Politics & Policy

Rathergate, Bush At The U.N., a Shocking Phrase, &C.

I imagine you’re Rathered out, but let me say just a couple of things: First, what a delicious story. My elation has barely subsided. Now, I’m not elated that CBS News is a Democratic nest. But I’m elated that it is now exposed as such. If I had my way, our Big Media would be neutral, dispassionate: newsy. But if they’re going to be partisan, better that they be seen that way.

This is how it’s done in Europe, largely: There’s the Socialist newspaper, the Christian Democratic newspaper, the Communist newspaper. Everyone’s all nice ‘n’ labeled, or nice ‘n’ known. I would prefer that the New York Times, L.A. Times, etc., be objective, disinterested organs, but if they’re not going to be, let’s be open about it. That is so much better than the pretending so many have engaged in, for so long.

Have you read about this Mary Mapes chick, the Dan Rather producer? Does Fox News employ anyone more robustly, enthusiastically partisan? It seems impossible. I would think that the Ann Arbor News would be embarrassed to employ Mary Mapes (well, maybe not).

Most revealing about the Rather episode is the arrogance: the arrogance of this man, Rather, and his network. They responded like politicians, or campaign managers, rather than newspeople. They lashed out at their critics as disreputable nutcases. Wouldn’t you be mortified if you were challenged as Rather was? Wouldn’t you be beside yourself, trying to make everything right?

Look, we’re that way at these opinion outlets. Shouldn’t you be triply that way in a mainstream shop, like CBS News? I once misquoted an interviewee (Barry McCaffrey). I could hardly sleep for a week because of it, and moved heaven and earth to correct it. Other opinionists have had the same experience.

But Dan Rather’s response was not mortification, contrition, and humility. It was, “How dare you Neanderthals in pajamas question me, the Unquestionable Dan Rather. I report the news, and the rest of you yahoos just have to shut up.”

Not anymore. Oh, happy day.

But, please, now can we stop the pretending? Can we stop pretending that the mainstream media are neutral? That’s what has always bothered me, chiefly–more than the bias or partisanship.

‐Sorry, one more word. I’m not sure it’s possible to humble these people. I’m not sure that the Jayson Blair episode, and that whole Raines era, succeeded in humbling the New York Times. They still sneer at the New York Post, even the New York Sun. They’re still snotty about Fox.

I have my doubts that Rather et al. are humble-able. But, certainly in the case of CBS, we shall see.

Or rather, you will see. I haven’t watched network news in–well, put it this way: I think I would have settled in for an episode of The Jeffersons afterward. I mean, a fresh episode.

‐Did I mention the New York Sun? I liked the way it reported Bush’s U.N. speech: “No doubt the cool reception had to do with the fact that many members of the audience represented governments that would be swept aside were the democratic efforts Mr. Bush was encouraging to triumph in their capitals at home.”

I’ll say!

“The cool reception was illustrated as a U.N. camera caught a polite Nane Annan, the secretary-general’s wife, clapping delicately.”

Well, maybe her husband would have declared it illegal to clap more heartily. He tends to label illegal that of which he disapproves.

And did you catch this from our president? “For too long, many nations–including my own–tolerated, even excused, oppression in the Middle East in the name of stability.” That is the sort of statement our elites would probably applaud, from the mouth of someone other than a Texas evangelical conservative.

You should also note, “Peace will not be achieved by Palestinian rulers [good word: rulers] who intimidate opposition, tolerate corruption [“tolerate”! practice!], and maintain ties to terrorist groups [“ties”!].” A simple truth.

But what about this? Bush called on Israel to “end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people.”

I don’t know what he could mean by this. Does he mean the separation barrier, and the inconveniences it causes? Well, it certainly does cause inconveniences–but it also saves countless innocent lives, from suicide bombing. (Actually, you could count them, if you just did a little math with the carnage that occurred before the fence went up.)

And, as I remarked in my Israel journal of last week, what about the inconveniences to Israelis? The inconveniences that terror imposes, that is (besides maiming and death). You have to stand in line everywhere, as security workers do their jobs. You have to be screened before you go into a mall, before you go into a theater. Everything is slowed down.

But people accept it as a necessary evil: because that is how their enemies have made it.

I myself call on the PLO, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, Fatah, and the Aqsa Brigades to end their daily humiliation of the Palestinian people–their decades-long humiliation. If not for these crazy and cruel men, Palestinians could have had their dignity and their state long ago.

