Salon's Glenn Greenwald called out MSNBC's Chuck Todd at great length Wednesday for a segment Todd participated in on Morning Joe in which, per Greenwald, "everyone agreed without question that investigations were a ridiculous distraction from what really matters and would be terribly unfair." Based on my experience, Chuck and Glenn are both very decent fellows, and they've apparently agreed to work it all out in a podcast interview, which I'm sure will be a high-quality discussion. That said, I have to take issue with Todd on this score:
Todd: Look, let's take all of these stories in one big thing: Really, the only important thing -- the most important thing -- the President has to focus on is getting the public's trust on the economy, and pushing health care. Cheney, the CIA, and in some respects Sotomayor are cable catnip --
Todd: It's news catnip -- but they're sort of clouding the two most important issues the President's got to get his arms around this week: winning back trust of the middle on the economy and pushing health care through.
As a cat owner, this baffles me. Catnip is a plant that cats enjoy, immensely. They can't wait to sniff it, eat it, roll around on it. Cats get freaky around the stuff, it's like cocaine to them.
I don't know if there is a substance which cats will look at briefly, shrug, and then walk away in pure disinterest, but whatever it is, it would be a better metaphor for the way cable news has taken to the story of investigations into torture.
What's especially strange is that back in April, Chuck Todd wasn't saying torture investigations were "cable news catnip" at all:
MITCHELL: They clearly are responding to the letter from Diane Feinstein...and the whole question of whether -- in the liberal blogosphere whether they have been too quick to shut down any prosecutions.
TODD: There does seem to be a little bit of a reaction to how this was received on the left. And the president, when he went on in those comments, Andrea, to suggest that he'd be open to some sort of special commission that was bipartisan, you know, he said, on one hand, said he's worried about the process getting politicized, and frankly this feels like a political food fight now. Vice President Cheney on one side, President Obama on the other. The hard left, the hard right, fighting over this in the blogosphere.
I suppose that his assertion that torture investigations are "cable news catnip" is an improvement over the way he captured it as a pure sideline issue two months ago. But I'm afraid that really, the status quo remains in effect: torture investigations remain something for which there is mainstream, active support among the public that the media just isn't all that interested in covering.
Also, He Might Want To Think About Crossing the Sex Line: Mark Sanford is on vacation again! But that's okay, this time, because he's taking his wife with him, hopefully somewhere nice and exotic where tropical winds tamp down the aroma of CRAZY AWKWARDNESS. Sanford's spokesman Joel Sawyer isn't telling anyone -- not even Griff Jenkins! -- where they have gone, but I'd wager it's NOT Argentina and it had BETTER NOT BE THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL.
The Value of Outreach: Via Brian Beutler: "The Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee has voted along party [lines] to move its health care reform legislation out of committee. The panel has been in mark-up for weeks now, and along the way, has approved 160 Republican amendments -- and for all that largesse, not a single member of the minority voted in its favor." Okay, okay. But look: all that BIPARTISANSHIP SAUCE is going to make the health care that much more AWESOME, right? RIGHT?!
Palin Polarizes The Polarized: According to CJR's Greg Marx, critics of Palin's op-eds can't seem to agree on whether the quality of the writing proves someone else wrote it or whether the quality of the writing proves that Palin wrote it. Palin is expected to clear all of this up at her next press conference, where she will quit her job as a writer of op-eds, like all point guards do.
Palin Previously Supported Cap And Trade: But remember, she's history's most effective quitter!