If the subject weren't so completely brutal I might actually be enjoying this.
I am referring, of course, to watching the American establishment press as they twist themselves into knots over the Bush Administration's now infamous torture memos. As it stands for now I will just have to take what I can get.
As the great Glenn Greenwald pointed out last week:
This remains the single most notable and revealing fact of American political life: that (with some very important exceptions) those most devoted to maintaining and advocating government secrecy is our journalist class, of all people. It would be as if the leading proponents of cigarette smoking were physicians, or those most vocally touting the virtues of illiteracy were school teachers. Nothing proves the true function of these media stars as government spokespeople more than their eagerness to shield government actions from examination and demand that government criminality not be punished. (3) The single most sacred Beltway belief is that elites are exempt from the rule of law. Amidst all the talk about how prosecutions would destroy post-partisan harmony and whether torture "works," it is virtually impossible to find any media star discussions about the fact that torture is illegal and that those who order, authorize or engage in torture are committing felonies. That is because -- other than for fun sex scandalsand other Blagojevich-like sensationalistic acts -- the overriding belief of the political class is that elites (such as themselves) have the right to break the law and not be held accountable. Amazingly, when it comes to crimes by ordinary Americans, being "tough on crime" is a virtually nonnegotiable prerequisite to being Serious, but when it comes to political officials who commit crimes in the exercise of their power, absolute leniency is the mandated belief upon pain of being dismissed as "shrill" and extremist. Can anyone find an establishment media pundit anywhere -- just one -- who is advocating that Bush officials who broke the law be held accountable under our laws? That view seems actively excluded from establishment media discussions.
But for all the hedging and vacillating going on everywhere nobody has quite topped Peggy Noonan's appearance on ABC's This Week show last Sunday. It was an absolute classic that will certainly live on in infamy:
Sometimes in life you just want to keep on walkin'
Yup. That's what she said. About official torture conducted by the American Government.
Reminds me of something I heard Stephen Colbert say once:
"Its not that we torture. Its that we're the kind of people who don't torture.".
I suppose when you spend your entire career writing such insipid, treacly, disconnected dross for the oligarchy, as Peggy has, its inevitably going to come back and bite you in the ass at some point. But who would know that it would ultimately happen in such spectacular fashion. I'm sure Peggy didn't get up that morning and think up and plan these words she was going to say. They just kind of fell out of her brain - and as such are even more revealing. Watch it again. Even George Will looks uncomfortable.
I love the way you can literally watch her revert to her old Reagan speechwriting tricks. Dropping her 'g' on 'walkin' to make her sound, I don't know, all folksy-wise. But then after that bombs she tacks right and tries to cultivate that cheap sense of spiritual awe she loves so much. She hushes her voice, and then actually, unbelievably tries to interject that, you know, she thinks- 'some of life has to be mysterious.'. But by then she's deep in total panic - 'perhaps thats not the right word' - she pleads.
That is pretty much the full Reagan oratorical persona right there. It just doesn't work that same magic every time out I guess.
But perhaps I'm being too hard on Peggy, just because I don't love her so. The fact of the matter is that this approach is something that we all engage in all the time with regards to all kinds of things.
I just can't go there, right now. Its spring. Somebody ask me about baseball.
I mean take your pick.
Nonetheless, I do take some comfort that this ones going to follow Peggy around all viral in cyber space for the rest of her days. Just somethin' kinda karmic here. Its a greatest hit for sure. TV giveth and TV taketh away.