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Lady Liberty

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

The Fall of Castro
posted by Tom

ABC World News Tonight Theme Music

Announcer [under video feed of Fidel Castro lying face down on a floor, surrounded by bodyguards]: This is an ABC News Special Report: The Fall of Fidel Castro. From Washington, Peter Jennings ...

Peter Jennings: Good evening. We begin tonight with a story that will surely have an impact on the American media as well as the Kerry campaign, if not the entire Democratic Party. Cuban President Fidel Castro was injured in a fall while leaving the stage after a televised speech Wednesday night, injuring his knee and arm. The President's devastating accident followed a speech at a graduation ceremony for arts instructors. Cuba, as is well known to frequent viewers of ABC News, takes higher education and the arts far more seriously than does the US, and it's not unusual to see the adored President Castro - his job approval rating is close to 100% compared to Mr. Bush's sorry 49% here in the US - delivering commencement addresses. Quite unlike Mr. Bush, El Presidente de Cooba deems no ceremony too small when it comes to connecting to the great unwashed of that tiny island. And compare Cuba's 99% literacy rate to our abysmal ...

Pressing earphone deeper into his ear.

Ladies and gentlemen, because the video we have doesn't capture the whole story, we go to the telephone, where from the city of Santa Clara, site of this terrible event, Associated Press photographer Jiminez Jiminez Jiminez ... (listens) ... I'm sorry, Jiminez Juan Jiminez ... (listens) ... What? Jiminez Gonzales Rodriguez? Rodriguez Gonzalez? Associated Press photographer Rodriguez Gonzalez, who was an eyewitness to the ... (listens)

I'm sorry, ladies and gentlemen. I've just been informed that AP photographer Jiminez Rodriguez Gonzalez Rodriguez, er, Jiminez, is being detained by Cuban authorities. Apparently, they have asked for his camera, so he is not able at present to give us the details of the President's near fatal fall from that stage after delivering what we here at ABC News are certain was a stirring commencement address. For those of you who are curious about Mr. Jiminez-Rodriguez's detention, I should remind you that Cuba is not the United States. For one thing, it's smaller. But for another, they are much more protective of their President. I mention this for no other reason than Americans are often shocked at how President Castro is so adored by Cubans that they are willing to forego certain rights and privileges we take for granted to ensure their leader is safe. Americans, after all, loathe Mr. Bush for failing to provide the universal health care to all Americans that Cubans have enjoyed ever since President Castro liberated that country from corporate America and organized crime.

At any rate, President Castro was in Santa Clara, which, our research department has informed me, is approximately a three-hour drive east of Havana.

Cut to computer animated flyover of Cuba from Havana to the city of Santa Clara.

Jennings [off camera]: You can see on the map the route the much loved President of Cuba likely would have taken to Santa Clara over Cuba's superior highway system thanks to El Presidente's concern for his country's infrastructure, which is in stark contrast to Mr. Bush's preference for tax cuts.

Cut back to Jennings staring thoughtfully at map on his laptop. Long pause.

Jennings: To help put this unbelievable turn of events in perspective, we turn to my fellow Castrophile, Diane Sawyer, here in the studio.

Cut to two shot of Jennings and Sawyer.

Jennings: Diane.

Sawyer: Peter.

Jennings: Diane.

Sawyer: Peter.

Jennings: Diane.

Sawyer: Diane.

Jennings: Peter.

Sawyer: Peter ...

Jennings: Diane, at times like this, it's tempting to ask why, isn't it?

Sawyer: Why isn't it what, Peter?

Jennings: Why Castro chose this moment in history to fall on his posterior region. He's outlasted, oh, how many American Presidents is it now?

Sawyer: It's been at least ...

Jennings: I was going to say at least a dozen, not counting Mr. Bush, who as we know holds the office under a cloud of suspicion.

Sawyer: Yes, a cloud of suspicion. That's how I would have put it, Peter, had I thought of it. That's a metaphor, isn't it?

Jennings: Yes, for want of a better term.

Sawyer: I thought so.

Jennings: And President Castro fell so close to our election. What do your sources on Capitol Hill tell you? Suspected CIA involvement?

Sawyer: I've heard some rumors to that effect, Peter. After all, the Bush Administration is verrrry nervous about Kerry's post-debate surge and the daily horror show known as Iraq. The time was right for a distraction.

Jennings: Sort of a trip-Castro-and-get-the-American-people-to-forget-about-the-quagmire strategy?

Sawyer: Yes.

Jennings: Interesting.

Sawyer: And keep in mind, Peter, this is the second time Castro has fallen this year. What could advance the Bush campaign further among those kidnappers of Elian Gonzalez in Miami than portraying Castro as the clumsy commie?

Jennings: The pieces all seem to fit, do they not, Diane?

Sawyer: Indeed they do, Peter.

Jennings: Although President Castro has a long way to go before he looks as oafish as Gerald Ford, who was a much younger man when he stumbled his way through what was - mercifully - one term in office.

Sawyer: And speaking of Ford, I talked to the man who defeated him, former President Carter , before going on the air.

Jennings: His reaction?

