If this is any indication of the stories that interest New York Times readers most, then it's no wonder one finds such shameful ignorance among much of its readership. I read nytimes.com every day, but it is far from my only source of news. However, judging by the comments of the following readers on Dick Cavett's blog, I would imagine they read little else:
Dick Cavett Speaks Again
Dick Cavett writes:
And am I alone in finding our leader’s behavior at press conferences irritating? I mean that smirky, frat-boy joking manner he goes into while, far away, people he dispatched to the desert are having their buttocks shot away. It’s worst when he does that thing of his that the French call making a “moue”; when he pooches his lips out and thrusts his face forward in a way that seems to say, “Aren’t I right? And don’t you adore me?”
As in his case, I was never a soldier, but God knows I wanted to be. Not in later years when my draft number came up for real, but back in my Nebraska grade-school days when Jimmy McConnell and Dickie Cavett watched John Wayne in “Sands of Iwo Jima” at least five times, one of us sneaking the other in free through the alley exit. Then we went home, got our weapons (high-caliber cap pistols) and took turns being John Wayne. The alley was Iwo Jima.
Cavett's words up to this point did not strike me so much naive as they were contradictory. However, he quickly steps over the line:
I have a statement: Anybody who gives his life in war is an idiot.
I guess I left off the quotation marks to let the words have their full effect. They aren’t mine, but I’m related to them. They’re my Uncle Bill’s words, and his credentials for uttering the remark are a shade better than mine.
The other word Bill hated was “sacrifice.” Sacrifice is something you give up in order to get something in return. What good are we getting from this monstrous error? Cooked up as it was by that infamous group of neocons (accent on last syllable) who, draft-averse themselves, were willing to inflict on the (largely unprivileged) youth of this country their crack-brained scheme
What service is this great country getting out of all this tragedy, other than the certainty that historians will ask in disbelief, “Was there no one to stand up to this overweening president?”
Here, Cavett is rude and just dead wrong:
I cringe at the icky, sentimental way the president talks about what we owe to the people of plucky little Iraq. You’d think we all grew up ending our “Now I lay me down to sleep…” with “… and please, Lord, be good to Iraq.” They detest us now, along with just about everybody else. Personally, I don’t give a damn what happens to Iraq, and don’t think it’s worth a single American life. Or any other kind. Haven’t philosophers taught us the immorality of destroying something of infinite value — like a human life — in order to achieve a possible good? I guess not.
If Cavett widened his sources, perhaps the views and opinions he espoused would not be so inaccurate or myopic. Undoubtedly, he has insulated himself among "yes" men and women, all collectively contributing to their own "group think," which can be dangerous. Powerline Blog published a few "letters home from Iraq" a few days ago. If Cavett had read them, perhaps he would have altered his blog (but probably not):
At 2:30 PM EST, Friday, February 23rd, my youngest son recited his reenlistment oath to serve his country for another four years. He was on duty at the time, but was relieved by a fellow Airman so that he could have the oath administered, and a few pictures taken. He then went back to his job, and finished his scheduled assignment.
His decision made, and his commitment sworn to before God and man, he will remain with that small segment of our population who have voluntarily chosen to put aside the tranquility of civilian life to defend the very document that was created to insure that tranquility. As a college graduate with numerous skills and practical experience, he will use his talents and knowledge to help insure that we can continue to enjoy the blessings of being Americans. He has chosen to give a portion of his life to service,
benefiting and protecting millions of others, rather than benefiting his own well being, prosperity and safety.
I am resolved to fight these bastards for however long it takes, every day until my retirement.
I am stationed in Mosul, Iraq and things are busy. We have about 15 - 20 incidents a day. An “incident” is an IED attack, enemy ambush, rocket attack against our vehicles, or a mortar attack against our FOB (Forward Operating Base aka where we live). We win every time whenever they stay and fight. But mostly, they hit us, then run away and blend into the crowd. We’re winning a day at a time. And we are taking the fight to them.
People back home may not realize how effective this enemy is using the media as a weapon. Every time some talking head gets on the TV and shouts anything negative about this war, it motivates our enemy, who interprets dissent as weakness and who uses our free press against us. That is exactly how “the terrorists” win. For the Terrorist does not have to defeat us, he just has to outlast us.
Well Dick, You’re back on your game. I too have come to detest Bush’s mannerisms whether State of the Union or press conference, I know if his lips are moving he is lying. The point is, that he is a spoiled rich East Coast “Frat Boy” who never outgrew it.
I would strongly suggest that today’s column be required reading for juniors or seniors in high school English and or History classes. Every thought and sentiment expressed by Dick Cavett rings true and carries with it the clarity unfamiliar to those “in charge”. Mr.Cavett is to be congratulated and thanked.
I believe it’s time for Tony Snow to announce that Bush and Cheney have volunteered to go to the front for a final, winners take all, duke it out battle with those other ‘bad’ guys. A leader to leader encounter to end the war. Maybe even Osama will show up! This grand self-sacrifice by our ‘dear’leaders is the only good play left to America. I am rooting that their true blue Republican sense of duty and loyalty to our great nation will prompt them to take up this challenge. It might even redeem their legacy.
Thank you for your true expression of disdain and horror Mr. Cavett. What strikes me is that it is not just this war to which you protest, but war in general. To some of the comments that they think you/we’d feel different if things were going better, I have to say no, the means of preemptive war, of thinking ‘freeing’ a people is worth killing 600,000 of them is never okay, is never justified by things going better. War, even ‘good’ wars, reek unbelievealbe damage and carnage - both in the moment and ongoing. WWII, the protypical ‘good war’ killed at least 60 million people! Is that something to celebrate? Are we happy that the only way we could come up with to prevent, contain, stop facism was via a global war that killed 60 million people in order to save us? War, war itself is the problem. It has never been as clean or honorable or ’surgical’ as the history books/we pretend, and we are at the point where its continued use will not only destroy more Iraq’s but the globe itself. Bush is not the problem, mistakes in the conduct of the Iraq war is not the issue, war itself is the evil that we must step away from.
In conclusion, I ultimately take away one clear trend from Cavett's post. It takes very little to rile up the Bush-hating liberals. With predictable jabs and infantile rhetoric, Cavett knows how to bait his readers and whip them into a frenzy. Unfortunately, this practice adds nothing to the political dialogue. A reasoned, logical opposition to the Iraq war does not constitute a vitriolic diatribe against the President, his secondaries, or even his verbal gaffes or awkward mannerisms (every President has them).
But I want to thank Dick Cavett, for his words help to sucker the narrow-minded voters who are not serious thinkers about American foreign policy, and its place in the world. His harsh, tasteless language attracts the emotional, fringe elements, and will undoubtedly alienate the informed, contemplative electorate from their irrational, at times fanatical hatred.