Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Don't mention the war

Did Xpesmas come early, or did Ground-hog Day just come three weeks late?

There was another debate, which was high-stakes and crucial, and the candidates ... well, how did they come out, McClatchy Washburo?
CLEVELAND — New York Sen. Hillary Clinton came out swinging against rival Illinois Sen. Barack Obama on Tuesday night.
Whereupon they sparred and traded jabs, and somebody hit somebody else upside the head with a folding chair or something, and the championship belt was thrown into the crowd. And some people say wrestling isn't a sport.
There were fists flying almost everywhere you looked. But other than that, it was a very different sort of debate, depending on where you live and what you read. If you read the Freep (which carried the MCT report and allowed Obama to swing back in the jump hed), it was mostly a debate about who said what about whose attacks on whom. If you read the AP version that led the front page at Charlotte, same thing:
Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama blamed each other for spreading false information about their respective health care plans Tuesday night in a high-stakes debate one week before a quartet of primaries.

Unless you flipped over to the Beeb, then, you might not have noticed that they talked about other stuff too:
It was on foreign policy that there was the strongest contrast between the two candidates, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington.
In other words, if you relied on the largest paper in either of those states, you wouldn't have any blinking idea that either the press or the Democratic candidates knew the country was in a war. You were slightly luckier if you read the N&O, which (using the Post's coverage) quoted the younger candidate thus:
He continued, "The fact was this was a big strategic blunder. ... And the fact is that Senator Clinton often says that she is ready on day one, but, in fact, she was ready to give in to George Bush on day one on this critical issue -- in fact, she facilitated and enabled this individual to make a decision that has been strategically damaging to the United States of America."

ZOMG! So there are candidates on the Democratic side who will actually mention national interests and attribute responsibility for damage done to those interests? Sounds more interesting than a cheap shot or two from a SNL skit.
One of the things we try to keep track of here at the manor is news framing of the Fractious Near East, and one of the strangest trends in that domain is Iraq's move into the realm of the agentless "war-torn" states -- as if some unseen hand had come along and war-torn it, and nobody quite knows how it got that way, so there's really nothing for us to see here. To the extent that news reports are feeding that impression -- or ignoring the war (along with everything else that happens in the Mean Old World out there) under the self-fulfilling prediction that people don't want to read it because "pocketbook" issues trump all -- we're doing people a real disservice.
There's a war in Iraq. It was started by the party that claims the mantle of "national security." John McCain seems to know that. The Democrats seem to know that. Who, exactly, do editors think they're kidding when they ignore the issue?


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