Skip to comments.Who Is ‘Buckhead’? Kerry Assaulter Seemed Prepped
Posted on 09/15/2004 2:00:22 PM PDT by NYCVirago
The last seven days brought this: Dick Cheney suggested that the election of John Kerry would result in "devastating" terrorist attack. (His nominal boss merely opined that Mr. Kerry is a fan of Saddam Hussein.) Two generals informed the Senate Armed Services Committee that the C.I.A., in contravention of international and military law, kept up to 100 Iraqi detainees off the Abu Ghraib prison rolls in order to hide them from the Red Cross. The "Coalition of the Willing" lost another member when Costa Rica, which doesnt maintain an army and never joined it in the first place, asked to be taken off the White House list. Remaining international relief workers began clearing out of Iraq, after four of their number, including two Italian women, were kidnapped from their headquarters in downtown Baghdad. The U.S. effectively ceded the Sunni Triangle to the bad guys, who said thank you by launching one of the heaviest ever mortar barrages on the center of the capital.
And, oh yes: American deaths in Iraq passed the 1,000 mark. (Actually, this happened roundabout the time Mr. Bush was citing phony figures for Al Qaeda leadership killed or captured during his convention acceptance speech, but the Pentagon was late owning up.)
Small potatoes, in short. Bagatelles. Asterisks to the REALLY BIG story this week, which was exactly when Times New Roman showed up on typewriters.
Doubtless youre aware that this was the font employed in the composition of several three-decade-old documents that came into the possession of Dan Rather of CBS News. Their gist: George W. Bush was not recruiting-poster material while serving with the Texas Air National Guard. Such was the view of the documents purported author, Mr. Bushs squadron commander, Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, about whom one of the few items not in dispute is that hes been dead for 20 years. Pretty much everything else about the late colonelincluding whether he could typeis jump ball. Ditto opinion on whether the documents are forgeries, and, if so, a clumsy scheme hatched by Democrats (the position of Fox News et al.), or a clever snare laid by Republicans (the hunch ofamong Kerry-backing othersTerry McAuliffe, whos suggested the trap-setter may be Lord Vader himself, Karl Rove.)
What this has to do with who should be standing on the Capitol steps holding his right hand up Jan. 20 is beside the point, in media calculations. All focus now is on type fonts, graphology, the expertise of dueling experts and the history of typewriters, which is far more storied and studied than you might expect.
Before plunging in, an admission: Your correspondent doesnt have a clue whether the documents in question are genuine. And cares lesseither about their authenticity, or what Dubya was up to when he was (or wasnt) serving with the Texas Air National Guard. What Mr. Bush has been up to the last four years, and will be for another four, given the chancethats tastier fish to fry.
So whats the excuse for what follows? Well, maybe its not as interesting as how the Vice President decided last week that trading on eBay could be a solution for unemployment, but it does offer a window on the press, the right, our politics in general, and why Ralph Waldo Emerson was no dope when he said, "When you strike at a king, you must kill him." Who knows? There may also be instruction on how John Kerry ought to handle himself as the days tick down.
With that preamble, here goes, starting with a tick-tock of the hoo-hah filched from ABCs "The Note" and the Los Angeles Times.
At 8 p.m. last Wednesday, 60 Minutes broadcast Mr. Rathers report, which centered on exTexas House Speaker and Democratic power Ben Barnes describing how hed greased Mr. Bushs way into the Guard (putting the lie to the longstanding claim that Dubya had made it on his own hook), and now felt bad on account. Mr. Barnes assistance wasnt exactly a scoop, though thats how Mr. Rather advertised it; in 1999, hed told essentially the same story to the Dallas Morning News. All that was new was being on camera. Sandwiched between his recollections and White House communications director Dan Bartlett kicking them as "dirty politics," the documents appeared, accompanied by Mr. Rather saying theyd been verified by "a handwriting analyst and document expert." To bolster credence, there was an interview with a Texas Air Guard officer and friend of Killians, Robert Strong, who said the papers were "compatible" with the fella he remembered Jerry Killian being.
