It's an election year, yeah! Three long years we've been waiting, and now has come our shining hour. O happy days are here again. The skies above are clear again. Let the festivities commence.
I was puzzled in 2000 when so few in the press seemed interested in George W. Bush's record, and now I find there's mass amnesia on the subject again this year. For example, a number of conservative pundits--including Bill Safire in highest dudgeon--have opined about Howard Dean's attempt to sequester his gubernatorial papers. George W. Bush, however, did not unseal his gubernatorial papers, which he had carted off to his father's Presidential library at Texas A&M. Texas gubernatorial papers are public by law and normally go to the state archivist. Bush did not change his mind until the Texas attorney general made him do so last summer. (Hint to those in search of media bias: Who got more coverage for secreting gubernatorial papers, Bush or Dean?)
Again, we find on the front page of The New York Times the story of a suspicious contract given to a Dean aide while Dean was governor. Let's see how much play this story gets compared to a slew of scandals during Bush's governorship, including the time he fired the head of a state commission for enforcing the law against a large contributor who runs funeral homes.
A subject of apparently endless fascination to the press corps is Dean's "anger." What about Bush's? Bush becomes testy whenever he's so much as asked a challenging question at a press conference. Of course he cusses, including one memorable ass-chewing of a woman state senator who had to fall back on the "As a lady, I resent that" line. On another occasion, Bush walked out on the senate floor to ream out a Republican senator who'd flaked on him (the issue was vouchers).
On a rather larger issue, we find the media questioning whether any Democrat can compare with Bush on national security. Uh, has anyone looked at Bush's record on national security? In case you hadn't noticed, he got us into what seems to be a hopeless situation in Iraq by lying to us. Our ports aren't protected. Our nuclear plants aren't protected. Our chemical plants aren't protected. And our first-responder drills indicate a gross confusion and lack of coordination. Also, Osama bin Laden has come out of his cave again.
One piece of good news (credit where credit is due) is that John Ashcroft has decided to recuse himself from the investigation of the Plame affair and to appoint an outside prosecutor to the case. I am still confounded that there even has to be an investigation. Why didn't President Bush just demand: "Who the hell is responsible for this?" and then fire the perp?
What do you have to do to get fired in this outfit?
I'm not sure why this particular episode chaps me so much: Maybe it's because Bush kept promising to bring back honor and integrity to the White House. Plame, who worked for the CIA without official cover, and her husband, Joseph Wilson, ambassador to Iraq during the first Gulf War and recipient of a medal for gutsy performance from the first President Bush, seem to me to have risked more for this country than any of the political hitmen sitting in the White House. Nevertheless, Karl Rove allegedly felt entitled to observe that "Wilson's wife is fair game" because Wilson publicly crossed the Administration. Why is his wife fair game? Why, for that matter, is he fair game? I actually heard Robert Novak, who published the original Plame leak, say defensively, "Ambassador Wilson is having a good time with all this. He's having a wonderful time."
True, Wilson doesn't seem to shy away from attention. But is that actually considered a justification for what they did? Have these people no moral sense?