Tuesday, May 03, 2005

BuzzFlash interviews Bob Herbert (NYT columnist) and a BuzzFlash news analysis

BuzzFlash has an interview with the New York Times' Bob Herbert. Here's an excerpt:

BuzzFlash: It was a war of the people. We felt as one nation, fighting a common enemy. Americans of all different backgrounds were thrown together in the military, although the armed forces were still segregated until Korea. Now we have a war in Iraq about which there's really no sense of community involvement. There's approval or disapproval ratings, but it's hardly on the radar of everyone's daily life here. It's almost like the U.S. is running a business overseas or something.
Bob Herbert: I think that's an extremely important point because it's the opposite to the idea of a sense of community. If you talk to ordinary citizens about this, to people who are doing well financially and who are pretty well educated, say, to kids on college campuses who are looking ahead to a career, they might have a feeling pro or con about the war. But if you ask them if they would ever consider joining the service and fighting in that war, the answer is invariably no. If you ask parents who are reasonably well off whether they would allow their children to go and fight in Iraq, the answer is absolutely no. That's one of the reasons the military is having trouble meeting its recruitment goals. Parents are saying, hey, my kid might go to Iraq and get killed in this thing. No, we’re not going to encourage the kid to sign up for the military.
A lot of the young people who are off fighting in Iraq, some doing two or three tours over there, are people who joined the service or maybe the reserves or the National Guard to get an education, to get a little bit of extra income -- that sort of thing. They did not join up with the idea that they would actually have to go off to the Middle East and fight in a war like this. So you lose the sense of community. You have a split between the people who are actually doing the hard work of fighting the war, and then the people back home for whom, as you point out, the war is just a peripheral issue at best.
BuzzFlash: One of the things that certainly gets our goat is the young Republicans on campuses who tend to be rather militant and radical, and will disrupt people who are anti-war, yet do not seem to be volunteering to serve in Iraq.
Bob Herbert: They're not volunteering to serve in Iraq, and neither did many of our public officials who promoted this war. They had an opportunity to fight for their country in Vietnam. They didn't do that either. And it sort of gets my goat. I'm a veteran. I got drafted during the big build-up to the war in Vietnam. Luckily, I did not get sent to Vietnam. I went to Korea. But I lost a lot of friends in that war. I saw the split, then, between the people who were drafted or enlisted and had to fight the war, and the people who were able to get deferments. I had friends on both sides of that divide.
War is something that is not just dangerous wherever you're fighting and dangerous for the troops involved. War is something that wounds the spirit of the country here at home, and creates splits that take an awful long time to heal. We saw that in Vietnam and I’m afraid we're going to see that again in Iraq.

BuzzFlash is offering Bob Herbert's book Promises Betrayed as a premium.

Also from BuzzFlash is this news analysis "Reality Hurts The Ratings, Scares Away Advertisers, And Upsets The White House." Here's an excerpt (and try to make a point to check BuzzFlash at least once a day):

Don't you think the press might have been sensitive to the hypocrisy of a president who teaches "absolute" moral values and denounces the allegedly low moral standards of television having his wife employ the same kind of humor? No, not this crowd of D.C. mainstream press insiders. They are so cynical and complacent with their fat paychecks that they just consider the whole presidency a performance. There aren't REALLY issues. There are just appearances to be "reviewed" and power plays to be reported on. Most of the people in that room, are, in essence (whatever their titles), political entertainment reporters working for largely entertainment companies, where their news divisions are just another form of entertainment.
And they know that they can never, ever personally question the credibility of America's Bulljiver-in-Chief, George W. Bush, because they would be out of a job within hours of THE call to their publisher from Karl Rove.
In light of this weekend's journalistic malfeasance by most of the mainstream media, we went out and rented the 1992 film "Bob Roberts" (done in faux documentary style), written by and starring Tim Robbins.
Just call it clairvoyant, prescient, brilliant.
If this incredibly insightful film did not warn America what was headed our way -- a politics ruled by cynical emotional and media manipulation -- through performance -- for the benefit of the wealthy -- then nothing did.
Tim Robbins, who BuzzFlash readers will remember was kept from attending an anniversary showing of "Bull Durham" at the Cooperstown Hall of Fame by the Busheviks because he and his wife, Susan Sarandon, opposed the Iraq War, plays the role of a Pennsylvania Senate candidate. His political statements exist almost solely of parodies of Bob Dylan's songs that belittle the poor, the weak and extol the virtues of wealth, selfishness and manipulative "Patriotic" symbols. The "Anti-Dylan" candidacy is meant to focus on how corrupting the '60s were to America's moral fiber. He literally "performs" his campaign of greed and blaming the victim rather than speaking to any specific issues.
Of course, Roberts is a corrupt hypocrite, but that's another story.
Sound familiar.
Robbins is Bush with a guitar, although Bob Roberts (the fictional candidate) surpasses Bush in that he was actually a success at business.

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