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Candide’s Latest: Monday, October 16, 2006
Snow Jobs, Cont'd.

Shilling for the Dear Leader

As if there was any doubts that sophomoric imbeciles are running the country. The Times runs a piece about Tony Snow — the White House’s press secretary and former Fox News talking head — “raising money and eyebrows.” It isn’t usually (or never) the habit of press secretary to stump, only to shill. But this White House is different. There is no agenda to sell. There’s only a personality cult to coddle and market. Tony Snow is ideally suited to do both. His running around the country raising money isn’t a surprise. But the way he does it makes you pause: “Tony Snow draped his lanky frame across a wooden lectern, leaned forward and gazed out at 850 adoring Republicans who had paid $175 apiece to hear him speak. There was a conspiratorial gleam in his eye, as if he was about to reveal some deep inner secret from his new life as the White House press secretary. “Yesterday,” Mr. Snow declared, “I was in the Oval Office with the president ——” He cut himself off, took a perfectly calibrated three-second pause and switched into an aw-shucks voice for dramatic effect: “I just looove saying that! Yeaaah, I was in the Oval Office. Just meeee and the president. Nooooobody else.” The crowd lapped it up.” Are we in the presence of the press secretary for the most powerful man in the world or of a fraternity’s latest recruit’s instant messages? It isn’t just Republicans who are lapping up the snow job. The Times itself laps it up: “Live from the suburbs of Chicago — It’s the Tony Snow Outside-the-Beltway Hour! Memo to White House press corps: you can’t catch this show in the briefing room. In the six months since Mr. Bush enlisted him to resuscitate a White House press operation that was barely breathing, Mr. Snow, a former Fox News television and radio host and a conservative commentator, has reinvented the job with his snappy sound bites and knack for deflecting tough questions with a smile. Now, he is reinventing it yet again, by breaking away from the briefing room to raise money for Republicans, as he did here on Saturday night for Speaker J. Dennis Hastert.” And on goes the media circus. Snow must be rubbing his hands. His plan is working just so.

 

Meanwhile in Iraq…

Al-Qaeda and other Sunni Arab insurgent groups declare a new Islamic republic in the western and central parts of the country. The number of American soldiers killed so far this month is 54, third-highest monthly rate since the war began. And the violence is spreading north: “The wave of killings around the Shiite city of Balad,” the Post reports, “was the bloodiest in a surge of violence that has claimed at least 110 lives in Iraq since Saturday. The victims included 12 people who were killed in coordinated suicide bombings in the strategic northern oil city of Kirkuk.” Stay the course? No way, says James Baker’s 10-member presidential commission, according to the LATimes: “In its most recent closed-door meetings, the commission focused on two options drafted by experts outside the government. One, titled "Stability First," calls for continuing to try to stabilize Baghdad, boosting efforts to entice insurgents into politics, and bringing Iran and Syria into plans to end the fighting.The other, called "Redeploy and Contain," goes further. It calls for a gradual, phased withdrawal of American troops to bases outside Iraq where they would be available for strikes against terrorist organizations anywhere in the region. The experts also prepared an option called "Stay the Course, Redefine the Mission," and an alternative urging a quick U.S. withdrawal, but the panel appeared less interested in those plans, participants said. The options were first reported last week by the New York Sun.”

 

Scorched Earth

Ian Dunlop in the Sydney Morning Herald: “We are about to experience the convergence of three of the great issues confronting humanity. Climate change, the peaking of oil supply and water shortage are coming together in a manner which will profoundly alter our way of life, our institutions and our ability to prosper on this planet. Each is a major issue, but their convergence has received minimal attention.”

Scorching Scalia

“If you fall in love with an evolving Constitution,” Antonin Scalia said, “do not think that it will evolve in only one direction.” He was speaking at the American Civil Liberties Union’s annual meeting, on television, in a debate. You have to hand it to him: despise his views all you want (and there’s plenty there to despise) Scalia is usually consistent, both as an ideologue and an intellectual. He’ll debate. He’ll put his ideas to the test. And he’ll defend, almost to the death, other people’s right to do the same. From USA Today: “He warned ACLU President Nadine Strossen, with whom he shared the stage before an audience of 1,500, that justices could become more conservative in time and interpret the Constitution to retrench on individual liberties. Strossen said that was unlikely and termed the current court quite conservative. During an hour-long session, Scalia also defended his opinions in favor of public displays of religion and against gay rights. On affirmative action in education, he said, "The Constitution very clearly forbids government to discriminate on the basis of race. You cannot use race (for) diversity. That's how I read the Constitution."

 

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