NYT OP-ED SUMMARY….I don’t read Maureen Dowd, and I only occasionally read Thomas Friedman, but I read both of them today and they both had interesting things to say. Dowd strikes a well deserved blow at the recent explosion of campaign weblogs:
The most telling sign that the Internet is no longer the cool American frontier? Blogs, which sprang up to sass the establishment, have been overrun by the establishment.
In a lame attempt to be hip, pols are posting soggy, foggy, bloggy musings on the Internet. Inspired by Howard Dean’s success in fund-raising and mobilizing on the Web, candidates are crowding into the blogosphere ? spewing out canned meanderings in a genre invented by unstructured exhibitionists.
It could be amusing if the pols posted unblushing, unedited diaries of what they were really thinking, as real bloggers do. John Kerry would mutter about that hot-dog Dean stealing his New England base, and Dr. Dean would growl about that wimp Kerry aping all his Internet gimmicks. But no such luck.
Instead, we have Travels with Tom, Tom Daschle’s new blog recounting his annual August pilgrimage around South Dakota. Trying to sound uninhibited, he says he has “no schedule and no staff” and promises readers “amazing experiences” with “fascinating people.”
I completely agree. Blogs fundamentally exist because they are personal, snarky, sarcastic, and don’t really care if they piss people off. (In fact, that’s kind of a bonus.) No politician in his right mind can afford any of that, of course, so instead you get bland campaign pronouncements that happen to be presented in narrow columns on the internet instead of in press releases. Big deal.
(Howard Dean is the exception ? to a degree ? but I suspect that as his campaign goes mainstream the blog might get toned down. All it will take is one embarrassing controversy caused by the blog and Joe Trippi will tighten the screws.)
Friedman, who was recently robbed on the main road into Baghdad, is afraid that things are going badly wrong in Iraq:
First, there’s a word I’ve heard here that I did not hear on two previous visits since the war: “humiliation.” This is an occupation. It may have come with the best of intentions, but nobody likes to be occupied. I just watched a scene at the checkpoint at the July 14 Bridge, which leads to the huge U.S. compound in the heart of Baghdad. U.S. soldiers kept telling Iraqi women ? who were coming to work for the U.S. forces! ? that they could not enter because no female U.S. soldiers were available to search them. It is 120 degrees here. To wait in line for 30 minutes and then be told you have to go across the city to a different gate produces humiliation and rage, and eventually grenades tossed at Americans. I saw it in the eyes of those Iraqi women and their husbands as they drove away.
….We have planted many good ideas and programs here, but the ideas will not be heard and the programs will not flower without more money to create jobs, more troops to protect the electricity and more time to train Iraqis so U.S. troops can get off the streets, and without a U.S. advisory team here dedicated to stay. There is no continuity. U.S. advisers come for a few months, then leave, and their replacements have to start all over.
It would be a tragic irony if the greatest technological power in the history of the world came to the cradle of civilization with its revolutionary ideas and found itself defeated because it couldn’t keep the electricity on.
Sure, it’s just one guy’s impression, and maybe the robbery rattled him, but I’ve been hearing a lot more bad than good out of Iraq lately, and trying to blame that on a liberal press rooting for us to fail is little more than a sad and desperate attempt at make believe. Every day is precious in Iraq right now, and the longer the Bush team puts off making hard decisions the worse things are going to get.