Sawyer: When he heard his dear, dear friend Fidel wiped out in Santa Clara, he was quote, shattered by the news, unquote.

Jennings: Any word from the Kerry campaign?

Sawyer: Not yet, though a spokesperson said off the record the candidate and Mrs. Kerry were lighting candles for Fidel in the cathedral here in Washington and would make a statement when they have both, quote, recovered.

Jennings: And Mr. Bush?

Sawyer: In what Democrats are saying is another example of this president's total disengagement from the global community, the President and his advisors have been huddling in the White House preoccupied with Iraq and Afghanistan, where as you know a disastrous election took place last weekend that further set back the administration's goals in the region.

Jennings: In other words, it seems as though Mr. Bush has little time for an ailing peer in the international community?

Sawyer: So it would seem, Peter.

Jennings: Thank you, Diane.

Sawyer: Thank you, Peter.

Jennings: When we come back, a look back on how Castro changed the western hemisphere forever ...

posted by Tom | 10/21/2004 06:16:00 AM
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Blogger danj said...

The 2004 election will not be remembered for profound speeches on ponderous themes or thrilling debates between the candidates. Its claim to fame may well be in the fact that it is ushering in the third age of elections in America.

The first era carried us through most of our history and was fueled by the print media. This long period featured some of the most interesting and formative debates in the history of politics. Learned treatises like the Federalist Papers and the flaming screeds of pamphleteers molded political thought in the post-Colonial era of American politics.

As the nation grew and expanded both in land area and population, newspapers became a dominant force in politics. Those who could read were strongly influenced by the news coverage and editorial pages of America's news journals. While novels (Uncle Tom's Cabin would be a pre-Civil War example) sometimes focused public opinion on key issues, the major opinion builders were the newspapers. "Yellow Journalism" fanned the flames of war in places like Cuba and Latin America. The presidency developed a "bully pulpit"—but it was only effective if it could reach the masses in a positive fashion through the text of the nation's newspapers.

After World War I, the second era of politics arrived, fueled by the innovation of electronic communication. Radio blended with the charisma of Franklin Roosevelt to fashion a new mode of campaigning. The "fireside chat" became a warm and engaging method for a popular president to calm fears and unite a nation when the war clouds finally burst. Campaigns could reach massive audiences through radio, and they did.

But radio could not hold a candle to the hot, powerful medium of television. Television allowed symbols to replace text in molding public opinion. Seeing, indeed, became believing. The Cuban Missile Crisis, the Vietnam War, and the violence of the civil rights struggle played out nightly in Americans' homes. Voters could be right on the floor of political conventions and see the sweat on the brows of candidates in presidential debates. Powerful campaign ads swept the airwaves and drove elections to levels of funding never envisioned in the eras of print and radio.

The third age of elections has now arrived, the age of the Internet—and once again, elections will never be the same. Howard Dean shocked the political establishment when he used the Internet to raise large sums of money from small donors. Dean proved that a strong message on an easily accessible web site could match the firepower of the political "rainmakers" when it came to raising campaign funds. Even the mighty medium of television was used to funnel voters and donors to web sites where they could be assimilated into activism in easy fashion.

The Internet hasn't simply become an alternative to television in the 2004 election. It has become its judge and jury. The CBS News "Sixty Minutes II" fiasco over Bush's National Guard service introduced the out-manned and out-gunned television newsrooms to the newest weapon in political campaigns—the bloggers. Within hours of the "Sixty Minutes II" broadcast, enterprising web site owners and devotees had brought the once mighty CBS news operation to its knees. Now, slanted news coverage and phony campaign propaganda cannot escape the scrutiny of millions of informed voters who band together through the awesome power of the Internet.

As technology continues to shape politics, there will undoubtedly be additions to the ages of elections. But 2004 has left its mark with the Internet, and politics has evolved.


4:00 PM, October 25, 2004  
Blogger Tom said...

Interesting and erudite summary of the history of media and politics. But for all Dean's internet savvy, he couldn't avoid a melt down and that old medium of TV captured his self-destruction for posterity. Who replaced him? An unprincipled charlatan whose continued political viability, despite his lies and distortions exposed ad nauseam by his internet-savvy opponents, is maintained by the liberals in print media and network newsrooms. Sure, the bloggers 'revealed' Dan Rather for the corrupt fossil he is, but tell me, did I miss his resignation from CBS in shame and disgrace? And the liberal media are so chastened by the Rather forgery debacle that they wouldn't dream of running other easily debunked anti-Bush stories based on dubious sources in the hope of influencing the election, would they? Like one about, oh, say, Bush being responsible for the loss of tons of high explosive in Iraq?

A nice, decisive Bush victory on 11/2 could do a lot to convince me the internet is not so much a viable alternative to the "old media" as a full fledged competitor to be reckoned with. If Tuesday ends up a repeat of 2000, I'll call it a draw between the two. A clear Kerry victory means the new media have a ways to go before they can claim to influence the political/cultural life of this nation on a par with their elders.

12:28 PM, October 27, 2004  
Anonymous Gloria said...

Is this the Robert Redferd film festival?

7:52 PM, August 04, 2005  

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