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Is It News?

[ 28 ] July 28, 2008 |

Emily Bazelon and Hanna Rosin discuss the news value of the National Enquirer story about John Edwards’s alleged affair. Both score some points. I guess that in a world where Maureen Dowd can win a Pulitzer Prize it’s hard to dispute that under existing standards “it “is news, absolutely clearly and by any definition I can think of.” From Edwards’s standpoint, if he did it he had to know the risks he was taking and can’t be shocked that he was exposed. Modern politics, for better or worse, means that you can’t expect discretion about your private affairs. After all, in this campaign we’ve seen the Paper of Record engage in innuendos about John McCain with less basis than this.

Having said that, on a normative level — if we ask whether this should be considered news by the serious press — Rosin is right. It is unlikely that Edwards will be a candidate for vice presidency, and as for the possibility that he could be Attorney General, please. I don’t recall extensive discussions about Michael Mukasey’s sex life during his confirmation hearings, almost as if they were completely irrelevant to his performance in office. The analogies with Craig and Vitter are null, and not only because there’s no contradiction with any policy being advocated by Edwards. Edwards wasn’t testifying in open court. The mainstream media didn’t discuss Craig’s sexual proclivities until he was arrested and his colleagues demanded he resign, both of which are actual news (although the coverage was, I think, greatly overblown and calls on him to resign ridiculous.) In the midst of this gruesome thigh-rubbing, Roger L. Simon cries crocodile tears about how “playing this game while his wife had cancer makes it contemptible beyond words.” Leaving aside that if I were his wife I would (as Rosin says) prefer to be left alone, what would Simon say about an actual current candidate for President who cheated on and then unceremoniously dumped his wife after she was in a horrible accident? Why, he would support him, of course. Because when you get down to cases almost nobody really thinks that this kind of thing matters in evaluating candidates for higher office; it’s a way of trashing people you already dislike for independent political reasons. And this is entirely appropriate.

So, basically, the current confinement of the story to the National Enquirer seems exactly right, and I hope it both continues and (while we’re dreaming) is applied more consistently.

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Supply and Demand Is Over…If You Want It!

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |

Shorter John McCain: “Economists don’t understand that a gas tax holiday will work to significantly reduce gas prices because I’m going to have oil companies sit down and tell them to cut the bullshit.”

One one have thought that the Republican candidate’s intellectual capacity and command of policy detail could only go up, but apparently not.

Far Beyond Roe

[ 10 ] July 28, 2008 |

For those who think that the threat John McCain poses to American women is the anti-Roe median vote he would try to put on the Supreme Court, Kate Sheppard and Kathy G. make clear that the problems a McCain presidency would pose would go far beyond this. One of the many valuable things about Kate’s piece is her point that Democrats need John McCain to be forced to clarify his very reactionary position on abortion as much as possible. I would also suggest that an anti-McCain ad on the subject should start with his support for the too-draconian-for-South-Dakota abortion ban and go from there.

Random Film Links

[ 0 ] July 28, 2008 |
  • Self-Styled Siren on Le Crime de Monsieur Lange (and the number of great movies still unavailable on Region 1 DVD).
  • Michael Wood on David Lean.
  • Glen Kenney on Bresson.
  • David Edelstein gets, as one would expect, a considerable amount of negative feedback for being a Dark Knight detractor (I’m not endorsing his view; I haven’t seen it yet.) In the course of the post, he says that “It took awhile for the fanboys to come around to the consensus that The Phantom Menace was inept — I got death wishes for that review, too.” As I’ve said before, it wasn’t just fanboys but a remarkably large number of professional critics who for whatever reason were compelled to be apologetic: check out the number of 60+ scores for a stupefyingly dull movie with a level of acting and writing well below the standards of a typical made-for-Lifetime joint. To correct the historical record, it was Masterpiece-A-Week Maslin, not Elvis Mitchell, who slobbered all over Lucas’s stillbirth in the Times.

Evolution Happens Quickly These Days!

[ 0 ] July 27, 2008 |

The formerly significant gap in math SAT scores between men and women has essentially been erased.

The Obvious Proved

[ 9 ] July 26, 2008 |

Shockingly, the Clinton logic that because Obama performed worse against her in the Democratic primary among Hispanics that he was therefore doomed to struggle against them in the general turns out to be faulty. Why, the next thing you know you’ll tell me that Clinton would have gotten more than 10% of the African-American vote against McCain!

Pirate Booty

[ 45 ] July 26, 2008 |

While picking up something at the hardware store today, I heard a talk radio guy complain that the Pirates were driving too hard a bargain on players who rightfully belong to the Yankees, boo-hoo. But when you’ve recently benefited from trades that seem to be crackpot talk radio caller proposals, why no expect to add useful parts without losing anything significant? So, right on cue, following Pat Gillick generously donating OBP machine Bobby Abreu and the late Cory Lidle to the Yanks two years ago in exchange for a 2-for-1 McDLT coupon, the Pirates gave the Yankees decent RH outfielder Xavier Nady and outstanding LH reliever Damaso Marte. In exchange, the only quality prospect they received is someone (admittedly only 19) who can’t hit AA pitching and already has wrist and hamstring problems. But he’s toolsy so he may learn to hit someday. Ehh. Moreover, they took this highly underwhelming package several days before the deadline despite several contending teams in the market for outfield and bullpen help. I’m tempted to say that nothing has changed in Pittsburgh, although in fairness if Littlefield was still there they would have received Pavano, Igawa, and the rights to Dave LaPoint instead of two of the prospects.

