the Republican Party," and he vowed to Russert that "I will use whatever position I have in order to root out hypocrisy."

Ironically, Russert played the hypocrisy-exposing role as he repeatedly unmasked Dean's integrity on key issues, including:

Tom DeLay

Dean defended his declaration last week that House Majority Leader Tom DeLay should begin serving a jail sentence.

"I think Tom DeLay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers," Dean said on May 14.

Dean stuck to his guns, telling host Tim Russert: "He hasn't been convicted yet, but ... I think there's a reasonable chance that this may end up in jail."

Asked if his harsh rhetoric toward DeLay wasn't hypocritical given his comments during the 2004 presidential campaign, when Dean said he didn't want to prejudge even Osama bin Laden, the top Democrat told Russert:

"To be honest with you, Tim, I don't think I'm prejudging [DeLay]."

Dean then ticked off several unproven allegations against the House majority leader.

When Russert noted that the top Republican had yet to be charged with even a single crime, Dean countered, "Three of the things I've mentioned he has already done and been admonished for by the House Ethics Committee."

Russert noted how little support Dean's position has, even among top Democrats, quoting Congressman Barney Frank, a liberal Democrat, who said: "That's just wrong. I think Howard Dean was out of line talking about DeLay. The man has not been indicted. I don't like him, I disagree with some of what he does, but I don't think you, in a political speech, talk about a man as a criminal or his jail sentence."

Russert asked if it was appropriate that Dean has Ok'd the posting of a bogus mug shot of DeLay on the DNC Web site, suggesting that the Republican has already been charged with a crime.

Dean sidestepped the issue, saying that DeLay should not be serving in Congress. In his answer, Dean then claimed, incredibly, that the Democrats are "not going to stoop to the kind of divisiveness that the Republicans are doing."

There's a lot more, but all of it is in the same vein, with Dean obviously straining inside the straitjacket of his own arrogance to deflect the interview away from the mean streak in his leadership style and its implications. (There's a full transcript here.) I thought Arianna was going to sail to the defense of Dean's character like an angry mother Rottweiler. But here's the beginning of her blog:

 There I was, as is my Sunday morning tradition, watching Meet the Press while doing yoga. (Or is it doing yoga while watching Meet the Press? Whatever.) Tim Russert was interviewing Howard Dean. At least, I’m pretty sure it was Russert. For one thing, I was in the Uttanasana II position, so I couldn’t see very well. For another, what I was hearing sounded remarkably like some White House flack:

“Wasn’t it the intelligence community that misled the president?”

“When did the president ever suggest that Saddam Hussein was responsible for September 11?”

“Well, you said there were weapons of mass destruction.”

But the key exchange came when Dean raised the most critical point about Iraq:

DEAN: Because of the president’s actions, I would argue that we are in greater danger now because of what’s going on in Iraq than we were before. Now there are terrorists in Iraq. They have migrated there since our troops were there.

RUSSERT: Let me stay on your rhetoric…

Nice pivot, Tim. Yes, by all means, let’s stay on Dean’s rhetoric rather than on the insignificant fact that our country is less safe as a result of our invasion of Iraq. Good to see you’ve got your priorities in order.

Okay, back to Downward Facing Dog…

All right. I cheated. That's not the beginning of her blog. It's the whole thing. We're supposed to know she's not happy with Tim Russert because he actually asked some tough questions of the DNC chair and had the nerve to follow up on them as if he were a serious and objective journalist. We're supposed to accept her quicksilver assumption that because Dean tries to change the subject as a way of escaping increasingly embarrassing questions, we should suddenly share her rekindled outrage about the Bush foreign policy. And we're supposed to accept without question or factual support of any kind the ancient Dean charge that we are in more danger from terrorists as a result of the Iraq War. Dean's lame, backpedaling quote of his failed campaign position is good enough for her, so it damn well ought to be good enough for us. End of discussion.

So the reason Arianna wrote was... uh... to show us that she could write a blog about Meet the Press? And having brought up the subject and announced her feeings about it, she was so proud of her accomplishment that she could quit the field of verbal combat without offering anything new or interesting? There's got to be a term for this new kind of blog punditry. How about Premature Self-Congratulation?

Uh oh. Did I actually make a point of some kind? I better stop now before I compound the error.


UPDATE:  Many thanks to Hugh Hewitt for posing the question -- although we think the answer is obvious. Welcome to visitors. Please take a look around. As our way of saying thank, order The Boomer Bible and enter "Hugh Hewitt" in the order comment box and we'll waive the shipping charges -- that means, FREE shipping.

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