Skip to comments.Bush, the Media and Democrats
Posted on 01/24/2004 9:12:57 PM PST by Lando Lincoln
Bush, the Media and Democrats Bush could part the Red Sea and liberals in the media would complain about the dislocation of fish. Tom Shales, the Washington Post media analyst, tells us that George Bush's is a cocky, arrogant smile. Consequently, he ripped what was actually a pretty good State of the Union performance and a very solid speech. Bush was taunting people, whines Shales, who apparently cannot abide Bush defending himself or his administration. On the contrary, it might be one of the few times Rather tried to be fair because Bush actually made a compelling case for both his economic and his foreign policy decisions. He has been mostly right about taxes. He was right to topple Saddam. And he was right to tell the nation there are chapters still to be written on the war on terrorism, sorry to say. He continues to surprise us with both his toughness and his compassion. Did you ever expect a Republican president to advocate a second chance program for released criminals? His immigration work program makes much sense. · There are reports of Bush showing deep and sincere compassion for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq, but these images rarely wind up on the cover of magazines, or on national television, and thus never sear themselves into the heart of the American public. Yet, how many pictures did we see of John Kennedy walking down the beach, in deep contemplation about the problems confronting the world? Or of Clinton doing same in one fashion or another? More likely, both were contemplating their next adulterous encounters with a female companion. But they got hero treatment. Bush gets hammered. Ted Kennedy? Mount Rushmore? His stature growing? This juxtaposition with all the harsh words leveled at Bush pretty much sums up the nonsense that passes for commentary among our liberal establishment. I suspect many Americans might agree with me that Kennedy actually looked like the ungrateful, corrupt and washed up politician he has always been.
by George Shadroui
23 January 2004
In fact, other than giving a little hell to terrorists and a few Democratic back-benchers (by way of policy differences), Bush was mostly handing out praise: to our military, to the American people, to our allies. Here is how Shales reported it:
The speech was pretty much so-so, and Bush's gung-ho delivery -- something approaching the forced jollity of a game show host -- lacked dignity and certainly lacked graciousness. Bush has never been big on those things anyway.
Dan Rather of CBS News, who sometimes goes out of his way not to upset the Bush people -- since they are all ready to pounce on him for what they perceive (or claim to perceive) as a bias against their exalted glorious potentate -- said afterward that Bush's was a strong speech, strongly delivered. It was one of the few times Rather sounded less than astute.
Bush could part the Red Sea and liberals in the media would complain about the dislocation of fish. Things that other presidents do routinely are presented as glaringly arrogant when Bush does them. Things Bush does that are unique or moving are immediately reduced to the commonplace. There is always a way to make the worst case against this president, especially for those determined to scuttle a second Bush term. A few of examples might suffice.
· Bush gets on an aircraft carrier to shake hands with soldiers and to thank them for their service. He jostles with them, has a little fun, banters. A Democrat in the same situation might have been applauded for his common touch. (Though many Democrats would lack Bush's comfort with the military.) Bush is accused of grandstanding and even disrespecting the military. Go figure.
· Bush slips into Iraq during Thanksgiving, an act of singular symbolism and drama. He delivers one of the greatest one-liners of the year; I was looking for a warm meal -- and transformed a forgotten mess hall in Iraq into the scene of one of the great dramatic moments of the year. Even the media, momentarily, was dazed by the presidents timing and courage. But it did not take them long to regain their balance. Within an hour or two of the first reports, there were claims that it was a reckless decision or that Karl Rove was trying to upstage Hillary Clinton, who was doing her own tour of duty through the region. I thought it was pretty damned cool.
· In his three years as president, I have never heard or read of the president uttering a single negative personal comment about any Democrat or world leader except in the context of a policy discussion or debate. Like Reagan, he has refused to engage in the politics of personal destruction, to use his predecessors phrase (his predecessor was the expert in that very sort of politics, by the way.) Yet it is the president who is repeatedly called cocky, arrogant, a liar. He has been accused of saying things he never said, and making claims he never made. In fact, it is the presidents accusers who are lying when they claim that Bush lied to the American people about weapons of mass destruction, about connections between Al Qaeda and Saddam or about the reasons for toppling the regime in Baghdad. It isn't hard to figure out. Just go back and read what the president actually said. And also read what every reputable world leader believed about Iraq's behavior.
