Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Rather, Dems only "regret" is getting caught

I think today's New York Post op-ed pegs Gunga-Dan's non-apology spot-on:

"Dan Rather regrets.

"Not that he slandered the President of the United States on the basis of fraudulent documents.
Not that he did his best to undermine the moral authority of America's commander in chief in time of war. Not that he implied — publicly and darkly — that he himself was the victim of 'powerful and well-financed . . . partisan ideological forces.'

"No, none of that.

"Dan Rather and CBS News regret, basically, that they got caught."

CBS News president Andrew Heyward said, "We should not have used the[forgeries]. That was a mistake, which we deeply regret."

But why was it a "mistake"? These documents practically had "BOGUS" stamped on them in flashing phosphorescent ink. Most of CBS' document "experts" warned Rather & Co. that they were at least "questionable," and shouldn't be used. Yet they ran with the "story" anyway, and Heyward was in on the review process.

Rather added: "We made a mistake in judgment, and for that I am sorry. It was an error that was made, however, in good faith."

IOW, (1) "We didn't do anything wrong," (2) "What Heyward said," and (3) "Just because we can't authenticate the forgeries doesn't mean they aren't authentic."

That sounds flip, but what else can "no longer have the confidence in these documents that would allow them to continue vouching for them journalistically" mean?

The logic of it is, well, "unimpeachable": If Rather admits that the "alleged" Killiam memos are phonier than John Kerry trying to ingest a corndog, he also admits that the "story" they were intended to bolster is phony as well. But if said memos are merely "controversial," their veracity "indeterminate," then in his mind, the "story" is still alive. And he wants, needs that "story" to stay alive with a fervor bordering on religious mania.

Of course, this "story" has been a non-starter for a full decade. Indeed, it's never mattered to voters either in Texas or nationally, even the maniacal Gore campaign wouldn't touch it four years ago, and Rather's own "unimpeachable source" - mentally-unbalanced and long-ago-discredited Bush-hater Bill Burkett - openly admits that he "misled" CBS about where he got the forgeries. Logic suggests that if this "story" wasn't hollower than a chocolate Easter bunny, there would never have been a need to prop it up with figurative "blanks" the size of bazooka ammo.

Rathergate, OTOH, is a different, well, story. According to USA Today, it was Rather's producer, Mary Mapes, who steered Burkett to Joe Lockhart of the Kerry campaign in exchange for copies of the forgeries. Burkett also contacted ex-Senator, Kerryite, and fellow Bush-hater Max Cleland last month for the same basic purpose, to wit, to plot a counterattack against Bush to avenge the Swiftboat Vet offensive. Lockhart first denied any contact with Burkett, and then when confronted with proof of their phone conversation pooh-poohed it as insignificant. And the Clintons' DNC sockpuppet, Terry McAuliffe, is making a complete ass of himself, as is doubtless in his official job description.

And maybe one could shrug all of that off - if not for the forged memos.

This really is a huge deal - one can only imagine the uproar had this been Fox News, the Swiftees, and the Bush campaign. And, of course, that's exactly how the Democrats see what happened to their lackluster standardbearer in August. Since they project their own absence of ethics and scruples on their foes - the "everybody does it" rationalization - they really thought they were just responding in kind. No concept of an objective standard of truth registers with these people - that George Bush unabashedly proclaims precisely that is one more reason why they hate him so much.

However, such a caper ought not be at all shocking or even mildly surprising. Media bias has been an undisputable fact for years. Big Media and the Democrat Party share an endlessly revolving door. They're both power-mad. They're both amoral and utterly without conscience. And it's certainly happened before. The wonder would have been if they hadn't tried to smear the President.

The great twofold irony to all of this is that, as smears go, "Fortunate Son" is by equal measures lame and tame.

1) Even if the forgeries had been the real deal I can't see how anything in them would have hurt the President more than minimally. The same thing could and would have been the case about Kerry's Vietnam service record if he himself hadn't made it his central qualification for the presidency. Or, in plain, non-Vulcan English, Kerry set himself up to be taken apart by the Swiftees, and then he and his lieutenants and press allies compounded that error by being unwilling to stop at anything to exact their revenge on Bush.

2) After the hurricane of execrable crud the left has hurled at Dubya for the past year and a half - "liar," "warmonger," "mass murderer," "worse than Hitler," "traitor," etc. - "Fortunate Son" is like an all-expense-paid weekend with the Skinny-Dippin' Wolf Women of Planet Heineken.

But perhaps the greatest debt America owes to the "pajamahadeen" is that this scandal - which has the potential to dwarf Watergate - was exposed literally within hours of 60 Minutes II running this "story." Had the blogosphere existed in 1972, Watergate might never have become *WATERGATE*, either by tipping that election against Nixon or by forcing him to clean house right away instead of indulging in the underestimation of the problem and the illusion that it could be "contained." The break-in wouldn't have stayed out there, festering just below the surface like the proverbial ticking time-bomb, just waiting to blow up literally within days of the kickoff of Nixon's second term.

At the very least, a profoundly and pompously obnoxious major network has been downgraded to Weekly World News level, and its fellow networks and print fellow-travelers fleeing collateral reputational damage.

At most, a long step has been taken toward averting a "regime-change" that would be disastrous on numerous levels without a scandal of this magnitude tossed in for "bad" measure.

John Kerry's defeat will mean an open declaration of war by the Democrats against the medium of the Internet, which they will take blood oath to regulate into silence.

But that's the next scandal.

And as Dan Rather has found out, "guys in pajamas" are capable of kicking some serious ass.