Saturday, June 04, 2005

Moral "Clarity"

Matthew Yglesias, in his new digs, is spot-on here:

It's all been said before, but it bears endless repetition -- it's a strange form of moral clarity indeed which argues that America's conduct in the world should be judged in accordance with the lowest depths of human depravity.

Yup. To indulge in a geeky metaphor, the fact that Lex Luthor tried to cause California to fall into the ocean wouldn't excuse Superman if Supes decided to use his powers to steal all the money from the safe down at the corner bodega. Being the good guy means that you have to be good, not merely achieve a lesser level of bad than the bad guy. (Unless you're in a noir story, which would seem to not be the case, at least to the "moral clarity" crowd who insist that we're involved in a titanic struggle against Evil Itself.)

I also find it odd that Newsweek was somehow betraying its horrible left-wing, "MSM" bias by printing allegations that a certain very nasty act was committed upon the Qu'ran in the presence of Muslim prisoners, when it turns out that while some very nasty acts actually were committed upon the Qu'ran in the presence of Muslim prisoners, the acts committed weren't the one that Newsweek reported. And there's Scott McClellan, making light of the whole thing:

It is unfortunate that some have chosen to take out of context a few isolated incidents by a few individuals without making clear the policies and practices of the overwhelming vast majority, the 99.9 percent, of our military personnel.

Well, I'm for one getting seriously tired of the phrase "out of context", because I frankly fail to see what possible context could make this not a big deal. And I'm equally frankly unimpressed with the "it's only a few individuals" defense, because sometimes it's not just a few individuals, and even when it is, you'd think they'd be smarter.

If the Administration really wanted to "repair America's image", they wouldn't be leaning on Newsweek; they'd be hanging the people who urinate on the Qu-ran out to dry. They wouldn't be burying the story on Friday afternoon's news roundup in hopes that by Monday morning it'll be an old story, successful spun away.

(And heck, as long as I'm feeling slightly bitchy right now, I note this jaw-dropping item uttered on NPR by Ben Bradlee:

hat is the goal, certainly. Many stories we kept out of the paper because they only had one source. But, if you think about it for a minute, if the President of the United States tells you something then you don't really need a second source. You don't hear President Bush say this is so and then go check it with somebody. You don't have to do that.

You don't fact-check the President. Well, some events of recent years are suddenly starting to become a lot more clear to me.)

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