Everything is unexpected in an unserious Washington
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Readers of the New York Times on the morning of Sept. 10, 2001, found a front page lead on how congressional leaders were in talks about economic stimulus and below-the-fold stories on school dress codes and the morning television ratings races.
The summer of 1950 was just another post-war summer, and on June 23 the Indians’ Luke Easter hit the longest ball in Cleveland Stadium history, 477 feet, into the upper deck at Muny, the “mistake on the lake,” Section 4.
The next day North Korea invaded South Korea.
A quick trip to Washington last week caught me up on the Beltway’s current “big” debates about the president’s hologram of a budget, the regulatory Vesuvius erupting at the Environmental Protection Agency and whether Scott Brown might run for Senate in New Hampshire.
Marco Rubio is making the weather on immigration, and Hillary inked a big book deal. Not much is going to come of President Obama’s second term, but there’s one great story line bringing all of the D.C. elites together: the unlimited potential of Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg with the Washington Nationals.
Before you say Mark Fidrych or Herb Score, let’s agree that baseball is a very good thing and that baseball obnoxiousness is not a variant of Potomac fever but always and everywhere found except in Cleveland where humility and pessimism have been beaten into Tribe fans.
That said, for a city allegedly supervising America’s role in the world as the EU melts, Syria’s body count roars toward six figures, the mullah’s thrust for nukes and the NORKs spin up toward who knows what, the springtime delirium in the nation’s capitol is unsettling.
Has D.C. ever been as collectively unserious about serious things as it is now?
Take North Korea. (Does the PRC know the punch line?) Talk radio is doing its best to let America know this could be very bad indeed, but where are the networks?
CNN is clawing its way back to respectability with Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer devoting some blocks and even hour-long specials to Kim Jong Un’s wild antics, but much of the rest of the broadcasts across all the channels are lost in sinkholes and celebrity news.
(And CNN sticks with the ghastly Piers Morgan, undoing all it’s good work every night, like Penelope at the loom, by inflicting a bad middle-class British accent, a third rate mind and a palpable ratings-desperation on country.)
Last week, I interviewed Tapper, Bret Stephens, Mark Steyn, Max Boot, Michael O’Hanlon, Michael Rubin and Victor Davis Hanson on the crisis on the Korean peninsula.
Most of talk radio has kept similar focus. Sharp commentators and experts aren’t hard to find, but the MSM is largely uninterested, and the president can’t be bothered to depart from his gun control and 2014 campaign fundraisers script.
Historian Barbara Tuchman quotes Bismark in “The Guns of August” as predicting the outbreak of a great European war on “some damned foolish thing in the Balkans.”
The “damn foolish thing” is now likeliest to happen on or near the DMZ separating the Koreas, and we are yawning, just as we do when the subject of Syria’s chemical weapons comes up.
Only a dozen years after the worst morning in American history, and the country’s political and media elite don’t even have predictions, only sequestration cuts at the Pentagon and chatter about October baseball.
The era of Obama rolls on, rehabilitating Bill Clinton’s fecklessness by comparison, and allowing us to enjoy at least one more week of pennant dreams.