Monday, August 16, 2004

Punching back

I really miss Media Whores Online.

I especially miss the way it could single out media miscreants for special treatment when they put in truly whorelike performances on the national stage. There have been many in recent weeks -- Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler has been trying to keep up -- but the torrent is too much for any one person.

This weekend on Meet the Press, there were really many moments of high travesty, notably from substitute host Andrea Mitchell. But the MWO Whore of the Week award would really have to go to the Boston Globe's Anne Kornblut, who popped out with this:
MS. KORNBLUT: Which is still something that there's a bit of back and forth over. The truth of his record, the criticism that's coming from the Swift Boat ads, is that he betrayed his fellow veterans. Well, that's a subjective question, that he came back from the war and then protested it. So, I mean, that is truly something that's subjective. What I can say is that it does seem to have fired up at least a very small sliver of the Republican base. When we were out with Kerry in Oregon over the past few days, we started to see some more protesters showing up with signs outside the Kerry events, talking about his military record, talking about him as a war criminal. And so I think to the extent -- I'm not sure it will actually do anything with swing voters, but I think to the extent that it gets people -- conservatives doubting Kerry's record, we're going to hear more of it.

Well, Kornblut is right about the latter part. The "Swift Boat Veterans" topic is on all the lips of the conservatives. Just like Vince Foster's suicide, the rabid right thinks that it has finally latched onto just the right personal smear (the kind in which it specializes) for bringing down John Kerry.

It's all that conservatives want to talk about, at least among themselves. This weekend, my brother-in-law -- a Mr. Oxycontin fan and a guy who roots for politicians like he roots for football teams -- and his equally clueless cousin were exchanging verbal high-fives over all the Swift Boat talk.

I got angry and told them this was the scummiest kind of politics I could remember seeing in a long time, which was saying a lot. "You want to see scummy politics," the cousin told me, "just wait till Kerry gets going."


Problem is, the Kerry people aren't even punching back. Yet.

Look, I understand. What we should be talking about in this election is the fact that we lost over 2 million jobs in the USA under this administration. We should be talking about a federal deficit that has ballooned to a record $435 billion. We should be talking about the diversion from a serious "war on terror" in invading Iraq and how it has harmed our national security. We should be talking about the outing of CIA agents, and the setting of energy policy by consulting with corporate interests, and the concrete degradation of environmental standards.

But we're not. We now have a thoroughly trivialized press corps, which is now busliy feeding the maw of a conservative movement that demands attention to truly insignificant personal smears whose entire purpose is to attack liberals and non-conservatives. Serious issues are "boring" and do little for your ratings. The Kerry campaign is going to have confront that reality.

If the Swift Boat Veterans smear keeps up -- and especially if the Bush campaign is going to keep winking and nudging in their direction -- someone's going to have to remind the scumfeeders at GOP campaign headquarters of a certain reality.

The next time some right-wing pundit or Swift Boat Liar smears Kerry's service record on TV, it's time for the traditional liberal punching bag to stand up and say:

"This is a lot of 'he said/she said'. So who you gonna believe? A guy with three Purple Hearts from 'Nam? Or a guy who went AWOL in the Guard?"

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