Embedded in Iraq

Seems like we all are.

And embedded seems a lot like mired. The rest of our lives seem to have ground to a halt while those columns advance toward Baghdad.

We can't turn on the television, radio, Internet without going straight to the desert. We're even getting the daily Iraqi weather report before we get the local weather. Wolf Blitzer is there. Ted Koppel is attempting a comeback. Even George Stephanopolous has somehow ended up in khakis. David Bloom and the new guys are trying to make their marks. They will ride those tanks to permanent celebrity journalism careers back in the States, if something inconvenient doesn't happen to them over there.

But, we seem to be both drawn to it all and repelled at the same time. Still winning the ratings battles these days are non-war programs. You just have to escape from the non-stop coverage for a while, especially since most of the time not much seems to actually be happening over there. We mostly get modern American media's penchant for endlessly chewing over the same small cud of information on all the (too many) networks all the time. It's no wonder we all need a little R&R from the heat of the (non) battle. So, the program winners are: Friends, Scrubs, Will and Grace and various and sundry reality shows.



Never have so many said so much about so little. The whole nation hears within minutes to hours about the smallest and largest events. Even non-events get reported. If Iraqi troops are on the march to the south, all of America knows it while it's happening. (Where are they going?) If there is a rumor of an uprising in Basra, it's reported as a fact before you can flip the dial to Rush or Fred Barnes. We all root for the relief supplies in the Gulf to get there before it's too late.

The further into this adventure we get, the more the talking heads seem to be opining about what we all think of the war rather than what is actually happening on the ground. The reporters and commentators look and sound more and more like those gangs of ex-jocks and assorted hangers-on that report the NFL on the networks, featuring instant analysis and replays and way more talk than is justified by the action on the field.

Are we really ready to make war on outlaw nations all over the world? What kind of great power can we really be if we are going to mourn in public every loss we incur? That was not the Roman way 2,000 years ago, nor the British way a century ago. In the stew that is America today, we all seem eager to live our lives through the TV cameras that unite us all -- the doers on one side and the viewers on the other.

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