Saturday, August 28, 2004

Hen in the Fox House

Just days before the November 1992 election, the California Senate race was a tossup - - that is, until sleazy Democrat operative Bob Mulholland disrupted a campaign event for Republican candidate Bruce Herschensohn, announcing that Herschensohn visited a strip club. Never mind that Herschensohn, his lady, and their friends Ken Minyard, long-time Los Angeles radio personality, and his wife had gone there on a “double date.” The late hit effectively ended Herschensohn’s chances of winning.

As someone who proudly volunteered in both of Herschensohn’s Senate campaigns, I was disappointed, disheartened and disgusted that the reputation and ambitions of a fine man were casualties of the politics of personal destruction. Bruce Herschensohn was and is exactly the sort of rare, principled, dignified, thoughtful statesman we need in government at all levels. Mulholland got his hand mildly slapped by the California Democrat party and then promptly returned to his role as muck merchant in every successive presidential campaign, including Clinton’s 1998 impeachment battle and the Florida post-election ground war in 2000. Now he is polluting the blogosphere, too.

On election night 1992, Susan Estrich provided commentary for a Los Angeles TV station. As I recall clearly, she was a partisan Democrat who most definitely was not celebrating Barbara Boxer’s first Senate victory. In the strongest terms, Estrich defended Herschensohn and denounced Mulholland. This, I thought, was an independent, unscripted Democrat that I could respect.

Since then, Estrich became a national pundit and my appreciation for her has grown commensurately. She has been fair, frank and feisty in her opinions, often criticizing the Clintons for “sucking the oxygen” out of the party that she loves. She helped to coordinate a group of influential Democrats who supported the 2002 gubernatorial campaign of Richard Riordan, the former "moderate" Republican Mayor of Los Angeles. I was delighted when my favorite channel, Fox News, signed Estrich as a recurring contributor in time for the 2004 election.

I am not sure what her new job description requires, but Estrich now seems to be little more than a partisan shill for Kerry. When an opposing panelist cites a fact that reflects poorly on Kerry, Estrich says with a shrug, “Oh, that’s not true,” and then follows the familiar Kerry defense:

1. Make an accusation about a Republican/conservative.
2. Do not address accusations made by Republicans/conservatives.
3. Change the subject.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 more loudly as necessary.

To her credit, she is not as strident as her CNN and MSNBC counterparts. Then again, I never thought I would be comparing her to Chris Matthews, Paul Begala and Eleanor Clift. During today's broadcast of At Large with Geraldo Rivera, Estrich accused the Swift Boat Vets of the worst smear tactics she has ever witnessed, although they documented their claims exhaustively and held themselves accountable to the public by granting numerous print and television interviews. In part, they are responding to allegations made about them by Senator John Kerry and his biographer, Douglas Brinkley, neither of whom have been available to the general media since the Swift Boat controversy arose. Meanwhile, the New York Daily News reported that Democrats are employing Mulholland-style dirty tricks, compiling personal dossiers on Swift Boat Vets.

So I ask: The worst smear tactics ever? Really, Susan?

Whether she is taking marching orders from the DNC or FNC, Susan Estrich is contradicting her own record of more than a decade and I am sorry for the loss of a refreshingly honest voice on the other side.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Just Another Day

As the overindulged youngest child in a multigenerational family, my birthdays were like Christmas in August – and Christmas was another embarrassment of excess that left me feeling unsettled and guilty. We were just a middle class family of seven, including my maternal grandmother, but my mother was such a proficient money manager that I never realized the sacrifices my parents made for me until I was an adult. Then, still bearing a sense of unworthiness for having done so little to receive so much, I traded inherent selfishness for compulsive selflessness. Gifts became a symbol of the pleasure I could give to others.

When my son was born, I gained an instinctive understanding of how selflessness can be balanced by healthy selfishness. His birthday follows mine by three days, making him the best belated birthday gift ever. The year I turned 40, Chris turned 13. Talk about lousy planning! Our birthdays being linked on the calendar became a symbol of the elemental connection running through me from my mother to my son and the birthdays I spent together with them were deeply satisfying.

Four years ago I celebrated my very first birthday with my husband-to-be, who was the most unexpected gift of all. If I had written a grocery list itemizing everything I wanted to find in one man, I would have shredded it and laughed at myself for being a deluded romantic. Apparently, I was shopping in the wrong places all those years. After Luis gave me a hopeful new life, receiving birthday and Christmas gifts seemed redundant.

Today is my birthday. Statistically, this is my eleventh birthday without my mother and my second since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Last year my birthday arrived near the low point between my first and second chemotherapy treatments, which is why I have no distinct recollection of that birthday. One way to describe my chemotherapy experience is to imagine a powerful tornado that carries you in slow motion away from your life, strips you of your perspective and control, and then dumps you back on the same exact spot too weak and nearly helpless to cope.

So you might be surprised to learn that I consider cancer to be one of the most monumental and unlikely gifts in my life – like motherhood and marriage, a gift that keeps on giving. I already had happiness, love and support. Cancer has given me a new kind of clarity, proportion, gratitude and sense of freedom.

When every day is a special blessing that you cannot take for granted, a birthday is just another wonderful day.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

McCain As Dr. Evil

During Friday's broadcast, Rush Limbaugh reported that one of the stars of the new commercial from the Swift Boat Vets is Paul Galanti, a former POW who also served as Virginia Chair of Senator John McCain's 2000 presidential campaign. Human Events Online adds that Galanti "was also an active member of Veterans for Mark Warner (the Democratic governor of Virginia) during Warner’s 2001 gubernatorial race." If true, these facts contradict the internet ad the Kerry campaign released this weekend, which attempts to connect the Swift Boat Vets' commercial with smear tactics allegedly used by the 2000 Bush campaign against McCain.

On Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, which I happened to be watching, former Senator Bob Dole displayed the passion, clarity and command that was missing from his 1996 presidential campaign when he criticized John Kerry's campaign and questioned his war record. He reminded me of the Bob Dole who blew Walter Mondale off the stage during the 1976 vice presidential debate. I am not comfortable second guessing Kerry's medals or brevity of service, but Dole is uniquely qualified to judge the merits because of his own wounds and tireless work on behalf of veterans. Near the end of the Vietnam War, Senator Dole wore a POW bracelet in honor of John McCain, who gave this nomination speech for his friend.

Alice Cooper, the 1970s gothic rocker seen most recently promoting Staples school supplies, has some very funny things to say about the upcoming concerts featuring anti-Bush artists. "If you're listening to a rock star in order to get your information on who to vote for, you're a bigger moron than they are. Why are we rock stars? Because we're morons. We sleep all day, we play music at night and very rarely do we sit around reading the Washington Journal." According to the online edition of the Edmonton Sun, Cooper is a Bush supporter who attends basketball games with his buddy John McCain.

Based on these three stories, I could infer that John McCain, not Karl Rove, is the mastermind behind recent attacks on John Kerry. We have enough evidence by Michael Moore standards and more than enough for the Kerry campaign to make accusations, certainly more evidence than exists to blame Rove if the criterion is how many friends you have that are somehow connected to public accusations against Kerry. Either scenario is flimsy, ridiculous and undocumented, but most of the mainstream media abandoned their fact checking long ago.

Journalists of the blogosphere, here's another assignment for you.

The Half-Vast Left Wing Conspiracy

Is one of the blathering blowhards of the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy about to suffer fallout from his election year antics?

This Washington Whispers column from the current online edition of U. S. News & World Report describes the political cost of playing a one-sided game of hardball:

You might notice something missing from Hardball With Chris Matthews soon: Republicans. "Hardball may seem more like badminton during the Republican National Convention," threatens a GOP insider. What's up? The GOP thinks Matthews has gone over to Sen. John Kerry 's side and is too critical of the Bush campaign's editing of a Hardball interview with Kerry posted on the party's negative site, As payback, they've stopped urging Republicans to appear on the show. Hardball executive producer Tammy Haddad dismisses charges Matthews is biased: "We beat everybody up." So far, nobody from the White House has told her of the show's being blackballed.

Let's urge the GOP to make good on this threat. If you agree, please write to the office of RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie at and ask him to discourage Republicans from guesting on Hardball and Crossfire during the convention.

Chris Matthews is shamelessly disrespectful to guests with whom he disagrees and even, according to the experience recounted by Michelle Malkin, manipulative, arrogant, and bullying. I could add more adjectives, but then there wouldn't be room for the following list of potential pundits and their e-mail addresses:

Jed Babbin
Michael Barone
Tony Blankley
David Brooks
Tammy Bruce
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Rod Dreher
Larry Elder
David Frum
Frank Gaffney
Jim Geraghty
Paul Gigot
Jim Glassman
Jonah Goldberg
Victor Davis Hanson
Hugh Hewitt
Laura Ingraham
Jeff Jacoby
Michael Ledeen
David Limbaugh
Kathryn Jean Lopez
Rich Lowry
Cliff May
Deroy Murdock
Kate O'Beirne
Jim Pinkerton
John Podhoretz
Dennis Prager
Glenn Reynolds
Peter Robinson
William Safire
Mark Steyn
Emmett Tyrrell
Armstrong Williams
Walter Williams
Byron York

I will be e-mailing each of these commentators to thank them for their constructive contributions to political discourse and encourage them to avoid Spitball, a.k.a. Hardball, and Crossfire during the Republican National Convention and until November 2, 2004.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Blackball "Hardball"

What if they taped a Hardball and nobody came?

No Republican or conservative, that is. The same for Crossfire. The last time I watched either of these shows was the last time, period. I was so aggravated that I didn’t know who would have an aneurysm first, Chris Matthews or me. I have often marveled that seemingly rational Republicans continue to participate in such an ugly, pointless, cacophonous spectacle when there are other venues for civil discourse.

The primary difference between Michelle Malkin and other right-thinking guests who were shouted down and shut up by Matthews, Carville and Begala (sounds like a team of ham-fisted proctologists) is that Malkin did not go quietly into the blogosphere. I hope details will be forthcoming from Ann Coulter, John O’Neill and others who experienced similar treatment.

The format of these shows requires the illusion of ideological balance. So I ask again: what if the conservative/Republican chairs were left empty during this campaign season?

No, I am not suggesting an audience boycott, which would be redundant since the ratings confirm that an overwhelming majority of the cable news audience already tunes out, but rather a guest boycott. I’m sure Chris Matthews could still attract some attention craving GOP politicos from his cocktail circuit, but I wonder if his producer’s Rolodex is deep enough to fill five shows per week. Even David Dreier and John McCain have to work some time.

I will post a list of e-mail addresses for regular and potential guests of Hardball and Crossfire if you would like to join me in urging those who are our political kin to refuse invitations to appear until after the November 2nd election at least. The mainstream media are long overdue for a comeuppance and their talk show mouthpieces are a good place to start.

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.