The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, February 08, 2007

Walking the Plank

TNR has put up some mighty interesting posts on their blog this week, and if you put them all together you get a lovely little narrative.

The Surge Against Drugs, a Tale of Fiscal Responsibility:

Here's an earlier Slate piece by Ryan Grim on the federal government's ad campaign against marijuana use, which began in 1998 and has cost over $1.4 billion so far. A study by the government on the campaign's effectiveness, finished in early 2005, found that "greater exposure to the campaign was associated with weaker anti-drug norms and increases in the perceptions that others use marijuana."

So the ads were actually encouraging some teens to use drugs. The White House, however, suppressed the report for a year and a half while continuing to spend an additional $220 million on those very same ads. Now they want even more money--a 31 percent increase in funding.

Forget the war, I just spotted a Clinton!

The lead editorial in [The Washington Post] is titled "Sen. Clinton's Bundles: Who are the big-money fundraisers underwriting her campaign?" It begins by describing a recent large-donor event and asking "What are the candidate's plans to release the names of her big bundlers? ... So far--though we've been putting this question to the Clinton campaign since last Friday by telephone and by email--we haven't gotten an answer."

A fair enough question. . . . [But!] According to the editorial, of the six candidates they've asked about bundlers, three have declined to respond and one has basically said that he's not planning to release the names. Yet the headline, subhed, and entire first half of the editorial focus exclusively on Clinton.

Covering Politics Objectively: A Primer

The weirdest emerging theme, as seen in the lede of this AP story, is the implication that having money and a fancy house somehow exists in tension with Edwards's concentration on poverty in America. To the contrary, I say. If only every millionaire with a mansion in the Hamptons or Malibu gave more of a damn about poverty, and less about tax cuts or the availability of a good helicopter pilot, we might make some progress towards eliminating the American underclass. . . . On a related note, as I've mentioned before: George W. Bush owns more than $13,000 worth of mountain bikes.

And Something Sweet to Wash It Down:

On Time's new blog, Swampland, D.C. Bureau Chief Jay Carney posted a pre-assessment of the State of the Union address comparing President Bush's political position to Bill Clinton's in January of 1995. Like Bush, "President Clinton was in free fall. ... His approval ratings were mired in the 30's, and seemed unlikely to rise."

Moments later, a writer identifying himself as "TomT" pointed out an error in Carney's "nut graf" that would have earned a failing grade for a first-year journalism major: "Clinton's approval rating in January [of 1995] was 47 percent. It was not mired in the 30s." At 9:12, the blogger Atrios, also known as Duncan Black, alerted his readers to the gaffe, and they descended on the Time blog like locusts--and, to mix the Biblical metaphor, served Jay Carney's head up on a charger.

And there you have it. The Republican leadership is still incompetent, the press is still hostile to Democrats and especially Clintons, but maybe the blogs will continue to grow in relevance and influence. Considering how much ink TNR has spilled ridiculing blogs and bloggers (like the hubristic and cringe-inducing 'blogofascist' piece from just last August), this is overdue-- and recommended reading.