Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Long View and the Big Questions

People like to talk about the "big questions." There are different types: existential, historical. Tom Brokaw said "that it's not the questions that get us in trouble, it's the answers." Which is why its not a bad thing to sometimes not have a conclusion. Sometimes asking them and getting other people to think about them is enough. This is probably the goal of real journalism (but I wouldnt know, I didnt go to Newhouse).

So here is what I got to thinking when I heard about Cheney lurking behind some bushes. I was going to link to it but the only version of it I could find had some audio commentary: "Creep" by Radiohead. That might have violated some of the professionalism Im trying to put forth. (Though I dont believe we have the need to use apostrophe anymore except where it's necessary to distinguish between words. Like "Im" is not a word so the apostrophe isnt necessary to distinguish it from "I'm." It can just be said that way, same with isnt. "Dont" and "wont" are a little more gray. Wont is a different word than "won't" but is used infrequently. I dont think dont is a word but Im not planning on doing a dictionary check on a tangent about typographic style.)

Past presidencies are know only by the mediums ability to record them. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is recited by middle school social studies students because that’s how people received the message, by repeating it from newspapers. With FDR, the Depression and WWII are seen in still pictures and audio from the radio. In post-War America, though we have video clips. Which gets us a more raw, human perception of our leaders. Kennedy’s Inauguration and assassination and Nixon’s farewell from footsteps of the helicopter double peace sign wave were captured by grainy footage though. Now, we have HD and 24-hour cable news services giving us a vast vault of clips, which are now available free, on demand, and largely without commercial editing. There will be a few defining moments of President Bush, and we will remember them in the format of our time: the internet clip. A great medium for moments from 20 seconds to 2 minutes. The arc of Bush Presidency is clear in these moments. The bull horn at ground zero, Mission Accomplished, Cheney in the bushes, and however he leaves office. I wont make any predictions.

Two more things from a great roundtable “Meet the Press” today, 4.8.07. Note: Im paraphrasing.

David Gregory (NBC News Washington):
Obama is rasing money on enthusiasm, Clinton on past debts.

Chuck Todd (NBC Political Director:
Bush is doing a potential disservice to the Democrats by vetoing a plan for pull-out. If the plan fails and Iraq falls into deeper violence and a civil war (maybe by May or June of '08...), the Democrats will be at fault as much as the Republicans.

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