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Monday, March 21, 2011

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres


"The Libyan war has now begun. It pits a coalition of European powers plus the United States, a handful of Arab states and rebels in Libya against the Libyan government. The long-term goal, unspoken but well understood, is regime change — displacing the government of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and replacing it with a new regime built around the rebels. The mission is clearer than the strategy, and that strategy can't be figured out from the first moves. The strategy might be the imposition of a no-fly zone, the imposition of a no-fly zone and attacks against Libya's command-and-control centers, or these two plus direct ground attacks on Gadhafi's forces. These could also be combined with an invasion and occupation of Libya. The question, therefore, is not the mission but the strategy to be pursued. How far is the coalition, or at least some of its members, prepared to go to effect regime change and manage the consequences following regime change? How many resources are they prepared to provide and how long are they prepared to fight?" (STRATFOR)


"They're the sort of scores that drive high-school history teachers to drink. When NEWSWEEK recently asked 1,000 U.S. citizens to take America's official citizenship test, 29 percent couldn't name the vice president. Seventy-three percent couldn't correctly say why we fought the Cold War. Forty-four percent were unable to define the Bill of Rights. And 6 percent couldn't even circle Independence Day on a calendar. Don’t get us wrong: civic ignorance is nothing new. For as long as they've existed, Americans have been misunderstanding checks and balances and misidentifying their senators. And they've been lamenting the philistinism of their peers ever since pollsters started publishing these dispiriting surveys back in Harry Truman's day. (He was a president, by the way.) According to a study by Michael X. Delli Carpini, dean of the Annenberg School for Communication, the yearly shifts in civic knowledge since World War II have averaged out to “slightly under 1 percent.' But the world has changed. And unfortunately, it's becoming more and more inhospitable to incurious know-nothings—like us. To appreciate the risks involved, it's important to understand where American ignorance comes from. In March 2009, the European Journal of Communication asked citizens of Britain, Denmark, Finland, and the U.S. to answer questions on international affairs. The Europeans clobbered us. Sixty-eight percent of Danes, 75 percent of Brits, and 76 percent of Finns could, for example, identify the Taliban, but only 58 percent of Americans managed to do the same—even though we've led the charge in Afghanistan." (TheDailyBeast)



"As the United States and allies began their airstrike against Libya over the weekend, several news outlets reported on the growing tension between Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was allegedly annoyed that the president had been taking so long to commit to a plan in Libya. 'Obviously, she's not happy with dealing with a president who can't decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can't make his mind up,' a friend of madame secretary told The Daily's Josh Hersh, whose delicious March 17 piece on Clinton's frustrations is a must-read. The source continued, 'And she doesn't have any power. She's trying to do what she can to keep things from imploding.' Clinton's allies in her push toward action in Libya were, among others, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice and security adviser Samantha Power. According to this morning's Playbook, 'the front page of today's Times of London, [contains] the tease, 'The three women who persuaded the President to take action,' accompanied by photos of Clinton, Rice, and Power. As one might imagine, the indecisive president being prodded to attack Libya is a narrative the administration is eager to correct. 'Everyone moved toward the final decision based on the president's urging,' White House spokesman Tommy Vietor told Politico's Ben Smith." (VanityFair)


"Perspicacious and fashion conscious readers may have seen the April issue of Vogue, which features an excerpt ('Debt Becomes Her' ) from the about-to-be published memoir of a marriage, Innocent Spouse, (Crown Publishers), by none other than our own Washington Social Diarist Carol Joynt. I know the story but only vaguely, because in the time we've known each other she's rarely mentioned it. Carol and I met several years ago when she was still deep in the process of sorting out her life after her husband's sudden death. She was talking about writing a book then. The Vogue piece is the first I've seen. It's classic Carol, the reporter; she talks to you. It's in the bookstores May 10th." (NYSocialDiary)



"When Sen. John Thune and Rep. Mike Pence (Ind.) opted against 2012 presidential bids, that left just two potential candidates serving in Congress, Reps. Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann. While both are long shots to secure the GOP nomination, Paul and Bachmann have tea party cred that could come in handy should they give it a try. But the bench is deep when it comes to the No. 2 slot on the ticket to challenge President Barack Obama. These Members of Congress are likely to be on any nominee's longish short list for vice-presidential contenders come 2012. Here are a few pros and cons about each." (RollCall)

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