The Washington Post: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

Sunday, March 20, 2011

I wasn’t going to write this. I wasn’t going to write anything today. I’ve got work to do coming out my tush, but I can’t help myself.

We, here in America, tend to focus on the crisis at hand. Charlie Sheen’s self-destruction was, thank goodness, replaced in the headlines, and on television in particular, by the mass destruction in Japan, still underway. And today, coverage of Japan is running behind what’s happening in Libya, even though the former is at least equally interesting, deadly and profound, if not much more so.

Yes, there’s only so much paper a newspaper can afford to publish, only so much air time, even in today’s world of 24 hour cable and Internet news.

Unfortunately, we’re still fighting in Iraq and especially in Afghanistan. These are wars of which our President and his administration are keenly aware, which is why we waited, maybe too long, to take any action in Libya without UN endorsement and coalition support. Nobody, least of all the President, wants to talk about these other actions, not in any overt, explicit way. They long ago became yesterday’s news.

Our long-term presence in Iraq and Afghanistan continues to suck billions from our starving economy, destroying the lives of our soldiers and their families, not to mention the innocent people in the countries where we are engaged, while fueling our enemies’ anti-American propaganda. No, these other actions are not something our government wants to talk about. It’s not something that helps get politicians elected, and the sense is that we’re all stressed out enough already, what with the slowness of our economic recovery and all the other bad news on the air.

Is one major crisis at a time all we can take? Heaven forbid we should let multiple, simultaneous crises affect our view of government, social and economic policy.

Not to worry. Thank goodness we have a free press to keep us real. But wait… I read the Sunday Washington Post. In today’s paper, the right side headline is about Libya, the color picture on the left, a view of (and story about) Three Mile Island with references to what’s happening in Japan. The front page section is 22 pages long, the “Outlook” section, 6 pages. And on not one of those 28 total pages is there a single discussion of what’s happening in Iraq or Afghanistan. They’re obviously just not that important, not as important as “Thomas Jefferson (High School) adds English help amid debate” on the front page, or “Amtrak renames station for Biden” in the second page “Digest,” or “Visiting India, Palin talks tough on China, other topics” on the third page, and so on.



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