Changing The Subject
The Tories, the BBC, CBS, Kofi Annan, and the crazy-girlfriend gambit.


I had a buddy once who lived with a woman in a relationship that could plausibly be described as “serially tortured.” He was a straight, solid guy from the Midwest. She was neurotic, confused, and from Brooklyn. He knew she was cheating on him, but she stonewalled him brilliantly by denying it and making him feel ridiculous for pursuing the subject. Sometimes, however, her carelessness would grow, so he would feel obliged to confront her and accuse her of infidelity. She would retaliate by unleashing her fury at what she said was his possessiveness and jealousy. Once, I remember, he told me she had tried to sneak into their apartment without her skirt. When he asked what had happened to it, she explained she had lost it. When he asked her how, she accused him of being a paranoid lunatic. One day, she left her diary sitting around, so he read it. It said what he thought it would say. When he brought her the irrefutable evidence she had made with her own hand, it was the last straw. She went ballistic over what she said was his “real crime”–the invasion of her privacy.

The persistent madness of neurotics is what drives the rest of us crazy. Take, for example, the leader of Conservative party in the U.K., Michael Howard. Inept as a political leader of a party that is profoundly irrelevant because it hasn’t produced a good idea in more than a decade, Howard is fighting back, according to the BBC, but not by announcing a new initiative or unveiling a vision of renewed British values, because to him, the problem isn’t his own party’s repeated failures. The real crime is Tony Blair’s inability to make the U.S. become stupid long enough to sign the Kyoto protocol, a ludicrous convention that has been almost completely disregarded by the EU, where the objectives of Kyoto have been lost in a fog of emissions and rhetoric. If the U.S. were to agree to be bound by it, its economy-killing provisions would no doubt be applicable to America only.

You may recall that the BBC and the Tories used the crazy-girlfriend ploy last year when Andrew Gilligan lied on a BBC broadcast and claimed that Blair had “sexed up” the intelligence reports that were reviewed before the decision was made to join the US effort to topple Saddam. When an independent inquiry determined that Gilligan had lied, the BBC, joined by many hopeless Conservatives, said it didn’t matter if the BBC lied because the real crime was that “Blair lied” anyway. This kind of brainless strategy continues, despite polls showing shrinking support for the Tories. It should be clear by now that most Britons apparently feel that claiming Blair was a big liar was, in fact, the bigger lie.

CBS’s mantra, similarly, is that Bush lied about his National Guard service. Having now been forced to walk the long, humiliating path already well-marked by Andrew Gilligan, Dan Rather, and his allies are left explaining in this Guardian dispatch that even though the documents are rubbish and CBS lied, the real crime was that Bush shirked his Guard duty. CBS and the Left are having as much luck with this strategy as the BBC and the Tories did when they tried it. The result for the BBC was a disaster. CBS is already a disaster, so that’s one less thing for Rather to worry about.

The U.N.’s Kofi Annan presided over the massive robbery committed by the U.N. in its Oil for Food program. Among many other missteps, he also supported the evisceration of the U.N.’s credibility by siding with France and Germany to urge that U.N. Security Council resolutions be disregarded in the case of Iraq, or made useless to stop a genocide, as in the case of Darfur. Now Annan is slapping back. Last week, he charged in a BBC report that the invasion of Iraq was “illegal.” The charge was happily repeated by Libération and the rest of the EuroPress, since the real crime isn’t the UN’s failures, it’s the lack of credibility of American policy.

The world is full of crazy girlfriends (and boyfriends) of course. There’s one good reason for this, of course: If you’re a Tory leader, the BBC, Dan Rather, or Kofi Annan, crazy works like crazy.


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