Damage control (cont)

The fallout continues, or sort of. Arnold’s back on the campaign trail, being greeted by cheering fans — er, voters — but after his apology and non-acknowledgement of the Hitler reference (from almost 30 years ago!), he’s keeping his mouth shut. As a strategy, this is probably as much of a winner that he’ll come up with at this point of the campaign. I wonder, though, if a third shoe is being prepared for the Sunday edition…
Arnold may be under attack, but the LA Times appears to be suffering the damage . Susan Estrich gets her shots in from the editorial page of the LA Times itself:

So this is the October surprise? The Los Angeles Times headline that Arnold Schwarzenegger groped and humiliated women? … But none of these women, as The Times emphasizes, ever came forward to complain. The newspaper went looking for them, and then waited until five days before the election to tell the fragments of the story. What this story accomplishes is less an attack on Schwarzenegger than a smear on the press. It reaffirms everything that’s wrong with the political process. Anonymous charges from years ago made in the closing days of a campaign undermine fair politics.

Debra Saunders, the Chronicle columnist who is a rare conservative voice in San Francisco, responded in Howard Kurtz’s Media Notes:

“[I]t makes our profession look horrible. To look at something that’s 20, 30 years old, that’s just not fair and not relevant,” Saunders said. “If you have to go back to the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s to make your point, maybe it’s not a point.”

Also in Media Notes, LA Times Editor John Carroll defends his decision to run the story, arguing in part that “We’re in the business of publishing, not concealing. ” Kurtz apparently didn’t ask Carroll whether the Times is in the business of creating news, or why the Times never reported on the Gray Davis story in 1997. Isn’t a candidate — who at the time was a public office holder — who physically attacks his staff worthy of some investigative reporting?
Back in the LA Times, Steve Lopez carries the home team’s water with a funny but deceptive column:

“It doesn’t matter,” Beers said of the allegations. She said Arnold’s misbehavior happened a long time ago. (Actually, the latest incident reported was in 2000.) Besides, she said, Clinton’s scandal took place while he was in office. True, but Clinton also had a willing participant, unlike Arnold.

Lopez conveniently seems to forget about Kathleen Willey and Juanita Brodderick (thanks to Mickey Kaus and Mona Charen, respectively). But he does relate a funny story about Arnold’s speeding and his Nissan Sentra that I can support, having owned a Sentra years ago.
UPDATE: Just perused Hugh Hewitt’s blog and found this nugget:

Readers of the report on Arnold Schwarzenegger in this morning’s Los Angeles Times should ask themselves when did editorial standards change at the paper. In January 2001, the Los Angeles Times censored a George Will column because it contained a reference to Clinton victim Juanita Broadderick.

No permalink available for the post, but it was written 10/02 at 10:55 am.

Ah-nold: Damage control

I have to admit, as an ex-pat Californian, even I was surprised by the success of the recall campaign. California politics has long been under thrall to a single party, and the budget meltdown over the past two years (as well as Gray Davis’ lying about it during the last gubernatorial race) seemed heaven-sent for California Republicans. After all, California was the laboratory for the more radicalized elements of the Democrats, and it was turning into a quagmire. All that the Republicans had to do was to stay out of the way, and they were assured of significant gains in the next couple of election cycles.
Well, as usual, California Republicans had to show that they are bested by no one in shooting themselves in the foot. After pushing through an almost-unprecedented recall of a governor, who incidentally is not accused of any special malfeasance except being an idiot and an incompetent (both true), the Republicans will now be held responsible for anything and everything that happens in the next couple of Legislative sessions due the disruption caused by the special election [and the several recounts and court challenges that will follow]. Oh, and not to forget, the Republicans didn’t have anyone who had state-wide standing enough to win the second half of the ballot.
In rides Arnold Schwarzenegger to the rescue. Last seen stumping the state for a bonding bill for children’s programs, and blowing away robots, cars, and buildings, Schwarznegger staked out the Riordan turf in the election, and proved to be a fairly viable candidate. He ducked debates and was vague on policy (at first), but his good-guy image and Horatio Alger life story rode him to the top of the polls. Until …
Until the other shoe dropped, that is. As Mickey Kaus so accurately predicted, the LA Times decided to spend weeks researching Ah-nold’s Roman hands and Russian fingers. Not long afterward, we were also treated to the second shoe — a Hitler reference that even if true is almost 30 years old. And unlike the Times story, the ABC story has Gray Davis’ fingerprints on it, according to LA Weekly’s Bill Bradley. Of course, this dovetails nicely with another story just now resurfacing about Davis’ physical tantrums, originally written in 1997 by Jill Stewart for the defunct New Times Los Angeles.
California politics …. ain’t nuthin’ like it. It’s fun to follow as long as you don’t have to live there.

Welcome to the Captain’s Quarters!

So, naturalists observe, a flea
Hath smaller fleas which on him prey
And these have smaller still to bite ’em,
and so proceed ad infinitum.
Thus every poet, in his kind,
Is bit by him who comes behind.

— Jonathan Swift
I love this quote, and I’ve had it memorized since I first read it in Tom Burnham’s Dictionary of Misinformation. In fact, I think it explains blogs and their popularity, and in some degrees their incestuousness. Glenn Reynolds or Andrew Sullivan read a news story, and they post a commentary, and then other blogs post commentaries to their commentaries, and so proceed ad infinitum.
Don’t get me wrong – I think that’s terrific! We need an open market for political discussion. Hash things out to the nth degree. Argue, bicker, and scold. The trick is to keep your head, check your assumptions, and expose yourselves to differing points of view. That’s what I will try to do here. I hope you enjoy the hell out of it.