One of the fun

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One of the fun things about reading daily newspaper reporters is watching them occasionally chafe at the mindless conventions of journalistic objectivity. Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for being balanced and fair. I mean, we don’t all want to be like Fox and the Wash Times.

But frequently a reporter will find an example of ridiculous hypocrisy or laughable bad faith and yet not really be able to quite call a spade a spade to the desired degree. So an expert at the trade will craft a series of quotes and factual asides which communicate the hidden message without violating the prescribed journalistic norms.

Check out Mike Allen in today’s Post

Bush, who as a presidential candidate condemned “nation-building,” said the United States would remain involved in modernizing Afghanistan, likening his ambition to the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe after World War II. He said the United States was helping Afghanistan develop a stable government, train a national army and build a school system for boys and girls.

“We will work to help Afghanistan to develop an economy that can feed its people without feeding the world’s demand for drugs, and we will help the Afghan people recover from the Taliban rule,” he said.

Aides said his plans did not violate his pledge against nation-building because he will not use U.S. soldiers as social workers or police officers.

The key knives in this passage are the appositive clause in sentence one and the final sentence.

Now let me decode what Allen is saying …

Allen: Bush is caught in a transparent flip-flop and I’ve forced his aides to defend him by treating as facts their earlier demagogic attacks on Clinton policy (i.e., soldiers working as ‘social workers.’) They look stupid. Please recognize that they look stupid and think of them henceforth as lame. Also, readers, please take this as a sign that I do have a clue despite the fact that the conventions of daily news journalism sometimes require me to appear that I do not.

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