Sunday, April 13, 2008

Cavett and Rich Take On Petraeus and Crocker

Martin and Lewis
... Rogers and Hammerstein ... Sandler and Young ... Sonny and Cher ... Evans and Novak (or better known, Errors and No Facts) ... Tom and Jerry

I think you get the idea.

Alas, after this past week, we add the dynamic duo of Petraeus and Crocker to the list, which, as it were, played out more along the lines of Fric and Frac, or Tweedledee and Tweedledum

The pomp and circumstance, the glorious fanfare was, well, rather muted this time around.

It's getting harder and harder, no matter how many medals and scrambled eggs you have on your uniform, to spin the disaster that is Bush's Iraq War.

When the biggest buzz word to come out the hearings this year was “fragile and reversible,” as the Golden Boy General spoke of Iraq, you know its big-time sucksville happening over there.

Which leads us to two, rather entertaining, Op-Eds today in the NYT.

First up, was the regular Sunday Column of Frank Rich, calling our new hearings' stars on stage with "The Petraeus-Crocker Show Gets the Hook", and lamenting how much the country has tuned out of Iraq.

Speaking on a screening he attended of the new Errol Morris documentary, "Standard Operating Procedure”, on the horrors of Abu Ghraib, Rich cites how poorly any number of the Iraq War films have performed.

This is not merely a showbiz phenomenon but a leading indicator of where our entire culture is right now. It’s not just torture we want to avoid. Most Americans don’t want to hear, see or feel anything about Iraq, whether they support the war or oppose it. They want to look away, period, and have been doing so for some time.
Then Rich lays out how its all, but over in Iraq;
The original stakes (saving the world from mushroom clouds and an alleged ally of Osama bin Laden) evaporated so far back they seem to belong to another war entirely. What are the stakes we are asked to believe in now? In the largely unwatched House hearings on Wednesday, Representative Robert Wexler, a Florida Democrat, tried to get at this by asking what some 4,000 “sons and daughters” of America had died for.

The best General Petraeus could muster was a bit of bloodless Beltway-speak — “national interests” — followed by another halfhearted attempt to overstate Iraq’s centrality to the war on Al Qaeda and a future war on Iran. He couldn’t even argue that we’re on a humanitarian mission on behalf of the Iraqi people. That would require him to acknowledge that roughly five million of those people, 60 percent of them children, are now refugees receiving scant help from either our government or Nuri al-Maliki’s. That’s nearly a fifth of the Iraqi population — the equivalent of 60 million Americans — and another source of our shame.
Grim stuff but a good read just the same

"Try talking English, General. You mean more soldiers."

Going a different route with our newly-crowned pair, was the legandary Dick Cavett, the erudite writer, talkshow host and man of great wit.

Cavett weighs in - hysterically - with "Memo to Petraeus & Crocker: More Laughs, Please", where he with great mirth, and a fine ear, surgically cuts through the "sesquipedalianism" of P&C;
But back to our story. Never in this breathing world have I seen a person clog up and erode his speaking — as distinct from his reading — with more “uhs,” “ers” and “ums” than poor Crocker. Surely he has never seen himself talking: “Uh, that is uh, a, uh, matter that we, er, um, uh are carefully, uh, considering.” (Not a parody, an actual Crocker sentence. And not even the worst.)

These harsh-on-the-ear insertions, delivered in his less than melodious, hoarse-sounding tenor, are maddening. And their effect is to say that the speaker is painfully unsure of what he wants, er, um, to say.
Cavett was just warming up.
Petraeus commits a different assault on the listener. And on the language. In addition to his own pedantic delivery, there is his turgid vocabulary. It reminds you of Copspeak, a language spoken nowhere on earth except by cops and firemen when talking to “Eyewitness News.” Its rule: never use a short word where a longer one will do. It must be meant to convey some misguided sense of “learnedness” and “scholasticism” — possibly even that dread thing, “intellectualism” — to their talk. Sorry, I mean their “articulation.”

No crook ever gets out of the car. A “perpetrator exits the vehicle.” (Does any cop say to his wife at dinner, “Honey, I stubbed my toe today as I exited our vehicle”?) No “man” or “woman” is present in Copspeak. They are replaced by that five-syllable, leaden ingot, the “individual.” The other day, there issued from a fire chief’s mouth, “It contributed to the obfuscation of what eventually eventuated.” This from a guy who looked like he talked, in real life, like Rocky Balboa. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

Who imposes this phony, academic-sounding verbal junk on brave and hard-working men and women who don’t need the added burden of trying to talk like effete characters from Victorian novels?

Cavett goes on, cutting the Generalspeak to ribbons (no pun intended, as you will read, at the beginning of the essay).

Now, if we can only get a few more of these mismatched pairs up in front of Congressional and Senate committees

Like Miers and Rove ... Addington and Yoo...

And, of course, the super mega, Top A-List, war-launchers and torture choreographers ... Cheney and Bush!

Bonus Links

Think Progress: ‘I don’t even know who Petraeus and Crocker are.’

Logan Murphy/C&L: Bob Schieffer Commentary: “No Longer Any Good Answers” On Iraq

Ambassador Crocker Meets Eddie Izzard

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