Public Nuisance

Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.

The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
-Ronald Reagan

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Monday, March 17, 2003
 
I watched Chris Matthews on Sunday. Matthews has not only retained his MSNBC show, he also has a new show on NBC, or at least the local affiliate, despite having lower ratings than Donahue, who has been cancelled. This obviously has nothing to do with the fact that Donahue is a liberal and Matthews, who was himself somewhat liberal when he was a journalist instead of a TV loudmouth, a right winger. I can't find a transcript for the Matthews show, which makes it impossible to really illustrate my point here, but is otherwise a very endurable loss. (It turns out there is a transcript site for this show here, but, as of Monday, the weekend show isn't up.)

Matthews, Joe Klein, and a few other guests, were discussing the thorough failure of US diplomacy in the UN - only a week after a news conference in which the only major development was a Bush pledge to get a new Security Council vote, win or lose, the US has now decided not to force a vote on a resolution which will not only receive multiple vetoes but probably an absolute majority of 'No' votes. The guests were debating who should be blamed for the mess - was it the French, Powell's moderates, or Cheney's hardliners? The one prospect never even raised was that some part of the blame might belong to George Bush himself. It all sounded very much like a Royalist discussion - the Crown by definition can't make a mistake, so when the Crown quite obviously has f@#*ed the pooch in a big way, the question is which minister has to accept blame. You can see the same thing going on in this otherwise intelligent post-mortem by blogger Daniel Drezner, and to some degree in the Times and Post articles it references, although these do have limited criticism of Bush.

The diplomatic fiasco has Bush's prints all over it. The lack of compromise, sticking to one policy and refusing to modify it in changing circumstances, and using heavyhanded threats to gain votes are pretty much trademarks of this administration. It works in domestic politics due to the Republican majority in Congress, the supine media, and the frequently spineless character of the opposition, but it clearly hasn't worked on the global stage. Last summer, I contrasted Bush's approaches in domestic and foreign policy, offering some mild praise for the latter; today it seems that the relative openness that marked Bush's earlier post-9/11 foreign policy either has departed or was always a construct of wishful thinking.



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