Thursday, March 15, 2007

Why I bother reading Slate

Two interesting pieces:

1) Fred Kaplan on Bush's strange obsession: gratitude.
In his memoir of his year in Baghdad as head of the Coalition Provisional Authority, L. Paul Bremer recalled that President Bush once told him that the leader of a new Iraqi government had to be "someone who's willing to stand up and thank the American people for their sacrifice in liberating Iraq."

Bremer noted that Bush made this point three times in the course of a single conversation...
As Kaplan goes on to note, Bush's attitude on gratitude seems to stem from an imperial mindset -- the bloody wogs ought to be grateful, right? And it's not just Iraq -- Bush genuinely seems to think that a) America is the best country in the world (a reasonable belief for an American President) BUT also b) every other country should also recognize that yes, America is the greatest country in the world. It's a lord-vassal mindset.

2) Jack Shafer praises Patrick Fitzgerald, from the reporter's point of view:
Thanks to the Valerie Plame investigation, the First Amendment lies in tatters on the ground, and a chilling effect has already started to freeze out press sources.

That's what many reporters and academics would have you believe. But now that the Plame investigation has ended, and all the subpoenas and threats of subpoenas are history, I don't buy it. The press (including me) may have overreacted in regarding special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald as some sort of Torquemada, and our fears of a shredded First Amendment are starting to look a little overwrought.

If the press needs somebody to blame for the last four years of First Amendment anxiety, it need look no further than the vice president's former chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr. If he had told investigators the truth or even claimed Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination when they came knocking, the press would likely have been spared....If Libby used the press consciously, he gives every reporter a paradox to consider: If journalists are in the business of finding and printing the truth, how tolerant should we be of liars, especially liars whose lies bring subpoenas down on the press?
What kills me about the whole Miller saga is that nobody ever points out that she chose to go to jail. Libby had already issued a waiver to every journalist in Washington, and every other journalist (including Cooper at the Post) had accepted that waiver, though in Cooper's case it was at the last minute. Miller was the only one who chose to believe that the waiver wasn't genuine. That's not Fitzgerald's fault, it's not even Libby's fault -- that's Miller's fault.

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