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There’s Something In The Air

Pogo by Digitalism off of Idealism.

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The Red Herrings That Will Shape 2012

The Article: The Biggest 2012 Political Red Herrings by Steve Kornacki in Salon

The Text: There are all sorts of uncertainties about how the political world will evolve in 2012, but we can say with confidence that an awful lot of the media’s oxygen will be sucked up by red herrings – seemingly big and exciting stories that are rooted in possibilities that have virtually no chance of coming to fruition. Here are the five biggest red herrings to watch out for in the year ahead:

1. The Hillary/Biden switch

The idea: Hillary Clinton will replace Joe Biden on the Democratic ticket in 2012 in an effort to motivate the party’s base. The move would also be a way to anoint Hillary as Obama’s successor for 2016.

Why we’ll hear about it: Because it’s an easy and irresistible, personality-based story for the media, which kicks the speculation into overdrive every time an even remotely credible political figure advances the idea.

Why it won’t happen: The reasons are many. Start with the reality that Biden hasn’t committed any fireable offenses as vice president and isn’t an electoral drag in any way. We’re not talking about Spiro Agnew or Dan Quayle here.

There’s also the fact that vice-presidential candidates, even when they’re popular and generate lots of buzz, don’t move voters in November. Just remember: The biggest V.P. mismatch of all time, between Lloyd Bentsen and Quayle in 1988, ended up being worth nothing to Michael Dukakis.

Plus, if Obama did make the switch, wouldn’t the media portray it as a desperate move – an embattled president panicking at meager poll numbers? That would only reinforce Republican efforts to caricature the Obama White House as a flailing, chaotic operation. And why would Hillary even want the job? It wouldn’t improve her positioning for 2016, if that’s what she’s interested in; she’s already the Democratic Party’s biggest star not named Obama. But if she did take Biden’s place, the general election would (unfairly) be portrayed as a referendum on her popularity. A defeat would be blamed on her and would hurt her positioning for ’16.

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Shia Under Attack In Iraq

Shia Under Attack In Iraq

Amid multiple deaths in Iraq, Shia Muslim worshippers en route to Karbala and security officers from the Kurdish region among those targeted.

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Syria’s “Road Bumps”

Syria's Road

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Does The US Really Support Arab Democracy?

The Article: End of the Pro-Democracy Pretense by Glenn Greenwood in Salon.

The Text: Media coverage of the Arab Spring somehow depicted the U.S. as sympathetic to and supportive of the democratic protesters notwithstanding the nation’s decades-long financial and military support for most of the targeted despots. That’s because a central staple of American domestic propaganda about its foreign policy is that the nation is “pro-democracy” — that’s the banner under which Americans wars are typically prettified — even though “democracy” in this regard really means “a government which serves American interests regardless of how their power is acquired,” while “despot” means “a government which defies American orders even if they’re democratically elected.”

It’s always preferable when pretenses of this sort are dropped — the ugly truth is better than pretty lies — and the events in the Arab world have forced the explicit relinquishment of this pro-democracy conceit. That’s because one of the prime aims of America’s support for Arab dictators has been to ensure that the actual views and beliefs of those nations’ populations remain suppressed, because those views are often so antithetical to the perceived national interests of the U.S. government. The last thing the U.S. government has wanted (or wants now) is actual democracy in the Arab world, in large part because democracy will enable the populations’ beliefs — driven by high levels of anti-American sentiment and opposition to Israeli actions – to be empowered rather than ignored.

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