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Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Media-Whore D'Oeuvres








"U.S. President Barack Obama has come under intense criticism for his foreign policy, along with many other things. This is not unprecedented. Former President George W. Bush was similarly attacked. Stratfor has always maintained that the behavior of nations has much to do with the impersonal forces driving it, and little to do with the leaders who are currently passing through office. To what extent should American presidents be held accountable for events in the world, and what should they be held accountable for? Expectations and Reality. I have always been amazed when presidents take credit for creating jobs or are blamed for high interest rates. Under our Constitution, and in practice, presidents have precious little influence on either. They cannot act without Congress or the Federal Reserve concurring, and both are outside presidential control. Nor can presidents overcome the realities of the market. They are prisoners of institutional constraints and the realities of the world. Nevertheless, we endow presidents with magical powers and impose extraordinary expectations. The president creates jobs, manages Ebola and solves the problems of the world -- or so he should. This particular president came into office with preposterous expectations from his supporters that he could not possibly fulfill. The normal campaign promises of a normal politician were taken to be prophecy. This told us more about his supporters than about him. Similarly, his enemies, at the extremes, have painted him as the devil incarnate, destroying the Republic for fiendish reasons. He is neither savior nor demon. He is a politician. As a politician, he governs not by what he wants, nor by what he promised in the election. He governs by the reality he was handed by history and his predecessor. Obama came into office with a financial crisis well underway, along with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His followers might have thought that he would take a magic wand and make them go away, and his enemies might think that he would use them to destroy the country, but in point of fact he did pretty much what Bush had been doing: He hung on for dear life and guessed at the right course. Bush came into office thinking of economic reforms and a foreign policy that would get away from nation-building. The last thing he expected was that he would invade Afghanistan during his first year in office. But it really wasn't up to him. His predecessor, Bill Clinton, and al Qaeda set his agenda. Had Clinton been more aggressive against al Qaeda, Bush might have had a different presidency. But al Qaeda did not seem to need that level of effort, and Clinton came into office as heir to the collapse of the Soviet Union. And so on back to George Washington." (STRATFOR)






Ben Bradlee: smart, charismatic, handsome, driven to publish the toughest stories.


"Many eloquent words have been written and said about Ben Bradlee this past week after his death at his Georgetown home at the age of 93. He’d likely agree that’s a nice long life, but for the rest of us the loss still hurts. Even with a long, full life, when someone is that smart, charismatic, and splendidly willful, not to mention so sincerely beloved, death feels too soon, too young. The most resonant eulogies came from the people who knew him, such as Robert Kaiser for The Washington Post, writing the paper’s lead obit. David Carr’s take in The New York Times was also shiny and bright, showing what it means to be a great editor. I repeat, a great editor, not just an editor. The mandate for great editors is fading in an ever more corporate journalism culture that favors partnership and compliance with the business side of things. Also, increasingly there are editors who make it about themselves rather the reporters they are shepherding. That’s the TV influence, of course, an influence Bradlee seemed pretty much able to take or leave. He understood it, but he didn’t seem to need it."  (NYSD)

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