Media, citizens, and public policy: I suck my thumb

boblog041231a:

IF WS JOURNAL AND NY TIMES
RELISH THEIR IMPACT (JOURNAL SAYS, TIMES HOPES)
ON USA RAMPAGING RIGHTS ABUSES, CAN WE TAKE HEART?

New Year’s Eve brings Jess Bravin’s lead article in the Wall Street
Journal: “US revamps policy on torture of war prisoners; (new) legal
guidance criticizes aggressiveness of old rules, redefines ‘severe pain’.”

While Bravin says the Administration claims Rumsfeld and Bush “never
authorized torture,” and abuses after Abu Ghraib consisted of
“aberrations;” and that “even under its (new) wider (more
_compassionate_?) definition of torture, none of the interrogation methods
previously approved by the Justice Department would be illegal,” he and
the Journal’s editors claim credit for their disclosure of the
then-approved policy on interrogation in June, 2004.

I’d take heart from this; but the way the Journal reports what I’d call
an astounding move to cover this Administration’s continuing intentions
(illegal under international law) seems to me too self-congratulatory. It
manages to suggest a change of heart, to offer us more than momentary
comfort. Surely not!

Perhaps it’s because of my reaction to yesterday’s New York Times
editorial page (Dec. 30). The second editorial contains some of the most
acid language aimed at the Administration that I’ve ever seen on that
page, under the query, Are We Stingy? Yes.

It is clear that The Times considers Bush far too comfortably and
arrogantly removed from the current Indian Ocean situation. How anyone
could read it without regretting the 2004 majority vote for Bush escapes
me — but I think some folks would be inclined to chastise The Times for
what seems like a lapse in civility. (2004 seems one of the strongest
years for popular media-hating.)

Then thereÂ’s Deputy Editorial Page Director Andrew RosenthalÂ’s signed
editorial comment at the bottom of the page. Calling pointed attention to
what he calls the governmentÂ’s legal breach .. turning lawyers into
apologists for lawbreaking .. Rosenthal seems to want to ignite revulsion
over a nation gone bonkers.

But, again, I think it won’t work. After an orchestrated plebiscite on
the state of affairs in the USA last month, and an Administration now
happily lying low while media trumpet Americans’ strong response to
natural disaster, I find myself angry at America’s citizens more than at
an Administration that naievete re-enshrined. (Now, where are my kids’ old
pacifiers?)