|The Nossiter Net
The net that shall enmesh them all
Edited, Written, and Published by J.C. Nossiter
|The Morning Mendacity
Friday, August 20th, 2004
|The Nossiter Net is cast to snare some of the riper rascalities of the day. Comments? email@example.com|
|The smears began before publication. Richard Clarke had an axe to grind because his position as counter-terrorism czar had been downgraded. Mr. Clarke had the promise of a job in a Kerry White House. There were questions, CNNís Wolfe Blitzer said, about his private life. Mr. Clarke is so obviously a man of unimpeachable integrity that his book about the catastrophic incompetence of the Bush Administration before, during, and after 9/11, Against All Enemies, remained a must-read for all concerned citizens. But if you throw enough mud, some of it sticks. Hence a Republican friend of mine the other day: ďRichard Clarke has a credibility problem.Ē Only for the painfully credulous, itís true, but there are enough of those to matter.
The Clarke smears came in the wake of the Joseph Wilson smears. The former Ambassador, who exposed the Bush Administrationís lies about the Iraqis trying to buy uranium from Niger, was unsound, dishonest; his wife arranged the investigatory job in Niger for him. The Wilson smears crossed the line into criminality when the Administration exposed his wife as a CIA operative. Some of the mud inevitably stuck to Mr. Wilsonís own book about the Administrationís malfeasance.
The Wilson smears came in the wake of the Paul OíNeil smears. The former Secretary of the Treasury described the obsession his boss, President Bush, had with Iraq long before 9/11 in Ron Suskindís book The Price of Loyalty. Mr. OíNeil, the White House said, had an axe to grind because he was fired. He was inaccurate. He misappropriated government documents. Mr. OíNeilís story has been corroborated, and he himself has said the Bush people can do little real damage to an aged, wealthy white guy, but some of the mud canít help but stick.
And now come the John Kerry smears. He takes both sides of every issue. He changes his mind. He has too many houses. He looks ďFrench.Ē Most outrageous of all, he didnít earn his medals in Vietnam. A well-funded group of war veterans has come out of the woodwork to lend their names to a campaign, by book and television commercial, to deny that Mr. Kerryís combat medals were truly merited. The allegation flies in the face of all military records and eyewitness accounts. The group is funded to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars by one Bob Perry, a Texas developer who happens to be a major George W. Bush backer going back to his gubernatorial days. Never mind that the groupís story keeps changing and that now, as The Washington Post reported Wednesday morning, one of the groupís own military records contradict his assertions. Never mind that the groupís chief spokesman is an old Nixon operative used three decades ago to attack the young anti-Vietnam John Kerry, and now brought out of mothballs for the í04 election.
Smears obviously donít need to be true to be effective. The act of smearing, by raising doubts, is enough. The smear changes the discussion from substance, what happened and when and who did what to whom, to vague but disturbing questions of integrity and honor and honesty. In the absence of any factual counter-arguments to the well-documented charges of lying incompetence laid at the Bush administrationís door, smears are not only an effective tactic but the only possible tactic. But isnít it about time the press, by uncritcally broadcasting the Administration line, stopped being complicit?
©J.C. Nossiter 2004
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