Wednesday, April 27, 2005

A Trip Through the Wednesday Post

The blog today is going to focus on today's A Section of the Washington Post, which has many nice examples of the strange maladies that afflict modern print journalism.

This wasn't a typical Wednesday in the news business, as some stuff actually happened. When something happens, and the papers report on it the next day, that's "hard news;" reporters are more or less out there actively chasing stories like in the old days.

Mike Allen filed one such story, headlined GOP to Reverse Ethics Rule Blocking New Delay Probe. It appears above the fold on page A1 of the post, next to a picture of Bush and Delay.

The article is very well done, and chronicles what appears to be a complete retreat on the part of Dennis Hastert and the Republicans, though Hastert does his best to muddy the waters by "suggest[ing] that one option might be to lengthen the time before the automatic dismissal occurs, to perhaps 90 or 120 days."

That would basically be no change at all, since the point of the impasse is not the 45-day rule itself but the fundamental change to the ethics process that makes it impossible for a member to be investigated by the committee unless members of his party agree. Just lengthening the amount of time the member's party has to stall before he gets off the hook is not really going to help matters, and I sincerely hope the Democrats are not going to fall for this "compromise."

All in all, very little to find fault with in this article. He gets a quote from a relevant Democrat, instead of just talking to some celeb Democrat who has nothing to do with the ethics process, the piece is well-put together and is very straightforward.

Kudos to Mike Allen and his editors.

Next - the rest of the front page.

52 comments:

Herr Gokmop said...

So perhaps this is a strategic retreat for the Republicans. If they're to the point that they acknowledge ethics issues are "tarnishing the reputation" of the party, they may have decided that the medium-term fallout from winning a battle like this isn't worth the bruising they'd take to make it happen.

But doesn't it bug you just a little bit how reactive the Democrats are being? They're spending all of their time shooting down various things coming from the GOP. Don't get me wrong - they should be doing that. You can't fault GI Joe for battling COBRA, or the Transformers from working against identified Decepticon initiatives. I just wish the Democrats would be a bit more visible with some good ideas that might move things forward, rather than almost exclusively working against someone else's initiatives.

It's the kind of behavior that makes for a strong republican case that Democrats are "obstructionists". Progressives are always obstructionists from the perspective of the right-wing agenda. If the debate moves to those terms though (which we've heard out of Republicans before) that would be A Bad Thing (TM)(C)(R). A big part of political wrangling is choosing the grounds for the debate.

Adam P. Short said...

Yes, but the idea that being "obstructionist" cost anybody his seat is actually GOP spin, not based on any tangible evidence. It's not the type of label that really has a lot of meaning. The important thing is to make it clear to people exactly what you are obstructing. If they are against it, it won't bother them that you're obstructing it.

Don't get me wrong, the Dems are an ideologically bankrupt party. But the anti-obstructionist line comes right from the playbook of the very Democrats that have made the party that way. It's a complex issue.

Herr Gokmop said...

One-liner headline on the Onion today:

"Ethics Panel Slides Back To Reveal Hot Tub"

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