Jed, it's entirely possible that Sadr has something vicious and unconscionable up his sleeve. And it's difficult to take calls for peace at face value from a guy who ran around killing Americans until it became more trouble than it was worth to him. But query whether al Sadr would rather have a chance at running the government of an Iraq whole and at peace or a guaranteed place at the top of a Shi'a army tasked with surviving a civil war. Query whether al Sadr aspires for purely religious reasons to be a permanent stepstool for Iranian overlordship.
The Spectacle Blog
He spreads the blame all around: to the apparently xenophobic overreaction among Democratic and Republican quarters, and to the White House for perhaps "unleashing the dogs of anti-Arab prejudice," and then botching the PR last week.
He also reports that Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) is suffering heartburn from the news. As much as I like Thune (he's genuine and affable in person), he continues to disappoint. Remember the fit he threw over BRAC last year and then withdrew support for the Bolton nomination? I know the Great Plains states lean populist, but once in a while their representatives should exercise some sensible leadership.
Calls for calm in Iraq emanating from Moqtada al-Sadr last week are being viewed by some as good news. What they ignore is the fact that Sadr, while calling for peace, ordered his militia to stop wearing their trademark black getups. He sending his people underground, which may well mean the terror campaign we haven't seen from him before is about to start in earnest. Could mean other things as well, but this guy calling for peace is the rough equivalent of Bonnie and Clyde decrying lousy bank security.
Jed, I'm with you on style points. Wlady, see my column to come on the World Match Play. I think the TV-Oprahfication of the games began in earnest with the summer games in Australia, where the time zone shift made anything live impossible. NBC reduced that entire Olympics to a series of personality features. I miss the early days of ESPN, when you could watch unpolished rugby and Australian rules football. Nowadays, the major Olympic event seems to be the TV interview.
Jed, I sympathize with you totally, to such an extent that I watched next to nothing of the Turin Olympiad. Sports competition is that last thing TV is interested in. The problem goes back decades, to whenever the "Up Close and Personal" segments began. (I'm afraid Roone Arledge might share the blame.) Moreover, once the winter games were switched to off years, for purely commercial reasons, who in heckfire could have possibly cared about any of the proceedings? Which is why we now have snowboarding and Sports Illustrated covers honoring our leading snowboarders, even the goofy gal who threw her gold medal away by trying to hotdog at the finish. It's a weird new world out there for anyone over 30.
John: That's the whole point. If they want ratings, give us sports not some frozen romance novel. The reason women's figure skating gave them their best night is that guys tuned out days before, and stayed out. The NBCing eye dogs should take a look at the ratings Monday Night Football gets, and take a lesson. Full contact Olympics would mean all the diff.