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I’ve watched footage of the White House press corps engaging with press secretary Robert Gibbs on the Obama about-face on a torture investigation several times now. Sam Stein has a good recounting of it at the Huffington Post:
The mood was set even before White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs came to the podium to talk about the president’s remarks. “There does seem to be a little bit of a reaction to how this was received on the left,” said Chuck Todd, White House correspondent for NBC. “Frankly this feels like a political food fight now. Vice President Cheney on one side, President Obama on the other. The hard left, the hard right, fighting over this in the blogosphere. When he talks about – he fears the politicization – that may be too late.”
Chuck Todd, who for my money is a splendid political analyst but yesterday was plainly having a bad day, was not the only questioner along these lines. As usual, the press corps quickly descended into journalistic group think and framed the issue in binary terms: red-blue, liberal-conservative, Democrat-Republican. Behind every emerging issue, they see a political game in which one party seeks the upper hand over another. But not every issue fits this pattern, and the torture issue least of all, as John McCain taught us during the last presidential election. The White House press corps wasn’t listening.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”