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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Author and journalist Christopher Hitchens (right) and I disagree on a great many things, religion principal among them. But we seem to agree on a topic that is quickly becoming one of the main themes of my writings here.

In his most recent piece for Slate, Hitchens discusses how Obama, despite the MSM's seeming rush to declare the surge a success, has emerged largely unscathed despite having opposed the surge and been incorrect in many of his predictions (admittedly). The fact that Obama dodged a bullet isn't what's remarkable. What is?

The fact that Obama already had.

Witness this excerpt from Obama's February 21 debate with Hillary Clinton, which Hitchens cites:
Well, I think it is indisputable that we've seen violence reduced in Iraq. And that's a credit to our brave men and women in uniform. In fact, you know, the First Cavalry, out of Fort Hood, played an enormous role in pushing back al-Qaida out of Baghdad. [APPLAUSE] And, you know, we honor their service. But this is a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder. [LAUGHTER] And I think that when we're having a debate with John McCain, it is going to be much easier for the candidate who was opposed to the concept of invading Iraq in the first place to have a debate about the wisdom of that decision [APPLAUSE] than having to argue about the tactics subsequent to the decision. [LAUGHTER]

Here the Senator clearly gives credit to the surge's successes, but is in the vein of Winston Wolf - let's not start su...well, those of you who saw Pulp Fiction know the line.

A few weeks ago, I posted the greatest quote I've seen yet on the surge. It aptly sums up Obama's approach. But I don't remember seeing Obama's kind words for the surge published, discussed or analyzed. Instead...
...there was no mention of it to speak of, and most people with whom I later talked seemed not to have noticed the moment at all. In some way, the notion that Obama was beating Sen. Clinton mainly because he was more anti-war than she was the story, the whole story, and nothing but the story; and no statement that was in any way incompatible with it could be considered newsworthy. I took this up with the late Tim Russert, who shrugged a bit and added that the line of the evening—"Change you can Xerox," a vulgar taunt about Obama's alleged plagiarism from Sen. Clinton via Sidney Blumenthal—had swiftly become the agreed headline among those who decide these things. Really, there are times one is ashamed to be in the profession.

The manner in which the media is covering this race is absolutely shameful. It is the very definition of yellow journalism. The fact that the media plays up flag pins, Rev. Wright, the Muslim photo and whether or not Obama puts his hand over his heart when he says the Pledge of Allegiance results in unions that support Obama to have to send out mailers like this:

Nice of them to do and all, but damn.

Though I enjoy blaming the Republicans for things, they certainly aren't at fault for this. They're certainly complicit, but the media bears the lion's share of responsibility for this.

Why was McCain's ad declaring Obama skipped the troop visit in Germany because he couldn't bring cameras allowed to remain unquestioned for so long? (By that, I mean a day - Factcheck.org and NBC's Andrea Mitchell finally spoke up, but by then, the damage was done.)

And who holds them to account? Media Matters can't do it alone. Hopefully, the public will decide collectively to turn away from the crossfire-style punditry which was supposed to have died with, well, Crossfire.


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