As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Thursday, March 01, 2007

All Apologies

There's this ritual in Presidential politics of the gaffe, or hiring of someone untoward, followed by outrage and recrimination, followed by apology or firing. It's getting to be depressingly routine:

Republican presidential candidate Duncan Hunter has dropped two top South Carolina advisers a week after they were appointed because of their inflammatory statements about immigrants and religious minorities.

Hunter spokesman Roy Tyler confirmed Thursday that former GOP lieutenant governor candidate Henry Jordan and Horry County Auditor Lois Eargle would no longer serve as campaign co-chairs.

Eargle said the California congressman's decision was disappointing.

"I am so disgusted with politicians who do not have the backbone to stand up for the concerns of the American people," Eargle said in a statement provided to The Associated Press.

Does anyone credibly believe that Duncan Hunter was duped into hiring these two xenophobes in the first place? Of course not.

Then there's the case of the inconvenient word:

Republican Sen. John McCain announced his candidacy for president during a TV appearance, and then announced he will announce his candidacy again next month [...]

Discussing the war with Letterman, McCain repeated his assertion that U.S. troops must remain in Iraq rather than withdrawing early even though the war has been mismanaged.

"Americans are very frustrated, and they have every right to be," McCain said. "We've wasted a lot of our most precious treasure, which is American lives."

In February, Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama described the lives of troops in Iraq as having been "wasted" but then apologized a day later for making what he called "a slip of the tongue" that he said was not meant to diminish their sacrifice.

There was the beating of chests from the DNC, followed by a McCain apology. But aside from the facts that everyone in the insanepsphere, who were so riled up about Obama's exact same comment, said nothing about McCain's, has any harm been done here? Whether you use the word "waste" or "sacrifice" (and I would say "waste" is more accurate), doesn't anybody NOT know what you're actually saying?

These bubbles of outrage are very easy for the press to cover and dissect. No reporting is required, just people spitballing back and forth about what the candidate should do and who won what round and will the candidate condemn the comments of such and such. It's a huge game of kabuki and it has nothing to do with the issues people actually need to hear. In some cases the press goes and creates the controversy they so desperately want to see (h/t FDL).

In an article for the March 5 edition of Newsweek about Maureen Dowd's controversial February 21 New York Times interview (subscription required) with Hollywood mogul David Geffen, a longtime donor to former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-NY) who is supporting Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination, Evan Thomas reported that Dowd told the magazine, in Thomas' words, that during her interview with Geffen, "Geffen did not seem out to get the Clintons," adding: "Dowd says Geffen was initially reluctant to be interviewed for her column. … Dowd says she was the one who brought up questions about Bill Clinton's past as a campaign issue."

I'm a little ashamed that the blogosphere seems to be following the herd on this one, although the spikes in posts that Ezra sees could be attributed to people like me yelling about the meaninglessness of these fake controversies. I just wish we didn't have to go through this ritual of self-flagellation and public disavowal every day, and that we could actually weigh policy matters. And at any rate I think it's far too early to begin with.

Labels: , , , ,