Betrayed by the Press

May 15, 2011 20:31 by KRM

I’m so tired of hearing it.  Just about every outlet in the Jurassic Press harps on the weakness of the GOP field of presidential candidates.  The election is still 18 months away but the press is already chomping at the beat for a fight.  And it seems, in their estimation at least, that Obama has already one.

Part of the problem with politics is the press.  They really aren’t neutral, they don’t just report the facts and they tend to sensationalize everything.   Eighteen months out from November 2008, in May 2007, Hillary Clinton was trouncing Barack Obama in the polls and Rudy Giuliani was still in it.  In a May 2007 Harris Poll, Hillary was at 40% while Obama a mere 27%.  Americans who had heard of Obama were wondering why some junior first term senator with no executive experience had the gall to even run for president.  In May 2007 his polling numbers would put him in the “weak field” category, yet he somehow managed to overcome that, beat Hillary and then win the presidency. 

That the press didn’t do its job probably has something to do with that.  Had it actually investigated him and his background and gone on the same fishing expeditions the likes of Dan Rather initiated against George Bush, I doubt Americans would have found Obama as palatable as they apparently did.  If the press had demanded to see his school records, his college transcripts and all manner of other personal data that helps build a story around a candidate, and then screamed when he wouldn’t produce any of it, Americans would’ve wondered what Obama was trying to hide.  The press has done this with other candidates but Noobama got a pass and much of America is still wondering who Obama really is and what he really stands for.  It took him almost 3 years, and thousands in legal fees to prevent it, after the question was first raised about his citizenship status by Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primaries before Obama finally released his long form birth certificate.  Three years is a long time to fight something like that and then suddenly give in.

So why is the press already criticizing the current field of GOP candidates.  I can think of a couple of reasons.  If they can minimize the challengers, they can make Obama seem more presidential.  They tried this with Bush when he was running against John Kerry.  Remember “gravitas”?   For a while, the question on every cable station was whether Bush had it.  And in the GW’s first run, the question was whether he had intellectual curiosity.  As if it leadership is a scientific pursuit, but I digress.  Americans saw through both of these attempts at bias by the Jurassic Press and put Bush in office anyway.  I think the second reason the press is already playing down the Republican field is simply because Obama is so bad.  Anybody who is well-funded and has half a brain has a shot at sending Obama packing.  But to be well-funded you have to have name recognition and get good press coverage.  If the press is panning all the would-be candidates, that will depress both interest and campaign contributions.

At one time, the party conventions actually meant something.  Coming into the convention, no one was actually sure who would be the presidential nominee.  Today’s conventions are about as exciting as watching wind blow.  The votes are counted will in advance and everyone knows who is going to be put on the ballot.  The only drama involved is usually the vice-presidential pick.  The press is trying to turn the primaries into something just as boring.  Rather than allow the process to work to refine and define a set of candidates down to a few, they want a nominee now.  The fact that the Republican field is still wide open, even though there are some good candidates in the mix, shows just how lazy, juvenile and impatient the press is.  Rather than investigate and report on these candidates, they complain that it is a weak field.

And to that I say, the only thing evidently weak is the state of American journalism.

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One Step Forward, Ten Steps Back

May 10, 2011 10:03 by KRM

First let me say that it really is a big deal that we finally killed Osama Bin Laden, if truly did it. I know there are many out there demanding to see the photos the SEAL team took as proof that we indeed got Bin Laden.  But this administration has bungled this so bad that I see no reason to doubt that they actually did kill Bin Laden.  Let me explain.

Getting to Bin Laden involved multiple agencies, all manner of intelligence gathering techniques, a lot of hard work and time.  There was much to be gained by this operation, which some believe was actually opposed by Obama.  Killing Bin Laden would bring closure to thousands of Americans still angry about 9/11.  It would certainly improve Obama’s image as a leader.  And locating Bin Laden would also be a great intelligence boon for he would be surrounded the tools he used to plan attacks – computer, files, notebooks, maps, etc.   Bin Laden himself would certainly be worth more alive than dead, especially as an information source.

So what makes me think they bungled it?  First, the actual handling of the attack.  Capturing Bin Laden would have been better than killing him.  Taking him to Guantanamo and waterboarding every last ounce of data from his miserable body would’ve been going easy on him for the atrocities he orchestrated against New York City, Washington and Pennsylvania.  Second, the handling of the announcement.  The president didn’t wait to address the nation, but immediately went on the air to brag about how his administration had succeeded.  We just obtained the greatest source of Al Qaeda data ever – the evil mastermind’s lair, and what do we do?  Telegraph to the world that we found massive amounts of data and will be sifting through it in short order and then coming after more bad guys.  Think those bad guys are going to stay put for very long now?    Right, neither do I.

Doing the right thing, whether we actually killed or capture Bin Laden, would’ve meant keeping the incident a secret, at least initially. That would give our intelligence apparatus time to go through the data and take out more Al Qaeda without them knowing it was coming. 

I think the Obama administration’s response to this victory is very telling.  He really isn’t in this for us, but for himself.  Given his position in opinion polls, he hoped to succeed where Carter had failed.  And he did, but part of being a good leader includes knowing when to take credit for something and when not to.  There would be time, say next year, when revealing the details would have not only been more advantageous to his re-election chances, but also given us more time to secretly act on the intel we gathered.  But blabbing to the world the way they did makes me even wonder whether they  truly want to defeat Al Qaeda or not.   

In the end, I guess this simply is what you get when you elect a neophyte and not a leader to be president.  Every opportunity to beat the chest and say look at me, even at the cost of what is best for the nation, is going to be exploited.

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