I don’t know if many people have been following the whole CBS-Bush-Nat’l Guard-memos fiasco as closely as I have… as in, checking the most involved sites (LittleGreenFootballs.com and Power Line, to name a couple) about 6 times a day. If you have, you know just as much as I do and have no reason to read this entry, unless you’re banking on the off chance that I’ll say something funny. If not, I’m in the mood for some summarizing right now — it’s been done better, I’m sure, but that’s rarely stopped me before.
First, I’m a Republican. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it on the site before, but if not… it was bound to get out eventually. So yes, I am biased, and yes, I like George W. Bush. I don’t think he’s perfect, but I also don’t think he’s an incompetent conspiratorial dictator with world domination in his twisted heart. And the sad thing is, there seem to be a lot of Americans who feel there is no room for in-between: either you are an adoring lapdog, or a valiant opposer of Dubya’s fiendish schemes. I understand that people hate the President – part of being a leader is being unable to please everyone – yet I continue to be baffled by the degree to which this hatred overshadows any hint of reason.
But, there’s the ultra-concise version of our current political environment, in case you’ve been in Canada for the last 3 years. Bush “stole” the election in 2000, and there are plenty of people who still insist Al Gore is our rightful leader. Thank the Lord that Dubya is such a wily “thief,” because have you been paying attention to Al for the last few years? He’s gone from odd and creepy to clinically, violently out of control (just look for any recent Al quote at Yahoo! News or anywhere else). His supporters either share in his out-of-check anger, or choose to overlook it.
This, ultimately, is the point: no leader is perfect, but how do we as individuals decide which aspects to focus on and which to overlook? President Bush’s Texas National Guard service comes to mind, and although I am not confident about his service (probably as a result of hearing about it from every major network since 1999) I am confident in his recent decisions and current abilities. More importantly, the Bush campaign has not made this an issue… the Guard story had its run, and petered out once before, and simply is not relevant. CBS had to bring out their newest “Bush Is A Liar” story nonetheless, and while they should be hiding at this point they are instead using the publicity to push their accusations ever onward.
The foundation for CBS’s story? Memos allegedly from the files of Lieutenant Colonel Jerry Killian, deceased, support the media’s pre-2000 election assertions that George W. Bush shirked his Guard responsibilities and received preferential treatment. Within a day, a handful of online journals posted evidence indicating that the memos were not written in 1972, but with Microsoft Word. Faced with mounting evidence that either 1) they had been fooled by a novice fraudster or 2) they had knowingly used fraudulent documents, CBS lashed out at the online community while refusing to apologize for an obvious mistake.
Finally, after most of their supporting cast of “experts” had distanced themselves from the mess, CBS admitted that the documents might have been forged. They have not given their source. They insist that the content was still accurate, now shoring up their story with the feelings of an anti-Bush elderly woman. If this is the best the liberal media can do at painting a negative picture of President Bush, Nov. 2 should not even be close: It is an election year, and a major news network rushed out a story that would make the President look bad, and although the story’s basis has been proven false they use its momentum to continue bumbling along. Too many people will still see only the 60 Minutes side and take it at face value, assuming Bush is in fact a man who cannot be trusted (funny how the Swift Boat Vets stories didn’t get as much consideration), and this is unfortunate.
Nonetheless, I am cautiously optimistic about the sitation. I don’t think anyone important will be fired over at CBS, but the floodgates have been opened. So long as there are competing networks and online experts utilizing their free speech, dishonestly motivated stories like this will be similarly shot down in the future. Stupid people will continue trusting Dan Rather and Co., and crazy people will continue believing that every little thing is a Republican conspiracy. It is my hope… if maybe too wishful of a hope… that the spread of truth will ever marginalize the lunatics who refuse to see it, however loud said lunatics might be.
Update: Terry McAuliffe is an ass.