Although I did in fact just post a couple videos from the White House Correspondents’ Dinner the other night, let this in no way be construed as my endorsement of the fact of the event’s existence itself, because it emphatically isn’t. As much as I enjoy watching Obama goof around on stage (and, for what it’s worth, I think he has a terrific sense of comedic timing, including in relation to other recent U.S. presidents), the annual WHCD ritual is, in so many ways, an embodiment of all that is wrong with American media today.
I would elaborate, but then Gawker’s already gone ahead and done all the hard work for me.
The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner took place last night, and President Obama was actually (in my opinion) a bigger hit than the actual comedian, Jimmy Kimmel, who seemed rushed and nervous the entire time. His timing was never quite there, but he had some good moments anyway.
And lastly, if you’re looking for the principal difference between European- and American-style politics, look no further than this. How many American presidential speeches have you ever seen where they place him in front of random window blinds? Never underestimate the theatrical element powering every modern American president’s public persona.
Check out the Sunlight Foundation. It’s an incredible site filled with tons of great tools — including online charts, graphs, widgets, mobile apps, etc. — for tracking the influence of money on politics. This is one big step in counteracting the influence of unlimited campaign dollars unleashed by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling in 2010.
Today, the New York Times reports that Israel’s former Shin Bet chief, Yuval Diskin, has now added his voice to the chorus of people (largely in the intelligence community) who believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s drumbeat of war with Iran is reckless and stupid:
“I don’t believe in a leadership that makes decisions based on messianic feelings,” said Yuval Diskin, who stepped down last May after six years running the Shin Bet, Israel’s version of the F.B.I.
“I have observed them from up close,” Mr. Diskin said. “I fear very much that these are not the people I’d want at the wheel.” Echoing Meir Dagan, the former head of the Mossad, Israel’s spy agency, Mr. Diskin also said that the government was “misleading the public” about the likely effectiveness of an aerial strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
Funny thing about the intelligence community: they’re not elected, so they don’t make their living scaring the bejeezus out of people to keep their jobs. Can we all please take stock of the situation, rationally, and come to the obvious conclusion that Bibi is a demagogic nut job whose overheated rhetoric is destabilizing to the entire region? There is an almost complete transatlantic consensus that bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities is not a very good idea. But why listen to nuclear experts and intelligence chiefs when you can so easily make completely inaccurate analogies comparing today’s situation to the Holocaust?
Yesterday, I finally completed an essay for my Security and Technology class at Sciences Po. The paper clocked in at just over 5500 words. Today, I had the random urge to word-cloud that bad boy. And here is what happened: