Bombshell That Bombed
By Mike McArdle
I sometimes listen to talk radio while in my office during
the day. I find it a healthy way to insure that my blood pressure
never gets too low and it keeps me up to date on the views
of people whose views I find repulsive. Okay, okay, it's a
dumb masochistic thing to do and I have no sensible explanation
But anyway, a few weeks ago, the local talk station changed
its lineup and at 3PM treats us to the incessant rants of
Sean Hannity, who can also be seen each weeknight on Fox News
verbally flogging the perpetually supine Alan Colmes, who
seems to feel that it's his calling in life to uphold the
liberal point of view by imitating Harpo Marx.
Hannity's talk show begins with a horrible screechy recording
of a song called "Let Freedom Ring" which just happens
to be the title of Hannity's most recent liberal-bashing book
which, of course, features a picture of Hannity in front of
an American flag backdrop. As bad as the song is the show
is even worse, a tribute to verbal goonishness masquerading
as patriotism. By contrast that guy who was throwing back
buckets full of pain pills was reasoned and sensitive. I would
complain to the local talk station about Hannity but realize
that I'm not the type of listener they're going to adjust
their schedule for.
So last week Hannity happened across what he thought was
a big story. It seems he uncovered a memo written by a Democratic
staffer suggesting that the Democrats might use the investigations
of the discredited reasons for the Iraq war by the Senate
Intelligence Committee to call for an independent investigation
because the Republicans undoubtedly had no intention of really
investigating the Bush administration. Well, Sean was shocked.
He had uncovered politicians thinking like, well, politicians.
Now, of course, to make this memo into something significant
requires a use of the Menendez maneuver (my clients deserve
sympathy from the court, after all they just lost their parents):
how dare you try to investigate the President for lying about
the reasons we went to war. Don't you realize that there's
a war going on ? As innocuous as the memo seems it happened
along in a week when the little man's war was looking worse
than ever and bodies were coming back to Dover in droves.
The Hannitys of the world really wanted to talk about something
else, anything else.
So Hannity feigned indignation. Is this how those evil Democrats
support our troops? By attacking their commander in chief
? Heads should roll. This borders on treason.
Immediately the usual suspects of the right wing had joined
in the task of trying to make Hannity's memo soufflé rise.
Newsmax departed from its usual message to its readers (send
money to Newsmax or Hillary Clinton will rule the world) to
join in the effort to make the memo into a hot news story.
It was an "anti-Bush plot" Carl Limbacher and the
guys said, and repeated Hannity's demand for the Senate Ethics
committee to get involved.
Zell Miller, making the rounds of right-wing talk shows,
denounced the memo as "the first cousin to treason."
Zell then went back to endorsing Bush and humping his new
book, Holy Crap, I’ve Spent 70 Years In The Wrong Party.
Fox News hammered away for a few a few days accusing the
Democrats of trying to "cash in" on the problems
that the administration has encountered in Iraq. The Rev.
Moon's guys at the Washington Times jumped on the bandwagon
chastising committee chairman Pat Roberts for not being tough
enough on the Democrats.
The Wall Street Journal editorial page apparently
also thought the memo was a brother-in-law or significant
other of treason and weighed in with the contention that Senator
Jay Rockefeller make "heads roll," singling out
minority staff director Christopher Mellon as a good place
to start. The Journal, of course, cites no evidence
that Mellon wrote the memo (or even read it) but mentions
that he served as deputy assistant secretary of defense for
intelligence in the Clinton Administration. Aha! He worked
for Clinton. Well that settles it.
That brought Newsmax back into the action, claiming that
the Journal had uncovered a "Clinton connection"
to the "bombshell" memo affair. Mellon worked for
the committee, he had previously worked for Clinton, and Hillary
Clinton had been (gasp) critical of the war. Obviously then,
the memo was a Clinton creation. Time to get the checkbook
But for all the hysteria from Sean and his right-wing spin
machine the memo story went nowhere. A few Senators yelled
at each other on the Senate floor but that happens every day.
Sunday's talk shows came and went with scant mention of the
The "bombshell" had bombed. The Democrats, notably
Jay Rockefeller and Dick Durbin, had refused to back down
insisting the real issue was that the committee had no intention
of pursuing a real investigation. By Sunday the memo story
was absent even from the Washington Times and Fox News
And just maybe there's a lesson in there for the Democrats.
When you stand up to the blowhard thugs you can beat them.
Take note, Alan Colmes.