The New York Times op-ed page has a feature today called 'A First Step Back From the Brink.' As the Times describes it:
"With chaos threatening to engulf Lebanon, the need to resolve the conflict in the Middle East has rarely seemed so urgent. The Op-Ed editors went to seven experts with experience in the region, asking each of them what should be the first step toward defusing the crisis."
On Friday's World News, ABC's Charles Gibson highlighted a Lebanese blog poster who implied that most Israelis are not "reasonable" enough to care about the safety of innocent Lebanese civilians. Responding to an Israeli poster, also quoted by Gibson, who had expressed wishes that the Lebanese people be safe during the airstrikes, the unnamed Lebanese poster implied that most Israelis are unreasonable while complimenting the Israeli poster: "I can rest a little easier in this difficult time because I have found reasonable voices in Israel."
Everyone knows that when it comes to winning wars and achieving peace, the model to follow is that laid out by France, other Europeans, and the UN.
Elizabeth Vargas, steadfast Euro-UN-ophile, is savvy enough to recognize that the US needs to fall in line behind wiser heads and 'condemn or rebuke' Israel. Sadly, an obdurate Bush administration, in the person of spokesman Tony Snow, just wasn't getting the message in a Good Morning America interview this morning.
Vargas: "Tony, this is day ten now of the conflict in the Middle East and only now is the US government considering sending Secretary Rice to the region. Why waiting so long to do so?"
Snow: "Well, first, Elizabeth, you have to understand even though Secretary Rice hasn't been to the region, we've had a high-level . . . delegation . . . there last week. . . Secretary Rice thought she would wait until we had a moment . . . when the time is ripe. Now she views this as a good time to go."
Vargas: "You mentioned European allies. The US has thus far been alone in its refusal to either rebuke or condemn Israel for its excessive force, as Kofi Annan called it last night. And in addition it has refused to call for any cessation of hostilities. At what point does the administration say to its close ally Israel, 'enough'?"
'Today' never showed us just who was holding that placard. But judging from his comments this morning, just how surprised would we be to find it was NBC's David Gregory himself?
Did David perhaps rev up for his appearance by reading this all-out assault on Bush foreign policy from in the LA Times? In any case, he came loaded for Bush bear with a totally bleak tour d'horizon that included these gems:
- "The president's foreign policy was designed to make the the Middle East safer. It's not."
- "Crisis after crisis has undermined the Bush doctrine."
- "A foreign policy that has yet to produce the promised results."
"CBS Evening News" anchor Bob Schieffer participated in a phone interview with Bob Steele of the Poynter Institute yesterday. The discussion focused on Schieffer’s view of the current situation in the Middle East and caused Schieffer to pull out an old left wing talking point about war as he lamented:
They laughed when I said, here and here, that wearing a Palestinian scarf has become a leftist fashion statement. It was just a cold day on Rockefeller Center, people explained. Well, what do you know? Looks like the cold of Rock Center has made its way all the way to Madrid - and in high summer, no less!
Something very surprising happened on Wednesday: Comedian Bill Maher actually said something positive about America’s current president. Now, in fairness, his statements were written and published at The Huffington Post, which means that maybe only 500,000 people will read them as compared to his larger audience on HBO’s “Real Time.” And, it remains to be seen whether Maher will share such sentiments with his television audience.
However, for those who have watched Maher move further and further to the left over the years – so far so that his current television program seems like an hour-long excuse to bash conservatives – it was quite surprising to read the following: “I have to say, watching George Bush talk about Israel the last week has reminded me of a feeling that I hadn't felt in so long I forgot what it felt like: the feeling of pride when your president says what you want your president to say, especially in a matter that chokes you up a bit. I surrender my credentials as Bush exposer - from the very beginning - to no man, but on Israel, I love it that a U.S. president doesn't pretend Arab-Israeli conflict is an even-steven proposition.”
Shocking to say the least. However, he wasn’t done:
“Hardball” host Chris Matthews was Jay Leno’s guest on “The Tonight Show” Tuesday, and did more Republican bashing than even he usually does (grateful hat tip to Greg Tinti at Outside the Beltway with video link here). One of the first zingers was directed at former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Leno asked Matthews what he thought of Gingrich’s claim on Sunday that what is going on now in the Middle East is World War III. Matthews responded, “I think Newt is World War III.”
A bit later, Leno asked about the recent expletive that President Bush was caught saying to British Prime Minister Tony Blair at the G8 summit, and what Matthews thought about the press feeling that they needed to cut the word out of their broadcasts. Matthews saw this as a great opportunity to swipe at the Bush administration about a totally irrelevant issue: “I wish they'd cut out the 16 words that got us into Iraq, however, but they didn't cut those 16 out.”
The next interesting vignette was when Leno asked Matthews his opinion of Rudy Giuliani. Matthews began with something that will strike many conservatives as the height of hypocrisy:
Heart-rending images of small children being lifted across a fence. Outraged American/Lebanese evacuees alleging indiscriminate Israeli bombing ["they are bombing streets, gas stations, food stores, ranches."] A crying Lebanese man with blood on his shirt after his brother was killed by an Israeli bomb. And the only two reporters on the scene reporting from . . . Beirut. That was the way the 'Today' largely saw fit to cover the Middle East conflict this morning.
While none of the words or images are necessarily inaccurate [and we were treated to one evacuee heartily thanking Pres. Bush], they utterly fail to tell the whole story. Yes, Israel is militarily superior to its immediate neighbors. So it is easy to portray it as the bully in this fight. But let's look at the larger picture - Israel, a small strip of land, with relatively few people or natural resources, surrounded by hundreds of millions of largely Muslim Arabs in more than a dozen states. Have a look at the map. Israel is a barely discernible dot in the Muslim sea. And just as it is geographically dwarfed so too is it overwhelmed when it comes to natural resources - oil
It is axiomatic that the goal of the foreign policy of the United States should be the advancement of the interests of the United States and not of any other country, no matter how sympathetic, including Israel. That said, should it not give Chris Matthews pause that his pointed anti-neo-con spiel has become indistinguishable from the well-rehearsed Pat Buchanan line on the matter?
Has Israel already gone too far, waged too successful of a counterattack against an incursion and double kidnapping by the terrorist group Hezbollah?
As the assault on the Syria-and-Iran backed terrorist group goes on over Lebanon, the Times takes a breath and begins to revert to its usual biases.