Monthly Archives: August 2004

Flip Flop in 24 Hours

Karl Rove: You said what?!

Bush: Well, you know, like we couldn’t really win the war on terrorism.

Rove: You’re even dumber than the Democrats think you are. Go out there and take it back.

Bush: But won’t people say I’m flip-flopping?

Rove: Don’t worry. The press will never give you much grief about it. They’re too busy wondering what Kerry did 30 years ago. Besides, we’ve made him own the flip flopping charge.

Bush: Well, I dunno. But you da boss. Here goes.

And the Kerry folks are getting better and better at the sound bite stuff.

“This president has gone from mission accomplished to mission miscalculated to mission impossible on the war on terror,” Kerry spokesman Phil Singer said.

Indecisive Bush

This morning’s Washington Post has an article by Mike Allen and David Broder who reflect upon Bush’s leadership style, described as “decisive or simplistic,” depending on your point of view (or grasp on reality). They demonstrate, however, that this dichotomy doesn’t always fit. In fact, he can be very indecisive.

In other cases, though, Bush has allowed crises to fester. Bush has never resolved deep disagreements within his war cabinet about how to deal with North Korea, with the result that the isolated nation, which had appeared close to a missile deal with the Clinton administration, has quadrupled its stockpile of nuclear weapons, from two to eight, during Bush’s tenure.

Seems like something John Kerry should harp on: Under Bush’s watch, North Korea has quadrupled its nuclear weapons.

In the same article,

Commerce Secretary Donald L. Evans, Bush’s best friend, said the president forces people to boil things down “to discipline the system so that people don’t abuse the taxpayers’ time of the president.”

Yeah, if we abused his time as president, when would he vacation?

Mainstream Paranoia

Steve Coll, who made the news recently by deciding to leave The Washington Post as its managing editor and heir apparent as Executive Editor Len Downie’s replacement, had an interesting commentary on NPR’s All Things Considered Friday (go here and scroll down to Steve Coll’s piece). He suggests what many think is in the mind of only the most rabid conspiratists: The Pakistani army “knows how to take good care of itself.”

They harder they Fall

It surprised me when my wife, few days ago, said she was happy about the impending fiasco, even hoping for it. She knows virtually no name in the pro league and never watches it on TV.

And, unlike beach volleyball and water polo, she hasn’t a problem with it being an Olympic sport. This is only team or athlete she was rooting to lose. Why does she even care?

Maybe it’s something about the athletes, and maybe not just in this sport.

A Compliant … or a Conflicted Press?

Josh Marshall has been on a tear about the Swift Boat controversy nearly as much as I have. Its repercussions could inflict lasting damage not only the Kerry campaign but also public perception of the media. No doubt liberals are becoming increasingly angered by the media’s acquiescence to the agenda of the right.

There’s been much written about the leading media’s feigned helplessness on this issue. The basic argument is that they (NY Times, Washington Post, La Times, the networks, etc.) had to cover the story because talk radio and cable talk (don’t call them news) shows covered it.

Alison Mitchell, deputy national editor for The New York Times, points to the changing media landscape and its impact on what newspapers choose to cover. “I’m not sure that in an era of no-cable television we would even have looked into it,” she said.

But the top media must admit to contributing to the credibility of cable talk shows because its reporters show up on those very shows. Sometimes you get the sense that reporters like Dana Priest of The Washington Post would prefer having her nails pulled off than be on these shows, but there she is, trying her best to provide some legitimate perspective to the story but being hopelessly overwhelmed by the host.

Why are they there?

Are the reporters paid to appear? If so, they have a conflict of interest: financially benefiting while supporting lying lines of attack by their mere presence.

Are their newspapers telling the reporters to appear? Is it to help sell papers? Are editors hoping that the reporter will be so fascinating that s/he will attract more readers to their papers? Again, a conflict of interest.

I won’t argue that without being on these shows the stories will die, but if legitimate news operations feel on balance certain shows are not fair and objective then they should not add to their credibility by appearing on them. The committed right wingers will hear the stories on Rush’s, Sean’s and O’Reilly’s shows, but many fewer independent and fair-minded voters will.

And is that such a bad thing?

What are the Kerry folks thinking?

Ron Fournier of the Associated Press has spun the story to Bush’s benefits. The pro-Bush tone of the article is in keeping with some of Fournier’s past stories.

President Bush and Sen. John Kerry bowed to the wishes of popular maverick John McCain on Thursday, as the president embraced the Republican senator’s legal fight against big-money special interest groups airing negative ads and the Democratic nominee scrapped a commercial that …features four-year-old footage of McCain accusing Bush of smear tactics in their bitterly contested 2000 GOP primary race.

…Three weeks ago, the Arizona senator asked Bush to condemn the anti-Kerry ad. This week, he asked Kerry to withdraw the anti-Bush ad.

With their actions Thursday, Bush and Kerry satisfied McCain’s demands.

Why on earth did Kerry pull the ad? If the President’s response was all that it took to mollify McCain, then Kerry lost that gamble. It would have been better for Kerry’s campaign to tell McCain that unless Bush denounced the SWBFT ad and called it a lie, then Kerry would continue to run the ad with McCain.

Editor’s Note: This post was edited from the original for clarity and spelling.

Right Wing’s Impact on News

An Editor & Publisher article tackles the question of whether right wing venues such as Fox News and talk radio now set the news agenda for all media.

The article also looks at The Washington Post’s article last Sunday.

Downie said he believes the Swift Boat Veterans coverage had been fair and properly scrutinizing. “We have printed the facts and some of those facts have undermined Kerry’s opponents,” he said. “We are not judging the credibility of Kerry or the (Swift Boat) Veterans, we just print the facts.”

He defended a lengthy Post story that ran Sunday which appeared to give equal credibility to both Kerry’s version of the events in Vietnam (which is supported by his crewmates and largely backed up by a paper trail) and the Swift Boat Veterans, despite the fact that previous stories in the Post and the New York Times had debunked many of the group’s accounts.

On Monday, Michael Tomaskey, writing for The American Prospect’s Web site, took issue with Downie’s decision: “The Washington Post should not even be running such a story … in the first place. Len Downie and the paper’s other editors would undoubtedly argue that the story represents the Post’s tenacity for getting to the truth, without fear or favor. But what the story actually proves is that a bunch of liars who have in the past contradicted their own current statements can, if their lies are outrageous enough and if they have enough money, control the media agenda and get even the most respected media outlets in the country to focus on picayune ‘truths’ while missing the larger story.”

To Tell the Truth

The weekly report from a contemporary task force during the week of March 18, 1969, supports John Kerry’s contention that his boat was under fire during the incident that earned him a Bronze Star.

Guess who the commanded the task force and authored the report? Come on, this should be an easy one.

Answer: Retired Rear Adm. Roy Hoffmann, the founder of the group Swift Boat Veterans for Truth

Update: Washington Monthly has more on the credibility of these guys.

Protecting from What?

Warning to all married people: Your marriage is about to disintegrate. You will lose your loved one to dark forces from the left that are set to destroy the traditional family. In short order, you may be forced to either live alone or with someone you despise. Your children will be parentless, wandering streets polluted by limp wrist men and muscle bound women with crew cuts who will lure them into their nether world. The end is nigh.

“I find it hard to believe the vice president would stray from the administration’s position on defense policy or tax policy. For many pro-family voters, protecting traditional marriage ranks ahead of the economy and job creation as a campaign issue.”

–Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, commenting on VP Dick Cheney’s support for gay relationships.

No confirmation re FRC’s new motto: “A queer in every pot.”