This is long but worth it: a deep dive into a case of sexual assault on campus by Walt Bogdanich of The New York Times. If you’ve ever thought that the college form of justice discriminates against men and subjects them to unfounded accusations, here is an example of just the opposite occurring.
Not long after Tim Russert’s death, I realized that my aversion to George Stephanopoulos was not nearly as deep-seated as my aversion to David Gregory. So I switched from “Meet the Press” to “This Week” and haven’t looked back. Among other things, “This Week” regular George Will is a great entertainer, and where else other than the New York Times can you get a regular dose of Paul Krugman?
Stephanopoulos, of course, decamped for morning television months ago, never to be seen again — at least not by me. Today, at long last, marked the much-anticipated debut of his permanent replacement, former CNN foreign correspondent Christiane Amanpour. I don’t think the occasion warrants a lot of analysis. But surely a little is in order. A few points.
1. I don’t watch “This Week”; rather, I listen to the podcast. So if there were any changes to the set, I wouldn’t know. For what it’s worth, I thought Amanpour, her guests and her panelists all sounded fine.
2. It was a good first week for Amanpour. She had two major gets, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates. If Amanpour’s questions failed to elicit any major news, neither did she embarrass herself. In any event, with rare exceptions, top government officials are going to say what they’re going to say regardless of what they are asked.
3. Though “This Week” seemed pretty much the same as it always has, Amanpour did shake things up a bit, as Pakistani journalist Ahmed Rashid joined the roundtable from Spain. Over time, I’m hoping that Amanpour turns the entire format upside-down, eschewing political chit-chat for real substance. Perhaps this was one small step in that direction.
4. Jake Tapper deserves kudos for the way he handled “This Week” as a fill-in host the past several months. By taking a few chances (especially by embracing of New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen’s suggestion that he add fact-checking to the show), Tapper demonstrated that there’s still some life left in the old format.
If, for some reason, Amanpour doesn’t work out, or if ABC News decides to use her elsewhere, then Tapper would be a natural — and I think viewers would accept him far more readily than they would have before his stint as a substitute.
This Associated Press story is a good example of the mindless way in which Senate majority leader Harry Reid’s stupid remarks about President Obama and race are being compared to those of Trent Lott in 2002. Lott was forced to step down as Senate majority leader after he endorsed Strom Thurmond’s segregationist presidential campaign 54 years after the fact.
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, calls it “a clear double standard” if Democrats do not remove Reid. Good grief.
The difference, plain enough to anyone who wants to engage his or her brain: Reid, though his words were awkward and racially insensitive, was expressing his enthusiasm that an African-American might be elected president. Reid said Obama was electable because he was a “light-skinned” African-American “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.”
Reid’s words were unfortunate, to say the least. But Lott, who had long been active in racist politics back home in Mississippi, was essentially saying it was a damn shame those blacks were ever allowed to drink from the non-colored water fountain. Here’s what Lott said at Thurmond’s 100th-birthday party:
I want to say this about my state. When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years either.
There’s really no comparison, and sensible people of all ideological stripes know that. Check out how conservative pundit George Will put Lynne Liz Cheney in her place on ABC’s “This Week” after Cheney claimed Reid’s words were “racist”:
WILL: I don’t think there’s a scintilla of racism in what Harry Reid said. At long last, Harry Reid has said something that no one can disagree with, and he gets in trouble for it.
CHENEY: George, give me a break. I mean, talking about the color of the president’s skin …
WILL: Did he get it wrong?
CHENEY: … and the candidate’s …
WILL: Did he say anything false?
CHENEY: … it’s — these are clearly racist comments, George.
WILL: Oh, my, no.
Indeed. Oh, my. No. Despite Reid’s idiotic choice of words, this remains a racially charged society, and his analysis — as Will noted — happened to be exactly correct.
Thought you might enjoy George Will’s response on “This Week” when George Stephanopoulos asked him about Dick Cheney’s accusation that President Obama, by taking his time before deciding on a strategy in Afghanistan, is “dithering while America’s armed forces are in danger.” Here’s how Will began:
A bit of dithering might have been in order before we went into Iraq in pursuit of nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. For a representative of the Bush administration to accuse someone of taking too much time is missing the point. We have much more to fear in this town from hasty than from slow government action.
Good stuff, although a few caveats are in order. First, though Will is a conservative, he’s not a neoconservative, and he’s been notably less enthusiastic about foreign adverturism over the years than his neobrethren. Second, he came out against the war in Afghanistan weeks ago. Third, Will has never been much taken with the Bush clan or its minions.
But still. With the war-mongering Laura Ingraham fulminating on the same set today (and when is she going to enlist?), it was heartening to hear a sane conservative call out Cheney’s posturing for what it is.
Columnist George Will today calls for the near-total withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, writing:
[F]orces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters.
Will’s column is not a huge surprise — he’s been offering previews on ABC’s “This Week.” His assessment matters because of his status as a conservative icon, although, as a traditional conservative rather than a neocon, he was never as gung-ho about war in the Middle East as, say, William Kristol.
Giving Will’s views even more resonance is an especially bleak assessment by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the American commander in Afghanistan, who is calling for a far greater commitment of U.S. forces.
President Obama faces an incredibly difficult dilemma. He campaigned on a platform of shifting resources from Iraq to the conflict in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arguing that the move was necessary to deny Al Qaeda a refuge. Yet that’s a dubious proposition, given that Al Qaeda could move anywhere. Indeed, the only reason it’s in Afghanistan is because it was chased out of Sudan.
But before you say we should let Afghanistan go, remember that Pakistan is unstable and armed with nuclear weapons.
Is Will right? I don’t know. I do know that if Obama can meet American security needs without putting American troops in harm’s way, then he should do so as quickly as possible.
In my latest for The Guardian, I take a look at the insurrection with the ranks of the Washington Post over George Will’s repeated mischaracterizations of the scientific evidence for human-caused global warming.
In my latest for the Guardian, I take a look at George Will’s error-riddled column on global warming — and at how his arrogance, combined with the Washington Post’s defensiveness, succeeded in turning a one-day story into a two-week (and counting) siege.