Not the most ringing testimony. Nor was the word of a single, unidentified, off-camera "expert" exactly open-and-shut proof. But Mr. Barnes was emphatic andbetter yettruthful. And Ben Barnes, Dan Rather said, was what the story was all about.
Thats not how it worked out.
Mr. Rathers report hadnt been over 10 minutes when a post appeared on the right-wing Web site FreeRepublic.com from "TankerKC," saying the documents were "not in the style that we used when I came into the USAF can we get a copy of those memos?"
Three hours and a little later, fat met fire with another FreeRepublic posting, this one from a blogger named "Buckhead." He (or sheBuckhead wont reveal his identity outside cyberspace) wrote:
Every single one of these memos to file is in a proportionally spaced font, probably Palatino or Times New Roman. In 1972 people used typewriters for this sort of thing, and typewriters used monospaced fonts. The use of proportionally spaced fonts did not come into common use for office memos until the introduction of laser printers, word processing software, and personal computers. They were not widespread until the mid to late 90s. Before then, you needed typesetting equipment, and that wasnt used for personal memos to file. Even the Wang systems that were dominant in the mid 80s used monospaced fonts. I am saying these documents are forgeries, run through a copier for 15 generations to make them look old . This should be pursued aggressively.
Here the plot starts a-thickening.
First (leaving aside how suspiciously well Buckhead puts sentences together for a righty blogger), theres the extraordinary, yeah, boggling, knowledge of typewriting arcana. More remarkable still are the circumstances under which discernment occurred. Namely, viewing the document on a TV screen from a presumed distance of six to a dozen feet. Folks who make their living at this sort of thing rely on magnifying glasses, if not microscopes. And they dont venture opinions unless the documents in their puss.
Then theres the warp speed with which Buckhead discerned monkey business. The last big document mess was the trove that conned Seymour Hersh into believing Jack Kennedy signed a contract with Marilyn Monroe agreeing to pay a hundred grand in consideration of her shutting up about their adventures between the sheets, as well as his pillow talk of owing the 1960 election to the good offices of Chicago mob boss Sam (Momo) Giancana. Their exposure (in which your correspondent had a walk-on) took weeks. And those documents were nutso on their face.
Another timing oddity which may or may not be related to the mysterious Buckhead, depending on your choice of villain, is the Pentagons release of allegedly newly-discovered records of Mr. Bushs flight hours and middling piloting abilities one day almost to the minute before Mr. Rathers reportfollowing four months of insisting there were no more documents to disgorge. Second coincidence: The Pentagon release came hours after the Boston Globe, poring through yet other records, reported that Mr. Bush "fell well short of meeting his military obligation" by failing to report to a Boston-area Guard unit after he enrolled in the Harvard Business School, and by earlier ducking out on required training and drills for a total of nine months. Either could have landed Mr. Bush on full-time active duty for two years, potentially in Vietnam. But he received no punishment whatsoever.
Finally, theres a detail that appears to have escaped press notice: The Web site where Buckheads posting appeared also happens to be the repository for anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, anti-John Kerry rants by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. And whom, you ask, is Dr. Corsi? Co-author of the best-selling Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, thats who.
Anyhow, FreeRepublic devotees batted Buckheads discovery around a bit, in fashion somewhat less refined than Oxford Union joustings. Sample: "KERRY IS A NARCISSISTIC LIAR, GOLDBRICKER, AND TRAITOR!"
Meanwhile, things were cooking at another right-wing site, littlegreenfootballs.com, which joined the party at 11:30 p.m. eastern time with its own take. By morning, other bloggers were twittering and alarums were issuing from the established right, including (Salon reported) Cybercast News, part of veteran "liberal media" basher L. Brent Bozells empire; and Creative Response Concepts, an Arlington, Va., P.R. emporium whose clients include the Republican National Committee, the Christian Coalition and a lengthy list of like-minded others. Its senior staff is heavy with Pat Robertson alumni, one of whom serves as official spokesman foryou guessed right againSwift Boat Veterans for Truth.
