Friday, August 01, 2008

Memo to Campaign Journalists

Take a vacation. Please. You're more embarrassing than the candidates. Look, everything is about to go quiet for a while because the Olympics are going to blot out the spotlight. Then we'll have the party conventions, which will utterly rewrite the electoral landscape. Then it gets real. Right now, nothing matters. Nothing. And when you insist on writing like it does, you get puerilities like this:

But in a nation in which 66% of the voting-age population is overweight and 32% is obese, could Sen. Obama's skinniness be a liability? Despite his visits to waffle houses, ice-cream parlors and greasy-spoon diners around the country, his slim physique just might have some Americans wondering whether he is truly like them.

Well, duh. He is a smoker, or was until very recently. We may be a nation of uneducated lard-asses, but we generally recognize smokers tend to be skinnier than non-smokers. Hell, even the government knows this.

The same goes for political bloggers, who beclown themselves by shrieking that McCain was "fearmongering" back in October 2001 when he suggested Iraq was a suspect in the anthrax mailings.

As Atrios recalls, shortly after 9/11, conservatives were pinning the blame for the anthrax attacks on Iraq, laying the groundwork for a subsequent invasion. John McCain was part of this fearmongering effort.


He preyed on the public’s fear at the time by claiming that the anthrax “may have come from Iraq”

O, the tyranny of hindsight! Back then, we knew very little. Except that at least some of the anthrax was "weapons-grade," the messages were overtly Islamist (or written to sound that way) and when you went looking for an entity capable of crafting that quality of fatal spores, and with the historical track record of doing such things, and with an immediate beef with the U.S., Iraq was on the short list. McCain qualified what he said with warnings that little was known: "There is some indication, and I don’t have the conclusions, but some of this anthrax may — and I emphasize may — have come from Iraq."

That hardly counts as "pinning the blame" and it didn't require a subscription to The New Republic to pencil in that dot connection at that time, however wrong it turned out to be.