Op-Ed by Eugene Robinson
Eugene Robinson—The most dreadful burden of the presidency — the power to send men and women to die for their country — seems to weigh heavily on Barack Obama these days. He went to Dover Air Force Base to salute the coffins of fallen troops. He gave a moving speech at the memorial service for victims of last week’s killings at Fort Hood. On Veterans Day, after the traditional wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetery, he took an unscheduled walk among the rows of marble headstones in Section 60, where the dead from our two ongoing wars are buried.
Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist, Eugene Robinson
As he decides whether to escalate the war in Afghanistan, Obama should keep these images in mind. Geopolitical calculation has human consequences. Sending more troops will mean more coffins arriving at Dover, more funerals at Arlington, more stress and hardship for military families. It would be wrong to demand such sacrifice in the absence of military goals that are clear, achievable and worthwhile.
And what goals in Afghanistan remotely satisfy those criteria?
The Washington Post reported Wednesday that the U.S. ambassador to Kabul, Karl Eikenberry, recently sent two classified cables to officials in Washington expressing what the newspaper described as “deep concerns” about sending more troops now.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, chosen by Obama to lead U.S. forces in Afghanistan, has asked for perhaps 40,000 additional troops to carry out a counterinsurgency campaign. Armchair Napoleons in Washington, comfortably ensconced in their book-lined offices, insist that Obama must “listen to the generals.” But Eikenberry was a four-star general until Obama named him ambassador earlier this year. He commanded U.S. troops in Afghanistan in 2006-07. He needs to be heard as well.
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Op-ed by Frank Rich
New York Times/Frank Rich—FOR all cable news’s efforts to inflate Election 2009 into a cliffhanger as riveting as Balloon Boy, ratings at MSNBC and CNN were flat Tuesday night. But not at Fox News, where the audience nearly doubled its usual prime-time average. That’s what happens when you have a thrilling story to tell, and what could be more thrilling than a revolution playing out in real time?
Frank Rich/The New York Times
As Fox kept insisting, all eyes were glued on Doug Hoffman, the insurgent tea party candidate in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. A “tidal wave” was on its way, said Sean Hannity, and the right would soon “take back the Republican Party.” The race was not “even close,” Bill O’Reilly suggested to the pollster Scott Rasmussen, who didn’t disagree. When returns showed Hoffman trailing, the network’s resident genius, Karl Rove, knowingly reassured viewers that victory was in the bag, even if we’d have to stay up all night waiting for some slacker towns to tally their votes. (Posters note: see SNL spoof video)
Alas, the Dewey-beats-Truman reveries died shortly after midnight, when even Fox had to concede that the Democrat, Bill Owens, had triumphed in what had been Republican country since before Edison introduced the light bulb. For the far right, the thriller in Watertown was over except for the ludicrous morning-after spin that Hoffman’s loss was really a victory. For the Democrats, the excitement was just beginning. New York’s 23rd could be celebrated as a rare bright spot on a night when the party’s gubernatorial candidates lost in Virginia and New Jersey.
The Democrats’ celebration was also premature: Hoffman’s defeat is potentially more harmful to them than to the Republicans. Tuesday’s results may be useless as a predictor of 2010, but they are not without value as cautionary tales. And the most worrisome for Democrats were not in Virginia and New Jersey, but, paradoxically, in the New York contests where they performed relatively well. That includes the idiosyncratic New York City mayor’s race that few viewed as a bellwether of anything. It should be the most troubling of them all for President Obama’s cohort — even though neither Obama nor the national political parties were significant players in it.
But first let’s make a farewell accounting of the farce upstate. The reason why the Democratic victory in New York’s 23rd is a mixed blessing is simple: it increases the odds that the Republicans will not do Democrats the great favor of committing suicide between now and the next Election Day.
This race was a damaging setback for the hard right. Hoffman had the energetic support of Sarah Palin, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and Fox as well as big bucks from their political auxiliaries. Furthermore, Hoffman was running not only in a district that Rove himself described as “very Republican” but one that fits the demographics of the incredibly shrinking G.O.P. The 23rd is far whiter than America as a whole — 93 percent versus 74 — with tiny sprinklings of blacks, Hispanics and Asians. It has few immigrants. It’s rural. Its income and education levels are below the norm. Only if the district were situated in Dixie — or Utah — could it be a more perfect fit for the narrow American demographic where the McCain-Palin ticket had its sole romps last year.
Fox News isn’t just bad. It’s un-American
Newsweek/Jacob Weisburg —Last week, when White House Communications Director Anita Dunn charged the Fox News Channel with right-wing bias, Fox responded the way it always does. It denied the accusation with a straight face while proceeding to confirm it with its coverage.
Consider Fox’s Web story on the episode. It quotes five people. Two of them work for Fox. All of them assert that administration officials are either wrong in substance or politically foolish to criticize the network. No one is cited supporting Dunn’s criticisms or saying that it could make sense for Obama to challenge the network’s power. It’s a textbook example of a biased journalism.
If you were watching Fox News Channel, you saw the familiar roster of platinum pundettes and anchor androids reciting the same soundbites: this was Obama’s version of Nixon’s enemies list, the rest of the news media is in Obama’s corner, Obama should get back to governing, and so on. On The O’Reilly Factor, Alan Colmes, the network’s weak, battered house liberal, mumbled semi-agreement while “Doctor” Monica Crowley and Bill O’Reilly lit up the scoreboard with these talking points.
Any news organization that took its responsibilities seriously would take pains to cover presidential criticism fairly. It would regard doing so as itself a test of integrity. At Fox, by contrast, complaints of unfairness prompt only hoots of derision and demands for “evidence” that, when presented, is brushed off and ignored.
There is no need to get bogged down in this phony debate, which itself constitutes an abuse of the fair-mindedness of the rest of the media. One glance at Fox’s Web site or five minutes’ random viewing of the channel at any hour of the day demonstrates its all-pervasive slant. The lefty documentary Outfoxed spent a lot of time mustering evidence that Fox managers order reporters to take the Republican side. But after 13 years under Roger Ailes, Fox employees skew news right as instinctively as fish swim.
‘Judged by the standard of influencing the conversation, Think Progress is flourishing.’~Politico
The 44D’s just wanted to take a moment and celebrate the blogger’s at ThinkProgress and the TP community. It’s not often that the MSM gives blogger’s recognition for all the hard work they do, even when they use blogger’s reporting in their own stories. Today, hopefully will mark a turning point in that behavior, and investigative blogger’s will earn the respect they so genuinely deserve.
Thank you TP for providing both excellent reporting and a place for honest political discussion.
Politico/Daniel Libit—Can a liberal blog launched in the midst of the Bush era – a blog that once obsessed over Alberto Gonzales, Donald Rumsfeld, Karl Rove and the outing of Valerie Plame – still make its mark in the age of Obama?
In the case of Think Progress, the answer so far is yes.
Since January, the online arm of the Center for American Progress Action Fund has embraced its new role as the pin to prick the air out of Obama opposition — largely by offering up evidence that powerful Washington interests are fertilizing grassroots conservative anger.
In April, Think Progress was the first to highlight former House Majority Leader Dick Armey’s dual role as a lobbyist for a pharmaceutical company at DLA Piper and as the chairman of FreedomWorks, which has helped organize grassroots attacks on health care reform.
In the media uproar that followed, Armey quit his DLA Piper job and Editor Faiz Shakir says the controversy called into question whether the movement against the president was astroturfed.
In the ensuing months, Think Progress’s trackers and bloggers have tried to make that point with videos and posts that undercut the opponents of President Barack Obama’s agenda.