Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Maybe that speech that tickled Elite Fluff Patrol leader Bumiller yesterday wasn't such a hit? Also Larry Summers and Hunter S. Thompson noted

We're going inside the paper this morning for a number of reasons (we're not citing Iraq articles until they cite who's reporting based on accounts and who leaves the Green Zone, I can only take so much Elisabeth Bumiller in one week, and I exempt myself from commenting on Robin Toner's writing as noted many times before -- anyone else can weigh in with their opinion of Toner's writing or her front page story this morning).

So let's move to A10 where Steven R. Weisman has "Diplomacy: Bush May Feel Chilly Blast From Russians, Envoy Says" and we also have Richard Bernstein's "Mixed Headlines Greet the Commander."

From Weisman's article:

In written answers to questions submitted by The New York Times before Mr. Bush left for Europe on Sunday, Mr. Ushakov said Mr. Putin was likely to respond to Mr. Bush's criticism by raising "our own concerns about the situation in the United States and certain troubling aspects of Washington's policies."
He noted that "parts of public opinion in Russia are not necessarily supportive of some of America's actions in certain regions of the world" and that "there are others who are highly critical of your electoral system."
Mr. Ushakov did not offer specifics, but Bush administration officials suggested that he was referring to such matters as the detention of prisoners at Abu Ghraib in Iraq and Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and the 2000 presidential election, in which the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mr. Bush in a recount dispute, effectively securing his victory.

Bumiller's stenography yesterday noted the Bully Boy speaking on the topic of:
"our shared alliance stands for a free press, a vital opposition, the sharing of power and the rule of law." Noted it with a straight face. Putin is one, was one of, Bush's closest allies. Remember he cited him in the debate (believe he called him "Vladimir") and of course noted that he'd peer into his soul when they were first face to face (or some such nonsense). Things don't look so good.

And having cozied up to "Vlad" for so long and so unquestionally, now that he wants to toss the bull around and try to have some influence, he's learning that Putin can cite problem for problem (real or imagined) with the way the U.S. is conducting itself, just as the Bully Boy can with the way Russia conducts itself. Call it irony, call it a stalemate, call it checkmate, call it what you will. There's a lesson here about currying favor unquestioningly (I mean for our country, but I'm sure Putin would make the same argument in reverse). We weren't concerned about a free press in Russia (among other things, the list is long but let's focus on that since it was the first on the Bully Boy's list) while we were cozying up and now we're surprised, having thrown our arms around Putin unquestioningly, that Russia might recoil from our suggestions.

Moving on to Bernstein:

Much of the commentary after the speech provided a sort of laundry list of global trouble spots where Europe's generally more multilateral, diplomatic approach to problem-solving might cause further trans-Atlantic rifts in the future. The Iran issue was probably the most frequently mentioned, with Europeans criticizing the United States for failing to give its full backing to the European diplomatic initiative aimed at persuading Tehran not to develop nuclear weapons.
Behind the concern over specific issues is a deeper skepticism about Mr. Bush's motives. Essentially, commentators were asking after the speech in Brussels whether Mr. Bush's call for a "new era" in trans-Atlantic affairs signaled a sincere willingness to listen to Europe, or whether the American president was just giving Europeans a chance, finally, to agree with the United States.

This is the speech Elite Fluff Control squad leader Elisabeth Bumiller fluffed yesterday on the front page. The one where she noted his "jokes" and the surroundings but didn't seem to have a real grasp on the meaning of what he said (admittedly, she takes dictation well) or how it might be received from those that weren't predisposed to fawn over him.

Today, some reactions to his speech are buried inside the paper which is a real shame because the reactions should have been noted on the front page yesterday (and should have been conceivable to anyone hearing or reading the speech -- anyone not part of the Elite Fluff Patrol at least).

Page A12 has Sara Rimer and Patrick D. Healy's "Harvard President Vows to Temper His Style With Respect." Here are the first two paragraphs:

With his faculty threatening open revolt, the president of Harvard, Lawrence H. Summers, promised Tuesday that he would temper his management style and begin treating people more respectfully.
Professors, gathered at an overflow faculty meeting to hear and discuss Dr. Summers, appeared so dissatisfied with the state of his leadership that they rejected a proposal to have three senior Harvard scholars mediate the furor between the faculty and its president.

As noted previously, the controversy has it roots prior to the speech Summers gave, the speech only enflamed things. The issue doesn't appear to be going away anytime soon.

The article notes that a Harvard Crimson poll found that "52 percent of professors disapproved of Dr. Summer's leadership and 40 percent approved. The anger has been building since Dr. Summers's first months at Harvard. His clash with Cornel West, formerly of the African and African-American Studies Department, has been widely recounted."

In other news, "They're the ones that need to be held to account," is a phrase Bush halting whines currently on NPR. Our pointing finger Bully Boy. (What was he talking about? Does it matter?)

Rob e-mails asking that Kirk Johnson's "With an Icon's Death, Aspen Checks Its Inner Gonzo"
(about Hunter S. Thompson) be noted. Rob wanted these three paragraphs highlighted:

In the 1980's he raged about the pallid surrender of the counterculture spirit in his book "Generation of Swine," in which he condemned the baby boomers of the 1960's -- the same boomers who in many cases now inhabit the $20 million mansions on Red Mountain overlooking Aspen. And he celebrated anarchy whenever he could, residents say, with games like Shotgun Golf, which combined traditional putting and chipping with the Thompsonesque filigree of shooting at the ball if it seemed appropriate.
Aspen, meanwhile, changed around him. Money was pouring in, and the people who wielded it were changing too. As recently as the 1980's, people say, the rich made an effort to blend in, wear jeans at the bar, become part of the community. Now, they hire townspeople to run their homes or to maintain them, and they keep mostly to themselves. Last year, the average real-estate transaction in the town surpassed $3.4 million, according to town figures.
"Anything organized probably didn't sit well with Hunter -- virtually anything with money and organization would be attacked, or parodied," said Aspen's city manager, Steve Barwick. "He was one of the symbols of the no-growth argument."