Thursday, July 30, 2020

How President Biden Will Disappoint Me

I am sure President Joe Biden will disappointment me, 
likely several times in several ways. 

For one thing, he probably won't choose an attorney general who pledges to focus the Justice Department's considerable resources on putting Donald J. Trump and every one of his political appointees into super-max prisons.

Even with a Democrat majority in both houses of Congress, he likely won't propose a 99 percent tax on personal wealth of more than $1 billion and channel the money into a free college education for anyone who legitimately gains admission. 

No way will Biden tell Vladimir Putin to kiss his Irish butt. He probably will refrain from sharing the same sentiment with MBS, Viktor Orban, Rodrigo Duterte and all the other fascist dictators making life difficult for so many people. No, I just don't see him doing that. 

I really doubt his plan to fight the spread of Covid-19 will include quarantining Florida, Texas, Arizona, every college fraternity and everyone who honestly believes that laws mandating the use of face masks is part of a plot to destroy all personal freedoms. 

Other Biden disappointments will probably include declining to nominate Barack Obama as secretary of state,  Tammy Duckworth as secretary of defense, and Alexander Vindman as national security advisor. 

I forgive President Biden for disappointing me in these matters and the others that arise during his time in office. Giving him a pass on his mistakes is easy because I know he will make them while trying to do what is reasonable and - for the most part - good for all of us. Given recent history, that's enough for me. 

Monday, July 13, 2020

Beware The "Veteran" Journalist

The other day I read a description of someone that included a phrase I always dread in several ways: “veteran journalist.”

That two-word label undoubtedly was intended as a mark of respect or to lend credibility to something the journalist wrote or said. It implied expertise and knowledge based on length of service in a job or profession. Time equals wisdom, right?

I don’t think so. I take the view of UCLA psychologist Matthew Lieberman who wrote in Psychology Today that at some point in life, we stop learning and become "knowers."

Journalists are particularly vulnerable to this.

The longer a reporter covers politics the more often he or she references long-ago elections in the hope of providing context. It’s easy to reference the losing re-election efforts of one-term presidents Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush when opining about Trump’s re-election campaign. But those defeats are irrelevant to the 2020 election because of drastically changed demographics, socio-political upheaval, and the demonstrable mental instability of the President himself.

And it’s not necessarily age the transition from learning to knowing and stasis. There are  journalists of all ages who take the easy path and reach back to irrelevant ideas and stats to enhance their alleged sagacity.

So, should we ignore the “knowers” because they haven’t moved forward in their learning? Not at all. There are any number of worthwhile journalistic traditions and standards that remain relevant today and must be passed on an reinforced by writers and editors who worked under them and absorbed their value. Some of the best interviewers are those with enough experience to know when to push, pull back or even walk out.

And, no, journalists don’t necessarily mentally check out when they hit a certain point in their career. Certainly some rely on their description as “veterans” to sustain the flow of paychecks. But others, who aren’t necessarily keeping up on every nuance of every minute change in society still have the smarts to understand what they can contribute and add to the knowledge of others. Those are the ones we should listen to.