One of the chief functions of the lefty blogosphere is media criticism. Our media criticism usually focuses on reporting that is either 1) toothless, 2) inadvertantly (or blatantly, in the case of Fox) biased, or 3) which oversimplifies a complex issue. A bizarre report on CNN's Newsnight by Jeff Greenfield last night on John Bolton doesn't seem to fit into any of these categories, but has characteristic of all three. But it's so unbelievably terribly that I think you should see it. I'm copying a significant amount of the transcript, because it's really worth reading:
JEFF GREENFIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): But is John Bolton the right man for this job, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations? The debate touches on many points. Is he out to reform the U.N., or to undermine it? Did he demand accurate intelligence or intelligence that just reinforced his policy views? But then there's this issue about temperament or, more accurately, temper.[...]
Democratic senator Barbara Boxer is no fan of Bolton's view of the U.N., but her words also reflect criticism aimed at Bolton's behavior, not just disagreeing with subordinates, but allegedly blowing up at them, demanding they be removed from their posts. His supporters, in turn, say he's just a man of strong conviction.
(on camera): All of which raises a question, is a short fuse the sign of a powerful leader of conviction or the sign of a hot headed bully? And how do we tell the difference?
(voice-over): To judge by popular culture, the boss as human hand grenade is a very familiar icon. Baby boomers may remember Mr. Honeywell, Earn Albrights choleric boss on "My Little Margie" who was always seconds away from detonation. [...]
And in the testosterone drenched world of sports, there seems to be a direct connection between leadership and red-faced rage. Even owners, like Yankee boss George Steinbrenner, had been known to lose their cool for a few moments.[...]
Or decades. Aides to President Clinton often spoke in wonder at his explosive outbursts that passed like tropical storms. And as the Watergate waters rose, President Nixon physically expressed his impatience with Press Secretary Ron Ziegler.
But given how many esteemed leaders -- Winston Churchill among them -- were capable of temper outbursts, could this in fact be a sign of leadership? John Gartner says yes. His book "The Hypomatic" [sic; it's actually "The Hypomanic Edge"] is subtitled "The Link Between Craziness and Success in America." [sic again. The actual subtitle is: "The Link Between (A Little) Craziness and (A Lot of) Success in America." Can't these people get anything right?]
JOHN GARTNER, AUTHOR: These are people who are incredibly driven, incredibly impatient, aggressive, ambitious. Anything that slows them down, any opposition that they come to just causes them to just want to explode, to just blow past it.
To summarize, Greenfield is saying this: some people have short tempers. Sometimes people who have short tempers are in positions of leadership. Maybe having a short temper is a sign of leadership. Maybe they have Hypomanic Symptoms.
That is the logic of 5 year-old. Because it's no different than saying something like this. Some people are not very smart. Sometimes people who are not very smart are in positions of leadership. (Sound familiar?) Maybe being not very smart is a sign of leadership.
How about this: Some people are white. Sometimes people who are white are in positions of leadership. Maybe being white is a sign of leadership.
Or perhaps this: Some people are tall. Sometimes tall people are in positions of leadership. Maybe being tall is a sign of leadership.
But there's more.