Monday, December 11, 2006

Sometimes You Just Can't Win

Pity the poor Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Let's start exactly one week ago, on Monday, December 4. In the wake of the encounter between President Bush and Senator-elect Jim Webb at the White House a few days ago, the paper -- normally a bastion of irrational psychotic anti-Bush hatred -- printed an editorial criticising Webb for his aggressive, confrontational manner in which he responded to the President's caring inquiry about the newly elected Senator's son, a U.S. serviceman currently on active duty in Iraq. The P-G explicitly accused Jim Webb of ungentlemanliness, discourtesy, and rudeness, while crediting GWB with having asked "a friendly question...a fair and decent inquiry".

As the Letters To The Editor of the past week have shown, the P-G is now reaping what it has sown.

After months and years of lambasting President Bush for the Iraq War, for his foreign policy in general, for his (somewhat questionable for those on the political right) conservatism, and for just about any old thing that occurs to the editorialists, the elder statesman of Pittsburgh's journalistic community has conditioned its loyal readers to regard any and all of the President's words and actions with nothing less than the utmost contempt. Those readers did not appreciate being told that the man they love to hate has done something "fair and decent".

The point of the editorial was that we should adhere to the time-honored principle that we should "respect the office, not the man". The letter writers did not make that distinction. What kind of "what fer!" did they give the paper?

On Tuesday, an outraged correspondent accused the P-G of displaying "Beltway mentality", then went on to imply that the President's daughters are a couple of drunks (has been true in the past) and that supporters of the war are tantamount to supporters of Nazi Germany, and finally concludes by calling the Bush family and pretty much all Republicans "barstool warriors".

On Wednesday, one reader essentially accused the President of trying to kill Jim Webb's son, while another suggested that Webb's behavior demonstrated that he was being "an officer and a gentleman". A third letter enigmatically postulated that "the Post-Gazette's blind fealty to the office of the president is rude and unacceptable" while calling for impeachment. A fourth accused the paper of "slipshod" journalism that endangers our troops because of one little editorial. From a selection of "web-only' (or should it be "Webb-only" at this point?) letters not appearing in the print edition, we find one guy implying that the President was trying to provoke Webb into a fight by being a bully, another guy is applauding Webb for giving us an applied civics lesson, and another applauds the P-G for standing behind the President in the matter.

Hey! How did that one get in there?

You may think that the readers got their points across by the end of Wednesday's letters page. But no -- the final shots came on Saturday morning in the weekly "Issue One" feature devoted to reader feedback on a particular topic. All three of them were on the same side of the issue: the first one took umbrage to the President's taking umbrage to Webb's callousness; the second refers to the 2000 election as the reason that the President does not deserve the respect that the office commands; and the third one thanked the moonbats who saw their letters published earlier in the week.

Well, then. It seems as though the Post-Gazette should consider itself thoroughly spanked. And if the outpouring of reader feedback didn't do the job, then the P-G's resident loony is there to lend a helping hand. Reg Henry is one of the P-G's lead editorial writers, but he must have out of the office on the day that the "Respect the Office" piece was written.

It's so much fun to sit back and watch the moonbats tear into one another like this.

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