Voice

This just in: Obama plans Bolivian soccer league

Having watched the video of Bolivian President Evo Moralesdelivering a crisp knee to the groin of an opponent during a weekend soccermatch, we can only imagine the emotions that flowed through the mind of President BarackObama.

His first reaction probably went something like this...

"How soon can we set up agame with the White House press corps? Or better yet, what are the odds wecould just set one up with the boys at Fox News? Or, better yet, perhaps we couldset up a league. Everybody always says that what U.S. politics needs issomething like the Brits' "Question Time." But what we really need is aBolivian political soccer league.

"Not only would this give us something to talk to theBolivians about and thus the first hint of an actual Latin America policy since we took office, but Michelle would love it, as it would fit right in with heranti-obesity campaign. She doesn't much like me in shorts, I'll admit that… Ihate it when she calls me President Bird Legs. But, on the other hand it wouldtake a much smaller bite out of our weekends than golf.

"Speaking of campaigns, Axe will love it because it willfinally give me something big for the Latinos, which is important since theyknow as well as I do that although I understand how important real immigrationreform is, they know I have been tiptoeing around the issue.

"Gibbs ought to love it too -- he was a goalie in college. But if he plays, it'll be hard to get Tim Kaine on the team, given the way he wasblindsided by the Gibbs-to-the-DNC trial balloon. But if we want a Virginianfor the team, we could always go to Jim Webb. He's so mean, he's alreadydemonstrated he might be willing to kick a girl.

"With a league we could play the press corps one week, Foxone week… please, oh, please give me O'Reilly in man-to-man… or even better, let me cover Roger Ailes. Now that would be a sight, seeing that whale in shorts. Then,in week three, we play the Young Guns. I'll give them a shot or two they won'tforget. Then, in week four, in the interest of fairness, maybe we can play theMama Grizzlies. Come to think of it, they carry firearms. Maybe we'll just skipto the week five opponent -- and who doesn't need a swift kick more than Bibi?

"Week six, let's see… how about playing the team from theClinton Global Initiative? Bill's been running circles around me for weeksnow, but I bet the shoe would be on the other foot on the south lawn soccerpitch. Finally, a break from those forced smiles…

"Then, maybe a good game with Tom Donohue and those folksover at the Chamber of Commerce. They've been kicking me since the day I gothere. Maybe Evo could teach me a few special moves for them…

"Speaking of which, there's a lesson in this. For a coupleyears there it looked like Morales would be seen as the first indigenouspresident of Bolivia, or maybe as a Chavez wannabe, but in one Sunday afternoonburst of scapular artistry, he has redefined his legacy. He will now beremembered more for this kick than for anything he has done as president. Haveto keep that in mind. Have to keep those emotions in check. Someone else needsto do the kicking.

"Wait, where's Rahm? Is Rahm really gone? Who's going to bethe First Knee now? Do I have to do everything here myself?...

Then Obama's roused from his daydream by a phone call. It's JimDeMint, calling to ask if the president and his inner circle would be up for alittle friendly soccer match. And on the other line is Nancy Pelosi, on behalfof the Congressional Democratic leadership. What's that about?

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

David Rothkopf

The best thing Rick Sanchez ever did was leave

The Drudge Report linked to a story over the weekend in which someone named Sam Rubin condemned CNN for not explicitly firing Rick Sanchez for his anti-Semitism. Rubin, writing a column called "My Truth" on the KTLA website, argues that this demonstrates what is wrong with CNN.

In so doing, he mentions but skims over the real reason that CNN should have fired Rick Sanchez, the reason regularly cited by Jon Stewart: the fact that Sanchez was dumb as a box of rocks. In fact, even in Anchorland where a man is no better than his haircut, Sanchez was an embarrassment long before he decided to wear his bigotry like a big ugly soup stain on one of his Brioni ties.

Or, to turn to the ultimate source on such matters, this exchange from the Will Ferrell docu-comedy Anchorman frames the Sanchez situation well:

Ron Burgundy: "I'm not a baby. I'm a man. I'm an anchorman."

Veronica Corningstone: "You are not a man. You are a big fat joke."

Burgundy: "I'm a man who discovered the wheel and built the Eiffel Tower out of metal and brawn. That's what kind of a man I am. You're just a woman with a small brain. With a brain a third the size of us. It's science."

Corningstone: "I will have you know that I have more talent and more intelligence in my little finger than you do in your entire body, sir."

Burgundy: "You are a smelly pirate hooker."

Corningstone: "You look like a blueberry."

Burgundy: "Why don't you go back to your home on Whore Island?"

Corningstone: "Well, you have bad hair."

Burgundy: "What did you say?"

Corningstone: "I said… your hair… looks stupid."

(An atomic bomb mushroom cloud is reflected in Ron's eyes; a knock-down drag out fight begins.)

The problem with CNN is in fact not that they failed to fire Sanchez more explicitly for his anti-Semitism, nor is it that they did not fire him sooner. The problem with CNN is that they hired him in the first place. Just as it is a problem that they thought it appropriate to hire Eliot Spitzer for his own show when at least 50 percent of the fame they are cashing in on is tied to his predilection for prostitutes. Just as it is a problem that they hired Piers Morgan to replace Larry King. Now admittedly, King was no pillar of journalism. He was not even a molehill of journalism. That being said, he attempted to be no more than he was, a living Smithsonian exhibit about the nature of old time radio. But Morgan, known best to Americans for his appearances as a judge on a show that would embarrass the worst burlesque circuits of the 1920s, "America's Got Talent," is skimmed from the pond-scum floating atop journalism's shallowest waters. He is a former editor of Britain's News of the World and the Daily Mirror, newspapers that make the National Enquirer look like the Paris Review.

If CNN keeps it up, it won't last five years. It has done the impossible and almost made Fox News look like a better source of journalism -- and there is almost no journalism on Fox News.

Note that I say almost. Just when CNN seems beyond redemption and Fox seems nearly credible, along comes a report like that presented by CNN's Abbie Boudreau called "Right on the Edge." It is a documentary about conservative "documentarian" James O'Keefe, the guy who scammed ACORN and his fellow conservative video activists. While most of the report is really pretty low-grade and not terribly incisive, there is at least the low, sweet comedy provided by O'Keefe as he attempts to embarrass Boudreau with a cheesy seduction which he intended to capture on video tape. Thus, even as it demonstrates both its softball approach to journalism and its attraction to sleaze and stupidity, CNN actually does cast a light on the fact that it may survive because so many of the alternatives out there are so much worse.

As remarkable an achievement that is, when CNN and fellow television "news" producers engage in their self-destructive race to the bottom they accomplish something even more difficult to imagine: They are gradually making newspapers relevant again. As the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among others, come to understand new media and adapt technologically, their commitment to actually covering stories and maintaining some sort of ethical standards -- admittedly ones open to criticism from time to time -- is ensuring that they survive whereas talking hairdos like Sanchez do what they should have done years ago and disappear into the local news swamps inhabited by Ron Burgundy and his friends.

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