Bloggers were in a frenzy now, traffic so heavy that one site got knocked offline by the volume. But most stayed in the hunt, and at 2:41 Thursday afternoon, with the Rather story less than 19 hours old, a blogger reported consulting with a forensic expert whod assessed the Killian documents as fishy, too. Soon thereafter, an uncharacteristically tardy Matt Drudge weighed in with his first "FLASH!" This led to Bill Kristols Weekly Standard professing indignation at 5 p.m. An hour later, so did even huffier Fox, where Brit Hume reported that an office elf had created a Killian clone with Microsoft Word.
All that remained was for the allegedly nonpartisan mainstreammedia"MSM," in blogspeakto get into the act. They did so with relish, led by the A.P. and happy-to-pee-on-CBS-News ABC. The next day, the contretemps made The New York Times and The Washington Post, which played the story the same as they had the Swift Boat stuff: This guy says this, that guy says that, and even if we know whos full of it, our job aint telling you.
Fresh from offering Bob Dole a platform to spread unchallenged slanders about John Kerrys war wounds, Wolf Blitzer chipped in by posting on CNNs Web site a 30-year old transcript of Dan Rather being unawed by Richard Nixon during a Watergate press conference. "Now," intoned Wolf, "the 72-year-old CBS News anchor finds himself in yet another confrontation with a Republican President." (For a hint of lupine motive, Google "Blitzer AIPAC").
From there it was off to the races, every furlong adding new typewriter experts offering this, that and the other opinion about Times New Roman, proportional spacing and "superscript," the gizmo that makes tiny "ths" after numbers. Demonstrating thoroughness (or need to fill airtime and column inches), the press also served up quotes from various and sundry friends and family members of the principals involvedincluding the daughter of Ben Barnes, who phoned up a Dallas talk-radio station to call her father a liar.
Poor Mr. Barnes. Even if he did condemn some other mothers son to Vietnam, you had to feel for him. On top of the Oedipal run-in with the kid (thatll be an interesting Thanksgiving dinner), the Republican National Committee, well-prepared for this moment, disgorged an encyclopedia of bile enumerating his "ethical mishaps."
Midst the hubbub, which Mr. Kerry passed assuring Time (which was about to report him 11 points down and sinking), "I think we are doing extraordinarily well"the Boston Globe stepped forward with new, unflattering information on Mr. Bushs Guard tenure gathered from an officer in his unit, who identified himself as a non-Dubya-hating Republican lately gone over to the Dark Side. This elicited the following post on the conservative "News Forum": They are Hanoi Bois kneepad-wearing, Kool-Aid drinking buttboys.
On it went, until Dan Rather got fed up a lot quicker than John Kerry did with the Swift Boat buccaneers, andas they say down Sam Houston State waystuck an apple in the pigs mouth.
Partly, at least.
Leading off his Friday newscast with the firestorm, Mr. Rather noted that "many" of those besieging him "are partisan political operatives" and stuck to his six-shooters about the Killian papers being on the up-and-up. For proof, he displayed a 1968 document about Mr. Bushs service released by the Pentagon using the superscript feature his critics claimed hadnt existed then, and quoted the owner of the company that distributes Times New Roman as saying it had been around since 1931. He also trotted out Robert Strong again and interviewed the previously unnamed document and handwriting expert, Marcel Matley, whod done the verifying for 60 Minutes. Momentarily, that was good enough for Matt Drudge, who headlined: "KEY CHALLENGES TO NATIONAL GUARD DOCUMENTS ANSWERED."
Did that end it? Not on your life.
The furors continued, as have the attacks on CBS News, whose reach the right has reason to loathe. The New York Post even thinks its fingered the source of the Killian papers, an ex-Guardsman whose background couldnt be better for Mr. Bushs backers: illness acquired while on a Guard mission to Panama; lawsuit filed against the government; andthe really good parttwo nervous breakdowns. Stand by for even grubbier tidbits, cause the Posts on the case.
