Boondoggle

One blogger’s personal bridge to nowhere

Sarah Palin needs a thesaurus

I’m not going to make a substantive comment on Sarah Palin’s hatchet job of an op-ed in the Post.  Instead, I’m going to do what good East Coast elites are supposed to do: make fun of her.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will “necessarily skyrocket.” So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, “poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity.” [emphasis mine]

Heh.  At least she didn’t pull out any Michael Gerson-esque similes.

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July 14, 2009 Posted by | Conservatives, U.S. politics | , , | 1 Comment

Elite media slanders Palin

I meant to publish this on Monday, the day after I read gagged on the following article on the front page of The Washington Post, announcing Sarah Palin’s resignation:

Sarah Palin, the Republican Alaska governor who captivated the nation with a combative brand of folksy politics, announced her resignation yesterday in characteristic fashion: She stood on her back lawn in Wasilla, speaking into a single microphone, accompanied by friends and neighbors in baseball hats and polo shirts.

[snip]

Palin offered few clues about her ambitions but said she arrived at her decision in part to protect her family, which has faced withering criticism and occasional mockery, and to escape ethics probes that have drained her family’s finances and hampered her ability to govern. She said leaving office is in the best interest of the state and will allow her to more effectively advocate for issues of importance to her, including energy independence and national security. [emphasis mine, in case you, dear reader, somehow missed the obsequiousness that is dripping out of this article]

I don’t think this depiction of events could be portrayed more favorably if it were written by Sarah Palin her-egomanical-self.  Some facts omitted and distorted: Palin, a polarizing figure, cannot be said to have “captivated the nation” by any objective stretch of the imagination; her account of the “frivolous ethics probes” is here taken at unquestioned face value; her family has been scorned much less than she has shoved it in the public spotlight of her own volition; and, hilariously, the notion that proximity to Russia “national security” is an “issue of importance to her” is a crassly political seed-laying.

Beyond this, though, is my continued perplexedness over how Sarah Palin and her defenders can continue to harp on “media elites,” and blame them for her downfall, when even the supposedly liberal Washington Post bends over backwards to make her look good — is a “back lawn” with “friends and neighbors in baseball hats and polo shirts” anything short of an ideal for a politician? —  in its coverage of an embarassing resignation.

In case we missed the message, the Post published this “news analysis” by Dan Balz alongside the above-quoted article:

Sarah Palin demonstrated once again yesterday that she is one of America’s most unconventional politicians, following an unpredictable path to an uncertain future.

That Alaska’s Republican governor has a flair for the theatrical — and plays by her own rules — was underscored anew by her stunning announcement that not only will she not seek reelection in 2010, she will resign her office this month.

But are Palin’s rules those of someone with the capacity to seek and win her party’s presidential nomination in 2012, as many believe is her ultimate goal, or of someone who has flashed like a meteor across the political skies but with limited impact? [emphasis, need you be reminded, mine]

When the the only other option than winning a presidential nomination is flying through the sky like a glowing meteor, I think it’s safe to say that we have an objectivity problem here.

July 8, 2009 Posted by | media, U.S. politics | , | 2 Comments

Pick one: college or newspapers?

Steve Coll at The New Yorker is baffled at how a small liberal arts college can have more funds at its disposal than a venerable institution of print media.

williams-collegeNot to pick on any one institution, but, from a constitutional perspective, how did we end up in a society where Williams College has (or had, before September) an endowment well in excess of one billion dollars, while the Washington Post, a fountainhead of Watergate and so much other skeptical and investigative reporting critical to the republic’s health, is in jeopardy. I’m sure that Williams-generated nostalgia in the emotional lives of wealthy people is hard to overestimate, but still …

Yglesias follows up on the point:

One problem here is just that The Washington Post is no Williams. Elite American colleges, whether or not they actually do a good job of educating young people, do a VERY good job of producing nostalgic alumni and prestige for themselves.

True enough, but how many alumni donors are donating out of a sense of nostalgia? Maybe — and as a resolute non-donor to my small elite liberal arts college of choice, this is somewhat ironic — I am being too naive, but don’t many alumni probably donate out of a sense of the value of a liberal education? That may just be the propaganda that we mouth, but even a cynic should acknowledge that the well of “nostalgia” is probably only so deep. A sense of “responsibility” or “appreciation” may be too much, but “guilt tripping” probably accounts for some small pool of the funds.

For the big donors, of course, donating to their alma mater has just become a matter of course; it’s an established practice to do so, so it’s a safe and acceptable place to invest one’s money. Donating to newspapers is not, which is of course at the crux of Coll’s and Yglesias’ arguments. But the unspoken corollary of this world we’ve ended up in, where Williams is awash with money but the Post is near bankrupt, is that people donate to colleges for a point as well, and that these colleges, as much or more than one particular industry, have a certain value.

(image from flickr user SERSeanCrane under a Creative Commons license)

January 30, 2009 Posted by | media, Swarthmore | , , , | 2 Comments

WaPo succumbing to Fox News-ification?

The Washington Post‘s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, promises that, both to moderate its coverage and to succeed financially in “the hyper-competitive news world,” the Post will need to work on correcting the “imbalance” in its “liberal” coverage.  Not only does this further the baseless — yet indestructible — meme that “America is a center-right nation;” it also reflects a shockingly distorted view of the news media’s purpose.

I’ve complained before that the media has a responsibility to “cover negatives negatively.”  Glenn Greenwald — and I feel no qualms about not “balancing” Greenwald’s liberalism by also quoting a conservative pundit here — reminds us that truth is also important.

What if the actual facts — i.e., “reality” — are consistent with the views of “the hard-core left” and contrary to the views of the “hard-core right”?  What if, as has plainly been the case, the conservatives’ views are wrong, false, inaccurate?   What if the McCain campaign was failing and relying on pure falsehoods and sleazy attacks, and The Post’s coverage simply reflected that reality?  It doesn’t matter.  In order to sell more newspapers, according to Howell, The Post’s news coverage must shape itself to the Right and ensure that “their views [are] reflected enough in the news pages”…

In Howell’s view, The Post shouldn’t determine its news reporting based on what is factually true.  Instead, it should shape its coverage to please this discredited, failed political movement — in order to sell more papers.  That corrupt formula is, of course, what is now meant by “journalistic balance” — say what both sides believe and take no position about what is true — and it is precisely that behavior which propped up this incomparably failed and deceitful presidency for so long.

Truth.

November 6, 2008 Posted by | media | , , | 2 Comments