Well, not all of them. But there are two to note today:
First, from Iraq:
Iraqi leaders have failed to take advantage of a reduction in violence to make adequate progress toward resolving their political differences, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Thursday.
Petraeus, who is preparing to testify to Congress next month on the Iraq war, said in an interview that “no one” in the U.S. and Iraqi governments “feels that there has been sufficient progress by any means in the area of national reconciliation,” or in the provision of basic public services.
Second, over in New York and Washington:
Bear Stearns, facing a grave liquidity crisis, reached out to JPMorgan on Friday for a short-term financial lifeline and now faces the prospect of the end of its 85-year run as an independent investment bank.
With the support of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, JPMorgan said in a statement that it had “agreed to provide secured funding to Bear Stearns, as necessary, for an initial period of up to 28 days.”
For the next month, JPMorgan will work with Bear Stearns to reach a solution for its financing crisis. Options could include organizing permanent financing or, according to people briefed on the discussions, buying the bank for a discounted price.
Iraq, economy. Iraq, economy. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Now, I’m not going to phrase this like Carville did back in 1992. Ultimately, it’s not simply those two factors. But they are going to predominate, a steady, slow and sure drip of annoyance for a lot of people who like them both to be explained away (I would make jokes about water torture but hey, who’s an American to make jokes about that now, really).
Again, I’m not saying this is new at all — haven’t before, won’t in the future. But it’s always these things to keep in mind, the moves and statements and actions that are flatly noted but rarely put into any sort of larger context. Both are statements of condition and do not lend themselves to easy summarizing or conclusions. Petraeus isn’t suddenly throwing in a towel (and as I’ve noted before, whatever his flaws might be, the word from the military has generally been a ‘please stop saying everything is sunshine and roses over here now’ narrative, which is a lot different from what the Malkins of the world would have you believe). Bear Stearns’s problems aren’t a definitive sign that the US economy is dead as a doornail.
But these are points to make, observe and reflect on. They feed into things, quietly in a way, much more quietly than that which is being shouted about this week (we already know about the governor, now it’s a candidate’s family priest), but they have more impact in the end than might be guessed. The tussles of the primary revotes, the speculations on McCain’s VP choice, all worth noting. But losing the forest for the trees helps nobody.
Having had a crazy and honestly entertaining winter primary season, we’re now moving into a protracted spring of dull doom and grind (like if Godflesh were a bad band instead of a great one, which of course they were). So salacious details and flag-waving hoohah and all that fills in the time, it’s to be expected. (Puts me in mind of the past here and there — I’ve been thinking about 1984’s primary season of late, thanks in part to the reappearance of a figure from the time, and if that’s not the narrative the Democrats want to be reminded of, that can’t be helped.)
So as I’ve muttered before, if you have no role to immediately play in how things shake down for a bit — you’re not in a state that has yet to vote or, in two cases, re-vote, and there’s no arguments close to home with friends and family about preferred choices — think longer view more, scrounge up on your background reading, take note about conflicting commentaries and explanations and mindsets and…wait. However impatient you might feel, wait while using the time productively.
You may surprise yourself, in the end.