Category Archives: Media

Hedges on Courtiers

Chris Hedges has a brilliant article where he lights into Tim Russert and Barack Obama as courtiers posing as outsiders holding power to account.  He is of course right.  It was interesting to note David Brook’s column highlighting Obama’s political effectiveness and ruthlessness, Sullivan’s agreement and Yglesias’s “boy-oh-boy is he pissed at Barack Obama”.

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Diana Effect?

Marc Ambinder:

In the wake of Tim Russert’s I’ve noticed among a lot of my journalistic friends an enormous amount of introspection and self-assessment, even among those who, like me, did not know Tim well. It is a perfectly appropriate to remark upon and even to criticize, the fact that the media treats a death in its family like a death in its family. But Tim’s death seems to have hit the Washington political community by an order of magnitude greater than the passing of a loved one.

Is Marc really saying that the impact of the death of Tim Russert is an order of magnitude greater than the death of a partner or parent?

Liberal Posturing on the Media? (And the Real Deal)

I am really not sure what to make of all of the outrage that is orbiting around the blogosphere over the McClellan book tour (e.g., Kagro X@Kos and Huffington).  In this MSNBC interview McClellan seemed to make perfect sense though he clearly has some explaining to do.

There does seem to be an element of posturing that makes me suspicious.

Meanwhile some people are trying to work out what is happening with the next war.  Commander Huber has another excellent article at the Pen and Sword, dissecting the contours of the media packaging of the next war (or possibly not).

Listening Skills

Nesrine Malik has written a well argued piece on Comment is free about the excessive attention that is paid to certain ex-Muslim reactionaries in the West, and why it so counterproductive for the liberal Muslim cause (though she has failed to do her own copy-editing).  It has provoked the usual attack of the trolls, and my own robust defence.

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Jane Bennet and Barack Obama (Contents)

In this series of articles I link the Jane Austen and political threads on the blog, discussing the similarities between our modern response to Jane Bennett and Barack Obama’s New Politics.

  1. Jane Bennet and Barack Obama
  2. The Candour of Jane Bennet
  3. Jane Bennet and Barack Obama
  4. Original Sin (postscript)

Barack Obama and The New Politics

He’s never come up with an explanation about how he would actually transform politics, and his conventional substance is beginning to overshadow his unconventional style.

— David Brooks, Combat and Composure, New York Times, 6th May

I’m on record as saying that Hillary Clinton’s advocacy of a gas-tax holiday, while it wasn’t good policy, didn’t rise to the level of a crime.

Judging from last night’s results, however, it was worse than a crime: it was a mistake.

— Paul Krugman, Talleyrand and the gas tax holiday, New York Times, 7th May

I could have picked dozens of quotes insisting that Obama hasn’t explained how his New Politics works, yet from nowhere he has turned the political scene upside down, eschewed PAC funding, signed up 1.5 million donors, crushed one the most formidable (if incompetent) political machines of recent times and quite conceivably will thrash the Republicans in a landslide in the autumn (it is of course impossible to predict, but as far as any of these things are predictable, this looks on the cards). The junior senator from Illinois, not even on the national political scene when the Iraq war was launched, has got himself into a position where Washington could soon be his feet. Could some people be failing to see the wood for the trees? I think it is interesting that the old media, with some honourable exceptions, is having such difficulty understanding Obama’s core message.

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The Candour of Jane Bennet

A recent posting to the Austen-L mailing list, titled the ‘desperation of candour’, illustrates the thoroughly bad press that old-style candour generally receives. In it we were told that Austen began as a satirist, and retained her critical stance throughout (I couldn’t agree more—it is difficult to disagree with this), that while endeavouring to read and understand the novel with the candour of Jane Bennet would do justice to one’s heart, Jane Bennet sees the world the way she does because it would be too painful to see it as Elizabeth sees it, and Jane finally agrees to Elizabeth’s observations of the hypocrisy and duplicity of the Bingley sisters. Jane’s candour comes out of desperation, desiring peace, not through any conviction about the truth but driven by a psychological vulnerability. Austen was too much of a realist we are told: Jane Bennet was only one voice, and certainly not the definitive perspective from which to make sense of Pride and Prejudice.

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