Tuesday, July 24, 2007
One of the most difficult skills in politics and journalism is context. You have space in your tv show for three things, and you have ten stories. Which three stories make the cut? Even more challenging is comparing two items together. Do they weigh the same on a moral scale? How does one balance out the scales in order to provide a nuanced report.
Richard Cohen of the Washington Post is horrific at this skill set. Today, he writes a column that is anti Fred Thompson and John Edwards. Both men are liars. The hot button social issue of Republicans is abortion, and Thompson worked as a lobbyist for a pro choice organization. He was less than candid about the fact that what is the most critical issue other than homosexuals for the religious right was something he was willing to fight against, in order to make a few bucks.
Now, it comes times to dismantle John Edwards in the same way. The hot button social issue of democrats is expensive haircuts, and Edwards worked with expensive stylists who gave him a really nice trim. He was less than candid about the fact that what is the most critical issue other than free tofu for the secular left was something he was willing to pay for, in order to avoid a barber chair.
No, that doesn't make sense. The two issues are nothing like each other. It would be like stating that Al Gore's claim to invent the internet was something that makes him unelectable. Oh, here was Cohen in 2000. Does this sound familiar?
I am not going to sit here and defend Gore's exaggerations. I wish he wouldn't make them. I wish he did not say he had been to the Texas fires when he hadn't. (Maybe he ought to have said concentration camp.) I wish he had not compared his dog's prescription plan to his mother-in-law's. I wish he had been a bit more modest about his role in developing the Internet or, way back, in describing his Vietnam War experience.