We came in touch with something special over the last few months, something that had already been happening for many months before that. People came together to work on something big, something much bigger than themselves. People came together in the spirit of community and leaving America a better place than we found it. People came together to not only support a candidate, but to also support the idea that there's nothing - no problem we face - that can't be solved when determined individuals join hands and get to work. So many of you have a story just like this. And that's what makes what happened so special, so important, so vital to the future of this country. This is our story.
I donated to Barack Obama's campaign today, in part because of the race the candidate has run, but mostly I donated because of last night. I donated today because last night represented the most embarrassing manifestation of what has rapidly become - thanks to the petty, high school tactics of the mainstream media and, in no small part, to the Clinton campaign - a race to the bottom. A race that has allowed well-heeled members of the media to sidestep the issues facing actual, reality-based Americans and instead focus on the latest "gotcha" attack, last night's exemplar being a particularly idiotic line of questioning inspired, in part, by right-wing water-carriers like Sean Hannity.
I'm a sucker for a lot of things: Personal journalism. Progressive politics. Behind-the-scenes reporting. Media criticism. Strong, intelligent women. In Connie Schultz's new book, "... and His Lovely Wife: A Memoir from the Woman Beside the Man", we're treated to all of these things, and more. In case you didn't know, Schultz is the Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The "Man", in this case, is Congressman-turned-Senator Sherrod Brown. And the book is Schultz's very personal chronicle of Brown's race for U.S. Senate, a year-plus spent in the maelstrom of a campaign, and the efforts Schultz and Brown undertook to make their young, enthusiastic marriage work. He won, they survived, and their love - portrayed beautifully in the book - endures. The importance of this book will, too, making it a no-doubt-about-it addition to your must-read list.
I've really gotten quite used to being lectured by the "elite media" about who I am and am not as a progressive blogger, while, at the same time, being chastised by same for being right on the most important issue facing us today - Iraq - but not being serious enough about it, as those who are constantly wrong have apparently been. By now, I'm equally used to the aforementioned card-carrying elite members of the mainstream media taking time from their busy schedules to ridicule we helpless peons for attempting to hold them to some sort of standard, to, in other words, ask them to do their jobs. With that introduction, I bring you the latest example: Charles Gibson.
Remember the dust-up over John Edwards's two hires, Amanda Marcotte and Melissa McEwan? You know, the personal vendetta and charge for their firings led by bigoted Bill Donohue? That's right, the same Bill Donohue allowed yesterday by Air America host Lionel to repeatedly lie, make racist and homophobic statements and otherwise spew dishonesty unchallenged and unquestioned by his all-too-willing host. But the worst claim - the worst - made by Donohue was that he, unlike others, doesn't call for the firings of his group's targets. Sure you don't, Bill.
One of the biggest - and yet largely undiscussed - problems facing progressive activism (blogging in particular) is burnout. Every so often, the blogosphere loses one of its brightest lights to the grind, either temporarily or, worse, permanently. Delivering fresh content, day after day, is, even for the best, a difficult proposition. Balancing a blog with one's personal life and, more often than not, day job is an even more difficult task. Toss in the daily frustration one typically feels with the administration or the spectacularly slow grind of progress and the joys of trying to make a difference can become hardships. This is less a complaint than a reality. Also, let's not forget that a healthy dose of perspective is always important. That said, I've finally put my finger on one of the most persistent causes of my periodic burnout - and maybe yours, too: Beltway Derangement Syndrome.
Looking back at the exchange of ideas that started with this story and now continues with this one, I'd like to further engage in the discussion of the Don Imus saga, specifically as it relates to the free-speech issues so important in today's society. To that end, I'd also like to dive into the issues Matt, a journalism graduate school friend, brought up in his latest comments.
In response to something I wrote about the Don Imus saga Friday, Matt, a journalism graduate school friend of mine, replied and made his case quite succinctly. Another friend, Karl, weighed in, as did I. With our back-and-forth in mind, I'd like to add some detail to my point-of-view. If I may make so bold, Matt's entire argument can be summarized in his own words: "By calling for (and ultimately causing) the firing of Don Imus, it sets a bad precedent for free speech." I disagree, and, though I am as firm a defender of free speech as he, I would like to take this argument in a different direction, speaking to both the issues of our freedoms and the role of the people-powered movement in the debate.
You know, there's a very easy-to-understand, very concise, reason why so many right-wingers fail to grasp why John Edwards would choose to stay in the presidential race despite the recurrence of Elizabeth's cancer. And that is this:
Sacrifice, be it personal or shared, isn't a Republican value. Nor is service.
I could expand upon that in much greater detail, and I still might, but that, in a nutshell, says it all. Since Republicans don't understand sacrifice or service, don't respect or honor either, they will never understand what John and Elizabeth are doing. And that fact says as much about their lack of character as it does the Edwardses' abundance of it.
Seeing as my thoughts Sunday about Katie Couric's interview of John and Elizabeth Edwards have sparked much debate, I thought I would add to what I said. Look, there's little doubt that Couric - whatever her motivation - turned a great opportunity into another slanted interrogation. That said, there's even less doubt that the Edwardses took what little Couric offered them and used the interview to craft a portrait of a family that exudes character, class and determination. A careful examination of several suspect questions reveals both assertions, while an overall examination of the interview - and everyone's response - reveals other worthwhile thinking points entirely. And with that in mind, let's go to the interview:
Cross-posted at Hughes for America
Some people just saw you interview John and Elizabeth Edwards on "60 Minutes". Others did not. Even those who did see you interview the Edwardses are of two minds about it. Some people who did see the interview thought it was a moving profile of two courageous individuals. Others who saw it thought that, while the last statement is true, you, on the other hand, did a terrible job and did journalism a disservice. Some people will surely come away thinking you legitimized the shameful opinions of the far-right fringe by couching them in relative anonymity. Other people will come away thinking you did that because you agree with them. So, some people will think you're simply a hack, while others will think you're a partisan joke. A third group will think both. What would you say to those people?
Annoying, isn't it, Katie?
As you know, for every isolated example put forth by the right that the progressive movement is held hostage by an extremist fringe, there's the unsaid fact that, at the heart of the conservative movement - at the heart - is a very dark, very cruel sentiment that rarely sees the light of day in the media. This is who they are. To wit: The following comes from a Free Republic post citing the now-wrong Politico report that Edwards was going to announce a suspension of his campaign:
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