Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Political Week in Review

According to conventional wisdom, the Clintons want John Kerry to sink so that Hillary can run for Prez quickly before something else tarnishes the family name. So why aren't they leaning on their friends in the mainstream media to cover the issue of Kerry's Cambodian Christmas Eve and other tall tales that are potentially fatal to his campaign? Maybe the CNN-MSNBC-New York Times-Time-Newsweek crowd hates Bush more than they love Clinton. If Kerry is elected, what happens to the career of Dick Morris and will he be supplanted by the first of the "Band of Brothers" to go AWOL from the DNC dinghy? Meanwhile, Clinton apologist emeritus Lanny Davis is on the crisis containment circuit, defending Kerry's legend and reminding us that a professional spinmeister is a Democrat president's best friend. Kerry will surely need a boatload of them.

Responding to the call to relive bygone battles, those other heroes who saved us from the evil military and CIA, Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, are making separate political comebacks this election year. I'm sure that will endear Vietnam vets even more to the Kerry campaign. I hope the paths of Hanoi Jane, Cambodia Kerry and Chicago Seven Tom meet in Little Saigon, which is located in Loretta Sanchez's congressional district where Asian-American voters remember what Lt. Kerry did after the war and are overwhelmingly in favor of President Bush.

My son Chris thinks that Teresa Heinz Kerry looks and acts sedated in public. Did you see Teresa playing the air violin during the concert-with-fireworks immediately after the Democrat convention was adjourned? Her husband looked uncomfortable as usual and turned away to join the Edwardses, but her televised performance continued. In a world of celebrity wives with exhibitionist tendencies, she is more like Courtney Love than Jackie Kennedy. Clearly Teresa's unhappiness reached critical mass at the Grand Canyon photo op. Someone in the Kerry campaign should tell Madame that her Mercury is retrograde until November 2 and until then travel is not advised.

The Vast Right Wing Conspiracy theory is alive and well on Meet the Press. While discussing the "shove it" incident with William Safire on August 8, Tim Russert defended Teresa's outburst. Safire reiterated that Heinz Kerry had denied using the word un-American after clearly uttering it earlier onstage. Russert's reply? But the reporter worked for Richard Mellon Scaife. Oh, well, that changes everything. Never mind that we all heard the audio proof ourselves belying Teresa's denial. As Governor McGreevey might say, it's not what the truth is but whose truth it is.

I stopped watching Hardball in even-numbered years, when a Democrat is on the ballot somewhere and Chris Matthews cannot even pretend to entertain opposing points of view. I have decided that his more rational demeanor during the Clinton years, of which Matthews was not a fan, was an anomaly. Along with James Carville and Paul Begala, Matthews represents the worst sort of gotcha television talk. He cynically exploits Ronald Prescott Reagan, who was never a Republican nor a Reaganite, as a political trophy, albeit one symbolic of nothing except family dysfunction. Likewise, John Kerry's focus on four months of disputed military service and Chris Matthews' ready acceptance of it as a substitute for experienced leadership and judgment reveal that both Matthews and Kerry view the war on terror as little more than a campaign issue to be mitigated. With the truth emerging about Kerry's swift boat adventures, Vietnam seems for him to have been a combination of premeditated resume padding and the ultimate extreme sport.

"What are we going to do about Joe?" That's what the MSNBC brain trust must be asking itself about Scarborough Country. Joe Scarborough took a break this summer and returned a changed host. I suspect he had surgery to remove his conservative clarity and convictions, which the head of NBC keeps in a jar on his nightstand. For awhile he was paired with Pat Buchanan and Ron Reagan the lesser, but this week he has returned to his old format. However, far from the feisty O'Reilly wannabe he used to be, Scarborough now equivocates tentatively as though some programming bigwig is holding a knife to the rest of his intellectual property.

The Dennis Miller show on CNBC and Special Report with Brit Hume on FNC are must "C" TV. Their multimedia equivalent is Hugh Hewitt, whose radio show and web site are touchstones for center-right conservatism. Hugh is the hub of the blogosphere that is responsible for the deconstruction of Kerry's Cambodia fable. His new book If It's Not Close, They Can't Cheat is on my birthday wish list. I live in Hugh’s home territory, but our local station KRLA delays the third hour of his broadcast for three hours. Why? So they can carry Michael Savage during drive time. Savage does not fit in the same lineup with influential thinkers William Bennett, Dennis Prager, Michael Medved and Hugh Hewitt.

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