Iraq’s Moment of Democracy and Small Obsessions

Election Day in Iraq — the symbolism of long lines of determined voters unbowed by threats of violence, and the media’s awed coverage of the process — dominates discussions across the political blog spectrum.

Arthur Chrenkoff at offers an excellent round-up of the historic day, with dozens of links to international news coverage. Chrenkoff writes: “It happened. And they did it.”

In scenes unimaginable only two years ago — and scorned as impossible, undesirable and impractical for months — millions of ordinary Iraqi men and women braved terrorist violence and came out to vote for their future government.

Jeralyn Merritt throws some cold water on the parade. “Lest the cheerleaders overtake the conversation, here is some balance,” writes Merritt, who offers up a list of bloggers with a more skeptical perspective. “Simply stated, we are still a long way from Kansas,” writes Merritt.

Sharing that view is James Wolcott, who finds the media’s descriptions of a “triumphant day for democracy” a bit hard to swallow. And he worries how it will play out, not in Baghdad but in Washington.

What I dread is how this day will be used by the new centurions. The Iranian blogger Hoder … sensibly, succinctly observes today, “On the one hand I’m really excited that Iraqi people have been able to start the path to a potentially democratic political system, on the other hand I’m really upset that this will embolden neoconservatives and will be seen as a confirmation of their dangerous plans for the world.”

At Captain’s Quarters, Capt. Ed ‘fesses that he usually is no fan of the New York Times (no surprise there), but does admire the Iraq coverage of Timesman John Burns, especially today’s story. “John Burns, as always, proves himself an invaluable resource for those who want to stay truly informed on Middle East events,” writes the Captain, who can’t resist a final jab at the Gray Lady: “Be sure to keep up with his reports while the New York Times still employs him.” And speaking of the Times, readers of the Sunday Style section were alerted to the latest rage among people with an infant and the Internet: the Mommy Blog. Writes David Hochman:

The world’s most thankless occupation, parenthood, has never inspired so much copy. For the generation that begat reality television it seems that there is not a tale from the crib (no matter how mundane or scatological) that is unworthy of narration. Approximately 8,500 people are writing Web logs about their children. … That’s more than twice as many baby blogs as last year.

Today’s parents — older, more established and socialized to voicing their emotions — may be uniquely equipped to document their childrens’ lives, but what they seem most likely to complain and marvel about is their own. The baby blog in many cases is an online shrine to parental self-absorption.

We thought we’d check that assertion out. Lifetime total of diapers consumed by Beatrix “Trixie” Valentina MacNeill: 3,456 (and, presumably, counting). Frankly, we think young Beatrix, at about age 16 or so, will wish the folks had just taken some naked bathtub photos.

Susan Q. Stranahan

Has America ever needed a media watchdog more than now? Help us by joining CJR today.

Susan Q. Stranahan wrote for CJR.