What is at work here is not hard to figure out. Among the liberal press corps (yes, I am generalizing), only Democrats are allowed to be great presidents or men. FDR, Truman, JFK, even Clinton, have all been lionized to one degree or another. There is the occasional Republican who cannot be denied his moment, say a Reagan after being shot, or a Buckley who was too smart to be dismissed. But mainly grace, intellect and political brilliance are reserved for Democrats and liberals. And so we have this from Mr. Shales, in the same State of the Union column:
The best reaction shots were those of Ted Kennedy, whose stature seems to grow right along with his nose year after year after year. Kennedy has now reached a grand moment in the life of a senator; he looks like Hollywood itself cast him in the role. Seriously. With that waving mane of bright white hair, he evokes memories of Claude Rains looking distinguished as all get-out in Frank Capra's once-controversial, now-classic movie "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington." Never mind that the senator played by Rains had some shady dealings in his repertoire.
Kennedy looked great, like he was ready to take his place next to Jefferson on Mount Rushmore. He gives off the kind of venerable vibes that some of us got from an Everett Dirksen way back when, or a Charles Laughton -- oh wait, Laughton was a make-believe senator, too (in "Advise and Consent").
I don't mean to suggest that the president is not vulnerable on some points. He does muddle his words from time to time. And his instinctive grin does suggest a bit of swagger that drives liberals ballistic. He could be a better diplomat. (Bear in mind that this quality of candor, detested in Bush, was celebrated in Harry Truman as plain-talking and no nonsense. Nor is Bush patient, at times, with the rituals of deference required by the media. Jack Kennedy excelled at being playful with the press, and thus successfully manipulated them to cover up many of his personal and policy failures. Bush can be defensive when faced with direct questions, for he has the temperament of a CEO, not a pundit or intellectual.
Even so, what probably most annoys the media is that Bush, like Reagan, really doesn't care much what they think. He will take his case directly to the electorate that he and his administration have risen to the challenges of our nation. He surely is more right than his critics want to concede. He has responded with focus, courage and conviction to a difficult recession, an unprecedented attack on our country and an almost non-stop political assault (because he dared to win a close election). We will probably find out, once he leaves office, that he reads more than he gets credit for, too. After all, Kennedy paid people to read and write his books and he was hailed as our brightest president. Reagan wrote his own correspondence, often witty and erudite, and he was portrayed as a dunce.
When John Kerry smiles, he looks goofy. When Dick Gephardt, a good man by all accounts, tries to whip up a crowd, he comes off a little stiff. When George Bush smiles, he turns up his mouth in a way that betrays a hint of something that drives liberals mad. On such issues, apparently, does the future of the Republic rest. At least, that is what Tom Shales would have us believe.
George Shadroui has been published in more than two dozen newspapers and magazines, including National Review and Frontpagemag.com.
Bush could part the Red Sea and liberals in the media would complain about the dislocation of fish.
Tom Shales, the Washington Post media analyst, tells us that George Bush's is a cocky, arrogant smile. Consequently, he ripped what was actually a pretty good State of the Union performance and a very solid speech. Bush was taunting people, whines Shales, who apparently cannot abide Bush defending himself or his administration.
On the contrary, it might be one of the few times Rather tried to be fair because Bush actually made a compelling case for both his economic and his foreign policy decisions. He has been mostly right about taxes. He was right to topple Saddam. And he was right to tell the nation there are chapters still to be written on the war on terrorism, sorry to say. He continues to surprise us with both his toughness and his compassion. Did you ever expect a Republican president to advocate a second chance program for released criminals? His immigration work program makes much sense.
· There are reports of Bush showing deep and sincere compassion for wounded soldiers returning from Iraq, but these images rarely wind up on the cover of magazines, or on national television, and thus never sear themselves into the heart of the American public. Yet, how many pictures did we see of John Kennedy walking down the beach, in deep contemplation about the problems confronting the world? Or of Clinton doing same in one fashion or another? More likely, both were contemplating their next adulterous encounters with a female companion. But they got hero treatment. Bush gets hammered.
