DURING the growing season, the preparation-for-growing season, and the cleanup-after-and try-desperately-to-get-all-the-things-you-ignored-during-#1-and-#2-above-done-before-the-ground's-frozen-solid season, I try to spend a good chunk of Sunday morning in the garden, skimping the Sunday papers as much as possible (an increasingly easy thing to do), fleeing by the time CBS Sunday Morning News for Shut-Ins, with Your Host, That Guy Who's So Old His Bowtie Isn't a Faux-Ironic Fashion Statement about His "Conservative" Politics comes on. I'm in no mood to come back in to watch the Sundays, though--and I'm sorry if this sounds more cruel than intended--had I known that the odds were good that Tim Russert would keel over in mid-toss to Peggy Noonan, or that, even better, he and Cheney might perform a chest-clutch à deux one Lord's Day, I might have made it a habit.
And, y'know, of the countless people currently walking on Earth I would drop everything and listen to at 10 AM Sunday, or 3 AM Tuesday, including the handful who'd be discussing Politics, precisely none of them is ever on one of those shows, or likely ever to be. Not like, say, Matt Drudge or Michelle Malkinses. I've tried taping 'em, but they're even less watchable later. They should be on at Six or Seven of the AM, when those who felt it their sennightly obligation, the way, say, churchgoers or elderly men getting haircuts do, could similarly undergo it while still half-asleep, and with little risk of it spoiling the rest of the day.
Okay, so Teevee's supposedly a business, but even so the Sundays are the beat-up cans in the barrel at the front of the store, the ones that passed their sell-by date in the first Reagan administration. So at 6 AM they'd be sponsored by Weight Loss Miracles, plastic exercise gizmos, and Time/Life's Musical-Nostalgia-Assisted-Suicide Series on 14 CDs ("Remember the first time you heard 'Escape [The Piña Colada Song]'? Bet you never imagined it would one day ease your pain and suffering!") instead of Exxon-Mobil and ADM and Lipitor; so what? If you really need more of their money, too, put another Golf tournament on at ten. Hell, you wouldn't even have to go to the expense of putting on a tournament; Tiger Woods Parallel-Parks His Yacht after Conferring With His Caddy For Twenty Minutes would draw the same share, and deliver the same excitement. Double, if you have his wife lean over the rail every third episode to see how it's going. All yours if you want it, CBS. I toss these out for free, because I Love.
I was clearing out finished compost yesterday, part of the annual doomed attempt to get ready for the Festival of the god Deciduous. But then I am no longer the callow and sallow yout of flaxen hair and suntanned knee and perpetual boner, and digging is one of the activities most likely to freeze my leg for days following, so I try to remember to take it easy. And so I came inside, fixed coffee, and tuned in. The set was still stuck on CBS, where, earlier, the Nation's non-ambulatory, plus my Poor Wife, had been treated to a Rita Braver interview with the museum curator who's staging a Titian/Tintoretto/Veronese show as though it were Wrestlemania, Century XVI, so I was treated--immediately, no sip of coffee, no shot of Black Bush--to the panelling of David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, and Bob Woodward. That is, the Reigning George Eff Will Second-Generation Bowtie-"Conservative" Sinecure, the only Blonde-"Conservative" Sinecure who decided the full-on raging dementia field was overcrowded, professionally speaking, and the guy who blew the entire Bush/Cheney administration in the public square, at noon, in exchange for being known as the "Journalist" You Could Trust Not To Bite You Under Those or Any Other Circumstances (speaking of crowded fields). They were discussing, at that moment, what We should be doing next in Afghanistan. My immediate thought--besides jogging back to the compost--was, "That's not a panel, it's an Alternative Wingnut Cruise Package."
