Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Beyond the horse race

Vixen Strangely, on Maureen Dowd and her little fantasy about "Bill" and "Barry" and the "woodshed", where she
appears to be in agreement that it is better to "be caught trying" in the words of former President Clinton, in a kind of disregard of what, exactly, one is caught trying to do.....It's reasonable enough for President Clinton to state his opinion based on his own experience of humanitarian crises (Bosnia, Rwanda) in which intervention could achieve the goal of stopping a massacre (albeit it is generally the concession of former presidents to withhold a bit more regarding the impressions of what a current president should do), and in the case of Dowd, I am not surprised to see her boil down a complicated issue to a matter of "Quien es mas macho?"--that being her schtick. But the implication that doing something is better than nothing is a curious bit of question-begging, given our recent history.
I think that to those people, to the Washington press corps, the ones who don't know enough about anything to work a real beat, the "something" really is more important than the "what"—it's an effect of that frantic fear of partisanship, of appearing to believe that one "what" might be better than another.

We like to talk about how they're covering a horse race during the campaign, but during the actual governing it's more like ice dancing, I think: what's expected of the contestant is the execution of a certain set of maneuvers—a big bill, a big scandal, a big veto, a leap over Congress—but the setting, costume, music, and order of operations are up to you, and it's not important whether it's Tchaikovsky or the Tijuana Brass. Points are for being ardent, audacious, and pretty; achieve them, and the presidential historians will admire you on TV throughout your retirement, fail and—well, who wants to look back when we could be looking forward? Axel jump! Camel spin! Press lift!
Press lift: Sinead Kerr as Senator McCain and  John Kerr as Ted Barrett.  Junko Kimura/Getty Images.

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