I’m tempted at this point to bet Howard a donation to the anti-Prop 8 campaign that the Yankees win the division outright. Not because the Sox didn’t hit tonight per se — two excellent pitchers combined with Foster’s Alice-in-Wonderland strike zone will do that — but because Ramirez may be hurt and Ortiz doesn’t look anywhere near 100%. With the bottom of the order having become a vast wasteland and the leadoff hitter looking almost equally atrocious, they can’t afford to have both of these guys out or in significantly subpar form, especially with Drew bound to cool off. Maybe Manny will be Manny tomorrow and Papi will shake off the rust more quickly than his performance tonight would indicate, but it wouldn’t be very surprising for the Yankees to outplay them by 3 games the rest of the way, especially with Cashman having addressed their weakness against lefthanders while giving up nothing they’ll miss.

If You Like Counterproductive Imperialism, You’ll Love McCain

[ 10 ] July 25, 2008 |

Ilan Goldberg explains why imperialism is not a sound strategy for dealing with Iraq. Matt is correct to note that Charles Krauthammer “wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, Bush wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, and McCain wants an imperial relationship with Iraq, but Iraqis don’t and thus Maliki prefers Obama.” The key graf:

McCain, like George Bush, envisions the United States seizing the fruits of victory from a bloody and costly war by establishing an extensive strategic relationship that would not only make the new Iraq a strong ally in the war on terror but would also provide the U.S. with the infrastructure and freedom of action to project American power regionally, as do U.S. forces in Germany, Japan and South Korea.

Ah, yes, “infrastructure.” This would seem to mean “permanent military bases, which, in distinct contrast to those in Germany, Japan, and South Korea would be maintained despite the strong opposition of the Iraqi government and Iraqi population, and hence will present the likelihood of perpetual conflict for no obvious benefits.” But at least American military presence in a major Middle Eastern nation hasn’t played a large role in motivating a recent major terrorist attack on an American city or anything. Oh wait…

See also Ackerman.

Bush Administration Lawbreaking

[ 0 ] July 25, 2008 |

An interactive guide.

You Are The Sucker: Chuck Schumer Edition

[ 0 ] July 24, 2008 |

Some eminently predictable buyer’s remorse:

When President Bush tapped Michael B. Mukasey to lead the scandal-plagued Justice Department nine months ago, Senator Charles E. Schumer could not say enough good things about his fellow New Yorker. Mr. Schumer ran out of time in ticking off Mr. Mukasey’s accomplishments at his Senate hearing, and the senator’s vote of support ensured his confirmation as attorney general.

Yet at a hearing this month, face to face with his pick for attorney general, Mr. Schumer, a Democrat, did not hide his disappointment in what he saw as Mr. Mukasey’s reluctance to move more aggressively in investigating accusations that the Justice Department had brought politically inspired prosecutions against Democratic politicians.

Mr. Schumer was still fuming a short time later as he went to the Senate floor for a vote. “That was terrible,” Mr. Schumer told a colleague privately in assessing Mr. Mukasey’s performance, an official privy to the conversation said.

Why Schumer would find this surprising remains a mystery. But I, for one, don’t trust the Judiciary Committee to protect us against a bad Supreme Court appointment if McCain gets elected, especially since Feinstein is even more of a wet.

"Our Greatest Vulnerability Is That We’re Complete Morons Willing To Spend Unlimited Amounts of Time Developing Insane Theories About Trivia."

[ 1 ] July 24, 2008 |

Evidently, PUMAs who are also Obama Birth Certificate Truthers are ipso facto among the most pathetic conspiracy theorists in history. But if you’re going to be pathetic you should at least seek the highest levels of unintentional humor, and one has to admit that they’ve reached them:

Jackson, I’m not sure that any info on the COLB is fake, but perhaps the document was set up to appear to be fake, so that we would spend hundreds of hours studying it…

Yes. That must be it.

The Vindication Of Wes Clark

[ 13 ] July 23, 2008 |

The news that John McCain doesn’t understand even basic facts about the strategy around which he’s conducting most of his campaign is obviously extremely important. First, CBS’s judicious editing demonstrates the extent to which the media is still willing to cover for Maverick McStraightTalk. But more importantly, is also reminds us that Wes Clark was right. McCain’s war heroism is admirable, and can even be seen as some sort of qualification for the presidency, but it most certainly does not constitute foreign policy expertise. In fact, McCain has both awful substantive views on foreign affairs and frequently has no idea what he’s talking about. Given that he can barely even bother to pretend to know anything about domestic policy, this makes his case to be president exceedingly weak.

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