Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Talking about the Times' Pope-arama

On the front page of this morning's New York Times, you can find Douglas Jehl's "Senate Panel Postpones Vote on U.N. Nominee:"

A surprise last-minute defection by an Ohio Republican forced the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to postpone a vote that had been scheduled for Tuesday on the nomination of John R. Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations.
The chairman of the panel, Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, reluctantly agreed to put off any vote until next month to allow a review of what Democrats portrayed as troubling new accusations that cast doubt on Mr. Bolton's temperament and credibility.
Until the defection, by Senator George V. Voinovich of Ohio, the panel had appeared prepared to send the nomination to the Senate floor on a strict party-line vote. But Mr. Voinovich stunned other senators by announcing that more time was needed to explore accusations against Mr. Bolton.

Folding Star wrote about this at A Winding Road:

Lugar clearly is working not on behalf of the Senate or the people of Indiana. In this matter, he's made it clear that he's nothing more than a tool for a White House that loves to get their way at any cost. And usually, the cost is Democracy itself crumbling bit by bit.
Listening to Lugar prattle on was certainly an experience. As he went on about how, even if they'd each personally choose a different Nominee, they've got a duty to Advice and Consent on THIS President's nominee, I had to wonder if Lugar had any real concept of the constitution. For someone who has been in the Senate for 28 years, it seems the answer is no.
Based on his own words, he makes it sound as if the Senate's responsibility is to be a rubber stamp for the Presidents' nominees, even if they don't approve of them. Advice and Consent doesn't mean Approve Quickly. It means that the Senate has the ultimate decision, not the President. A President has the right only to Nominate. The Senate has the sole power of Confirmation. This power exists so that Presidents' don't fill positions with cronies or campaign contributors or ideologues who'd be all wrong for the job. Obviously, the Senate has been lax in its duties time and again during the Bush administration, so it may be no surprise that Senator Lugar is so woefully uneducated about the true role of the Senate, as mandated by the Constitution.
No one is suggesting that they won't vote for Bolton because they'd have chosen someone else to be the Nominee. The idea is ridiculous. The fact of the matter is that Bolton is not someone who is fit to serve in the position, and the Senate's role is to make that judgment.

What else we got on the front page of the Times? Gina Kolata informs that "Some Extra Heft May Be Helpful, New Study Says." (No, I'm not joking, that is on the front page.)

And? One topic dominates the front page, ABC goes with Cheryl Ladd to replace Farrah Fawcett as Charlie's newest Angel. Wait. What? That's not the story?

Shelly Hack replaces Kate Jackson? Tanya Roberts replaces Shelly Hack?

Oh wait, the Pope-arama drama goes on. Yes.

But it is kind of like replacing an Angel, right? I mean, in the lead up, there's all this talk of inclusion. Potentials of color are even mentioned as though this might truly be an open and democratic process. So you get your "Jayne Kennedy may be Charlie's newest Angel." Or you get your "Susie Coelho may be Charlie's newest Angel." Or you get your "Persis Khambatta may be Charlie's newest Angel." But for all the talk of diversity, you always knew you were getting more of the same, right?

Latin America and Africa really never stood a chance and most people (outside of the press) grasped that. They realized it was an angle to build more excitement/speculation/interest in the "search."

The search is over. And a new Pope has been announced. And an announcement is turned into three front page stories, six stories inside the paper and a sidebar.

Of course, that's how the Times normally handles things. I mean, think back to when Valerie Plame was outed and how the Times ran nine stories on that all on the same day, remember that? Oh, no? Because that didn't happen. Give me a second. Okay, okay. Think back to when the Times looked deep within and realized that they'd oversold the WMD story and how they ran nine stories in one day on that. Remember? We were taken into war on lies. And so of course that was big news. So the Times ran . . . Wait. That was just an inside the pages correction.

Hmm. I really don't know what to tell you. Maybe the United States is 100% Catholic? No?
Well . . . okay, it's an announcement that merits this huge attention because of the fact that selecting the Pope is an open process that requires people from all over the world to cast their vote on . . . No, that's not it.

Let's go to Kara.

Kara: As a Catholic, I'm puzzled that this "crowning" has resulted in more than one front page story and an inside the paper biographical sketch. But then I was puzzled by how they teased out the death pagent with daily bulletins. Maybe it's guilt for some slams the paper's taken against Catholics in the the recent past?

Kara, Francisco's wondering the same thing. In fact, we've got thirty-two Catholic members wondering that this morning. We've got non-Catholics wondering how much bearing this has on Catholics today? Writes one, "I'm not trying to be dense, but in my religion, when leadership at the top changes, it's really not news until it ends up changing something we do in my local church."

Francisco notes that when the last Pope spoke out against going to war with Iraq, the Times didn't front page that, "let alone give it all of this. They must just love the pageantry? I kind of think they're trying to make up for their guilt from earlier coverage of Catholics."

Maybe so. Maybe this is The Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation? And remember, sometimes we inflict Penance on ourselves.

Okay, let's all say it together:

Oh my God, I am heartily sorry
for having offended Thee,
and I detest all my sins,
because I dread the loss of Heaven
and the pains of Hell,
but most of all because I
offend Thee, my God,
Who art all good and deserving
of all my love . . .

Nine stories in the main section and a side bar. Has the Times been granted Absolution yet? No? How about the readers?

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