Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Show us how much you care...

Dick Morris has an article on The Hill disputing many of the claims Bill Clinton made in his recent interview with Chris Wallace. In it, he does something that has always been a pet peeve of mine:
Why didn’t the CIA and FBI realize the extent of bin Laden’s involvement in terrorism? Because Clinton never took the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center sufficiently seriously. He never visited the site...
I won't dispute Morris' assertion that Clinton didn't take the attack seriously enough. Morris worked for Clinton, so he was in a position to know, and he does go on to offer several significant observations to support his conclusion.

My problem is with this "he never visited the site" bit. Journalists often slip this in as a way to prove that some official didn't care or didn't take something seriously. It's a cheap tactic that doesn't prove anything.

It's not like Clinton could have actually done anything at the site, or gathered information that wasn't already available to him. The truth is, visiting the site is a primarily a symbolic gesture, a photo op, an expedient way to say, See look! I really do care!

I guess Morris' reasoning is that Clinton didn't even care enough to make a big show about how much he cared. Who needs that?

This happens all the time. When Bush flew over the areas damaged by Katrina, he was widely criticized because he didn't land. No one explained why that would have been better, but apparently, if your feet don't touch the ground, it doesn't count as caring. Bush cheated.

Which brings me to Hollywood, and a related pet peeve. I hate it when, on a show like Commander in Chief or West Wing, in reaction to some tragedy that killed a dozen Americans, the first words out of the president's mouth are, "What were their names?" Then the advisers look on in dumbfounded silence, prompting the president to exclaim "These were people dammit! They had names!"

Barf. Bad writing, at it's best. Or worst. Or something.

Don't get me wrong. I get it. They want to show how much the president cares--really cares--about these lost souls. I just think they could find a less cliched, less predictable way to get the point across. I don't have any suggestions, but I bet one of those writer guys they hire could come up with something. If not, maybe one of those actor people could find a way to get the point across.

I wish politics didn't have to be so much like Hollywood.

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