Friday, May 9, 2008

The TR: Pols, Porn and the Pill

Inside the Beltway, the rain pours down on us - perfect weather for snark. Read on, dear friends, as we indulge our grumpiness on this gray, gray, wet day.

Forecast

The Clinton-Obama road show moves to West Virginia, where Clinton is the heavy favorite. But the biggest contest will be found in D.C. backrooms, where Dems are trying to figure out what to do with the delegates from Michigan and Florida. At stake is the potential loss of both states to the GOP in the general election. Ah, how much simpler life must be in Equatorial Guinea, where 100 percent of voters (give or take a few spoilsports) re-elected President Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Robert Mugabe (whose reign has actually been shorter than Nguema's) must be green with envy.

The American Life League has declared June 7th "Protest the Pill Day '08," signaling its intent to position oral contraception alongside abortion and stem cell research as a priority target of "values voters." The group has prepared neon green t-shirts for the occasion, in case pro-lifers need to direct airplanes mid-protest. Progressives know what to do to counter this addition to the wingnut playbook, so hop to it!

Rep. John Boehner is forming a small group to advise the National Republican Congressional Committee on election strategy after word came that the organization is, more or less, penniless going into the 2008 race. A new message would be a good place to start. Progressives should consider their current fundraising advantage as further evidence that most Americans are on their side, then get out there and win!

We've always felt that if any Web juggernaut got put in the crucible over pornography, it would be Myspace. So, did our jaws hit the floor when we learned that it's Wikipedia that's under investigation by the FBI for hard-core content! Furthermore, deputy director Erik Möller, responsible for overseeing what appears on Wikipedia, is the sort of hypocrite who would start Wikiyouth to "protect" children from "fearful adults," yet post naked pictures of children on his personal website, Der Humanist. When it rains, it pours. Expect this story to break in the mainstream media over the next few days.

Rick Perlstein's nearly 800-page epic, Nixonland, will hit store shelves next Tuesday with much fanfare from critics. Perlstein's keen insight into conservative culture has been an indispensable resource for political history buffs. Plus the TR library hasn't acquired such a thick doorstopper of a tome in quite some time. We'll be stacking it next to our copies of John Adams and Lend Me Your Ears.

Jenna Bush will marry tomorrow in an event that's going to be barred from the press at all costs. We hope this won't stop TMZ's kamikaze photographers from dropping out of the sky to get the first snapshots of the ceremony. Don't fail us now, guys!

Meanwhile, you ask, how will WE be spending Pangea Day? Why, we'll be at the post office hoarding the "forever stamp," because postage prices will rise on Monday, don't you know. And wearing our flag pin, of course.

The Week That Was

With the crisis in Myanmar horrifying the world, we don't have much to add. It's so painful that we don't want to see it, but the media will rightfully report on it in the coming weeks. Those poor people need help, and we should all support the humanitarian groups that are pushing western nations to pry open the country for international aid. We were impressed that Laura Bush was moved enough by the catastrophe to extricate herself from the circus that always precedes a wedding to do something highly uncharacteristic: take a forceful stand in foreign affairs.

Don't count Hillary out yet. Remember, journalists and bloggers are demographically more aligned with Obama's constituency. True, things look increasingly bleak for Hill, with mounting campaign debt, a too-close finish in Indiana, diminishing traction for the Rev. Wright scandal, the loss of important endorsements and the acid Beltway chatter. But we won't believe the primary's over until we hear it from her. Is staying in the race really more selfish than dropping out at this point? What weight should she give to the hopes, wishes, dollars, votes and volunteer efforts of the great number of Democrats who continue to believe she would make a better U.S. president?

On the other hand, scenarios in which Hillary comes out the likely victor now seem increasingly outlandish. As contributors to Slate's Obama Doomsday Scenario Contest point out, it's always possible that Obama may be caught on video punching a baby, while Hillary personally captures Osama bin Laden.

The NY Times did a great job highlighting the woefully underreported McCain speech on the judiciary. Simply put, a McCain presidency could push the Supreme Court into a conservative abyss for decades. We could lose access to safe and legal abortions and many of the civil rights gains of the 20th century. When will the DNC wise up and put THAT in a TV ad?

Pro-family Republicans have a new tactic: start a second family! Perhaps that's what husband, father, congressman and Christian Coalition favorite Vito Fossella (R-N.Y.) had in mind when he produced a love child with his girlfriend. But, P.R. pros that we are, we'd have advised him to announce this accomplishment at a time when the media is not so focused on his DUI arrest - it just muddies the message. Talk about bringing a water pistol to your culture war.

And have you seen the cover of Entertainment Weekly? EW usually isn't our bag, but the photo of Josh Brolin and Elizabeth Banks as the first couple is positively frightening. It's all part of the hype for Oliver Stone's biopic, "W." As history buffs we generally scoff at Stone's loose way with the historical record. But we admit to being curious to see his recreation of the pretzel incident.

Reader Comments

A young friend heard us laugh the other day about a line in a TV ad: "Having an issue with your deodorant?" As recently as the 1960s, we pointed out to our friend, such a statement would have made no sense. Our young friend asked whether there was no deodorant in the '60s. We laughed again, bitterly this time (though not clinging to a gun, thank goodness). Setting aside the evidence that we're approaching "un certain age," we enjoy following the evolution of language and usage - one didn't used to "have issues," of course - and we know that "an issue" for effective communicators is to understand and wisely use the different meanings that words have for different audiences. If, Dear Reader, you have issues that might benefit from the attentions of effective communicators, please let us know.

Scorecard

While a couple of our predictions were a wash last week, some stories take a little while to fully develop. But we're patient here at TR Central and we expect our seeds to take root. But we did nail the D.C. Madam story right out of the gate along with our predictions on the ethanol/food crisis debate.

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