Thursday, August 23, 2007

Headline Writer Sucks Again

Has an economic embargo ever worked to overthrow a dictator? I won't claim to know that definitively, but one thing I know is that the one against Cuba has been an absolute disaster. I don't know why conservatives insist on believing that capitalism is a reward, rather than a method for empowering people; but I have no doubts that our embargo of Cuba has only aided Castro in keeping control over his people.

Especially as the true purpose of these embargoes isn't to punish the dictator. How could it? They always live well. The real objective is to enrage their people so much that they revolt. But does this happen? Not that I know of. And so the people suffer, just as we intend for them to, but still no revolt. So what's the point? Why not allow Supply & Demand to do its magic, and before the dictator knows it, the powerful business leaders are demanding more power and the leader starts to wonder how they can force the US President to reinstate the embargo again. The beauty of a functioning economy is that it requires too many people for one man to dominate. That's why China won't remain communist forever. The money won't allow it.

And so I was naturally happy to see Obama come out against the tougher rules Bush put in place against Cuba and was hoping this might encourage other Dems to take a stance against the policy. In fact, I was hoping that Obama would go even further with his anti-embargo stance. As he said, it has only made Cubans more reliant on Castro; just as our embargo of Iraq made Iraqis more reliant on Saddam.

And so I was equally unhappy to see Hillary not only come out against Obama's stance, but to use it as an opportunity to bash Obama. While I'm largely ambivalent towards who the Dem nominee will be, I was already leaning slightly against Hillary. And now this one move puts a big mark against her. Obama's stance on this is a good political move, but it's so good because it's deeply rooted in solid policy goals and is a bold move. Hillary, on the other hand, is just playing it safe and trying to score cheap political points by supporting a GOP policy. Not a good sign.

Hell, one of the better reasons for opposing this policy was that it was Bush's. Not only is it generally a good idea to go against anything Bush did, but almost everyone hates Bush and what Bush has done. So campaigning specifically against one of his policies is likely to only help. And with this issue, it should be a no-brainer.

Headline Blues

But that's not really what I wanted to talk about. I just wanted to complain about this Time Magazine story on the issue. The story is good, but the headline totally sucked. The story is about how this might very well be a savvy move on Obama's part and how he may have outmaneuvered his opponents on a key issue. Yet the headline says: Will Obama's Stance on Cuba Hurt?

Huh? That's the exact opposite of what the article said. The article didn't even say this in uncertain terms. Not only is the assumption that it will help, there was no serious discussion of it hurting him. The only person it mentions this hurting is Clinton, not Obama.

Here are a few sample quotes:
Maybe it's because Obama knows a new conventional wisdom may well be taking shape in the state - one that could actually make his declarations this week an asset when Florida holds its primary election next January.

by playing that safe card in Florida, Clinton may have allowed herself to be "outmaneuvered by Obama on this one," says one Cuban-American leader

As a result, Obama could now galvanize those moderates, who Lima says "have been waiting for a viable presidential candidate to wave their banner for once."

"He's the first to have the cojones to say Bush's policy is wrong, and I think it's going to wake up a lot of moderate Cuban-American voters."

At the same time, Obama's stance could help him garner a larger share of the state's non-Cuban Democrats

That's how most of the article sounded, and the only part that sounded like Obama made a mistake was the brief section where Clinton attacked Obama for this sensible policy. Does any of that sound like it's about how Obama may have hurt himself? No, it's all about how he greatly helped himself, and how Clinton may have hurt herself. So what the hell's going on here? What's wrong with the headline writers?

And this is so important because the headline influences how you're going to think of the entire article. Even if someone reads the whole thing, they might still be left with the impression that this might somehow hurt Obama and that he made "another" rookie mistake. And because that fits in with the overall meme being regurgitated about Obama, that idea is more likely to stick in people's minds rather than that Obama's policy is solid and that Hillary screwed up. Time will tell if that's how things work out, but it's obvious that Time's headline writer won't give a damn.

P.S. Totally a sidenote, but if this had been Clinton's policy, would anyone have referred to her as having "cojones"? I'm not being cheeky, and it's not as if the lady who said this was actually referring to Obama's testicles (or I hope not, anyway). So is this a phrase one might use to describe a woman who took a bold stance? Then again, I don't think Hillary ever takes bold stances on anything, so I guess the question really is moot. That's one of the things that bugs me about her.


rosie said...

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I don't know if it will ever catch on though.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts!

rosie said...

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