Sept. 23, 2004 #01Political Satire/Commentary where satire is always commentary but commentary isn't always satire 
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Commentary-- Quagmire Kerry castigates Bulge-Battling Bush; MemoGate and RatherGate scandals about 60 Minutes' broadcast of forged documents about George W. Bush's Air National Guard service force CBS to investigate whether Dan apes Mapes or Mapes fans Dan or both.·

            John Kerry's most recent incarnation of his position on Iraq and Bush's reiteration of his own position are competing for public attention with the unfolding media/campaign scandal involving CBS and officials in the Kerry Campaign.   Some commentators contend the latter set of issues is a distraction from the former, but the unfolding nature of the latter set of issues are instead shedding light on how the public should view the debate on the former.  

            Issues about Operation Iraqi Freedom.

            John Kerry's most-recent pronouncements imply that he may have finally decided which of his numerous positions on Iraq has become he favorite-- i.e., the Howard Dean "quagmire" position, which he mocked during the primaries.  His post-Vietnam-service position was that our European and United Nations critics were right and we were wrong.  His quagmire position on Iraq is that our European and United Nations critics are right and we are wrong.  As Yogi Berra might say, "Deja vu all over again."

            Has the barbaric resistance in Iraq grown more than Bush and supporters of Operation Iraqi Freedom expected?  Of course hit has.  Did the Battle of the Bulge jeopardize the plans for unconditional victory over the Nazis?  Of course it did.  If the Battle of the Bulge were to have occurred in the late summer of 1944 rather than in December, would it have made sense to cite it as grounds for characterizing the campaign to liberate Europe as a "quagmire" and to advocate such characterization as grounds to vote Franklin Roosevelt out of office in the 1944 election?  Of course not.  Did the casualties and damages inflicted by the Ardennes Offensive, which we ultimately repelled in the Battle of the Bulge, invalidate the moral rightness of the strategy for unconditional victory over the Nazis?  Of course not.  Does the barbaric resistance in Iraq invalidate the moral rightness of Operation Iraqi Freedom?  Of course not-- instead, it underscores it.

Issues about the Media/Campaign Scandal:
MemoGate, RatherGate (and RatherKerryGate?)

            The MemoGate and RatherGate scandals have forced SeeBS to investigate whether Dan apes Mapes or Mapes fans Dan or both.  In the wake of it having becoming clear to everyone in the universe except Dan Rather that the documents published by CBS 60 Minutes as being a part of George W. Bush's Air National Guard records are fraudulent, forged documents, defenders of Dan Rather characterize this episode as though it were an isolated incident in an otherwise distinguished career of objective news reporting.  Just one of the many incidents that make such characterization laughable to everyone not infected with the dominant-media mindset prevalent at ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times is Dan Rather's August, 2000, insinuation -- based entirely upon his partisan speculation-- that a "Republican ...dirty trick" on the day of Al Gore's acceptance speech to taint Gore with the Clinton scandals by anonymously leaking to the press a report that the then-independent-prosecutor, Robert Ray, was considering instituting criminal charges against Clinton for perjury.  As political operatives love to say, "the fact of the matter" is that one of the three judges (a Democrat) presiding over the independent-counsel investigation had the integrity to identify himself as the source of the "leak."  Knowing that CBS would soon delete Rather's unfounded partisan speculation from it's website, PoliSat.Com preserved it's content for posterity at

            Was such speculation a "crime"?  Of course not.  Is it inherently wrong for a "news" reporter to ever express an opinion?  Of course not.  Is it hypocritical for such "news" reporter such as Dan Rather to deny having such patently partisan views?  Of course it is.  Is it justifiable to characterize a news-media person such as Rather as one with a "distinguished reputation" as a "news" reporter?  Of course not.  In the case of Rather, it's not only unjustifiable, it's ludicrous.  

            Can reporters with partisan views rise above their views to be fair?  Of course-- all one needs to do is watch Tim Russert, a former aide to Democratic Senator Patrick Moynihan.  Russert doesn't always succeed in being fair-- who could?  But it's always obvious that he's trying hard to do so.  That's all we can expect.  It's my personal opinion that one of the ways that Russert manages to rise above his own partisan views is that he admits them to himself and then consciously seeks to counter them in order to pose the kind of questions he believes fair-minded partisans on the other side would pose.  Dan Rather rarely, if ever, sought to rise above his own partisan biases and prejudices.

            As has long been the case with Dan Rather, the dominant media mindset is to view it's own partisan views in the news as examples of "objectivity."  That's why they perceive Fox News as being "pro-Republican" or "right wing."  Their perception of Fox News as being "pro-Republican" is a manifestation of their subconscious recognition that it doesn't fit their own pro-Democrat mindset.  They had become so accustomed to almost always hearing (or reading) "news" reported in a manner fitting their own mindsets that it shouldn't be surprising that their hearing news reported in a balanced manner seems to them to be "pro-Republican."  

            Surely all "reporters" have partisan views.  That's not the test.  The test is whether they consistently try to rise above such views when functioning as reporters of "news."  No less imperfectly than Tim Russert, Fox News, under the managerial guidance of Brit Hume, is trying to rise above partisan views in order to present a "fair and balanced" set of opposing views.  Do they always succeed?  Of course not.  Do they succeed far more often than have the dominant media?  Of course they do.


            Suppose John Stossel of ABC's "20/20" were to have urged a top official in the Bush campaign to contact a confidential source for a forthcoming "exposé" on John Kerry.  The same dominant-media crowd now poo-pooing questions being raised about Mary Maples' request for a high-level Kerry Campaign official, Joe Lockhart, to contact here "confidential source" for Dan Rather's then-imminent "exposé" against George W. Bush would be apoplectic about any such communication between Stossel and a Bush Campaign official.  Contrary to what Dan Rather and the dominant media would have us believe-- notwithstanding their having plagiarized Richard Nixon by trying to characterize Rather's and Maple's conduct as a "third-rate [journalistic error]"-- there are common-sense reasons to strongly suspect that Rather and/or Maples were actively attempting to aid the Kerry Campaign against Bush.  Even worse, unlike Stossel, who honestly identifies his partisan perspective, Rather has tried to masquerade as an "objective" news reporter.  Thus, the Rather/Maples/Kerry-Campaign connection is potentially much more serious than my hypothetical example regarding Stossel.

Editorial Disclaimer.

            By the way, I'm not a Republican, nor am I a Democrat.  I'm a non-theist, but I'm also not an anti-theist or secular fundamentalist.  I classify my part of the political spectrum as "ClaLiCon"-- the Classically Liberal, Conservative Middle.  It's an eclectic mixture of classical liberalism and libertarianism tempered by NeoCon realizations that although might doesn't make right, might-less right can't triumph over right-less might. 

--Jim Wrenn, Editor at PoliSat.Com


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