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February,  2007

 

If you happen to depend, as many of us do, on evening television newscasts to get up to date on what happened in your world during the day, you found out on Feb. 8 that Playboy magazine model Anne Nicole Smith was found dead in her hotel room. You found out in minute detail repeated over and over. It seemed that Iraq, Congress, the White House and scores of other venues at comparable levels of significance had vanished. Furthermore, it was most disconcerting to hear the same news anchors who frequently tell people discussing important topics that time runs out in 30 seconds rattle on about the supposed overriding implications of Ms. Smith's unfortunate demise.

P.S./ To be fair we'll note that Public Broadcasting's Jim Lehrer didn't have any trouble keeping things in proper perspective.

    

Media treatment of Senator Joe Biden's now infamous patronizing remark about his colleague and rival for the Democratic nomination Barack Obama graphically demonstrates what has gone wrong with presidential politics.

Nearly two years before voters go to the polls and 18 months before the two major parties choose their candidates, an obviously off-handed comment with potential for unintended consequences not only takes on immediate headline status in virtually every newspaper and news outlet in the nation but also is repeated often enough that it reaches the most casual observer. Even the New York Times, the recognized 'paper of record', saw fit to lift a single sentence from an unrelated article published in an obscure periodical to the top of its report on Biden's formal entry into the competition. Others way down on the journalism scale are treating it as if it is destined to achieve historical significance.

Although we admit to previously managing to avoid any knowledge of the existence of the New York Observer, Delaforum sought out the complete article to share with our readers. (If you missed it last Thursday, CLICK HERE to read it.) There's no cause to call the Pulitzer Prize committee into special session, but it's not all that bad a bit of reporting.

The point, though, is that if things are that lacking in substance this far from the election, how bored are we going to get before November, 2008, arrives.

Truth to be told, of course, the nation is now gripped by a significant debate on the wisdom of continuing the failed war in Iraq and the senior senator from Delaware is very much in the midst of that debate. Too many American troops -- 3,100 so far -- have been killed and more than 23,000 have been injured to relegate the issue to a comparative political game begun more than a year before it should have been.

Before the invasion Biden was a leader in an attempt to divert President Bush from his ill-conceived course. Since then Biden has been proven right at each step of a necessarily evolving position to deal with the results of his and others having been unsuccessful in their efforts to avert the calamity.

Yes, Biden did vote in favor of the congressional resolution the President continues to cite as his authority to wage the war, the key element of which was to destroy Iraq's "capability and willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against other nations and its own people." If that resolution is still in force even though the premises upon which it was based have been shown to have been invalid, why should the counter-resolution now working its way through Congress be taken as  non-binding?

With his widely recognized expertise and the  influence he has deservedly earned through many years of distinguished service so sorely needed in the Congress, the nation cannot afford to have Biden cut down by a single sentence -- albeit a stupid one -- for which he has apologized. Whether the future takes him to the White House, the State Department or wherever, the present requires that he remain fully effective where he is.

2007. All rights reserved.

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