Sunday, April 03, 2011

Kelly, monotonous ...

Today's Jack Kelly column is essentially a retread of last week's, although Kelly notices Obama spoke on Monday to the nation. Kelly's take-away from Monday's speech was for his eyes to glaze over and hallucinate George Bush. By contrast, on Tuesday or Wednesday Jon Stewart's Daily Show had a much more sophisticated analysis, where Stewart noticed both the soaring rhetoric and the qualifying phrases, and declared that Obama was actually being relatively honest with us, more so than any President in the last fifty years (OK, he didn't include Nixon, Johnson or Kennedy, I guess because we are pretty clear about their honesty). Plus Stewart ended the segment noticing a Palin unforced error ("sqermish"?).

Kelly took pains to say that Obama sounded a lot like the most recent George Bush, until he quotes a former Bush speech writer who says that Obama did something no other President has ever done. In between, Kelly references himself (apparently we weren't paying attention, since we hadn't stormed the White House in the last week).

Kelly also says this "It's easier to get into wars than out of them. Regime change in Iraq took about three weeks. It was the unforeseen aftermath that took eight years, thousands of lives and nearly a trillion dollars.". Incredible. Did Kelly say anything like this in 2003? Or did he blindly buy into Condelezza Rice's logic "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."? And before you say that Iraq had not occurred yet, I will say we could look at the Vietnam War, in which US involvement started in a limited fashion during the Eisenhower administration (1955).

Kelly is actually right that the US is headed into uncharted territory. Qaddafi has been in power since 1969. 42 years is a long time to have no practice at democracy, and some of the most powerful non governmental organizations in the Middle East are ones we designate as terrorist. Now, maybe Qaddafi would have slaughtered thousands if we had waited one more day, although we have to admit Obama and company waited for the UN Security Council to deliberate. Is that better or worse than what bush did? We have to admit that Obama has started this process without really having a plan for what might happen after. Is it better or worse that Obama has dragged the UN into this (although I gather Bush's initial "coalition of the willing" was larger).

The thing is, Kelly is not really helping us see the nuances. If the reader has to work it out for him/her self, then they have the option to not work it out, so Kelly is not doing his readers any favors. Consider the difference in this, this, this, this, or this. A liberal who admits to have been a supporter (he thinks Obama is smarter than McCain) but now is examining all the issues through the prism of the constitution and the rulings of the Supreme Court might be a better critic than conservative whose view of the world apparently needs to be shoehorned into Tea Party doctrine. It is disappointing that the PG could have intelligent criticism of the President, or it can have Jack Kelly.

1 comment:

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