Saturday, July 19, 2003

# Posted 10:19 PM by Ariel David Adesnik  

MATT YGLESIAS IS BACK from his Italian adventure and seems to be in quite good spirits. In the past three days, he has linked to my posts twice, both times in agreement. Unheard of!

On the 17th, Matt gave his qualified endorsement to my argument that the American media has locked itself into a Vietnam mindset. While Matt refers to this argument as David's theory, I really shouldn't take all the credit. For those of you who have the time, check out the work of Jonathan Mermin, who studies media coverage of US military interventions.

While I haven't had a chance to read Prof. Mermin's book, his 1996 article [no permalink] in Political Communication makes a very detailed argument about the misleading comparisons between Vietnam, Panama and the First Gulf War which the media made in the early days of those conflicts. The main difference between myself and Mermin is that the good professor attributes a narrower scope to his argument. Rather than say that this sort of coverage is characteristic of a media establishment that came of age in Vietnam, he argues that it simply reflects the media's willingness to criticize even popular military endeavors (by comparing them to unpopular and unsuccessful ones).

A harsher critic might say that Mermin doesn't recognize the implications of his research because he can't see beyond the ivory tower belief that the American media has a strong pro-conservative bias. (Yes, you heard right. "Pro-conservative". Talk a look at either this textbook or this one to see what I mean.)

Getting back to Mermin, I think he is holding back in the article because he recognizes the sort of critical firestorm he'd bring down on himself if he contradicted the prevailing paradigm in his discipline. As a young professor with one book to his credit, I don't think he can afford to offend the top scholars in the field. But that's just my instinct. Perhaps after reading his book I'll know for sure.

Now, the second time Matt Yglesias had a kind word for OxBlog was when he wrote today that even though
"a lot of hawkish bloggers seem to have a real distaste for discussing domestic policy issues that can't be reduced to mocking radical academics...Though I note that OxHawk David Adesnik is getting pretty darn caustic on the subject of Bush's tax cuts. Maybe it's time to start liberating another country before the hawk crowd starts focusing it's mind on other issues."
I guess the question is whether Matt would still be praising my diverse interests if I were an ardent defender of Bush's tax cuts. Regardless, I think I'm going to have disappoint Matt and say that I know a lot less about taxes than I do about foreign policy. When I write about economics, I do so as a layman tackling issues with which he is unfamiliar. By putting my opinions out there, I hope to get responses that introduce me to the basic facts of political economy.

In contrast, when I write about foreign policy, I am testing myself to see if I can apply my academic knowledge and doctoral research to current events and issues. That's why most of my posts focus on foreign policy and why I'm willing to go to the mat (no pun intended) to defend my views on the subject. So, if you want to see more domestic policy posts on OxBlog, write in if I put up even a single post on the subject and you'll have my attention.
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