Ever since Pajamas Media hatched the sublimely idiotic publicity stunt of sending Sam “Joe the Plumber” Wurzelbacher to Israel to cover the war, I have read dozens of articles mocking the gesture with richly comic results. That, of course, prompted a flurry of pathetic defenses of J-Plumb by tunnel-visioned right-wingers who mainly argued that Joe couldn’t do any worse than professional war correspondents who only have their education, training and experience to rely on.
But now I have to give credit where it’s due. A couple of publications whose conservative credentials are impeccable are demonstrating that reason can prevail no matter how thick the partisan soup.
The first is the National Review, whose web site featured a link to military blogger JD Johannes. Johannes had an interesting take on Joey the P’s addled assertion that “media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting,” that NRO thought deserved more attention – as do I:
I don’t know what fantasy world Joe lives in, but the media is going to cover a war however they can get access to it. If the U.S. military or IDF doesn’t allow access, you can bet the Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah, Al Qaida, Jaish al Mahdi, etc. will become the primary distributors of information. Heck, they already are.
While my initial criticisms of Joe were based on the stupidity of his call to muzzle the press, and how that was contrary to the freedoms enumerated in the Constitution, Johannes’ perspective properly points out that, if Joe had his way, the only reporting from a war zone would by the enemy.
The other note of rationality came from a most unlikely source: the Rupert Murdoch-owned Weekly Standard. In a well reasoned article, they pointed out that, a couple of years ago, much of the military brass in Iraq were telling us that everything was proceeding swimmingly when, in fact, things were falling apart. Then the Standard actually credited the press with helping the war effort, even as they shot down Joe’s ignorant blather:
Just think about how Joe’s “media strategy” would have impacted the Iraq War. By late 2005/early 2006, it was clear the U.S. strategy to pull back and turn over security to the Iraqi security forces was premature and Iraq was sliding into chaos […] Like it or not, the pressure from the media forced President Bush to recognize the problem, accept the change in strategy and overrule his military commanders.
In addition to repudiating the Little Plumber Boy, the Standard asserts that Bush was not as committed to following the advice of his generals as he portrayed himself to be. And worse, it was not an informed reassessment of conditions on the ground that persuaded the President to change course, but “pressure from the media,” about whom he is so dismissive.
I can’t say that I subscribe to much of the opinions expressed by these enterprises, but it is encouraging to see that they are not engaging in the typical knee-jerk adulation of Joe the Political Prop as are so many other conservative mouthpieces.