Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Dana Milbank Newsflash: Men Wear Ties!!!

First off I have to offer an apology to the Washington Post Ombudswoman Debra Howell. She was entirely correct that Dana Milbank writes about male politicians’ clothing as well as women’s. Maybe it’s just because people specifically complained about last week’s column (people like say me) but this week Milbank now includes an entirely gratuitous shot at two House members for wearing, gasp!, colorful ties.

So this week he’s writing about an interest by a few Democratic representatives in impeaching attorney general Alberto Gonzales if Bush won’t remove him. Apparently this has only happened one other time in American history, during the Grant administration.

Colleagues on the stage with [Jay] Inslee, wearing grave faces but colorful neckwear, provided an echo.

"This particular attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, has lost his bearings," said Tom Udall (D-N.M.), whose tie pattern appeared to be of men riding dolphins.

"This attorney general has lost his way," said Bruce Braley (D-Iowa), whose tie had a large musical note.
There’s no reason for Milbank to include the description of the ties except for one thing, he wants to imply that Reps. Udall and Braley look ridiculous, and by extension, are making a ridiculous argument. It’s clear reading Milbank’s entire column he disagrees with the representatives about the wisdom of impeaching Gonzales. The reason one comes to that conclusion is that he picks apart the words the representatives use to make their case, making fun of Islee for using an example of his son bald-faced lying about eating ice cream to compare Gonzales’ bald-faced lying to Congress. Maybe others will disagree with me, but it’s hard to read this week’s column as one written by someone who admires what the representatives were suggesting. I think it’s pretty clear he’s against it or thinks it’s a bad idea or just pie-in-the-sky impossible.

And here’s the thing about Milbank’s column, although it’s not put in the opinion section, its his analysis of a situation. Therefore it’s his opinion and he’s entirely free to make arguments that a senator or a representative looked ridiculous in an outfit they were wearing. I’m not arguing with Milbank’s function or role to provide that personal (supposedly learned) judgment on situations.

But what Milbank is doing is making a proxy argument. He’s not willing to directly come out and say “I don’t think impeaching Gonzales is a good idea” or “You guys can talk but you’ll not going to have the power to do what you’re suggesting” or whatever his real analysis is.

Instead he’s being kind of a jackass and pretending this is not how he feels and making little asides about the words the congressmen are saying or the ties they are wearing. Because he’s not really attacking the idea straight on, there’s no real come-back to argue. What, should I say Udall’s tie was nice-looking? Because now we’re arguing about ties and not whether impeaching Gonzales is a possibility, a good idea, etc.

Look if Milbank wants to argue he doesn’t think Congress has the momentum or juice to impeach Gonzales I would rather he just come out and say that instead of pretending he’s not sniffing at this concept when he dismisses the congressmen because of their ties. Basically…what the hell did it add to his column to know that Udall had a tie featuring dolphins? Nothing. Except Milbank thinks Udall is being ridiculous and wants the reader to know it.

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