Monday, May 10, 2004

This morning's post on the Appleton Post Crescent's trolling for pro-Bush letters was inspired by a link on MediaMatters.org, a new website that promises it will "document and correct conservative misinformation in each news cycle." The website is the brainchild of David Brock, one of America's most famous repentant conservatives, who participated in the destruction of Anita Hill during the early 1990s, but later switched sides and wrote a book called Blinded by the Right. (Brock detailed his vision for the site in an interview with Alternet.) MediaMatters has been on the case of the abused Iraqi prisoners, collecting right-wing explanations for who's to blame: feminists, the media, and, of course, Bill Clinton. I haven't seen this many people twisting themselves into knots since the contortionists' convention left town.

While I have predicted here that Rumsfeld won't get fired or have to quit over all this, the jury is still in fact out. And it occurs to me that Bush's appearance at the Pentagon today, although scheduled long before the Abu Ghraib story broke, might be useful in building a firewall if Rumsfeld really has to go. Imagine that the to-be-released pix Rumsfeld alluded to last week are as bad as he says. Imagine the continued erosion of support for Rummy in Congress, even among Republicans. Imagine Rummy falling on his sword for the greater good. Now imagine Bush and Cheney on the offensive, bashing evil Democrats and the evil media for forcing out "the greatest defense secretary this country has ever had," as Cheney termed him today. It'll play big in the red states. Never mind that there are ample reasons for Rumsfeld and others to go, as Juan Cole notes. The nut graf, as they say in J-school, is:

You really wonder whether the Bush plan to Americanize the Middle East isn't being turned on its head. We now have an unaccountable government not elected in accordance with the will of the majority of Americans, which victimizes critics like Joe Wilson and engages in torture. Bush and Co. are emulating the worst aspects of the military governments of Egypt and Yemen. They have no credibility to push the latter toward democracy.

University of Wisconsin professor of history Stanley Kutler wrote last week that another highly placed resignation is in order--Colin Powell's. The resignation on principle of such a high official would raise the stakes of the debate over Iraq. The administration's standard rejoinder to all criticism from ex-officials (Joe Wilson, to name one)--that such criticism is partisan and designed to elect John Kerry--wouldn't work on Powell.

Recommended reading: Many of the eulogies for football star Pat Tillman in the sports press started and stopped with simplistic paeans to his heroism. Rick Reilly of Sports Illustrated went a bit further, as Jonathan Tasini observed on TomPaine.com. (You're on your own to find the whole Reilly column. It's apparently available to subscribers only on SI's website. But Tasini captures the gist.)

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