Friday, December 17, 2010

Inaction: Loud and Clear

This is not even remotely funny, but I think that's his point. Last night, Daily Show host Jon Stewart lambasted Republican Senators for filibustering a bill that would provide health benefits for 9/11 first responders. As Stewart notes, "The party that turned 9/11 into a catch phrase, are now moving suspiciously into a convenient pre-9/11 mentality when it comes to this bill." Stewart also ripped the media for providing minimal to no coverage of the bill's troubles, noting that Al Jazeera had provided more information than many of the U.S.'s major networks:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

This bill--which would provide medial benefits for the firefighters, police officers and other personnel that responded to the 9/11 attacks--has been mired in a political bog for months. The U.S. systems of checks and balances is one of its greatest strengths, but it can also be a significant weakness. And this particular situation, where petty partisan differences have trumped domestic values, is a perfect example of why. The Senate's failure to pass this bill shows divisive leadership, narrow-minded politics and a refusal to actively support frequently professed values. An often overlooked element of public diplomacy is the way that domestic policies are perceived by foreign publics, and it's hard to regard this particular policy in a way that reflects positively on U.S. leadership.

That American comedians and foreign-owned news stations are the most prominent advocates for 9/11 first responders suggests a breakdown within the nation's political and media systems. In this case, inaction speaks louder than words.

1 comment:

  1. "...a breakdown within the nation's political and media systems." -- Breakdown, or the way forward? Stewart repeatedly claims he's just a comedian. Yeah, like Jonathan Swift was just a comedian. A HuffPost story compares Stewart to Edward R. Murrow. More like Lenny Bruce without the smack habit and with high approval ratings. The comedian label is at least partly a defensive shield. It will be interesting to see how his career develops. But do be careful out there, Jon.