Thursday, October 02, 2003
Personally, I think most of the major media is a propaganda outlet for one party or the other (mostly Democratic, but the Republicans have their own shill media, such as the Washington Times and the New York Post), exemplified by the craven partisanship of the New York Times.
That said, what to make of Arnold? If true, and that remains open to question, his conduct was offensive. However, what the Berkeley Barb veterans over at the LAT fail to recognize is that most people expect Hollywood types to act as monied jerks. It's part of how you get by in that town. What Arnold did early on in the campaign was to inoculate himself against an expected press assault by Governor Gray Davis' defenders in the media. On the Leno show and at other appearances, Arnold indicated that charges of womanizing would be brought up. I do not expect Arnold's campaign to sink on this, however. It will strike too many voters for what it is, an assault on a candidate by a fishwrapper shilling for the other guy. Besides, voters won't give a damn, and that's what the Times hasn't figured out. People just opened up their Car Tax bills this month. My friend Adam (known to veteran readers of this column as "Juan Domingo Peron" emailed me the news that his car tax tripled as of October 1st.
Adam also told me that he's going to register his car in Arizona, having bought a house in Tombstone. Another talented individual is leaving California, and that speaks volumes.
Meanwhile, in ScandalLand, our Andrew Sullivan reports that both the New York Times and the Washington Post are calling for an independent counsel to investigate the Joe Wilson scandal. Andrew agrees that the Bushies should accede, just to put this behind them. I disagree. IC's are unaccountable, and have unlimited budgets. I also believe that IC's operate outside of the Constitution. Their function is best performed by Justice, an organ that is accountable to both the Congress and the President.
My opinion? I'm not trying to be pollyannish, but I don't think that there's much there there to this scandal, which is why the liberals are calling for an independent counsel. I won't get into the gist of the scandal here, as National Review's James Robbins has done a pretty good job on covering the antecedents to Joe Wilson's 15 minutes of fame. One of the central players in the story, syndicated columnist Robert Novak, puts paid to the allegations that this story was intentionally leaked to him. Finally, it is instructive to analyze what these scandal bubbles are all about.
The Democratic Party as an institution made a conscious decision to oppose this President's conduct of the war by any means necessary. In so doing, they made a strategic choice: Democrats chose to tolerate the existence of terrorist states while buying into the consensus of warfare against Al Qaeda alone. Now to do this brings about the consequential risk of terrorist regimes, such as Saddam's Iraq or the Mullahs' Iran, obtaining some very nasty weapons and peddling them to the eager shahid that populate the bin Ladenist universe. The Democrats are willing to take the risk of undermining the rationale for war against terrorist states for short term political gain. That is the bottom line. These scandals are peddled to cover that bottom line, and as a sidebar, anyone who raises that issue is accused of questioning the patriotism of liberals.
Part of this plays into the skepticism of the left for the entire enterprise. I was speaking to my cousin, Marty, an editor on Florida's west coast about this. He maintained that the original criticism of the Noam Chomskys of this world had seeped into the mainstream of Democratic opinion to gel into a nascent antiwar movement. My take is that this is a bit of European social democratic thinking gone haywire when applied to American political conditions. Support for the war remains strong, and support for the President's interpretation of that war remains robust, as well. However, nothing can alter the fact that the Democratic Party's opinion leaders have chosen the path of appeasement. For this, history suggests that there will be a terrible price to be paid, certainly by Democrats and possibly by the country as a whole.
George W. Bush remains consistent, however. He will do what he will do because he is focused on one thing: victory at all hazards. Ersatz scandals cannot change that.