Monday, January 05, 2009

Yet again I have to ask

What is the matter with our journalists? Con Coughlin is one of the most experienced and most knowledgeable foreign correspondents and analysts we have in the media. Yet he has come up with the most jejune piece on his blog (well, clog, as this is hardly a blog in the real sense of the word).

He expresses the wish that Obama move into the White House as soon as possible because the Bush administration is even more of a lame-duck than usual, having, according to Mr Coughlin, done nothing about the crisis in Gaza beyond supporting Israel.

Well, first things first. Someone should tell Mr Coughlin that the United States has a constitution (and a very fine document it is, too). Amendment 20, ratified in January 1933, states:
1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then begin.
In other words, unless President-Elect Obama wants to go against what the Constitution says - something he has not done so far, despite his eccentric behaviour in various ways - he cannot move into the White House until he has gone through the inauguration process on January 20. Got that, Mr Coughlin? It's not difficult.

Secondly, it is somewhat contradictory to say
Throughout the past week, while Israel has intensified its bombardment of Gaza, the Bush administration has hardly uttered a word, save to give its approval to the Israeli action. In other words, if that's what the Israelis want to do, that's fine by us.
Either President Bush is a lame duck and is doing nothing or he is supporting Israel not, as Mr Coughlin says, because he does not care and let Israel do what it wants but because he believes, as many of us, including the commenters on the clog, do that the hostilities were started by Hamas's rockets.

Mr Coughlin, and, it would appear, most of the Telegraph newspapers believe otherwise or they prefer to ignore Hamas aggression against Israel, against Fatah, against all its opponents, against many Palestinians in general. But that is hardly President Bush's fault. Nor is it an indication of drift.

Thirdly, there is little evidence that President-Elect Obama will do or say otherwise. On the whole, he has been very quiet on Gaza (unlike various other issues) and may well be preoccupied with problems in his own camp. But, as several commenters point out, the change may or may not happen on January 21 and, if it does, there is no guarantee that Mr Coughlin and his colleagues will like it.

The sooner Con Coughlin understands some or, preferably, all of this, the better for the Daily Telegraph and its readers (among whom I no longer count myself).