Saturday, December 16, 2006

Snow Balls

Via Froomkin we see an interesting little rhetorical turnaround at one of Tony Snow's daily circle-jerks, aka the White House press conference.

First is Snow's apparent contrition for his reflexive baiting of NBC pit poodle David Gregory:

Okay, before I get to that, I want to address something else, because you and I had a conversation last week that got a whole lot of play in a lot of places where I used the term "partisan" in describing one of your questions. And I've thought a lot about that, and I was wrong. So I want to apologize and tell you I'm sorry for it. And the reason I do that is not only because it's the right thing to do, because I want people in this room and also people who watch these to understand that the relations in this room are professional and collegial. And if I expect you to do right by us, you have every right to expect that I'll do right by you.

So, in any event, I just want to say I'm sorry for that.

And then they held hands and sang "Kumbaya", and now share the same menstrual cycle, right? Not so fast. Just a few minutes later, Helen Thomas gets in Snow's grille about the old notion of habeas corpus, and massages his prostate a bit too forcefully, judging from Snow's instant reversion to form.

Q Who are we to keep meddling in Iraq itself? You talk about meddling and adventuresome? And who are we to give orders to Syria and every other country?

MR. SNOW: We're not giving orders to anybody, Helen. They've got their choices to make. As far as the Iraqis, they made it clear --

Q Recommendations, constantly -- they're taking in a thousand refugees every day -- every month from Iraq.

MR. SNOW: And many of the refugees in Iraq are there because acts of terror have been perpetrated against them. The Syrians certainly have not been helpful in securing a more peaceful Iraq. The Syrians are under suspicion --

Q -- them shelter --

MR. SNOW: The Syrians are under suspicion of having some involvement in the assassinations of Rafiq Hariri and Pierre Gemayel. They have been fighting mightily against an open tribunal to figure out what happened. And again, our commitment is to democracy and we think that people in the region are going to be better off living in free democracies rather than under the sway of governments that deny their rights and use such things as murder and terror as ways of imposing their will.

Q That's such a broad accusation. How many people do we have that we have accused and held in confinement in limbo for four years without any trial without any trial, without any charge?

MR. SNOW: We have provided for the civil rights -- notice that you've completely jumped off of the topic now of the behavior of the Lebanese. What we are doing is that we have passed a law with regard to the Hamdan legislation that guarantees the civil rights of people who have been pulled off battlefields. We have a reasonable suspicion they're trying to kill --

Q Four years without a charge or a trial --

MR. SNOW: -- who we have reasonable suspicion to believe have been trying to kill Americans. And I don't know about you, but I think that's a bad thing. And I think you do, too.

He tries to cover his tracks with that final half-hearted caveat, but that's all it is. He threw the usual trope out there, and it did what he needed it to do -- momentarily deflected the argument just long enough to put Thomas on the defensive, allowing Snow to get off the schneid and do more open-field dodging, which is really all he does anyway.

Look, it's simple -- if these people are trying to kill Americans, and we presumably have actual evidence of this, then let's do this thing. Even a military kangaroo court would be marginally better than keeping them locked up without even charging them, submitting them to rather nasty treatment (yes, we torture "nice", as they say, but just because we don't power-drill people in the neck and gouge their eyes out doesn't mean that water-boarding, force-feeding, and sensory deprivation is humane treament), and eventually letting them go in the dead of night, now radicalized more than ever.

Sixteen more Saudis were released from Guantanamo, and are being "interrogated" by the Saudi authorities to now determine any possible terrorist ties. Which means that they're either being tortured more, since the Americans couldn't crack them, or they're being released with a wink and a nod. There's no real middle ground there -- either they're hardcore bastards, and we should have stepped up and proven our case, or they were innocent, and now they're understandably pissed off. Take your pick.

I referred to Dave Gregory as a "pit poodle", but I suppose that's a qualified assessment. Compared to the rest of the gutless lot covering this beat, Gregory is actually one of the more contentious members of the WH press corpse. He at least makes a game effort. But that's like being the best ice skater in Costa Rica.

In terms of what I would consider truly serious journamalism, I'm genuinely puzzled by the press' continuing willingness to be treated like fools and patsies, especially by what is easily the most overtly, buffoonishly partisan administration in my lifetime. I don't get why these people line up day after day to take shit from an unabashed shill like Tony Snow.

That's not even really a slam at Snow, per se; he's very good at what he does, which is to make a shit sandwich seem almost palatable. If I was in the business of taking huge, heaping piles of steamy shit, putting it between two slices of bread, and convincing people to give me money for it, I'd want someone like Tony Snow to be my sales manager. I bet this fucking guy can walk past a mirror without casting a reflection.

But crowding around the buffet table day after miserable day, and replaying this mendicant exercise in professional cringing over and over again -- who needs it? It informs no one; it illuminates nothing. It is merely there to allow the Serious Professionals and the Elected Leaders to look like they're doing something. It gets characterized as a sparring of ideas between professional adversaries, but the jousting is about as real as what you might find at one of those Medieval Times restaurants.

Now, if they want to keep up that charade, hey, whatever floats your boat, folks. But don't expect everyone to squint and pretend that a mead wench is a knight in shining armor. It's just a sad state of affairs when your bravest warrior is an 85-year-old woman.

No comments: