Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Monday, July 28, 2008
There's still six months to go before the presidency of George W. Bush comes to an end, and it would appear (today at least) that Bush may leave office with a growing peace taking root in Iraq, and some solid signs of progress in changing the course of Iran and North Korea's nuclear ambitions.
The mainstream American media, infected by Obamania, could care less :
The Full Story Is Here
President Bush - remember him? He has long ceased to be a hot story. Across all forms of mainstream media, news coverage of the president has fallen significantly this year.
The drop-off has big implications for Bush, whose ability to influence the public debate is weakened by less exposure, and for the country, which ends up with lighter scrutiny of the nation's highest office.
The nation is tired, worn down by wars and a weak economy. Much of the country seems ready to move on, even though Bush remains relevant thanks mainly to his veto power and his command over the military.
For the reporters still following Bush, the big stories still happen, but far less often. TV correspondents find it harder to get on the air, photographers doubt whether their pictures will get any play, and writers often see their work buried in the back of the newspaper.
Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain make news every time they speak, a luxury of attention once afforded to Bush. He used it to his advantage as a candidate in 2000 and an incumbent in 2004.
Now he watches as Obama's trip to the Middle East and Europe gets coverage that seems, well, presidential. Many of the people who long have covered Bush have abandoned the White House post for the presidential campaign. When it's over, they may return, when the White House beat is deemed juicy again.
Over the first four months of the year, Bush got about half as much coverage on nightly network broadcasts as he did in 2007, according to an analysis by Lichter's center. Bush's coverage on major network news is running more than 60 percent below what he got during his first seven years in office.
More broadly, Bush has faded in the primary places people get their news: major newspapers, TV networks, cable TV news, radio and online sites. The nonpartisan Project for Excellence in Journalism, which conducts an ongoing analysis of those media, found the presidential campaign is consistently dominating coverage.
While McCain and Obama run for president, Bush actually is president. He is still making or influencing decisions of enormous consequence.
His administration is aggressively trying to settle conflicts with Iran and North Korea. Largely on his terms, Bush got legislation to extend spying on suspected terrorists and to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He will be in charge for almost six more months, media attention or not.
Nick Cohen in the UK Guardian argues that the world post-Bush will still be a violent, brutal, fearful and confusing place, and that 'liberals' will miss their long-hated, easy target of derision :
Obama is riding the crest of the global wave of relief that Bush is leaving. A wave that is about to break. It doesn't know it, but the liberal-left in Europe and North America has been lucky to have Bush.Fair enough, but why does Cohen erroneously assume that only 'liberals' have a problem with Bush? There's tens of millions of die-hard Republicans in the United States right now who hold their leader in utter contempt, if only because he has so gratuitously damaged the conservative brand. An elderly librarian was removed by police from a John McCain function because she dared to hold up a sign that read "McCain = Bush".
By building him up into a great Satan, the oil man who invades countries to seize their reserves and the Christian who orders bloody crusades, they have hidden the totalitarian threats of our age from themselves and anyone who listens to them. Bush allowed them to explain away radical Islam as an understandable, even legitimate, response to the hypocrisies and iniquities of American policy. Even those in the European elites who do not buy the full 'America has it coming' package believe that Bush is a cowboy who doesn't understand that the postmodern way to end conflict is to compromise rather than fight.
In January, Bush will be history, leaving liberals all alone in a frightening world. Little else will change. Radical Islam will still authorise murder without limit, Iran will still want the bomb and the autocracies of China and Russia will still be growing in wealth and confidence. All those who argued that the 'root cause' of the Bush administration lay behind the terror will find that the terror still flourishes when the root cause has retired.
Cohen doesn't seem to understand that there will be a massive global shift in the way the rest of the world views the United States when Bush and Cheney leave the White House. The most globally unpopular US president in history's departure will allow the world to breathe a sigh of relief, should 2009 begin without a greater conflict having broken out in the Middle East over Iran's nuclear energy ambitions.
Obama, should he win the presidency, will have a rare opportunity to undo some of the damage BushCo. has done, even if most of it will be not much more than re-branding, and fresh Compassionate Peaceful New America marketing.
I truly believe those who think the upcoming Oliver Stone biopic of George W. Bush will be a polemic of hate and bile against the president are going to be very, very disappointed indeed.
Oliver Stone is one of the great American film-makers, and his new film 'W.' shows all the signs of being something remarkable : a movie about a sitting president that is not afraid to tell the truth about the good and the bad of the 'fortunate son'.
Here's the first trailer for 'W', due in cinemas in October :