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Wednesday, February 11, 2004

The Media and Bush 

As people have been noting all over the place, the media, starting about a month ago, has finally found some balls in dealing with Bush. The question is Why? I mean, Guth and I, and all right-thinking people, have pretty much known that Bush (and BushCo) has been a flaming mess of incompetence since, say, January 21, 2001. Take, e.g., the budget Bush submitted last week. This budget is no more full of lies than last year's. However, this year, people are saying so, as if they're surprised. I think it has mainly to do with two things: AWOL and the Suskind*/O'Neill book. These two stories gave the press the excuse to, well, cover those stories. Stay with me now, I swear this will make sense.

You see, everyone covering the WH knew that Bush/Cheney ran things the way O'Neill said. But, without a real, on-the-record source, they couldn't really report on it. But now that O'Neill has said, "hey, the emperor has no clothes"**, the press can say, "Hey! He's right."

The AWOL issue works the same way. Everyone already knew Bush is a liar. After all, he did say: "By Far the Majority Of My Tax Cuts Go To Those At The Bottom." So, now, this gives the press a reason to go into "character" issues. I was emailing a friend earlier, who works at a major news organization, and she wrote the following, which I think probably echoes the feeling of a lot of the major media:
it's not so much that he went to the guard to get out of service, bc he was privileged, but that if he has said he did his service and didn't really do it, esp with making such a big deal about military, flight suit, etc, then what does that say about presidential character?
Like I said, I think this is probably the feeling throughout the media. Does it help inform my view of Bush's character? No, but I already thought he was a lazy ass with little regard for the truth. I mean, how about this whopper in the SOTU from 2002?

So, this AWOL story, in and of itself, may or may not end up being a big deal. Personally, I don't very much care. But, it may mark a turning point by the press. Oh, and also, all the smoke-and-mirror Bush and Scott MacClellan are putting up here suggests the possiblity that, well, being AWOL in the National Guard is not the real story they're covering up. But who knows?

*Suskind, on Bill Maher's show last Friday, said, "It's not that I'm anti-Bush. I'm just pro-fact." I thought this was very funny, as it's a very O'Reilly-esque quote.

**Taken, of course, from the "Emperor's New Clothes," not to be confused with that wonderful law review article, "The Emperor's New Clause."

ADDENDUM: I found this at The Poor Man, from a post about Wes Clark leaving the race:
As a final note, we should take a moment to thank Wes Clark for his fine work in nudging the AWOL story forward. Yes, it lives still, and not just on LoserNet. While one would certainly prefer this sort of attention being lavished on PlameGate, or, God forbid, WhatTheFuckIsUpWithThisIraqBullshitGate or even WhatInTheNameOfAllThatIsHolyAreYouDoingToTheEconomyGate, but there is a certain poetic justice here, with Monica and all. For his part, Bush is again taking the high road, and eschewing all political considerations in his push to have "Oh, PS: God hates fags" appended to the US Constitution. That's honor AND dignity in the White House, people.
I agree with this.
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