Sunday, March 28, 2004

When Heirs Canoodle
Recent polling says that at the moment, something like 87 percent of Republicans plan to vote for Bush in November. But seven months is a long time, and many Republicans are growing more disturbed by the administration's rightward march, its fiscal irresponsibility, and now, the growing scandal over its mishandling of the Al Qaeda threat in favor of canoodling with Iraq. In Salon, Michele Goldberg and Paul J. Caffera wrote about some of them. It's not just old-line moderate Rockefeller Republicans who are concerned, but even some Goldwater disciples who think Bush and company have gone too far. Some discontented Republicans are ready to throw in with John Kerry. How many more will be ready to do it in the privacy of the voting booth on November 2 can't be known yet.

What also can't be known yet is how big a rebellion would have to take place in the Republican Party to moderate the Bush/DeLay wing. It isn't easy to figure. These guys think God gives them their orders, and for the last 2,000 years, people like them have been happy to kill their erstwhile allies if they sense the taint of heresy. But if Karl Rove is as savvy a political animal as lots of people think, he might be able to find a way to make political common sense seem like divine revelation. Although as Ann Lewis wrote on the Gadflyer, maybe Rove ain't so smart after all.

If you're not familiar with the Gadflyer yet--and I wasn't, until this morning--it's a new website/magazine founded by Tom Schaller, a political science professor who was a correspondent for Daily Kos during the Democratic primaries. The site launched just two weeks ago, and it looks mighty promising. To take another example, there's this piece by Sean Aday on the headlines written about the 9/11 commission hearings this past week. If you read headlines (or heard brief news summmaries) alone, they left you with the impression that the hearings showed that both the Bush and Clinton White Houses must share blame for September 11. But that wasn't the real story--the commission was much harder on Bush witnesses like Powell and Rumsfeld than it was on Clinton witnesses.

Aday gets at the nut of the problem we've seen with the media in this country during the Bush years: "[J]ournalism's adherence to the ideal of objectivity and its reliance on 'two-sided' reporting make it structurally weak in the face of official mendacity. Reporters are taught that they are supposed to achieve balance at all costs and have difficulty when the scales are tipped in one direction, much less when one side is lying outright." We still have trouble getting their our minds around the idea that our leaders might be overtly trying to deceive us--even when it's clear that they are, the habits we learned in civics class take over, and we can't believe the heirs to Washington and Lincoln could act that way. But we forget--they're Nixon's heirs, too.

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