Wednesday, August 08, 2007

a gloved probe of the memory hole 

I didn't get a chance to watch the AFL-CIO debates last night, but have been browsing the coverage today. John Nichols has a post-mortem in The Nation that focuses on Kucinich:

On Tuesday night, Kucinich wowed the crowd of 15,000 union activists in Chicago when he promised to use a little-known provision in the North American Free Trade Agreement to pull the U.S. out of the deal.

"In my first week in office, I will notify Mexico and Canada that the United States is withdrawing from NAFTA," declared Kucinich. "I will notify the WTO, that the United States is withdrawing from the WTO."

As the applause rose from a rumble to a thunderous roar, Kucinich shouted, "How about it America? Do you want out of NAFTA? Do you want out of the WTO? Listen to the workers of America, let them hear from you!"

It was the most rousing moment of the night, perhaps of all the Democratic debates up to this point.

Kucinich did exactly what the AFL-CIO's leadership had hoped he would. He showed the most cautious frontrunners -- all of whom continue to back NAFTA, albeit with apologies and calls for reform -- just how much enthusiasm there is for a radical shift from the misguided trade policies of Bill Clinton and George Bush.

So how did Pravda-on-the-Hudson portray "the most rousing moment of the night"? In a thousand word piece, roughly six hundred were devoted to labor and trade issues. About 160 words were devoted to the foreign policy discussion. This would seem a fair proportion since, as the Times notes, the foreign policy exchange "capped" the discussion.

Nevertheless, somehow the headline reads:

War on Terror Takes Focus at Democrats’ Debate

So at a debate convened by a labor union, attended by union members, in which the majority of the discussion centered on issues that concern working people, the take-away meaning for the Times is that a fiction "took focus". Does that mean it came into focus, or became the focus? Who knows? Who really cares anyway? Asking for precision in meaningless speech is like...is like asking a prestigious publication to speak meaningfully.

So what news specifically of Kucinich's strong stance, rousing rhetoric, and the popular response against the neoliberal agenda? Not a single word.

Kucinich may have shown the frontrunners that there is a lot of enthusiasm for radical change, but no matter how thunderously the crowd roars the The Party's house organ can be relied upon to hit the mute button. The frontrunners can now safely ignore what they've been shown. Assuming that they gave a shit in the first place.

Now they're not even going to be nudged into appearing to give a shit, because for the paper of record the fake 'War on (some people's) Terror' is much more important than the ongoing neoliberal War on People.

What's really pathetic about this is that the 'War on Terror' is currently in the process of being discarded as a tactic in the War on People. It's time to put the Grey Lady out to pasture. After all, what good is a Commissar who only spews yesterday's Party line?

UPDATE: You can watch the debates here and judge how rousing the moment was for yourself. The speech is in the ninth part about eight minutes into the clip.

To me it doesn't sound quite as intense as Nichols describes, but it is a YouTube clip and all the mics and cameras were facing away from the crowd. Relative to the cheers everyone else was getting it seemed more intense.


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