I do not get much of my news from television. My Poor Wife watches the local news, or tries to while I yell at the vapid singsong and celeb updates. I watch Olbermann. I may flip to CNN if there's a big story and I want an update, but just as often I click it off again stupider than when I turned it on. If television was the only source for news I would get all my news from the Daily Show.
My mother got moved to the psyche ward Friday--it's so they can monitor her drug regimen for a week or two--so instead of going to see her Sunday mornings as usual I'm stuck with visiting hours. And so I idly turned in on Colin Powell on Face the Nation, just until he started lying, which, due to some careful questioning from Bob Schieffer actually took a good forty-five seconds. I knew my resistance was nearly at an end and I switched over to The Tim Russert Comedy Hour to find I'd missed Newt Gingrich (what the...?) but was just in time for the big panel discussion with everybody's favorite serving of faux-balanced Timesmen, David Brooks and Thomas Friedman.
Brooks, Friedman and Russert. The Three Self-Inflating Magi in America's Xmas Kitsch Lawn Display. What have we done to deserve this? I know, I know, we've done plenty. But how is it that Russert still hosts a Sunday news program? His conflicted ass should have been tossed a decade or more ago, and would have been under any fair system. Friedman may belong in the world of ideas, perhaps, as a chronicler, but as a thinker? Aren't we now a couple years beyond questioning the analytical powers of everyone who backed "regime change in Iraq", or whatever other justification was popular that day? Isn't having then suggested the French be removed from the UN Security Council for their outrageous failure to toady to us enough to cashier the guy now? Shouldn't everybody who supported the war, or at least those who stuck with it beyond the initial looting phase--I mean looting by people who actually lived there, not the Coalition of Willing Defrauders--be forced to compete for the right to speak in public by eating Madagascar cockroaches washed down with a liter of Haliburton™ Brand Spring Water?
And bad as it is to see those two, what is the point of David Brooks continuing to exist? He's Vaughn Meader after the Kennedy assassination, Stephin Fetchit at the March on Washington, a 27-year-old former touring company Annie. His stint as the prissy but mildly-tolerant spokesmarm of the Right was already on life support before November 7. Absent a Republican height he can sneer down from, Brooks is nothing.
Here are two men, filling two influencial spots in American political life, who have learned exactly nothing about Iraq in four years of (mostly) telling the rest of us our presence there was vital for the continued existence of civilization itself. There is, at best, a grudging acknowledgment that their little plan wound up somewhat south of the mark, and Brooks still trots out his Mad Max of the Middle East video in hopes he can continue to hope about '08, but there's no depth of understanding and no understanding the depth of our failure. There's no recognition of Bush administration duplicity in the run-up to war, no stain of Abu Ghraib, no outrage over a shockingly mismanaged occupation, an assault on the Bill of Rights, of seriously damaged US standing in the world or a worn-out, used-up, shamelessly wasted military at home and abroad. But you guys are the ones who were let down. The level-headed among us expected just what happened.
The National Broadcasting Company brings us Friedman and Brooks as the Yin and Yang of American political thought just six weeks after some Republicans less supportive of the war than what Friedman has been were tossed out of Congress on their ears. Three guys who helped sell this disaster in the first place now sit in our living rooms and rearrange headlines to see what combination would look good in the den.