Today's Blogs

Bench Mark—Pass It On

Bloggers split down partisan lines on Bush’s latest press conference on Iraq and on Rush Limbaugh’s foul call on Michael J. Fox’s stem-cell election ad in Missouri. Plus: the Killers vs. Green Day!

Benchmark—pass it on: President Bush delivered a press conference today on the not-rosy state of affairs in Iraq. Having just abandoned one stump slogan, he appeared to inaugurate another by repeatedly referring to bench marks—or incremental, feasible goals for stemming the insurgency and reducing sectarian conflict. This stands in notable contrast to timetables, such as one for U.S. troop withdrawal. Bench mark may be new, but it’s same old spiel, say critics in cyberspace.

Conservative Rich Lowry at the National Review’s The Corner wrote shortly before the press conference: “[I]t turns out, as the dust has settled, that the worst effect of the Foley scandal was that it blotted Bush out for a week and half and kept him from making the case on Iraq at a crucial time (NIE, Woodward, etc). It will help that Bush is back out there, with the media now paying attention again.”

Liberal “Joe in DC” at AMERICAblog wonders whether White House press conferences run in syndication: “‘Path to Victory’ ‘We will prevail’…he’s just blathering…using the same old talking points. It’s vital to our security, but he still can’t explain why. He keeps mentioning terrorists but seems to forget his own government’s NIE that said the terrorists are strengthened by our presence in Iraq.”

Righty Greg Tinti at The Political Pitbull was buoyed by the president’s speech: “I think it was vastly important that the president made clear he is open to making strategic changes in Iraq and isn’t detached from the view of most Americans that the situation on the ground isn’t good. … By accurately framing Iraq in this way, it’s a reminder to the American people that Democrats favor a strategy of redeployment (or whatever they’re calling it now) which is less likely to produce a stable Iraq which is in the interest of our national security.”

But lefty attorney Glenn Greenwald at Unclaimed Territory interprets Bush’s slogan change as just a convenient way to semantically stay the course: “Bush’s advisors have him throwing around buzzphrases designed to suggest that our commitment is something other than permanent. For instance, we are giving ‘benchmarks’ to the Iraqi government to accomplish certain objectives (but they are purely suggestive and nothing will happen if they fail to meet them; also, ‘benchmarks’ are, as the President explained, totally different than – worlds apart from – ‘timetables,’ which only Defeatocrats and cut-and-runners use).”

Read more about Bush’s press conference.

Mean wolf: It started with this senatorial campaign ad for Democratic Rep. Claire McCaskill in Missouri. Then, Rush Limbaugh suggested that Michael J. Fox was hamming up his Parkinson’s disease symptoms (by not taking his meds) for the purpose of shilling for a Democrat who’s pro-stem-cell research. Whatever the case, some say Rush went too far—others say Fox has used his illness as agitprop before.

Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic’s The Planck asked Dr. William J. Weiner, the director of the Parkinson’s clinic at the University of Maryland Medical Center, about the ad. According to Weiner: “What you are seeing on the video is side effects of the medication. [Fox] has to take that medication to sit there and talk to you like that. … He’s not over-dramatizing. … [Limbaugh] is revealing his ignorance of Parkinson’s disease, because people with Parkinson’s don’t look like that at all when they’re not taking their medication. They look stiff, and frozen, and don’t move at all.”

However, Robert VerBruggen at libertarian/conservative Robert’s Rationale cites an excerpt (quickly posted to Limbaugh’s Web site) from Fox’s autobiography, Lucky Man,in which the actor claims to have purposefully foregone medication during his testimony on behalf of stem-cell research before a Senate appropriations subcommittee: “This still doesn’t answer the question of whether the exaggeration was due to Fox intentionally forgetting his medicine … but regardless, it shows that the actor is known to exploit his illness. It’s likely the commercial was put together for maximum impact, even at the expense of accurately portraying Fox’s Parkinson’s symptoms.”

But lefty Shakespeare’s Sister is appalled by His Rushness, even if Fox did exacerbate his own condition: “[I] still don’t begin to comprehend why giving people ‘a worse-day kinda look at life with Parkinson’s’ by going off one’s meds is somehow shifty or insincere. It’s not like those meds are curative; Parkinson’s is a disease that kills people. It’s also a disease that’s expensive to treat—and anyone who has the temerity to suggest that there’s something exaggerative about Fox making his point sans meds can only do so by ignoring the Parkinson’s sufferers who don’t have the resources and healthcare access he has, and look like that every day.”

Read more on the Fox-Limbaugh showdown.

Punked: Brandon Flowers, frontman for popular pop-rock band the Killers, lashed out at Green Day for their American Idiot album, especially because its DVD complement was filmed in England, where anti-Americanism runs high. Flowers hit the right nerve, apparently, because half-way-there fans of the Killers are now devotees.

All-purpose blog Klog digs the hit on Green Day: “God bless [Flowers]! I’m not personally offended by Green Day’s song or opinion, I think they are absolutely the embodiment of their own song however. That is they are idiots and American, whether they like it or not. The song is juvenile and certainly calculated to rile up the young, media educated, liberal youth. Which is all fine and dandy, do what you please, but I’m just glad someone in the industry recognizes that.”

“Justice” at Mycroscope thinks Flowers is a little high on his own supply: “I would also like to remind you that you weren’t very kind to American youth when you said that you preferred to play in front of English audiences. That wasn’t a very pro-American thing to say either, was it? Now you’re undermining English audiences by saying they are too stupid to understand the song, ‘American Idiot’. Love your music … but you have a lot of growing up to do kid.”

Read more on Flowers’ Green Day rebuke.