Tuesday, May 16, 2006
The MSM are winning.
It's called Chinese Water Torture. It works.
NOSTALGIA. The 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 Media.
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:
The poll of 1,021 adult Americans was conducted May 5-7 by Opinion Research Corp. for CNN. It had a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
Respondents favored Clinton by greater than 2-to-1 margins when asked who did a better job at handling the economy (63 percent Clinton, 26 percent Bush) and solving the problems of ordinary Americans (62 percent Clinton, 25 percent Bush). (Watch whether Americans are getting nostalgic for the Clinton era -- 1:57)
On foreign affairs, the margin was 56 percent to 32 percent in Clinton's favor; on taxes, it was 51 percent to 35 percent for Clinton; and on handling natural disasters, it was 51 percent to 30 percent, also favoring Clinton.
Moreover, 59 percent said Bush has done more to divide the country, while only 27 percent said Clinton had.
When asked which man was more honest as president, poll respondents were more evenly divided, with the numbers -- 46 percent Clinton to 41 percent Bush -- falling within the poll's margin of error. The same was true for a question on handling national security: 46 percent said Clinton performed better; 42 percent picked Bush.
Wouldn't we all like to go back to the paradise of pre-9/11 America?
How could this have happened? Bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck? Well, in case anyone has forgotten this elementary fact, every presidential administration has its share of bungles, scandals, corruption, and bad luck. These are the whales, sharks, and other monsters that swim ceaselessly in the political ocean. But the ocean itself -- the medium in which the monsters swim -- is the MSM. In this context, the blogosphere is no more than the foam on the whitecaps stirred up by the vast currents and movements in the ocean below. And while the bloggers were fighting their various and diverse battles in the name of truth, justice, and common sense, the MSM ocean was harnessing its entire immensity on just one story, told an infinite number of times, in every possible inflection, from every direction, and with the deadly persistent accuracy of a dripping tap: George W. Bush is no good.
It doesn't have to be true, it doesn't have to be fair, it doesn't have to be consistent in its terms. All that matters is that it is repeated with uniform constancy: drip, drip, drip. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Change the headlines, seem to change the subject. Abu Ghraib. European disdain. Tom Delay. Katrina. Deficits. Valerie Plame. Gas prices. Karl Rove. Death in Iraq. Angry mothers. NSA wiretaps. Drip, drip, drip, drip, drip, the lede is always the same. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. George W. Bush is no good. Forget the good news, bury the accomplishments or ignore them altogether. Drip, drip, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good, George W. Bush is no good.
It took the MSM three years to bring George W. Bush's approval ratings down from their post 9/11 high to 52 percent on election day 2004. It's taken them just 18 months [corr. per Tim] to bring him down another 20 to 25 points. They never forgot their mission. While the princeling bloggers pissed and moaned about Harriet Miers, and immigration, and federal spending, the MSM kept on dripping out its one story, and now they are within reach of their goal -- Democrats restored to the majority in both houses of Congress and the stage set for the vengeful impeachment and dismissal from office of the most courageous president in modern times.
We're just one bubble among the tens of thousands in a single patch of foam on the MSM ocean. Who are we to stand in the way of the American tidal wave of nostalgia for the great Bill Clinton presidency? We can only submit. Here are a few of the moments we're sure everyone wants to savor again and again, like fine wine, from the days when the President single-handedly created a booming economy, took care of everyone's needs, minded the national security faultlessly, and was so thoroughly honest in all his dealings with the American people.
Campaign Finance Integrity.
Caring for Ordinary People.
The Once and Future Clinton.
Another Nostalgic Souvenir.
Feel better now? Well, who wouldn't?