Deep Underground with Raul Groom

Wednesday, November 17, 2004

One thing I'm seeing in the articles about these appointments that's quite revealing of the press' new "balance problem," wherein reporters use moderated language that actually renders the statements they are making false.

Check out this article from Maura Reynolds about the Rice appointment.

Reynolds uses a word reporters have been falling in love with for describing Bush's record - "mixed." When a reporter uses the word "mixed" to describe something about the Bush administration, substitute the word "monstrous failure" and see which makes more sense. For example:


Outside of the Oval Office, Rice's record as national security advisor was generally seen as a monstrous failure.

Although she earned the president's trust, critics said she did not have a strong enough hand when it came to another part of her job: coordinating policy between the various agencies and departments who together make foreign policy.

Critics inside and outside the administration said she was a weak coordinator who failed to rein in the Defense Department, particularly when it took the lead in planning for postwar Iraq, considered one of the administration's central failures.

Rice was also criticized by the independent commission that investigated the Sept. 11 attacks for failing to alert the president to the dangers of terrorism in the months before the attack, and by other critics for overstating the intelligence suggesting that Iraq possessed nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

In the months before the war against Iraq, Rice acknowledged that the intelligence was incomplete but argued, "We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."


Works pretty well, doesn't it? A few additional points from within this quote. My favorite sentence is "Although she earned the president's trust, critics said she did not have a strong enough hand when it came to another part of her job: coordinating policy between the various agencies and departments who together make foreign policy." What makes this so great is that you may notice that the part Rice was bad at - coordinating policy between various agencies - is the totality of the National Security Advisor's job description. The part she excelled at - proving your loyalty to the president so you can get appointed Secretary of State - is not in the National Security Advisor's job description at all.

Analogy time - I have this dentist, and his work has been really mixed. On the one hand, he doesn't know how to fill cavities or clean teeth. But man, are his jokes funny!

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