Skip to comments.So it has come to this - a choice of scandals (Kerry/Bush media coverage of scandals!)
Posted on 02/14/2004 7:03:24 PM PST by mabelkitty
There are two "scandals" in American politics at the moment: the first features George W Bush and whether he was a "deserter", as Michael Moore, Hollywood's celebrated Leftie lardbutt, puts it. This goes back three decades to when Mr Bush was a young pilot in the Texas Air National Guard, the so-called "weekend warriors". By desertion, Moore and co mean that there were a lot of weekends when the warrior didn't show up. Terry McAuliffe, the highest-ranking official of the Democratic Party, prefers the term "Awol". He doesn't offer any evidence to support the accusation.
But, if you switch on pretty much any cable news station any time of day, you can find them going on about this "scandal". Their general philosophy is encapsulated by the headline on a recent column in Newsday: "Is Bush A 'Deserter'? It Doesn't Hurt To Ask." And they do. In return, John Kerry, the Democratic Presidential front-runner, portentously declines to comment, adding, "It's not my record that's at issue." This is a not so subtle reminder that, when Bush was doing a bit of dilettante piloting over Texas and Alabama, Kerry was getting shot up in Vietnam.
Actually, that is not strictly true. In the period when Bush was in the National Guard, Kerry was an angry Vietnam veteran protesting with Jane Fonda and accusing his comrades of being drug-addled rapists, torturers, mutilators and murderers committing war crimes on a scale surpassing the Japanese and the Nazis. But that's a mere detail. To the media, the contrast is simple: Kerry = war hero; Bush = something smaller, shiftier. Bill Clinton, of course, is smallest and shiftiest of the lot, but, back in '92, John Kerry stood shoulder to shoulder with his fellow Democrat and said, "We do not need to divide America over who served and how." Now, apparently, we do. So Kerry has his supporter Max Cleland, former Senator, fellow veteran and triple amputee, all over the talk-shows, explaining that the difference between giving Clinton a pass on draft-dodging and hammering relentlessly on Bush's National Guard record is that in 2004 "it's the national security, stupid. We want a President who can really be Commander-in-Chief". And the fact that Bush, as Commander-in-Chief, has liberated two countries, overthrown the Taliban and slung Saddam in jail counts for less than whether he bunked off for the weekend in 1972.
Insofar as there is any basis for this scandal, it rests on the word of one discredited witness plus one retired general with the name of Turnipseed who said four years ago he had no memory of seeing young Lt Bush at the base in Alabama. General Turnipseed later said that he didn't necessarily mean Bush wasn't there, and later still said he wasn't even sure he himself was there at the time in question. But it didn't matter. By the time an offhand remark had found its way to Michael Moore, it had become a charge of "desertion".
Now let's consider the Kerry scandal: If you read the British newspapers, you'll know all about it. It's not about whether he was Absent Without Leave, but the more familiar political failing of being Absent Without Pants. It concerns a 24-year old woman - ie, 41 years younger than Mrs Kerry - and, with their usual efficiency, the Fleet Street lads have already interviewed her dad, who's called Kerry a "sleazeball". But if you read the US newspapers or watch the news shows there's not a word about the Senator's scandal. Though it seems to have a somewhat sounder factual basis, and at least one witness more relevant to this situation than the loose-lipped Gen Turniphead was to Mr Bush's, it's the media that's gone Awol. In this case, it seems it would hurt to ask. So Mr Bush has been unable to do the John Kerry routine, declining to comment but adding that "it's not my marital record that's at issue". We have two flimsy "scandals" tangentially related to character, but only one of them's all over the networks.
I don't want this election fought as the Adulterer vs the Deserter. The "politics of personal destruction" is insufficient to the times, and an insult to the entirely non-metaphorical personal destruction of thousands of Americans that took place on September 11. But the Democrats don't have any ideas on that score - Sen Kerry offers the usual lazy platitudes about working through the UN. So he's running on "character" instead: he was in the jungle, Bush wasn't. True. All Bush did was learn to fly an F-102, which is one serious plane. Bill Clinton can't do that and nor can all the baby-boom reporters huffin' an' a-puffin' about Lt Bush's 30-year-old payslips. By the standards of his generation, what Bush did in the 1970s was good enough.
More to the point, whatever Bush did or didn't do back in those days is consistent with who he is. As horrified European commentators are fond of pointing out, Mr Bush is a "born-again" Christian. We don't need to see grainy home movies of a soused goofball in a Mexican bar face down in the beer nuts to know more or less the kind of guy he was 30 years ago. But he changed; he was born again. If you found some video of Bush rat-arsed (as the British say) in 1974, how relevant is that to the abstemious tucked-in-by-nine family man of 2004? In that sense, even if everything the accusers said was true - that he was an absentee Guardsman - it's not inconsistent with the official Bush narrative.
By contrast, the Kerry narrative is almost impenetrable. If Vietnam bitterly divided a nation, split communities, tore apart families, etc, etc, Sen Kerry somehow managed to wind up on both sides of the fence: in the 1960s, he was John Wayne taking out the gooks in 'Nam; in the 1970s, he was Hanoi Jane Fonda, leading the protest movement; now, after two decades in Congress opposing every new weapons system for America's military, he's campaigning like Bob Hope on a USO tour flanked by wall-to-wall veterans. What story accounts for Senator Flip-Flop these past 40 years?
If character is the issue, Bush can relax. And, if doing your bit for national security is the issue, then John Kerry's been Awol for two decades.
Gotta love it.
The other scandal would be to determine if by John Kerry's own testimony before Congress (1971) and then later interview with Tim Russert (2001) if John Kerry LIED before Congress and trumped up the charges that led to American GIs being called "baby killers" (aiding and abetting the enemy) or did he tell the truth the first time when he confessed to in his own words violating the Geneva convention and committing warcrimes.
He is a self-confessed unindicted war criminal or else a traitor to his country in a time of war. Either charge would make John Kerry unfit to serve.
This is the scandal that broke shortly before the National Enquirer disclosed a John Kerry sex rumor. The Democrats won't lose many votes over sex. They would over the other charges (especially among veterans).
Good point. Didn't notice that. My apologies.
You're right. There isn't.
The scandal is that someone who sided with the enemy during the Vietnam War could be given serious consideration for the democrat nomination to the highest elected office in the land.
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