‐I should also like to turn your attention to the Sun’s editorial on the Bush speech: “Of all the photographs taken over the years in the United Nations, the one we cherish the most is that of Prime Minister Begin of Israel addressing a chamber that was almost empty save for the envoy of America.” (Perhaps that should have read “empty save for the envoy of America.”)

Yes, John Kerry may be right that he has the support of most of the world’s leaders. But, frankly, who would want it? What decent democrat would want it, the support of all these illiberals and thugs? Can Bush find a way of pointing this out, on the campaign trail?

‐Finally, I wish to mention Bush’s quotation of Aung San Suu Kyi, the Burmese hero: “We do not accept the notion that democracy is a Western value.”

No wonder Annan burned, and his assembly burned. But why should Americans, such as Kerry and Joe Biden? What in the world do we stand for?

Many things, is the answer. Many things–and hardly all of them in harmony.

‐No candidate is responsible for the support he receives, really, but occasionally this support is worth pondering. A bunch of Nader 2000 supporters signed a statement urging support for Kerry this year. Among them: Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Ben Cohen (of Ben and Jerry), Susan Sarandon, and Cornel West. It should say something that the hard Left is behind Kerry. Or is that too McCarthyite a suggestion?

If I were Kerry, I might feel myself forced to say: “I am not like Chomsky and Zinn. I’m really not. They ought not to mistake that I am.”

But, true, I am not like Kerry.

And he not like me.

‐I’m not like Howard Wolfson either. You remember this Hillary Clinton operative, now working for the DNC. According to The Hotline, he keeps talking about “the president’s lack of service” (meaning during the Vietnam War). “Lack of service”? Does Bush’s Guard duty, all that fighter-jet-flying, count for nothing? Frankly–and I should not say this–Howard Wolfson doesn’t strike me as someone who would be in a rush to sign up, for anything.

You might consider Wolfson a mere hack, not to be taken seriously. But what about the party’s vice-presidential nominee? On the stump, Edwards said, “I think the questions are appropriate about the president’s service, or non-service, in the National Guard, whatever the case may be.”

And what has Edwards’s service been, except the bilking of companies and the public, with his law- and jury-manipulating?

Remember what Mary Anne Marsh, the old Kerry hand from Boston, said on television some weeks ago: that Bush had “betrayed”–betrayed–”his country” when he served in the Guard, rather than in Vietnam itself. This is a party whose decency is little in evidence. Very, very little–even allowing for the “heat” of a political campaign.

The more the heat, actually, the more vital decency.

‐Lincoln Chafee, the Republican senator from Rhode Island, will not say that he will vote for Bush: “It’s no secret that I have big differences with the president on a host of issues, whether it’s the environment, the war in Iraq, women’s reproductive freedoms . . .”

“Reproductive freedoms”? What ever could that mean? Who is stopping women from having babies?

Chafee continued, “And, like all Americans, I’ll be really looking at this war and what happens over the next number of weeks.”

Ah! What does that mean? That the terrorists have only to keep applying the pressure, and Chafee will pull a Spain?


‐Arnold, bless ‘im–I’m talking about the governor of California, not Roseanne Barr’s husband, or a pig–vetoed a bill that would have prohibited high schools from using the name “Redskins.” Schwarzenegger wants no state law, preferring that districts make their own choices. A Democratic assemblywoman, Jackie Goldberg, said, “Well, if local control was the issue in civil rights, we’d still have slavery in the South, wouldn’t we?”

She makes a good, familiar point: but slavery and school mascots? Come on, baby-love!

‐About Iran, and its nuclear drive: According to the Sun, “NBC News reported that the IAEA’s director general, Mohammed ElBaradei, may have been coaching the Iranians on how to avoid being penalized by the United Nations.” Ah. (And, by the way, maybe I should be watching network news–at least NBC.) Further, “Israel admitted . . . that it is buying 500 ‘bunker-buster’ bombs, which could be used to hit Iran’s nuclear facilities, as Teheran paraded ballistic missiles as a warning against attack.” (I have quoted the Daily Telegraph.)

We hear constantly that we–you know, “we”–have to do something about Iran after the election. It’s not so certain that one can wait until after the election.

