Saturday, June 18, 2011

Chapter 34. Pusillanimous Pawlenty

"Haagen Dazs could put his picture on vanilla," Bill O'Reilly quipped to fellow Fox newsman Chris Wallace on the June 10 O'Reilly Factor program.  The "his" in their conversation was former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty.

What an insult to vanilla ice cream.  After all, it's smooth; Pawlenty often looks like the socially clueless dad from a 90's sitcom, as he did while responding to the slight, to Wallace a couple of days later.  Vanilla ice cream is consistent; Pawlenty is an example of the so-called moderate Republican whose modus operandi is triangulating answers to major policy issues, then parsing, mincing, or downright denying when the politically correct vector has moved. 

In 2007 Pawlenty signed on to a regional cap and trade scheme; in 2008 he joined then-Arizona Governor Janet 'Big Sis' Napolitano in a radio ad sponsored by the Environmental Defense Fund to promote climate change fiction; and in 2009 he was touting wind energy and ethanol at a farm event "with a down-home message tailored to his rural audience."  Yet, just this week he attempted to shove all of this down the memory hole in in interview on CNBC Squawk Box, in responding to a cap and trade question by Jack Welch, saying that he had "flirted with it for sure, but I've just admitted my mistake."  During the first Republican debate on May 5, Pawlenty said the issue was one of his "clunkers."

Back in 2007 Pawlenty signed into Minnesota state law the Omnibus Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill, which "provided funding for the Health Care Transformation Task Force, a panel of health care experts charged with exploring ways to reduce health care spending, improve quality, and ensure that Minnesota develops a universal health care plan by 2011." (Kaiser Foundation Report)  By 2010, the Governor had backed off the idea, and on June 12 coined the phrase "Obamney care" as a shot across the bow of Mitt Romney's candidacy for president.  But, true to fashion when given the chance to fire again during the televised CNN Republican debate the very next day, he sputtered and withered and ended his bid to become the 45th President of the United States.

Good.  The Republican Party needs a quick and ruthless winnowing fan to separate the candidates from the candy asses, if they are to unseat a President who reportedly will raise $1,000,000,000 to spend on re-election.

Quotient out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Chapter 33. The Third-And-A-Half Estate

"Our liberty depends on the freedom of the press, and that cannot be limited without being lost."  Thomas Jefferson, 1786
The term "Fourth Estate" generally refers to the press, or in its most modern sense the collective various news media, which has long been recognized as a powerful, unregulated societal check and balance.  An independent and vigorous media is an indispensable protector against a tyranny of the elite or of the mob.

Too bad it no longer exists in America.

On June 9 the New York Times published a post entitled, Help Us Review the Sarah Palin E-Mail Records, in which NYT blogger Derek Willis implores readers to "help us identify interesting and newsworthy e-mails, people and events that we may want to highlight."  The former governor's emails were scheduled to be (and were) released the next day, and apparently the grande dame of newspapers found the task of reporting on the information dump (which they had requested) too onerous a slog for her aging, ailing bones.

Never mind that so far Mr. Willis' ochlocratic experiment yielded such world-shakers as "Concern about Transformers" and "Offer to Donate a Wedding Dress to Bristol."  No doubt they were hoping for something along the lines of, "Gov. Palin hiding Amelia Earhart and Jimmy Hoffa!"  The post-modern blurring between the accountability and privilege of the media's job, and the delustional aspiration of every unemployed, politically motivated journalism wannabe is a continuing danger to our republic.  No less than an Amendment to our Constitution protects the media's right to investigate and report facts that might be unflattering or even scandalous to rich and common alike.  Power and responsibility always go together, a simple lesson that has been tossed aside by the web-based, social mediated, instant gratification, "trust fund" journalists of today.  The best thing the New York Times, and other media outlets that are resorting to this so-called "crowdsourcing" technique can do, is buy a sturdy overcoat, a thick-soled pair of shoes, a miniature tape recorder, and get out there and pay their dues.

Or, change the motto of the paper to, "All the news that's in our inbox."

Quotient out.

Monday, May 30, 2011