Ted Kennedy? Mount Rushmore? His stature growing? This juxtaposition with all the harsh words leveled at Bush pretty much sums up the nonsense that passes for commentary among our liberal establishment. I suspect many Americans might agree with me that Kennedy actually looked like the ungrateful, corrupt and washed up politician he has always been.
George Shadroui is a new name to me and I like what and how he says!
All said, a nice and illuminating article.
Papa Joe would like that! This article really is a level-headed inditement of the media.
In a word, no. The great mushy American moderate voter bloc does not share the fierce and unyielding patriotism that is the hallmark of the rock-ribbed sturdy capital-C Conservatives of this nation. Bush may not be conservative enough to satisfy that highly partisan sector of the electorate, and in fact, many of them may sit home or back some fringe candidate that has no prayer of gaining any more than a fraction of a percent of the vote total.
What Bush has done is kick out from beneath them, the support the Democrats have had for years for some kind of benefit for Grandma's prescription bills. Sure, this does eat even further into the already shaky fiscal position of the Medicare program, but the thing is, any program the Democrats propose would cause even more rapid collapse of the system. And his head has been in the right place on the program to get the economy back to generating more golden eggs, while incidentally collecting a greater revenue stream with which to fund these expanding government plans.
The illegal immigrant problem is an almost hopeless mess, and the proposal now put up for consideration is an attempt to track and manage this influx. The claim is that the small entrepreneurs with limited payrolls have been feeding this demand for more and more low-wage employees, and without a demand, there would be no market in moving these international wage slaves. The immigrants don't vote, and the Hispanics or Orientals already here certainly are not in favor of further crowding their own place at the table. But the small entrepreneurs DO vote, and that is what is driving this equation.
Is Bush a conservative? No. Should he try to be? Apparently that course of action neither appeals to him, nor does he calculate it would be beneficial in the long run, to himself or the mushy American Moderate lobbies.
I agree that Bush is not a conservative in the Pat Buchanan nativist mold, true. Heck,I don't think Ronald Reagan was either.You hit on the single most important point I have attempted to make here; that the middle,vast and squishy, has no desire to be preached to by ideological firebrands. It worked against Dean in the end and worked against Goldwater and Newt. I'll go beyond the middle lobbies and go into the middle voter. They are not engaged, they do not explore and they do not have the fire we see here or even on DU.
The immigration proposal , flawed as it is , is an opening , not an ends. Unfortunately, those who run in the hate Bush circles on the right cannot seem to differentiate this .The Lefties can; they just lie about it.
Your points about both Medicare and the economy are lost on the rigid, blinkered ideologues who cannot ,out of ignorance or spite, not see that this is a long term strategy ,again a fault of the Right, We want it now and each time we do this, we get it haneded back to us.Look at Clinton's masterful neutering of Gingrich. It does not matter in the end if Newt was right, it matters he was perceived, in the great middle, as wrong. By the time it was proven otherwise, it was too late. We know the Left believes in gradualism in this culture and we have to realize that is what works. I realize that you,others who see this and understand it, and I will be hammered and flamed by the eternally adolescent whom you so well described and who continue to marginalize themselves. Unfortunately, their screeching marginalizes the movement, and that,is the greatest sin of all. Conservatism really works,but in your face attacks do not draw the middle closer;it repels them.Think of the Abortion debates, Screaming, abusive crowds earned the pro life movement a RICO violation. It was our own fault.When clinic bombings and doctor killings are hailed, and publicized, that ensures the general public will look at us like trogladytes.Add to that mix the control of the enterainment media by the Left and you have a perfect villian for slick propaganda pieces beamed into homes nightly.
This was a tad wordier than I intended, but you and I, and I'd like to believe, the rational amongst us, realize that politics is not perfection.
They won't see it , hear it ,listen to it.They'd rather call us bots, swear Bush is a RINO or in Vincente Fox's pocket or whatever ignorant balderdash they prefer that day.It is not even fun anymore to deal with these know nothing hysterics.They are as bad as the left pulling out precise stats, jus tlike their soulmates on DU.
