Some Thoughts for Mid-July
Lot of recent puffery resulting from the Supreme Court’s “Hamdan vs Rumsfeld” decision. Commentators on both sides have been weighing in, with the left predictably characterizing the Court’s decision as a major defeat for President Bush and the right, equally predictably, trying to minimize the damage. The Washington Times has been running a multi-part series by David Rivkin and Lee Casey with analysis. I find Part III particularly interesting. It would appear that the Court’s decision in this matter is rather more narrowly focused than either side wants to realize. Bottom line, the opinion of the Court seems to be that while Bush overstepped his bounds in the treatment of war on terror detainees, it’s more that legal details weren’t properly seen to than anything else. The Court decision does not mean that the gates of Guantanamo must be thrown open.
A recent article by Thomas Sowell points out the negativity in the press with regard to the situation in Iraq (and to a lesser degree Afghanistan).
I have a real fear about this. More and more, the press is alienating itself from the people it’s supposed to be serving. The more the bias of the reporting becomes obvious, the more middle America is tuning it out. The country is already heading towards becoming two opposing camps of polarized reactionaries (just look at those blogs on the right of this page, or think about the Red State/Blue State nonsense) and if the supposedy “fair and balanced” press becomes perceived as serving only one side’s interest, then it loses its vital role as watchdog and guarantor of the people’s freedom. If half (or more) of the population automatically discounts whatever the press reports due to a perception of political bias, then nothing that gets reported will be taken seriously. This is a dangerous road to tread, and the press’s refusal to see the damage it’s doing to itself is all the more worrying. But then, this has always been the consequence of one group of people deciding that they know better than anyone else . . . they turn first elitist and then incestuous. Ultimately, by virtue of alienating the general population, they render themselves irrelevent. Our scandal-mongering “if it bleeds it leads” news media are blindly heading over a cliff. Then where will we be? A nation that gets all its “news” from opinion pieces in blogs? That’s a frightening possibility. Much of this can be understood as the consequences of short-term thinking. The media, like most other American businesses, has been taken over by the accountants. Their pursuit of immediate profits over all other considerations drives the sensationalistic nature of media coverage and also leads to the emergence of personality-driven reporting/opinion, as seen in the disrgaceful displays by Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, Al Franken, and James Carville and their ilk. Single-issue groups like MoveOn.org or the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth add to the muck, casting everything in the light of their particular obsessions.
We here in the middle, gentle reader, must beware these trends. We must filter, consider, oh-so-carefully judge based on thorough consideration of all available information just where the real truth of any given situation might lie.
We are heading for dark times, I fear. The demogogues are taking over. Reason is being replaced by reaction.
Hold your torches firmly and keep your cynicism fully engaged, my friends. Only that will see us thru.