Tag Archives: George Stephanopoulos

John McCain, James Dean and “Truth”

Of all the weaknesses in the McCain campaign there is none so telling as the campaign’s disrespect for language.  Democratic society cannot exist without democratic discuourse, which is comprised of a respect for words, in written and oral form.  Hopefully the McCain campaign will learn this lesson come November.

Examples of George Bush’ disrespect for the English language are amply covered on You-Tube and many other sources.  Bush’s malapropisms make Yogi Berra sound like a wordsmith. But perhaps, Bush’s problem was as much a learning disability as it was laziness.

With John McCain, it is something more insidious. His contempt for words, precision, for truth for that matter is deliberate. 

Very much an “elite;” he is not rebelling against the system; he is the system, and yet, he is rebelling against something now as he did at Annapolis. 

The key is that McCain shows contempt for anything that can hold him accountable and nothing holds people accountable like words.

Here’ a way of making sense of Mccain’s recent kartuffles with the truth.  Consider that for McCain, skirting the English language is some deluded form of rebellion.  I can’t help but think that McCain thinks he’s James Dean, the rather inarticulate hero of his young adulthood, and that his disrespect for words is sort of like Deans’ disrespect for “The Man.”

In other words, the Republican candidate for president thinks he is being cool when he skirts the truth, denies ever saying words, phrases and sentences about timelines and troop withdrawls (today’s latest example). Those are just words McCain says, and he cannot be held accountable for mere words.  He squares up mere words against conditions on the ground, thus freeing himself up to say– with a stratight talk face– that troops should stay in Iraq for one hundred years, ten years, 16 mnths, yesterday…   His words don’t matter.

McCain denied to George Stephanopoulos ever having mentioned timelines, and then said it didn’t matter if he had. 

Words are “the Man” Fu#k the Man, fu#k words, man.

Cool enuf.  Problem is, words are all we have, no democracy without ’em, no democracy if we cannot trust what our leaders tell us today, or told us yesterday.  No democracy if no transparency, and no transparency without words and language.

McCain’s trouble with the truth and his contempt for language is troubling.

I think McCain’s trouble with words might well prove his downfall.  But perhaps this is wishful thinking.


Lessons from Tim Russert

I think some progressive bloggers are wary of weighing in on Tim Russert’s life and achievements because of some recent questions of bias in his treatment of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John McCain.  He also rarely turned to progressives and lefties as policy and political experts, no matter how qualified, which is a well worn and deserved critique of the MSM.

 I share these questions, and yet, am saddened by his death and agree it leaves a huge hole in the mainstream coverage of the 08 electoral campaign.  I agree with those who have eulogized Tim Russert as one of the hardest working and thorough journalists in the field.  In my opinion he was one of the few MSM journalists worth tuning in to on Sunday morning. I always learned something, be it some new angle in the mainstream narrative some detail I had not thought of or found in other sources. 

That’s not to say I agreed with Tim Russert’s politics or with those that say he was manifestly neutral and n advocate only for the truth.  I doubt this generally, and am wary of persons who claim that journalists (like social scientists) don’t themselves bring their own biases to the game they cover or have an impact on the very stories they investigate and write about.   Neutrality simply does not exist in the post-modern universe.  

Russert had his biases.  I believe his credo was fairness, and he wasn’t gentler on one political party over another. I don’t think he played favorites that way.

But I do believe Russert was gentler on others who knew the inside game like he did; he brought down David Duke but never quite took down Bush or Cheney the same way;   Clearly he loved the inside the beltway mix, — probably almost as much as he loved Buffalo– and I think this love of the game at time blurred the lens thru which Russert interviewed McCain, Bush and Cheney.  I agree he asked the tough  questions but not always of the right people, and at times he didn’t follow through with the obvious and killer follow-up.  sometimes he let Cheney and other Bushco off the hook. As a VP at NBC he could have but didn’t unleash his investigatory team to find out the answers behind the talking heads. 

He did this several times with John McCain during the primary season. Perhaps he would have been more critical with McCain during the general election but we will never know.   I thought at the time that Russert was noticeably tougher on Hillary Clinton than John McCain. and his questioning of Obama sometimes seemed oddly 1980s (ish). 

And i hope such qualified criticism is received in the spirit of the honesty that Russert abided during his professional career. Tim Russert was about the BEST mainstream journalist around. The likes of Stephanopoulos and Gibson and and Couric and Matthews pale in comparison.  Unlike these folks, Russert was a teacher, a dissector. He got US politics.  I learned from him and for this I thank him.

He also leaves some lessons: 1) he knew his shit and simply outworked his peers on the left and right (know your shit); 2) he really was a nice guy on camera and off (no need to be a jerk); 3) He really loved what he did and quite literally died with his boots on (do what you love). what a way to go!




NYTimes Gets it Right on CNN-Pentagon “Psyops”

When Charlie Gibson and George Stephanopoulos were asking the candidates about lapel pins, 40 year old urban guerilla actions and Jeremiah Wright, the NYT was preparing to run a piece that these “journalists” surely knew about, but they asked nothing. The story has to do with the military industrial complex that symbiotically links the pentagon, media and military contractors together into a well planned out effort to manipulate emotions, objective reasoning and behavior.  Indeed the Times piece aptly named it for what it is, psyops.  

According to Wikipedia, Psyops is:

commonly used by governments, such as the United States, who do not wish to use the term propaganda, which would mar their image. The word propaganda has very negative connotations, and by calling it psychological operations instead, people are much more likely to support it, where they would be unlikely to support the use of “propaganda”. This euphemistic naming scheme is ironically an example of psychological operations — i.e. using psychological techniques to persuade a large number of people to support something that they wouldn’t normally support.”

The point I wish to add here is that what the Times reveals is nothing new, but rather, the pattern of the pentagon coordinating former top brass who are now hi salaried contractors to provide “expertise” for the mainstream press is the sort of practice that has been widely used since 9/11.  What the Times piece does is provide a template for examining media coverage about almost any other Bush post 911-related activity. 

For similar patterns of psyops, take a look at how the media has handled: FISA and domestic spying issue; the administration’s sanctioning and planning of torture methods, or almost any of the “Bushed” items we hear about daily on Countdown with Keith Olbermann. 

The genie is out of the bottle. Even Tim and Chris and Charlie and George cannot put her back in.