Friday, September 28, 2007

Sammon Swimming Upstream II (Part 2)

It was my original intent to write five pieces on the five excerpts from Bill Sammon's new book "The Evangelical President" found in the Washington Examiner - a free, daily, commuter paper in D.C. But after reading all five, I concluded they all share the same inherent quality - no actual journalistic analysis or questioning of anything by Bill Sammon.

The excerpts remind me of a portion of a 1996 speech by Al Franken wherein he discusses Bill Bennett and his "Book of Virtues." In the speech, Franken says:

Would you please, all of you in the press, stop calling him a best-selling author? He is a best-selling compiler. (Scattered laughter.)
Now in fact, I was reading "The Book of Virtues" the other day. It includes George Washington's Rules of Civility, and Rule Number 12 is if someone mistakenly calls you a best-selling author -- (laughter) -- when all you are is a market-savvy compiler of writings that are in the public domain, it is immodest not to immediately correct the person by saying, "I'm sorry, but you mistook me for a writer. I am, in fact, a compiler."

Bill Sammon, at least in the excerpts from his book, is not a journalist - he is a "a compiler" of the Administrations opinions and apologias. For example, in the third excerpt, entitled "White House misjudged how presidential campaign would radicalize Dems against Iraq war," Sammon simply quotes Administration officials who allege that Democrats have opposed the war in Iraq for political reasons. Sammon takes as gospel Chief of Staff Josh Bolten's claim that:
“A lot of us probably underestimated the potency of presidential politics in all of this. The need of every candidate to remain in good stead with the Democratic Party’s left wing has pretty dramatically dragged not just the candidates, but the whole party to the left.”

Similarly, in excerpt four, headlined "Pork projects, scandals doomed GOP’s majority in Congress, say White House officials," Sammon does not challenge the Administration's ignoring of the Iraq war's influence on the 2006 election. The best he can do is point out that some GOP politicians wondered why Rumsfeld wasn't canned prior to the election. But, of course, Sammon responds with an unanalyzed quote from Bolten explaining the wonderousness of our Dear Leader:
“It would have looked like the cheesiest political maneuver on the planet and would have undermined something that the president cherishes, which is the confidence of the military, up and down the line. He cherishes that, and it’s something that I forget about often, but he always reminds us as he’s working on a speech draft. He says, ‘I’m talking to not just the American people here, but I’m talking to Iraqis, I’m talking to our enemies, and most importantly, I’m talking to our troops when I give a speech. If anybody’s listening to what I say about the war in Iraq, it’s got to be them.’ ”

I also encourage you all to read the fifth and final excerpt about the President's faith, how it supports him, and how his opponents (and Muslims) misunderstand it.

So, I now suggest the Washington Examiner change Sammon's title from "Chief White House Correspondent" to "Chief Compiler of White House Talking Points."

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