Thursday, February 16, 2006

The two faces of Jon Meacham

I was wandering around and stumbled into The Note, the ABC News blog. In the middle of lots of the usual clever snark on the Wild Bill Cheney and the Texas 28 Gauge Shotgun Massacre, there was a mention made of Don Imus and his tough but fair questioning as well as a reference to Imus apologizing to Mary Matalin 4 times. "What was this about," I wondered. I moved over to Imus' page and found nothing from today, but I did find an interview that Imus did on Feb. 13 with Jon Meacham, Managing Editor of Newsweek Magazine.
Meacham was, to be fair, outrageous. For the managing editor of what is supposed to be one of the premier weekly news magazines in the United States, he was an embarrassment. This is the kind of accuracy we might expect from an Iranian Mullah or a grubby Saudi living in a cave and ducking every time a drone buzzes overhead.

On the quail hunt at the Armstrong Ranch:
This is what, at least in Tennessee, we used to call Bloody Mary hunting where you ride around and the servants beat the grass and the quail come up.

Uh, 'cause these are farm-raised quail. Oh, I'm sure, I mean, I don't know that for a fact - I can't imagine, you can't be hunting wild quail and just sort of drive up to one place, get out and, "Hey! Good Lord! There they are." I mean, if you're hunting wild quail you have pointers and retrievers and you're actually trying to find them.

It's like Cheney's combat record. It's kind of like playing paintball, a little bit.
So, in just a handful of sentences Meacham has slandered the Vice President of the United States by intimating that he was drinking - which he was not;
that he was using servants to beat the grass - which he was not;
that he was not using dogs to flush the quail - which he was;
that the quail were "farm raised (he meant pen raised because most quail in the Midwest grow up wild . . . on farms) - which they were not, he was hunting wild quail or "ranch raised" quail;
and that because he did not see any combat in the armed forces he is a paintball warrior, like FDR, Harry Truman and Bill Clinton, I guess.

Cheney was using outriders on horseback to locate likely quail coveys and then dogs to flush the quail. He was not using dogs to retrieve the quail, apparently. That's not at all uncommon. Ask someone who has hunted quail in Mexico, like, ummm, me, for instance.

Here we use hired campesinos - not servants - to both flush and retrieve the quail. You have do be damned careful not to shoot your campesino. It helps keep everyone on their toes when you know you have men in front of you and you do not take low shots. And no one would be caught dead using a 28 guage shotgun, but then none of us are in our sixties and sporting bad tickers, either, knock on wood.

The limit per day per hunter in central Tamaulipas state, just outside Ciudad Victoria in the Lake Guerrero area is 24 quail per day. I last shot 48 in two days. You leave the quail with your campesino to dress out for you and leave some of the quail to him and his family as a tip in addition to the $20 per day that you pay him (I left him half and my Mexican friends thought I was nutz). Quail are little boogers and 24 will feed only 4-6 adults.

As far as driving is concerned, we drive to central areas out on a ranch to where we can hunt 2 or 3 fields. Then, we get in our trucks and SUV's and move to another area. The hunters all wear snake chaps and argue with the campesinos who want us to shoot all the eagles - Mexico's national bird - that we see. The campesinos don't splurge on snake chaps. The first time I did it, I said, "What?" But with proper care very few campesinos get killed, either by gunshot or snakebite.

I am not joking.

On the victim, Harry Whittington:
Mr. Whittington, who as I understand it, was once appointed to the Texas Funeral Service Commission in a odd moment of foreshadowing, perhaps . . .

It could be one way of doing entitlement reform since he's (Whittington) 78.
On the Corpus Christi paper that had the story called in to them by Anne Armstrong, the owner of the ranch:
I'd bet you anything it was the weekend police reporter (for the Corpus Christi paper) going through the hospital reports and they saw that this, you know, rich guy had gotten shot.
So, on Monday morning, a full 16 or so hours after the story had come out and a lot more details were known as well as a lot that were still not yet disseminated, the managing editor of Newsweek on a nationally syndicated radio show demonstrates his ignorance of quail hunting outside the state of Tennessee with servants and Bloody Marys, insults the victim (twice) and slanders the vice president. Does one wonder why ad revenues are down at Newsweek and the magazine survives with pithy stories about Michael Jackson's sexual preferences for young boys and Janet's boob flopping? I don't.

Then, just as I'm ready to declare jeeeehad, burn effigies and hurl small boulders at newsstands, Meacham comes out with this regarding George Bush and the War on Terror:
One of my points about this is every plot looks smalltime until it happens.

If you had broken in and gotten to Oswald on November 21, 1963, he would have looked like a loser.

If you'd gotten to James Earl Ray on April 3, 1968, he would have looked like a loser.

If you'd busted Muhammed Atta up in Portland, Maine, on September 10, and had then said, "Oh, by the way. He was going to be the mastermind of 19 hijackers who were going to do this," all of us would have just scratched our heads.

So, everything is sort of implausible until men with guns or men with planes change history.

And that's why what Bush and Cheney are doing is so hard, it seems to me.

So, I really believe that, so, all kidding aside, I have great sympathy for the men who are fighting this war and I believe their hearts are in the right place.

Have they done everything right? No. Find me somebody who has, in the last 6000 years of recorded history.
Well, he saved himself from the jeeeehad with that. I am going to assume that Meacham is a late riser who doesn't get his brain working until after a dozen cups of coffee, like yours truly, and his comments on the Wild Bill Cheney and the Texas 28 Guage Shotgun Massacre were early morning and very lame attempts at humor.

When Meacham decided to get serious, his thoughts were quite lucid, and, to my way of thinking, quite correct. And, whether you like this or not, could be applied to past and future administrations. Listen to the entire tape. The Cheney crap is at the beginning and the serious stuff comes at the end.

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