But, you're right,RR did state this very plainly,and I do recall some of the principled whing about him,too, back in the 80s .Guess Reagan is a RINO sellout, too.
The problem was getting the nomination. Would the right wing Republicans who vote in the primaries vote for Reagan. Reagan had been elected to multiple terms as president of the Screen Actors Guild. Hollywood then as now was Democrat city. And the Screen actors guild was solidly a Democratic Union. Reagan had campaigned for FDR, HST, JFK and lots of Democrats. It would be as if Ed Asner decided to run as a Republican... Reagan felt there would be a slight bit of skepticism.
What to do...
Then came the bright idea. Main stream Republicans were running as fast as they could away from Barry Goldwater. They knew he was going down... Few wanted to be tarred by the Goldwater brush in 1964.
But Reagan figured that if he spoke for the right wing hero, it would go along way to dampen his RINO image.
So they asked Goldwater.. how would you like a former Democrat union president, hollywood star and famous TV host to speak for you at your convention. They made a deal. Reagan would speak for Goldwater in prime time on national TV.
It was a fantastic speech. The media and the Democrats were aghast. They decided to tar Reagan as a right wing Goldwater clone in an empty suit who read speeches written for him by his handlers.
The funny thing was it worked. The right wing took to Ronnie as one of their own because the media painted him that way. The media also bought their own spin that Reagan was an empty actor reading lines.
In 1966 Tom Brokaw as at KNBC-TV and did an interview show with Reagan. Brokaw said he had prepaired serveral Gotcha's for Reagan. Tom was sure that at the first commerical break, Reagan would have his staff on the set to tell him how to handle the attacks. But when the break came Reagan spent the 3 minutes re-adjusting his perfectly adjusted tie and removing imaginary dust from his perfectly shined shoes.
Browkaw said the show had very good ratings,and the next day tracking polls showed Reagan had climbed two points. Brokaw was certain that the Reagan handlers had managed to figure out all teh gotcha's and fed Reagan the script to handle them.
The point to be made is that to defeat an incumbent a candidate has to get some voters to change their votes. Telling them they were dumb stupid idiots the last time they voted will only harden their support for the other guy.
Reagan showed how to beat an incumbent in 1980.. He did not attack Jimmy Carter. What he did was offer plans and the impression that he would make a better president than Carter. Reagan convinced the voters that he would solve problems. Reagan knew better than to make voters defend their vote for Carter in 1980. He offered himself as a better choice in 1980. He did not try to prove that Carter was a bad choice in 1976.
If you want the boss to fire a someone and hire you in his place, first you have to convince him that you would do a much better job. Leave it to the boss to figure out the current job holder is doing a bad job. The same is true in politics.
You can see examples of how to lose when you study the attempts to defeat FDR and HST. Republicans attacked the incumbent. They were not about how to do a better job. And even in a continued depression FDR won. And in a recession and a screwed up foreign policy situation HST won. You win elections by convincing the voters that you can solve the problems.
It is far better to campaign on how to fix the problems than attack the man that holds the office. Attacks on incumbents do not work.
Reagan knew that... the current crop of Democrats do not.
" prety much so-so,"-- I guess that's about the best description of Shales' own work. They say the only writer who is always at his best is a mediocre one, so I guess Tom Shales is always at his best.
Great analysis. It has worked against Dean for sure and the rest of them are playing catchup.Thus far, the unannounced Dem candidate has been exceptionally circumspect,ne c'est pas? She gets it - to a point.
Reagan was brilliant in his timing and gutsy as well. He had a firm grasp on reality and what would and could work. What many forget is that the 40 th President was above all, a pragmatic man with a vision.Reagan did put himself and his Presidency on the line for what was important and won most of the time.What losses there were were minor or were turned into small wins .
Though the seque into the present would be easy enough to do,I believe that the unappeasables Reagan derided then will remain so now. Thank you for the timely reminder of just how brilliant Ronald Reagan truly was and how fortunate we were to have had him in office.
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