I like Joel Achenbach, longtime Washington Post writer and current blogger. He's funny and very smart on a wide range of issues. When he gets political, he's more liable than not to run off the rails. For example, an entry from last week begins:
Did you hear about Obama's trip overseas? He apologized. He groveled. He bowed to the Saudis!!! He said America is a bad place, and he spouted all that rhetoric he learned at the feet of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. I know this because I've been reading and watching the Fair and Balanced media. Like last night, I caught a little bit of "Hannity," which is named after the host, Sean Hannity, who is so smart that he can discern stuff that didn't even actually happen.Joel goes on, at great length, quoting selectively from Obama's European speeches, aiming derisive barbs at Hannity and his guest, Newt Gingrich. As usual, the tone is pretty much: How dare they?!
As for the bowing: you can believe White House denials, or alternatively, your own eyes.
As for the grovelling: as it turns out, in the very next day's edition of Joel's own paper, Charles Krauthammer noted:
Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.Alternatively, George Will, another WaPo writer, in Newsweek, a WaPo property:
During Barack Obama's trip abroad, during which he praised himself by disparaging his predecessor and deploring America's shortcomings, he took pandering to a comic peak, combining criticism of America with flattery of Europe, when he deplored America's "failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world." Actually, as the crisis of aggression and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans demonstrated a decade ago, Europe plays almost no leadership role, even in Europe, which remains a geographical rather than a political denotation.Joel, meet Chuck and George. They will inform you, if you want to listen, that it wasn't just a matter of style and symbolism, but also of substance.
Joel approvingly cites a commenter who draws a parallel between Hannity/Limbaugh and the Lonesome Rhodes character from the old movie A Face in the Crowd. Lonesome, played by Andy Griffith, was a sociopathic snake, thrust into the limelight by the 1950s starmaking machinery. He turns into a TV demagogue, lusting after political power, only to doom himself when a disillusioned Patricia Neal causes his contempt for his mass audience to be broadcast nationwide.
Yeah, sure. Hannity and Limbaugh are just like that; if you're playing by Joel's rules, that's an assertion that needs no evidence.
Joel's capper, though, is bad enough:
Man, I miss Bill Buckley.… an increasingly popular, although transparently phony, gimmick: let us praise safely dead conservatives in order to trash living ones.