‐Speaking of our election: You know the Al Smith Dinner, at which the nominees crack jokes, usually at their own expense? Don’t you enjoy that dinner? Every four years, it is a highlight of the campaign. Well, the candidates have not been invited this year, because this election, somehow, is too “divisive” and “partisan.” Oh, nuts–election campaigns are always divisive and partisan. The one four years ago was no smoochfest, as you remember (except at the Democratic convention, between Al and Tipper).

Shoot. I hope the Al Smith folks revert to form in 2008.

‐As regular readers know, I get a kick out of James Cason. Who’s he? He’s our man in Havana, the top U.S. diplomat there. Recently, he had a structure built in the backyard of his residence: a replica of a prison cell, of the kind that cages democratic heroes such as Oscar Biscet. The dimensions of the cell are 6 feet by 3 feet. The Castro government, of course, went nuts. They always go nuts, when Cason does something. He must be the gutsiest, most principled man in the Foreign Service. My hat is off to him a thousand times. Free Cubans will probably name a street after him.

Also, my colleague Meghan Clyne noted the following in an AP report: “Havana has criticized Washington for using its mission to support Cuban dissidents as part of efforts by the administration of U.S. president George W. Bush to undermine Fidel Castro’s socialist system.”

Fidel Castro’s socialist system! What does the AP have left to describe Sweden, or France!

‐I mentioned naming a street: The city council of Krakow has renamed its Central Square for Ronald Reagan. How do you like them apples?

‐I read an article about John Edwards at TheState.com (for the article, go here). Am most puzzled by one line: “‘The Democrats are back, and we’re hot,’ said state party chairman Joe Erwin, who looked out over the predominantly white audience and said, ‘You look a little too hot.’”

You see, it was an extremely hot day, and that was making the crowd a little restless. But what I don’t get is the racial reference. Does it have anything to do with the context: heat? the Democrats’ being back? Did the writer, or editor, simply want to toss in a fact, context be damned? Is the line a throwback to the old canard that black folk can take the heat better than white folk? Surely not.

Then why is that line in there at all?

Another day in race-soaked America . . .

‐The music season in New York has started, and some Impromptus-ites have asked, “Jay, whatchou sayin’?” To those interested, I offer four links to the Sun.

Here is an article on Lorin Maazel (music director of the New York Philharmonic). Here is a review of the Metropolitan Opera’s opening night. (Otello.) Here is a review of the Philharmonic’s opener (guest soloist, Maxim Vengerov). And here is a review of the Chamber Music Society’s opening.

Enjoy (or not!).

‐Friends, I have loads more, but I ought to wrap up. Thanks to all NRO readers who attended Kate O’Beirne’s marvelous reception last weekend, and thanks to all who would have liked to come. Your support is so appreciated. Vital and indispensable, yes, but appreciated, too.

I also wish to thank all those who wrote to me about my Israel journal (or whatever the appropriate word is). I am deeply gratified. I will discuss Israel and those letters in a future Impromptus–also bookstore clerks, about which you have sent me a ton of information. (I said “about which” instead of “about whom,” because I was talking about the topic, not the individuals, so please lay off me, itchy-fingers.)

Wanna close with a couple of letters?


Just a quick note about an experience the other day. My family and I had the opportunity to go to a “W” rally here in Michigan. The greatest contrast was not between the messages of the two candidates. Everyone says, “Vote for me, and you’ll be farting through silk.” The greatest contrast was between the protesters and the regular attendees.

The regular attendees were Mr. and Mrs. Middle America. Middle-aged, a little soggy around the waist. They took time from their jobs and other duties to see the president. The protesters, on the other hand, were all furious about something, maybe several things. The misspelled signs, eclectic wardrobe, and general lack of manners made for the biggest contrast.

Whom do you want running the country: this bunch–who looked like they had nothing better to do–or the ones who made time for the rally, away from real responsibilities?

Um, did you catch that phrase in the first paragraph? I think we have a replacement for “A chicken in every pot”!


I got my daughters Happy Meals from McDonalds, and they were all out of the girls’ toy, so they provided us with a couple of GI Joe toys instead. Well, guess where Joe is made? Yup, China! I’m a free-trade-lovin’ guy, but is it too much to ask that the Real American Hero be made in, heaven forbid, America? How about Mexico? Wouldn’t that be an improvement on China? Is there some factory in Michigan working to produce Red Mao–the Real ChiCom Hero–to be sold at McDonalds in Beijing?


Sheesh is right. Have a good weekend, y’all.


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