Will another election cycle be spent talking past issues with right-wing pundits continuing to rely on name calling rather than confronting issues like global warming and the fallout from the military conflicts in which we are engaged? Hannity, Limbaugh, O’Reilly et al invariably manage to sidestep serious discourse, engaging people who are content to be indoctrinated with material of dubious quality and irrelevanicies.
It didn’t take long, for example, for Republicans and the Fox News Crowd to start hammering away about the plane Nancy Pelosi would use for her flights to California, even though the choice had been made by a non-partisan functionary. And while Dennis Hastert didn’t need the same kind of plane for his flights to Pennsylvania he often made side trips to pick up friends and associates un-related to his duties as Speaker. Democrats failed to point this out, perhaps because other issues just seemed more important.
And in a concerted frenzy Fox and friends are currently beating up on Al Gore, calling him a hypocrite because of energy consumption at his homes and his use of a private jet. Imagine, taking the time to dig up the Gores’ gas bills and tracking his jet instead of addressing the larger environmental issues the world faces. But that always seems to be the way the right deals with adversaries – – attack the person, avoid the issue and maybe people will forget what really matters. Take the low road, emphasize the negative and hope for a partisan advantage. One can only imagine their apoplectic response should Gore be awarded the Nobel Peace prize.
It is still disturbing to recall when Republican operatives in 2000 arrived in Broward County to shout and pound on the windows of a room where a recount was being conducted – – partisanship played out in a demeaning, vulgar demonstration. And in a tasteless parting shot a crowd at the Vice President’s house in Washington kept chanting “Get out of Cheney’s house.” The only statesman-like demeanor back then was that of Vice President Gore when he made his farewell speech. Unfortunately the high road Mr. Gore chose was hardly the one traveled by those who commandeered the White House courtesy of the Supreme Court.
Today, what some call “fair and balanced” ignores the inconvenient truth that arriving at the truth isn’t what these folks are after. When Hannity wishes to discredit a guest he demands a ‘yes or no’ answer to his questions or talks over the guest’s response – – a mindless procedure that seems to satisfy somnolent viewers. Likewise, O’Reilly on his TV show discussing McCain’s announcement of his candidacy on David Letterman, suggested that Letterman’s awe of celebrities resulted in a softer approach than would have been the case if it had been O’Reilly instead of McCain. The notion that Letterman, who has interviewed so many celebrated guests, is filled with awe about any of them at this point in his career is LOL absurd on its face while the picture of O’Reilly announcing anything of importance on “The Tonight Show” takes absurdity to a new level.
Was anybody really listening to substance in the last presidential election? Or were people consumed with the Republican gambit of degrading the reputation of a legitimate war hero and substituting a ne’er-do-well elitist taking cover in what was known as the Texas National Guard’s Champagne unit? Did attendees find it a hoot to sport those purple bandages at their convention? How many of them knew anything of war or of Senator Kerry’s experiences? And how did a mis-named group that called itself “Swift-Boat Veterans for Truth” gain so much traction despite what veterans who actually served on Kerry’s swift boat said?
Senator Kerry questioned Sam Fox, the Bush nominee to be Ambassador to Belgium, at his confirmation hearing about why he had funded the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth to the tune of $50,000. Fox replied that since the ‘other side’ was using 527 organizations he felt it only fair to support those favorable to his side. Kerry asked Fox if he thought two wrongs made a right and if that was the approach he would take as an ambassador. But more to the point, he should have pointed out that although 527s may have partisan goals, they are not entitled to make up their own set of facts. That’s the difference between partisans and fantasists.
It is an insult that President Bush would nominate Fox given his past support of the Swift Boaters although, clearly, this president always chooses loyalty over competence. But aside from any personal angst it is appropriate that Kerry block the Fox nomination for the partisan payoff it represents. Bush can always make a recess appointment when Congress adjourns, proving once again that this administration will countenance slander, incompetence and propaganda in the exercise of power.
Now, as the coming presidential race heats up, Republicans seem to be leaning towards Giuliani because of his leadership on 911. As with claims that President Bush deserves credit because we haven’t been attacked since 911 it is suggested that Giuliani will be able to protect us from future disasters. A word of warning – – New York would have fared better after the attack if Giuliani hadn’t insisted, against the advice of safety professionals, on placing the Emergency Command Control in the Trade Center, a high-risk location. Trying to prove a negative isn’t always a legitimate character reference as should be painfully obvious by now from the conduct of the present administration.

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