Sunday, September 02, 2007

On an unrelated note

You have only to read this NYT "profile" on Condi Rice to realize news reporting and news coverage is absolutely driven by the prevailing wisdom and the perceived position of that vast and unknown quantity, "public opinion." As the article itself says:

There was a time when, perhaps more than Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama, Condoleezza Rice seemed to have the best shot at becoming the first woman or the first African-American to be president. But that was before she sounded public alarms based on faulty intelligence to justify the Iraq war, telling CNN, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” It was before a former top Bush administration colleague, David Kay, charged with finding unconventional weapons after the Iraq invasion, referred to Ms. Rice in Bob Woodward’s “State of Denial” as “probably the worst national security adviser since the office was created.”
Note there isn't a lot of new information there, and it implicitly links Ms. Rice's decline to what can only be called "old news" about this Administration. No mention of Ms. Rice, for example, shopping for shoes while New Orleans drowned. It's true that the idea of Condi Rice for President came first, Woodward's book second. But the declinein Rice's status has come only recently; it didn't start in 2006, and it was actually precipitated by her non-involvement in the Katrina debacle, as much as by her championing a war, as National Security Advisor, that couldn't have gone worse. In the article she acknowledges the war in Iraq as a "stain" on her legacy. Curious language for someone who warned us of the "mushroom cloud" that would be the final, deadly proof that her boss was right about those WMD he was no disastrously wrong about. But the real "tell" of the piece, the real proof that public opinion has swung so hard against this Administration that no blow is too low, is in the next paragraph:

And it was before furious Lebanese hung a huge banner depicting Ms. Rice’s face, with blood dripping from her lips, from a bridge in central Beirut.
What in any other context would be yet another example of foreign perfidy and a perfectly reprehensible comment on an American public official, is here the last nail in the coffin of the case against Condi Rice. How the mighty are fallen!

Did blogs have anything to do with this? I doubt it. They allowed people to speak their minds to like-minded people, but did they change the editorial policies of the mighty NYT? More likely public events did that. It is hard to find anyone other than Karl Rove who still thinks Bush is even a competent President, but the evidence for his success is now as rare as hen's teeth. Still, there is reality, and then there is reality:

Critics of the war in Iraq have long charged that the press has usually whitewashed the death and violence of the conflict by refusing to publish or air some of the most graphic images. Now a famous filmmaker -- using some of the photos that newspapers have failed to print -- is trying to do something about that.

The latest film by Brian DePalma, director of numerous well-known movies such as "Scarface," "The Untouchables" and "Carrie/" is aptly called "Redacted" and has just been shown for the first time as part of the Venice Film Festival. DePalma spoke to reporters there, saying, among other things, "Pictures are what will stop the war."

The film centers on perhaps the most horrendous known atrocity involving U.S. troops, the gang rape and murder of a 14-year-old girl and four members of her family in March 2006....

"All the images we...have of our war are completely constructed -- whitewashed, redacted," said De Palma in Venice, according to press reports. "One only hopes that these images will get the public incensed enough to get their congressmen to vote against the war."

DePalma makes use of images he has grabbed from the Web, including soldiers' home videos and photos that have never appeared in print. There's also more standard documentary film footage and the use of fictionalized techniques and characters to avoid certain legal issues, making it into an unusual kind of "docu-drama."
As for ending the war, we'll see. Humankind cannot bear very much reality. And our Congress cannot seem to connect with reality at all.

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