Government by Dirty Tricks
August 24, 2005
By Patricia Goldmsith
George W. Bush is the kind of guy you remember if you happen to
cross his path, according to Yoshi Tsurumi, Bush's economics professor
at Harvard Business School thinks. Bush, you will recall, was at
Harvard immediately after he left his Alabama National Guard unit.
boasted to Tsurumi about using pull to get into a champagne
unit. Tsurumi was shocked. Most people wouldn't do that, especially
Tsurumi has an even
lower opinion of George Bush than Bush's commander in the Texas
Air National Guard, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, did:
"He showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when
challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny
saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous
Students who challenged and embarrassed Bush in class would
then become the subject of a whispering campaign by him, Tsurumi
said. "In class, he couldn't challenge them. But after class,
he sometimes came up to me in the hallway and started bad-mouthing
those students who had challenged him. He would complain that
someone was drinking too much. It was innuendo and lies. So
that's how I knew, behind his smile and his smirk, that he was
a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy."
This past week when George W. Bush stood on the lawn of his ranch
in Crawford, he declared that he supported Cindy Sheehan's constitutional
right to her strong opinion against the war in Iraq. This is America,
he said. And the minute he was on the record as backing her First
Amendment rights, the attack dogs went off the leash.
That's the kind of government we have now. It's run by people
who have the mentality of 13-year-olds who repeat everything you
say. Everything is carried out in the spirit of a very nasty practical
joke whose very stupidity is a tremendous insult. Unfortunately,
these puerile tactics do accomplish their purpose: they make us
This technique, refined, rehearsed, backed by bottomless resources,
has had just that effect on the portion of the American public that
might actually resist the fascist takeover we are witnessing. Many
people who are on our side still cannot get past a certain level
of spin without disengaging. Our retreat is a victory for Karl Rove,
every single time; he just keeps racking them up.
It is this spotless record of retribution, in large part, that
keeps the press in line.
And are they ever in line. Richard Cohen, a columnist with the
Washington Post feels
that Karl Rove's outing of undercover CIA agent Valerie Plame
"is not a major story. It's a crappy little crime and it may not
be a crime at all."
Jim VandeHei, a staff writer at the Post, is perhaps even
more aggressively pro-administration. When asked in an online chat
why reporters even bother to question Scott McClellan - given the
hit to his reputation after the dramatic revelation that Karl Rove
had indeed leaked Valerie Plame's name - VandeHei said, "Scott has
a lot of credibility with reporters. He is seen as someone who might
not tell you a lot, but is not going to tell you a lie."
I think what VandeHei really means is: Scott has a lot of power.
The Post was, of course, aggressively pro-war before we
went into Iraq, but they are not alone in conferring legitimacy
and respect on this rogue government. The mainstream media in general
insist on respect for an administration whose anti-democratic actions
are beyond the pale. For example, Michael Goodwin, a columnist and
former editorial page editor of the New York Daily News,
a journalist who has won a Pulitzer, worked at the Times,
and taught at Columbia University School of Journalism, has actually
criticized the White House press corps for being too rough
on Scott McClellan.
The intense grilling that White House reporters inflicted on
presidential spokesman Scott McClellan Monday over whether political
guru Karl Rove leaked the name of a CIA operative was no ordinary
give-and-take. It was a hostile hectoring that revealed much
of the mainstream press for what it has become: the opposition
That the mainstream media are basically liberals with press
passes has been documented by virtually every study that measures
reporters' political identification and issue positions. But
bias has now stepped over into blatant opposition, a stance
the media will regret. Instead of providing unvarnished facts
obtained by aggressive but fair reporting, the media will be
reduced to providing comfort food to ideological comrades.
It's hard to see what ideology has to do with a story about a
White House - a Republican White House! - that leaks information
endangering our national security for political purposes during
wartime. Without offering a single specific example of an out-of-bounds
question, the distinguished Goodwin is reminding journalists - in
particular the young reporters who are being socialized into journalistic
ethics - of professional ground rules with respect to the Bush administration.
Dan Rather is another sort of reminder. Rather came back into the
news when Rush Limbaugh said
in his broadcast of August 15:
I mean Cindy Sheehan is just Bill Burkett. Her story is nothing
more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's
real, including the mainstream media's glomming onto it. It's
not real. It's nothing more than an attempt. It's the latest
effort made by the coordinated left.
Huh? What do forged documents have to do with Cindy Sheehan? And
how many of you have Bill Burkett's name at your fingertips? Apparently
Rush Limbaugh's listeners do. Burkett is the former National Guardsman
and outspoken critic of Junior Bush who slipped CBS the "forged"
documents concerning Bush's National Guard service during the height
of the Vietnam War.
The fact that Limbaugh assumes his listeners know who Burkett is
- the comparison was also made on the "members only" section of
Limbaugh's website, although Limbaugh later denied saying it - demonstrates
just how crucially important Rather's disgrace was for the right.
It allowed just the kind of nick-of-time change of subject that
Karl Rove is famous for, while fortuitously reinforcing their bogus
grievances against the liberal media. James
Moore, co-author of Bush's brain:
Frankly, from now on, I think in any political campaign for
some time to come, when documents surface, people are immediately
going to say, "Oh, it's not one of those National Guard things,
is it?" Because Bill Burkett has been discredited and his story
has now been discredited. If this were a political tactic or
strategy employed by Rove or by Republican operatives, it's
worked quite well.
... people have often said of me, and any number of other people
who watched Karl Rove for years, that we give him credit for
more than he deserves; but I, like any other political reporter
who's been around for twenty or thirty years, knows talent when
they see it. I have watched Rove closely for over twenty years,
almost twenty-five years. And he's the best there is. He's the
best there ever has been at political skullduggery ...
I mean, just imagine if, at this moment, the President were being
called something worse than chickenhawk by all those liberals
in the fourth estate. Gold Star mom down there at the gate. Other
moms coming. Wouldn't want to be called a deserter.
Almost no media attention has been given to the fact that the
commission appointed by Viacom to look into the authenticity of
the disputed documents, headed by Bush family friend and former
attorney general Dick Thornburgh, could
not determine that they were forgeries.
Some in the media are disparaging Cindy Sheehan's breakthrough
into national consciousness as the liberal counterpart of the Terri
Schiavo media circus, but the true comparison is with Valeria Plame.
Both Sheehan and Plame are proving hard to spin, because they are
private citizens who have been wronged but are nevertheless being
subjected to the same merciless, lying smear campaigns we accept
as normal when used against other politicians.
If the outing of Plame for political purposes was, as Cohen said,
just a crappy little crime - if it was a crime - then what would
you call the outing of the ONLY al Qaeda double agent we have ever
had? Although it received almost no press, last year - shortly after
the Democratic National Convention - the Bushitters leaked
the name of Naeem Noor Kahn, on background, because Bush needed
to show some results on terror in order to contain Kerry's bounce.
At the time his cover was blown, Noor Khan had been turned and
was working with the Pakistani intelligence service and the CIA.
He had contacts in al Qaeda cells in London. Had Noor Khan stayed
in place we would have had a fighting chance to prevent the London
bombings. The sheer indifference of the act, the throwing away of
such a literally priceless asset, is breathtaking.
Given this administration's proven vindictiveness toward anyone
who challenges its rigid agenda, it may be that we're lucky that
Cindy Sheehan has been called away. This is an opportunity for others
to step forward and demand that we be seen as a movement
- quick, before the media shuts the lights off.