Send in the clowns

Stephen Sondheim had it so right — "send in the clowns.” And that is what is happening with political punditry.

I first noticed this phenomenon a few years ago when I found myself turning to page 2 of The New York Times’s “Week in Review” to read the week's best lines from Leno and Letterman before turning to more serious remarks of Friedman and Dowd.


Anthony Shadid: God bless you, and a free press thanks you

This week we lost one of the great journalists of our age, Anthony Shadid, who died far too young, after doing so very much. Shadid was made from special stuff, the stuff of the foreign correspondent, and in recent years he brought real lives and big truths about great events in the Middle East to readers of the Boston GlobeWashington Post and New York Times and many others who followed his work.

I imagine that as Shadid left this earth and ascended to the skies he was met by a greeting committee at the gates of heaven composed of folks like Thomas Jefferson, John Peter Zenger and Edward R. Murrow who rose to greet him with a standing ovation, saying something like:

"Son, you were what we had in mind when we believed in the high trust of a free press of a great nation."


Mainstream media blatant socialist agenda

The mainstream media basically gets to choose our president based on the degree to which they choose to scrutinize each candidate. Those they champion (Obama) are barely vetted at all, whereas those they disdain are dissected to the nth degree. Hopefully the American people will awaken to this phenomenon and not allow themselves to be so easily manipulated. Ideally, the elite media will regain a sense of responsibility and integrity as they carry out a most important function in a society blessed with the freedom of the press.


Will ex-wife’s ABC interview neuter Newt in South Carolina?

I just listened to an interview with ABC’s Brian Ross on Washington’s WMAL about his interview with New Gingrich’s second ex-wife, Marianne, scheduled to air tonight on "Nightline." It doesn’t sound like it warrants the Matt Drudge siren of yesterday, like there’s anything in it that we didn’t already know about Newt’s chaotic private and public lives.

Especially if we read in the summer of 2010 John Richardson’s long (eight pages in the online version) and mesmerizing Esquire story on Gingrich. Romney and his aides must have missed it.

If the biggest shocker in the Brian Ross interview is that Newt asked Marianne, to whom he had been married for 18 years, for an “open marriage,” that’s there in the year-and-a-half-old piece. In Richardson’s words: “He asked her to just tolerate the affair [with current wife Callista Bisek], an offer she refused.” Also, there is Newt calling Marianne to ask for a divorce shortly after she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, having installed Callista, 23 years his junior and a congressional aide, in their Washington apartment and in their bed.


Indecent blogosphere: If the truth matters, why not retract and apologize when you get it wrong?

UPDATE (7:25 p.m., Mon., Dec. 19) —

Today Josh Block misstated and mischaracterized what I wrote in this blog. He headlined my piece pertaining to him and apparently sent this distorted version of what I wrote and intended to his mailing list:

"Lanny Davis: CAP sandbagged me; Josh Block is right — CAP needs to clean up its act."

This is the kind of loose language and mischaracterizations that gets Block into difficulty.

I did not write nor intend to imply I was "sandbagged" — I believe Clifton sincerely thought I understood he would be emphasizing my disagreement with parts of Block's statements.

Nor do I agree that Block is "right" — he did not include the section of my column where I disagreed with his characterizations and attacks on CAP and its leadership.

Nor did I ever state or imply that "CAP needs to clean up its act." Those are Block’s words, not mine.

I resent his attempt to put words in my mouth, words I did not use or not mean.

What happens when you are wrongly accused in a posting on the Internet and you call to correct the false or misleading assertion?
This happened to me on Dec. 8 — not the first time — on a post on a website associated with the liberal Democratic organization the Center for American Progress (CAP) — an organization I strongly support and whose leader, John Podesta, is a close friend of mine of over 40 years.
The CAP-affiliated website, Think Progress, and the author of the piece, Eli Clifton, wrongly accused me of supporting the “coup” in Honduras in 2008 and of defending the military strongman, Laurent Gbagbo, who had been defeated in an election in the Ivory Coast. He did so in the context of criticizing my business partner, Josh Block, for accusing CAP bloggers of using language that was “borderline anti-Semitic.” And Clifton never called me first to check his facts before attacking me.


OWS needs a warrior and so does America. It could be Jim Webb.

MSM, seeking to frame OWS in context, brings some unfortunate editing. The hardships these kids suffered — one lost his computer cable — and comparisons to the Civil Rights movement exhibit inexperienced and youthful prose selections which poorly represent a rising generation. But there is here the feeling of a movement striving for a voice. A feeling that something is wrong; a dread, but it is not clear what the source is. It seems it has been wrong for a long time — most of these young people’s lives — and wrong at the center. In the last debate, for example, at least three Republicans announced that they willfully support the use of torture. It is not that they shouldn’t be elected. They should be sent into exile.


CBS shamefully shafted Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul in the foreign policy debate

There was no excuse for CBS virtually blacking out Michele Bachmann and Ron Paul from the Saturday evening debate. The inadvertently released email from CBS's John Dickerson essentially suggesting Bachmann disappear from the debate was appalling. The mere seconds given to Ron Paul, who has important positions on foreign affairs that deserve a hearing, and who served in the military and deserved better, was equally appalling.

I believe Scott Pelley, the new CBS evening news anchor, is trying — to his credit — to make the broadcast more serious. And I believe Major Garrett of National Journal is an excellent reporter. But what happened in the debate Saturday evening was flat-out inexcusable.


Obama and his critics

I was working out at the gym this morning (I know, miracles never cease), and I looked over briefly (I know, you don’t believe me) at the television and saw one of the hosts interviewing Rachel Maddow.

I am not the biggest Rachel Maddow fan in the world (OK, I am not really a fan at all) and I immediately assumed that the topic of conversation was on the president’s decision on “Don’t ask, don’t tell,” an issue that apparently is important to the MSNBC host.  


Chris Cillizza is wrong about Obama’s 'women' problem!

Chris Cillizza, politics reporter for The Washington Post, writes over at “The Fix” today that President Obama doesn’t have a “women” problem. Problem is, he’s wrong. Very wrong.

No, the Ron Suskind book, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President, which describes a hostile work environment for women in the Obama White House, is not the reason for this “women” problem. Nor is the book going to be the downfall of his presidency.

But Cillizza grossly underestimates the gender dilemma facing this president. 


After Europe, the Anglosphere

Several recent books see the end coming. John Birmingham’s “After America”: Fighter bombers rushing at us on the cover. You get the picture. Paul Starobin’s “After America: Narratives for the Next Global Age”: Planet of the Apes with nerds instead of apes. Be afraid. But not that afraid. Mark Steyn’s “After America: Get Ready for Armageddon”: Self-explanatory. Andrew Breitbart said, “May puke I’m so happy.” Meaning he liked it.

These books see America as an idea rather than a place because the authors don’t understand place and have probably never been to an American place they were inclined to stay in. They would get a rash in real places like Tobaccoville, N.C., Haverhill, N.H. or Luckenbach, Texas, where Waylon, Willie and the boys hang.