The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Monday, September 27, 2004  

Together With Media Miscellany
September 27, 2004

Another Vietnam? [*]
Will Bunch of the Philadelphia Daily News, writing at his new blog Campaign Extra, today highlights that question with another, similar question, "History Repeating?" Bunch compares the timelines of conflict and politics surrounding the wars in Vietnam and Iraq. Bonus: Cool graphic!

Our Banana Republic
Former President Jimmy Carter, whose Carter Center has supervised elections in such havens of fair-play democracy as Venezuela and Indonesia, expresses continued concerns about the situation in Guatemala Florida. In today's Washington Post ("Still Seeking a Fair Florida Vote") President Carter writes:

[S]ome basic international requirements for a fair election are missing in Florida. [...]

It was obvious that in 2000 these basic standards were not met in Florida, and there are disturbing signs that once again, as we prepare for a presidential election, some of the state's leading officials hold strong political biases that prevent necessary reforms.

The top election official [Glenda Hood] has . . . played a leading role in qualifying Ralph Nader as a candidate, knowing that two-thirds of his votes in the previous election came at the expense of Al Gore. She ordered Nader's name be included on absentee ballots even before the state Supreme Court ruled on the controversial issue.

Florida's governor, Jeb Bush, naturally a strong supporter of his brother, has taken no steps to correct these departures from principles of fair and equal treatment or to prevent them in the future.

It is unconscionable to perpetuate fraudulent or biased electoral practices in any nation. It is especially objectionable among us Americans, who have prided ourselves on setting a global example for pure democracy. With reforms unlikely at this late stage of the election, perhaps the only recourse will be to focus maximum public scrutiny on the suspicious process in Florida.

I somehow doubt that by "maximum public scrutiny" President Carter means anything like the vicious hoards of crazed Republicans the party shipped to West Palm Beach four years ago.

Safire Again and Again
I tried to watch "Meet the Press" yesterday. I really did; I really wanted to see what the assembled panel of experts had to say about the presidential campaign. Imagine my disappointment when the panel was revealed to include William Safire and Robert Novak (still not in jail; still not questioned), and for "balance," David Broder and Doris Kearns Goodwin.

Safire, that slippery sap of sycophancy, was as insufferable as ever, and he gives a repeat performance in today's New York Times with "The Kidnap Weapon," an essay in which Safire becomes his own 527:

John Kerry, who has evidently decided to replace Howard Dean as the antiwar candidate, last weekend helped to magnify the terrorists' kidnap weapon. In a scheduled commercial Kerry personally approved, just before charging that George Bush had no plan to get us out of Iraq, the Democratic campaign underscored the message Zarqawi has been sending: "Americans," said Kerry's announcer, "are being kidnapped, held hostage, even beheaded."

Though undoubtedly accurate, that paid evocation of horror by a political candidate is a terrible blunder. That's the sort of emotional appeal you would expect from President Gloria Arroyo of the Philippines who pulled 51 troops out of Iraq, caving to the demand of kidnappers, emboldening them to grab fresh victims.

It's bad enough for some thoughtless media outlets to become an echo chamber for scare propaganda; it's worse when the nominee of a major party approves its use to press his antiwar candidacy.

That Safire, he's so clever with words, you know. (See, for example, his latest "On Language" column in yesterday's Times: "Urge to Surge." Zzzzz.) He's all but charged Sen. Kerry with aiding and abetting terrorists, thereby dutifully following the vice president's recent droppings along the campaign trail.

Whatever happened to mandatory retirement ages?

Dick Cheney: Designated Dissembler
Yes, he's still at it. Vice President Dick Cheney continues to spread misinformation about the relationship between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.

Seeking an understanding of this brazen -- and long-running -- pattern of prevarication, James Gerstenzang of the Los Angeles Times quotes Paul Light, a professor at New York University (see "Cheney 'Pushes the Envelope' on Al Qaeda-Iraq Connection"): "It's a statement to the party faithful. He doesn't say Saddam Hussein planned 9/11 and funded it. There's no evidence of that. But he pushes the envelope, for sure." And, in Light's words, the "veneer of ligitimacy" Cheney acquired at the start of the Bush administration has lingered. That, he says, "allows him to say things that are outrageous." [Emphasis added.]

Slow Down, There Fella'
The New York Times today reports ("Agencies Postpone Issuing New Rules Until After Election," by Stephen Labaton): "In recent weeks, federal agencies across the vast Washington bureaucracy have delayed completion of a range of proposed regulations from food safety and the environment to corporate governance and telecommunications policy until after Election Day, when regulatory action may be more politically palatable."

I guess the Bush administration is too perplexed by these issues and wants the Kerry-Edwards team to handle them. Sounds good to me.

"Mr. Keyes, is there a problem at home?"
Gee whiz, I don't even know what to think about this.

[* Note: Additional items may be posted to “Political Notes” after initial publication but only on the day of publication, excluding post-publication addenda. Such items, when posted, are designated by an asterisk.]


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