But I still needed the coffee, and my second thought was, Oh, Now I Get It. It's the Battle of People Who Bailed on Bush the minute not doing so became untenable, vs the Lady Who Wisely Held On Until Someone Even Stupider and Less Competent Came Along. Okay, now I see the Balance. Plus, their accumulated military expertise of...I have that somewhere...oh, Zero, was balanced by Bob Schieffer's six months as an Air Force Information, or "Information", Officer, in the Fifties. The Eighteen Fifties! I kid, I kid the remaining withered chair-fillers still boning the corpses of Murrow and Uncle Walter for reputation and sausage meat, out of an abiding respect for all The Media has done for this country. I'm guessing all the "retired" military consultants on the CBS/Pentagon payroll were at church.
And as if that weren't enough, the thing--I almost said "devolved", but this is precisely where it began--was a contest to see who could recycle the most pro-Vietnam excuses without imagining that anyone else noticed. Brooks the Sniveler won, hands down; he nearly said "Love It or Leave It" and "Democrats Start All Our Wars" before catching himself, contenting himself with Cut-and-Run, Too Soon To Tell, and "When I was there recently, everything was going great, our Fighting Men are really psyched to be there, and the only thing that's keeping the Afghans from greeting us as Liberators is the high cost of cut flowers". Took him no more than a paragraph. Class of the field. But then, hell, it's practically his entire routine.
Parker, now, tripped up when Schieffer--who kept trying to impose the "reality" that We Were Going To Need More Troops Eventually, Goddammit, And Won't That Be An Amusing Moral Quandary for Democrats?--tossed to her with a question about whether The American People understood What We Were Trying To Do There--in fairness, Schieffer had to pull faces just to get it out--or else she displayed the cool aplomb of the practiced teevee charlatan when she laughed the question back at him. Make of that what you will, Reader: she was either caught off guard by the ridiculous notion that we are actually trying to do something, or quick enough to smirk out a perfunctory Boy the Democrats sure don't have a clear vision of Our Afghanistan Mission, not like We did. I'm tending to the former, that she was so amused by Schieffer having almost asked a Real Question before catching himself that she did an involuntary, but dry, spit-take. At any rate, she did manage a "Hearts and Minds" for the double word score, but it's obvious she wanted to play the more partisan It's Obama's War routine (Woodward, thoughtfully, had already put it in play, and explicitly), while Brooks imagined that all patriotic blood loss is, in the final analysis, good for Republicans. At any rate, it is refreshing, in a tossed-in-a-cold-lake-while-tied-to-a-chair sorta way, to hear a teevee Republican talk about how complicated the situation is, and how troubling its civilian casualties.
It's Obama's war now! Fine by me; by me Afghanistan's been his war since the day he made his brave anti-Iraq-war speech before that tough-to-convince crowd of streetcorner Democrats back in Aught Two, or at least since the day some years later when it was the best evidence he could dig up for his foreign-poicy prescience. Parker--temporarily forgetting whose stack of pro-war jingles we were replaying--even referred to it, and Obama (and "everybody")'s attitude about it, as The Good War. We're not going to ask how long the post-9/11 Blood for Blood routine is supposed to be valid, since for Parker, et. al., it's clearly "as long as we need it", but would it be too much to have asked you to explain what it is you think We're Still Doing There? Nobody's more of that Everybody than you and Brooks; how is it you aren't still urging simple-minded support of the President and Our Troops in the Field? I guess this defeatist talk doesn't effect morale anymore, especially since Dave's been there and lived to spin the tale.
Cheap shot? No. You people deserve it, and much, much more you'll never get, starting with your elimination from even such routinely-ignored fare as Face the Nation. It's Obama's War, though I haven't heard that Josh Marshall's enlisted yet. It's Obama's War, but that does not absolve you, your party, or the last administration from full responsibility for the fact that he found himself there last January, fighting a "complicated" battle for "Hearts and Minds" which had formerly--right up to the point that continuing to say so might cost you a Sunday appearance or two--been a clear-cut, Manichaean, Civilization-savin' exercise in killing The Bad Guys