Sunday, May 21, 2006


When we said in the 60s that the personal is political, we had it backwards. American reporters now think that everything is actually just personal, and it all comes down to who-likes-who.
Easier, really, to consider politics as just a soap opera, where who-likes-who is the only thing that is important -- saves all that effort and engagement and eye-strain reading that boring policy and research stuff.
The American media are commenting on Stephen Harper's inclination not to attend the annual Press Gallery dinner. NewsBusters commentator Matthew Sheffield says maybe its OK to blow off the dinner because Bush's experience proves that "making nice with journalists who despise you, your party, and your policies, doesn't do much good." And CBS's Public Eye Brian Montopoli says "If Harper . . . wants to skip serious engagement with the press – and that starts to be seen as a successful model here – that's another story entirely."
"Doesn't do much good"? "Starts to be seen as a successful model"?
For five years, we have witnessed a Bambi-eyed Make/ Announce/ Type lovefest between the cowardly White House Press corps and good-ole-boy brush-whacker George.
And as a result we've seen reporters give the Bush White House a free pass on everything from having a male prostitute lobbing softball questions in their very own press room, to assembling a fradulent case for a war which has killed and injured more than 20,000 Americans, to allowing a Religious Right takeover of social and healty policies, to bribery and corruption at all levels of the Pentagon, Congress and the White House staff, to illegal monitoring of millions of phone calls -- and they still talk about how Bush hasn't had good press coverage?
Gag me with a spoon!
American reporters like George Bush -- he's a very charming fellow, apparently; as Chris Matthews memorably put it, "everybody sort of likes the president except for the real whack-jobs on the left" -- and so they gave him a free pass over his policies.
Of course, in the end, likeability has nothing to do with either policy or competence. The American people always knew this. Now that more than seven out of ten Americans have realized what a lousy job Bush and his boys are actually doing, the reporters are thinking its mean to poor George to mention it.
So Stephen, stay away from the dinner if you want -- who cares? Not the Canadian public, certainly, and I hope not the Canadian media either. They can bill it as An Evening Without Stephen and sell lots of tickets.
Or maybe they can get Stephen Cobert to come instead.

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