As Victor Davis Hanson quips in his latest PJM post, “Somewhere around the millennium, a new style of aggressive, public-interested, and astute reporter began sermonizing in print, advising on the Internet, and lecturing us on television:”
At the time I mistakenly assumed that reporters were too often partisans who were creating new, almost impossible standards of probity in order to embarrass conservative opponents: they wanted Republican scandal first, news second. But now, I see that they were simply laying nonpartisan new ground rules for the Bush administration so that they could later prove their integrity and professionalism when a member of their own faith would come into the new crucible of public examination. There was never, you see, a hate-Bush media. So we will shortly see that now as they unrelentingly turn their scrutiny on Barack Obama and his legion of ethical and competency lapses.
Katrina’s landfall in New Orleans was a horrific natural disaster that was whipped up into the Moral Equivalent of Iraq (with apologies to both William James and Jonah Goldberg) to, as Mickey Kaus wrote at the time, allow the media to have a way “to talk about Iraq without talking about Iraq,” adding, “No wonder Gwen Ifill smiles the ‘inner smile.'”
And a rather prescient one at that.
But regime change in Iraq was a policy that President Clinton and Al Gore espoused in the 1990s (in-between the former’s regular games of golf, and other leisure-time pursuits). Of course, the media was willing to toss the history of the previous decade down the memory hole to attack President Bush on a regular basis. More from VDH:
I’ve been over here in Europe for about ten days, getting a different perspective on our illustrious media and how it is handling the various Obama “troubles.”
Perspective and distance are sometime valuable. I used to think, given the enormous size of the bureaucracy and the tragic nature of the human condition, that from time to time disasters would overwhelm us — and there would be not much the president of the United States could do about them. But after Katrina, the media taught me that neither the mayor nor the governor nor the Army Corps of Engineers nor the people of New Orleans were at fault for either the vulnerability to the chance of a catastrophic Katrina or the response after its arrival. No, you see, the commander in chief is the ultimate arbiter of successful or unsuccessful reactions to all such disasters. OK, so be it.
So while I am not inclined to blame Barack Obama for the scandalous federal laxity in the now polluted Gulf, the media long ago taught me that I most certainly should.
I don’t play golf. Never have swung a club. But in the spirit of live and let live, I also never cared much for deconstructing the game in terms of culture and sociology. The media, however, in 2002, taught met that I should in the case of George Bush — that his swing and even his use of a golf cart reflected a certain class disdain for us, or at least a frat-boy frivolity at a time of two ongoing wars. So while I would like to give our present president a pass on his obsession with playing golf at a frequency far in excess to poor George Bush’s, I cannot. I am conditioned now to grasp that Obama’s golf craze is a sort of self-indulgence reflective of a disturbing narcissist who entertains a shocking indifference toward the rest of us.
Sort of along the lines of the media’s caricatures of Dick Cheney, albeit without the competence, or executive-level experience acquired working under multiple American presidents, including the first President Bush.
And speaking of whom: “Message: I care.”