Had a lot of things I wanted to blog about today — I want to share with you some thoughts from that really interesting conference at Furman in which I participated last night, for instance — but wasn’t able to get to them. I will as soon as I can. In the meantime, here’s the news at this (later than usual) hour:
- Obama Warns Libya, but Attacks Go On (NYT) — Of all the coverage out there, I chose the NYT one because that headline sums up the situation most neatly and comprehensively. What has happened in the last 24 hours, starting with the UN resolution, followed by the transparently cynical call for a “ceasefire” by Qaddafi (the perfect way of trying to fake a newly-resolute world into holding off just long enough to let him finish crushing the opposition), and continuing with the president’s ultimatum (“in one of his most forceful statements as president, Mr. Obama said that his demands were not negotiable”), has not just been news. It’s been history. But the sweep of it is captured well in those few words: Obama Warns Libya, but Attacks Go On.
- U.S., allied forces converge for Libya attack (WashPost) — For the president to be able to use the language he used, you already have to have forces in motion.
- In Libyan capital, a revolution crushed (WashPost) — In Tripoli, Qaddafi has won, and this is what that looks like.
- Japan raises nuclear alert level (BBC) — The drama of what’s happening in the world right now is underlined by the fact that this only the second-biggest story of the day.
- Yemeni Forces Fire On Demonstrators; Dozens Killed (NPR) — This sudden escalation reminds us it’s not just Libya and Bahrain right now.
- Ethics staff: Ard improperly spent on meals, trips (AP) — This would have made the front yesterday, but I didn’t have one. Here it is now.
You know, folks, news has been my business for several decades, and for a lot of that time, part of my job was looking at the totality of the news, seeing the full range of it as a whole and trying to assess the relative importance of the top developments. For instance, at two previous newspapers, in Tennessee and Kansas, I had responsibility not only for deciding what went on the front page each day, but the relatively play of each story. Then, as editorial page editor at The State, there was the need to look at the whole range and decide what it was most important to comment upon.
And in all that time, I don’t quite recall a run of earth-shaking stories on multiple international fronts quite like this. I mean, yeah, you might have ONE international story dominate for awhile, such as the collapse of the Berlin Wall or 9/11 or the Iraq invasion, but not this much at once. It’s rather awe-inspiring. Yeah, most of them are related — Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, the UN suddenly having a consensus on military action that we haven’t seen in a long time — although each development is different in profound ways, with different implications for our country and the world. But to have all of that going on, AND a leading industrialized nation like Japan brought practically to its knees by a paroxysm of the Earth itself… it’s all kind of awe-inspiring.
Consequently, there’s almost a sense of whiplash when you step from the international to the state or local. Yeah, it’s a big deal in a political town for the lt. gov. to be accused of misspending campaign funds, but it seems almost embarrassingly trivial against the scope of what’s happening in the world (as does the latest pettiness by our governor). Similarly, the “titanic” struggle in Washington between Dems and Repubs over federal spending just sort of fades into the background.
Unusual situation, which is a rather silly understatement, now that I type it…