John Cole shows both reactions to Biden’s press conference. He gets the time wrong: It was just under two hours, hardly four, but still a prodigious effort.
The dual response, I think, is between those who did the assigned homework — who watched the conference and judged it for themselves — and those who fake their in-class answers based on what they were told happened.
As noted here yesterday, CNN, for instance, began their post-conference coverage with Jake Tapper asking his panel why — rather than “if” — Biden had failed.
More responsible, in-depth coverage has analyzed what he said and how he handled things, but the difference between in-depth coverage and newschannel chatter echoes Boss Tweed’s gripe about political cartoons: My constituents don’t read, but any damn fool can look at pictures.
Our multimedia environment features people on both sides of the aisle eager to boost flash over substance.
We’ve even gotten to the point where TLDNR had to be shortened to TLDR. Given the public’s attention span, it might as well be TL with DNR understood. Maybe just L.
Which gets us back to the frequent lament that polling data should include qualifiers, so that “People who approve of Biden’s policy on Ukraine” would be divided into people who can find Ukraine on a map and people who cannot.
Though wotthehell: Their votes count the same.
Peter Brookes depicts Biden as a comical cowboy, shooting popguns from his rocking horse.
It seems in line with a general impression that the threatened sanctions are paper tigers, but, without tipping his hand too much or providing too many indiscreet details of negotiations with partners, Biden outlined two sanctions that would indeed have significant impact on Russia.
One would be to cut off access to international finance, such that Russia would not be able to deal in American dollars, which are still the benchmark for international trade.
The other would be to halt their trade in gas and oil. Europe might struggle to find other energy sources, but the move would cut Russia’s income nearly in half, and Russia’s economy is already weak.
As he noted in the press conference, it would be painful for the Western nations, too, but (A) far worse for Russia and (B) far less painful than a land war.
And — aside from abject surrender — those are our choices.
Which is why I agree with Bruce MacKinnon’s summary of things: The Ukrainians would like everybody to just chill out and not stir matters up. And that may already be futile.
Yesterday, I heard a Kyev specialist — I forget who — say that the potential invasion is barely on the news there. They discuss internal corruption but say little about the Russian threat, to which I would add that Russia has been active in that corruption for several decades. And they all know that.
Which brings up Biden’s much-covered mention of a “minor incursion,” to which Ukraine and others objected and which the White House moved quickly to modify.
It was asked-and-answered that night, in a follow-up by Alex Alper of Reuters, and, if you search for his name in the transcript, you will find Biden’s clarification, which is that absolutely no physical crossing of the border would be tolerated, but that, for instance, cyber attacks might trigger cyber responses rather than a full-out stomping.
It comes somewhat far down on the page and perhaps the TLDNR/TLDR/TL factor is why so much coverage missed it.
The public aren’t the only ones whose attention span is limited.
Kal Kallaugher lays out another problem, which is that Putin is demanding a guarantee that something that wasn’t going to happen isn’t going to happen.
Biden covered this in his exchange with David Sanger of the NYTimes, which is also worth searching for:
The problem is two-fold: One is that Putin is asking for a guarantee he can’t possibly get for something that isn’t going to happen anyway — Ukraine joining NATO — as well as a guarantee that something won’t happen — strategic weapons in Urkaine — which largely depends not on what we do but on what he does.
The other problem is that Russian policy and Putin’s ego seem to have become inextricably tangled and Biden warned that Putin may already feel backed into a corner where he has to do something.
Those who value drama over substance perhaps should be more cautious about what they wish for.
But at least stop saying you weren’t warned. You’ve been warned.
You just weren’t paying attention.
WaPo Gets Hip
I don’t know what’s going on over at the Washington Post, but following their featuring of Ann Telnaes’ bravura interactive “Insurrectionists Roll Call” earlier this month, they’ve now featured this similar, similarly wonderful, piece by Steve Brodner.
I’m using a “gift” link once more to get you past the paywall, but if they’re going to become a regular source of this stuff, I think you should probably go ahead and subscribe.
It’s also a pretty good national news source, BTW.
Juxtaposition of the Day
In the second element of our current crisis, a pair of different takes on the Voting Rights/Filibuster dustup.
Mike Thompson echoes a fairly widespread opinion, that Manchin and Sinema betrayed the Democrats by refusing to drop the filibuster for the Voting Rights legislation.
But that falls into the “Fool Me Twice” category. This pair has been caucusing with the Republicans all along, and, if conservatives aren’t shocked to see Bernie Sanders vote along with the Democrats, liberals shouldn’t wet themselves when Manchin and Sinema line up with the GOP.
Berge is, I think, more on target with the accusation that Sinema has been played for a fool, and, even if he didn’t feel that way, Arizona’s Democrats evidently do:
If she were a stock, they’d’ve have halted trading.
As it is, maybe there should be some kind of limits placed on the 2024 primary there so that nobody gets trampled in the rush to challenge her.
Worst case scenario? A 94-way tie for second place in which Sinema wins with six percent of the vote and goes on to lose to whoever the Trumpanzees nominate.
No, wait. Worst case scenario is that I walk around with this earworm for the rest of the day.