The Magicians of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (revisited)
Do you know what the biggest story in Washington is? Hint: It’s also the biggest story in the American news media and the blogosphere (well, unless the recent arrival of Tomkitten is — poor kid). And it’s also the story the White House wants to be the biggest in Washington, the news media, and the blogosphere. In fact, it’s a story completely manufactured by the White House — by that collection of spinners and dodgers I’ve called The Magicians of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Seriously, just check out all the major (and not-so-major) American news outlets. Check out the BBC, for God’s sake. It’s everywhere. The New York Times calls it an “overhaul”. Time calls it “visible, dramatic change”. Well, you know what? It’s neither. All that happened is that Scott McClellan stepped down as White House press secretary and Karl Rove was demoted… sort of… or not… it depends. He’ll no longer be responsible for policy development, but he’ll still be responsible for, well, everything else. Including policy. And politics. Turd Blossom is still Turd Blossom. Don’t doubt it.
Yet the news media need a story. And this is it. The White House dished it up and they, even the biggest of them, lapped it all up. Forget Iraq, Iran, Rumsfeld, Libby, and all the other failures and scandals of this failure and scandal of a presidency. This is all about deflecting attention away from the real news, from what’s really going on out there, by creating some protracted drama where there simply isn’t any. George W. Bush may or may not be one of the worst presidents in history, as a compelling piece in Rolling Stone suggests, but they, the magicians, only want you to think that Bush is at the head of some “visible, dramatic change”. Don’t doubt that this was the plan all along.
There’s been some change, and it’s been visible, but it’s hardly dramatic. In fact, given that the life expectancy of White House press secretaries is rather short to begin with and that Turd Blossom will still be pulling the strings, this hardly amounts to anything, if to anything at all.
Yet I, too, have just wasted valuable time and energy on this non-story. Shame on me, perhaps, just as long as the joke isn’t on me. Unfortunately, the joke is on the news media and on many of our finest bloggers. And the magicians are laughing. They’ve gotten so much wrong, but they still know how to push all the right buttons.
Bonus: You can find my open letter to Scott McClellan here.