But a retired four-star who fought bravely in Vietnam pretty well settled one aspect of the debate in his autobiography some years back.
"I am angry that so many sons of the powerful and well-placed managed to wangle slots in Reserve and National Guard units," he wrote. "The policies determining who would be drafted and who would be deferred, who would serve and who would escape, who would die and who would live were an anti-democratic disgrace."
The book was called My American Journey; the author was Colin Powell.
Is there a moral in any of this, save further confirmation how sordidly frivolous "the most important election in our lifetime" has become?
Only for John Kerry.
Until lately, hes had his finger in his ear, wondering how to stave off the looming prospect of losing Secret Service protection the morning after the election. The side thats been urging caution, according to The Times, is led by the odd couple of Joe Lockhart and Bob Shrum, who has apparently been tuning in to Dr. Phil. The forces urging flank-speed attack are commanded by David Thorne, Mr. Kerrys Yale roommate, former brother-in-law and still best friend.
Mr. Kerrys usual guides in tough spotspolls and focus groupsdelivered a mixed message, so this time he was on his own. Its not yet certain where hell come down. And whether (for a change), hell stick to it when he does. But from what Mr. Kerrys been saying the last week or twocalling Iraq "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" and the "W." in Mr. Bushs name standing for wrong on about everything elseit looks like hes got his flak jacket on, and is steering to the sound of the guns.
If the Killian papers are a set-up, meant to discredit, distract, deflect (all of which theyve done splendidly, whoevers behind them), he knows whos waiting in the weeds around the bend: people who will stop at nothing.
John Kerry met an enemy like that a long time ago. He did all right, then. He might again.
You may reach Robert Sam Anson via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
This column ran on page 1 in the 9/20/2004 edition of The New York Observer.
I don't know about how intelligent or verbally equipped everyone here is. Without Spell check I'd be ashamed to post!
Taking bets that 'right blogger' will be the newest freeper name before the day is over.
Best compliment of the week!
Thank you Mr. Anson.
By the way, here at Free Republic we have expertise in about two hundred disciplines, from physics to art. Mine is engineering, Art, History, Philosophy, geodesics, CAD/CAM.
No betwetting whiners, though.
"The Web site where Buckheads posting appeared also happens to be the repository for anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-homosexual, anti-John Kerry rants by Jerome R. Corsi, Ph.D. And whom, you ask, is Dr. Corsi? Co-author of the best-selling Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry, thats who."
Well, they are on to our vast right wing conspiracy. We're sunk now.
Seriously, if this is what passes for logic on the left, no wonder they are in the trouble they are in. Someone posted to a conservative board with 20,000 members, which was also posted to by a person that wrote an anti-Kerry book? Isn't that strange? There must be a connection!
There are certain "leaps of logic" which rational people know better than to take.
"Buckhead shirts!" I LIKE that idea!!
Welcome to Buckhead, USA
That's, 'righty blogger.'
Now wait a minute....I'm John Galt!!
We need to FREEP this email@example.com Everyone send him a nice email to tell him how we feel.
I never use spell check.
It gives the typo and spelling police an occasional reason to live. Very occasional. Great for their self-esteem, though.
To the left the truth IS an assault.
Yawn. I only hang out on Free Republic because so many of the posters are up to my linguistic and intellectual standards (National Merit Scholar, mid-70s), and the intelligent conversations are fascinating.
I made a post yesterday theorizing that one of the reasons the Left can't get traction on the Net is because so many of them are semi-literates.
And BTW - I've never read any of Anson's books, and now that I understand his thinking, I never will.
The writer writes poorly for a columnist. He ought to read more at FR to learn how to put some zip in his stuff.
And somehow I think that FR is mislabeled as a "blog" and its folks "bloggers."
You must be arrogant to be a liberal.
You must be insecure to be a liberal.
You must be an idiot(Unable to learn from past failures) to be a liberal.
Sam Anson's hissy-fit. What a girlie man.
You guys get to wear Batman masks at your meetings? How can I join?