Thursday, July 19, 2007

While You Weren't Sleeping

Many pixels have been spilled on just how crappy a job the establishment media has done in covering the all-night debate and Republican filibuster of the Levin/Reed amendment (and Republican obstruction of Democratic initiatives, in general), not just because, as I observed last night, the debate was not carried by any broadcast outlet, but because the ladies and gentlemen of the fourth estate just can’t seem to be bothered to take the time to explain what was going on this week.

For instance, here’s a tiny little example I’ll mention because someone I know specifically asked me about it. Everyone—everyone—is reporting that Wednesday morning’s vote tally was 52-47 (52-47 for or against what is, alas, another story). . . and then an internet source might link to a roll-call so you can see which Senators voted which way. None, as best I can search*, have explained that the vote would really have been 53-46 if this had been a simple majority up-or-down vote on the amendment. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid switched his vote from yea to nay in order to reserve the right to reconsider at a later date (only one who voted with the majority victorious side can move to reconsider).

It should also be pointed out here, because it has been pointed out in so few other places, that within that, in reality, seven-vote majority are several measures of progress, failure, and/or, at the very least, public accountability.

It is real news, for instance, that Republicans Susan Collins (ME) and Olympia Snowe (ME) joined Chuck Hegel (R-NE) and Gordon Smith (R-OR) as voting for a timely and mandated redeployment out of Iraq. That is real movement—not monumental movement, but real.

It should also be news that several Republicans who have made a big show of late of “breaking” with President Bush and his Iraq policy turned out to be, essentially, full of it. Dick Lugar (R-IN), George Voinovich (R-OH), John Warner (R-VA), Norm Coleman (R-MN), Pete Domenici (R-NM), John Sununu (R-NH), and Judd Gregg (R-NH) have now duly earned their WINO status.

But all that sort of information seems secondary to—well, you know, I just don’t know what it is secondary to. I assume that reporters think that they have covered the event, but you can’t help but feel they see it as some sort of football match, at best, or a cat fight, at worst.

With that sort of attitude from the supposedly educated members of the establishment media, is it any wonder that so many in the general population whine about the partisan bitterness and game-playing in Washington, assuming nothing really important is happening past the politics?

And taking the bate and running with the metaphor for a moment, how are any of us who do care about the issues supposed to advance the ball if the “sports” reporters can’t even be bothered to explain the rules?

Assuming, of course, that they know the rules, themselves.

*Update: Paragraph ten of Thursday’s New York Times article on the vote does explain Senator Reid’s “no” vote.

(cross-posted from guy2k)

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