Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review June 10, 2009 / 18 Sivan 5769

Watershed moments

By Paul Greenberg


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | The moment Lyndon Johnson realized Vietnam was a lost cause came when Walter Cronkite, the surest barometer of American public opinion in his time, came out against the war. Uncle Walter, aka The Most Trusted Man in America, was so shaken by the Tet Offensive of 1968 that he announced the war had become unwinnable. The president and commander-in-chief drew the unavoidable conclusion: "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost Middle America."


In Vietnam itself, the offensive would turn out to be a military disaster for the Viet Cong. After the smoke had cleared, it turned out American forces had held their ground. And so had our Vietnamese allies. Enemy casualties littered the fields. But it didn't matter. The enemy had won the war for American public opinion and, with it, the war. Our defeat came to be assumed, as in Iraq before the Surge turned the tide. And assumption would eventually become reality. It was a watershed moment.


That moment from the tumultuous Sixties came to mind on seeing a cartoon in The New Yorker magazine; it showed your typical street prophet bearing a sign declaring: "THE END IS STILL COMING!" A couple passing by on the sidewalk stare in amazement as they realize who the man with the sign is. To quote the caption: "Wasn't that Paul Krugman?"


Yes, Paul Krugman, the Princeton professor who has been predicting a second, worldwide Great Depression for years. The recent slump made him appear a prophet. Although by now even he's had to admit that utter catastrophe may yet be avoided. Though he doesn't sound too happy about it. He's still holding out hope for a prolonged period of economic stagnation similar to Japan's Lost Decade.


The appearance of that cartoon may prove another watershed moment. If the time has arrived when The New Yorker, that ever stylish reflection of fashionable American opinion, can have a little fun with Paul Krugman, then perspective (and the American economy) may be returning.


The realization that this recession, too, will pass begins to dawn. It's turning out to be only a recession, if a severe one, or maybe an old-fashioned 19th-century financial panic, but not The End of the World. Unless, of course, the administration's over-reaction to the slump, its attempt to restart the economic engine by flooding it with cheap dollars, sets off a Weimaresque wave of inflation, or a Carteresque stagflation. But for the moment hope is in the air. Especially on the big board in New York.


Can we have passed the watershed?


I have a simple rule when tuning into NPR News in the car. Mainly on the principle of Know Your Enemy. At the first silly comment, or just partisan gibe disguised as objective reporting, I switch over to the classical music station. For the sake of my mental health. Because if I'm not careful, I'll find myself talking back to Nina Totenberg or, even more futile, the insufferable Diane Rehm. I usually have to wait no more than 30 seconds before returning to the classical.


Then I heard the familiar, comforting, inexhaustible voice of Daniel Schorr, all set to regale me with still another account of what he was covering 50 or 60 years ago. How soothing. But wait. This didn't sound like good ol', dull ol', same ol' Daniel Schorr. He was talking about Kim Jong Il's latest series of nuclear blasts, missile launches and bellicose warnings. And, glory be, he was delivering a soliloquy on the folly of appeasing despots, specifically North Korea's sick (in more than one way) little dictator.


Mr. Schorr was soon reprising the futile history of trying to buy off Dear Leader with concessions -- on the part of both the Bush and Clinton administrations. ("The somber fact is that the outside world has just about run out of peaceful options for dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat. Every effort to get Kim Jong Il to give up his aggressive designs has turned out to be a perverse incentive....")


Goodness. The voice was the voice of Daniel Schorr, but the views were those of--John Bolton. That's the former American ambassador to the United Nations who's warned all along that rewarding Pyongyang for its duplicity would lead to, well, just where it has led.


How strange: John Bolton is the diplomatic dean of American neoconservatism, a kind of Daniel Patrick Moynihan of the right, never hesitating to say the unconventional for no better reason than it is obvious. And Daniel Schorr is, well, Daniel Schorr -- the nice, perfectly conventional liberal who hasn't said anything unconventional since ... well, I can't remember when. I pulled over and sat there transfixed. How often do you hear Daniel Schorr channeling John Bolton? It wasn't quite an out-of-body experience, but it was certainly an experience out of the usual political context.


It was a mystery. How had John Bolton managed to sneak into NPR's studios and write a script for Daniel Schorr? Mozart might be waiting just a click away, but I couldn't touch the car radio. I just listened, mesmerized.


It was one of those times to remember when, without drumroll or bugle call, the party line seamlessly changes -- with the ease of the telescreen in George Orwell's 1984 announcing that Oceania was now at war with Eastasia and always had been. Anything to the contrary was now down the memory hole. It had been rendered, in a Nixonian phrase, inoperative.


Most impressive of all, Mr. Schorr didn't skip a beat. NPR's party line had shifted without a tremor. If the forces of inertia in American foreign policy, which don't advocate appeasement explicitly but just sort of drift into it, have lost Daniel Schorr, then they've lost Middle America.


It was, in short, a watershed moment.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

Paul Greenberg Archives

© 2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles