Sunday, January 06, 2008

60 Minutes

Postscript: See the excellent article by Nicholas Schmidle in today's New York Times magazine for analysis of the state of Jihadi politics in Pakistan.

Let's blog 60 Minutes.

"Did you like her?" Good grief. Is that what 60 Minutes has come to? Lara Looloo, whatever her name might be, is a pale shadow of a journalist, softballing Musharraf with questions like that about Bhutto, and then faking toughness about Osama, apparently trying to play to the imagined vast crowd of the ignorant who prefer to know nothing about what it is that makes Pakistan such a hopeless place. It's not Osama ... its much more than that. Pakistan may be a tough country, but the politics is real and subject to analysis that goes beyond "liking" and Osama. This looks like the same sort of method that the "pundits" use to support 'publicans ... phony questions that let a smiling crook look good.

Don't get me wrong ... I confess to having been a little soft on Musharraf who was ... was, past tense ... the best dictator Pakistan ever had. Not a tough competition. He replaced the venal and, frankly, stupid Nawaz Sharif whose claims to legitmacy rest on ignorance ... he didn't know about Kargil, he didn't know that the army actually runs everything, just another innocent caught in the lights. Hmmm. Give me a break. The worst thing about Bhutto's death may be that it gives cover to that creep.

"Misperceptions of American thinking" says Musharraf ... but Lara Looloo misses the moment, no doubt because her knowledge of the background is rather less than any other miscellaneous sorority girl elevated to newsperson, and she lets Musharraf off the hook. Then, she pretends to get get tough about Al Quaeda without evidencing even the slightest background in what the frontier provinces represent. Gawd, this is awful.

But remember, 60 Minutes is actually the best, notwithstanding the temporary sidelining of Jon Stewart.

Story 2 is a mobster executioner with Steve Kroft. Entertaining, not important. 60 Minutes excels at this sort of thing. "Are you still a Catholic?" Steve asks ... and the mob executioner finally squirms a little. Fascinating ... I'd still rather have a proper story on Pakistan. Some touching remembrances of Ed Bradley who curiously played high school football with the future mobster.

And now story 3, the dastardly Roger Clemens. Seems a lots like the Bonds line except that instead of flax seed oil, he got B-12 ... yeah ... I don't believe him any more than I believe Bonds. I don't really care, and I don't doubt that he worked hard. Frankly, Clemens looks nervous, and I think he's lying. What do I know? That said, I also think he played by the de facto rules that management and players AND fans silently agreed to. But I think he dunnit.

"I was eating Vioxx like it was Skittles." That's pretty frightening. But then he criticizes steroids as a quick fix. Hmmm ... which is which?

It ends up being a pretty compelling interview, and I probably like the guy better than when it started. I still don't believe him, and I still don't care. Just as long as they apply the same standards to Bonds as they do to Clemens. And just as long as sooner or later we apply the standards of science to steroids and figure out what part is good and what part is bad.

And finally, Andy Roooney on the primary season, singing the praises of Roosevelt and Jefferson. Seems safe. So he devolves into pointless meandering about names. Cmon Andy. There's more grist for the mill in these bizarre early primaries than that.

Four stories, one compelling, three misses. You can do better than that, folks.

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