Sunday, April 22, 2007

White House Correspondents Wimp Out at Dinner

Rich Little was a flop but that wasn't the problem. The association for the White House correspondents picked about as safe a comedian as they could while they concentrate on those seven and eight figure salaries so many of them are shooting for. Here's something to think about. Does anyone think Jonathan Swift would have been easy on our boy king? Does anyone think Mark Twain would give George W. Bush a free pass for trying to resurrect the Gilded Age? Will Rogers would have twirled his lariat and had you thinking the Decider-in-Chief was dizzy with all that rope tightening around him.

These kind of dinners are not supposed to be safe. Not with an incompetent president. Not with a president who thought it was funny to look behind his chair for WMDs. Not with a president who increasingly rambles even when he's speaking to a carefully selected audience. The White House correspondents should be a little restless six years into Bush's presidency with so little for the Mayberry gang to show for it. The president's behavior is a disgrace. The correspondents know it and they continue to act as if it's a kind of parlour game. How's his style? How his haircut? Is he aging? Did he do a good job of putting on a photo op? Was his strutting effective? Does he look like Mister Rogers in that flight suit or like John Wayne? Ah, being a White House correspondent is apparently a difficult life.

Here's a story from Editor & Publisher, people who still care about journalism and the functioning of our democracy:
Rich Little, with shockingly dyed hair, said at the outset that he is “not political” but rather a “nightclub performer who does a lot of dumb, stupid jokes,” then proved that.

He started with a couple of Canada (his native country) jokes and a weak Sen. John McCain, which bombed...


Little followed by doing six presidents, including a man he “loved,” Ronald Reagan. He put in false teeth to play Jimmy Carter saying that when he was a peanut farmer “I had the biggest nuts in the county.”

As the presidents got more recent, the impressions got weaker: George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton and then possibly the worst impression of all, the current president. But he closed with the one he is most famous for, Richard Nixon, saying, “Let’s bring him out of the mothballs one more time.”


Speaking to E&P afterward, probably aware that his routine went over rather poorly, he said, "this is not the easiest audience in the world." But he said Bush told him when it was over, "absolutely perfect."

Some in the crowd walked out in the middle of the routine-- far more than left during Colbert's performance last year.

Embarrassing. Harry Reid says something to the effect that we're losing in Iraq and the media types, particularly on the right, go nuts. I've said for over three years we're gaining nothing out of this war. We'll end up spending $2 trillion for what? A strut on an aircraft carrier? What are we gaining from Bush's incompetence, lies, cronyism, ideological rigidity, and repeated blunders, all quite visible in his fiasco in Iraq? What are we gaining? Does anybody buy the garbage that if we don't kill Iraqis, they'll come here? Sorry, but the 9-11 attackers came by way of Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan and most of them were from Saudi Arabia. The logic of attacking Iraq does not hold.

Should it take five years to finish the first war? Should it take ten years to finish the second? Should these idiots be allowed to start a third? It's not about losing. It's about a president and vice president who don't know what they're doing. Other than engaging in fantasies about bringing democracy to the Middle East at the point of our guns and fighting terrorism in about as half-assed a way as one could possibly ask for, Cheney and Bush have no policy in Iraq worthy of the name. It's stall, it's dodge, it's tantrums and overblown rhetoric, it's pompous statements about running out of patience or insurgents in their last throes, it's bluster that only the Republican base deludes itself into buying.

Are Bush and Cheney impeachable? Of course they are. Should it happen? Yes. Will it happen? No, not in the current political environment with a media that still does a poor job of revealing the damage the current administration is doing to our country. But enough Americans are aware of what's happening that Bush and Cheney can be held accountable. It's time for a special prosecutor. Forget the incompetence. There's plenty of dishonesty and deception in the current White House for a special prosecutor to deal with. There are plenty of laws being broken. A special prosecutor needs to be appointed by Congress.

If we are to keep our country strong, it's time to bring most of our troops home while keeping troops in strategic position to keep the neighbors out of Iraq. It's time for Bush and Cheney to negotiate a settlement in Iraq and Iran; and if they won't, it may be time for Congress to appoint people who will. There's nothing in the US Constitution that says the American people have to put up with arrogance, gross negligience and obstinate incompetence. Bush, not the Democrats, not Congress, not the American people, is the one who chose to ignore the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group. The people of the Iraq Study Group, both Republicans and Democrats, have a record of competence. Our president does not. The surge is a profoundly flawed political stunt that puts our troops at risk. It is not a change of strategy: it's just more of the same.

Let me ask it again. Are we losing? Sorry, but that's the wrong question. The question is this: do we have an administration that knows what it's doing? The answer is no. Bush has no trouble talking like a tough guy but he didn't know what he was talking about when he launched the invasion and never had an honest strategic purpose for invading Iraq in the first place, and even if he had managed to come up with an honest strategic purpose, it's highly unlikely he could have executed it with cronies, ideologues and party hacks. We're still a strong and powerful nation. But the current president is a failure. The rest is just hot air and a lot of self-justifications by the right and a lot of nonsense by a media that still can't fully acknowledge the crisis in Washington and particularly the White House.

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Anonymous S.W. Anderson said...

Honest, independent and enterprising journalists, and dedicated, conscientious public officials and employees willing to be whistleblowrs are the people's last line of defense against systematic corruption on the part of powerful political officeholders.

That last line of defense was alive and well in the early 1970's, and so a corrupt, devious and ultimately unbalanced president was obliged to resign in disgrace.

As you point out so well, that last line of defense is in tatters today.

To give credit where it's due, cynical, crooked people in the White House and at Republican National Committee headquarters learned certain lessons from Watergate. Consequently, from the beginning of George W. Bush's administration, those cynical crooks have worked methodically and ceaselessly to dismantle, to neutralize and to otherwise overcome the people's last line of defense.

To give credit where it's due, the fact Bush isn't facing impeachment and Cheney and Rove continue to wield power and cover their own tracks, those cyncial crooks have done their dirty work with great effectiveness.

12:00 PM  

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