LET THE NASTINESS BEGIN!
As Bush and Gore Debate like Perfect Gentlemen,
the Political Worms crawl out from under the Rocks
Thursday, October 12, 2000
by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
I received an interesting communication in my "The Green Papers" e-mail Inbox today and I want to share it with all those who read "The Green Papers" online here in the States and around the world because it rather fairly represents the very type of political drivel that will be seen more and more over the next 3 1/2 weeks and which will- once again, unfortunately- come to dominate the presidential campaign as this election heats up (and, indeed, may- if most political observers are correct- tightens up) heading into the home stretch.
This particular communication was sent to me from an organization called "Democrats Press" and originated from an e-mail address of "email@example.com"; now, I want to make it abundantly clear that "The Green Papers" is a completely non-partisan site and that I am not here merely picking on Democrats or especially- since I have no evidence whatsoever that "Democrats Press" has any connection, real or imagined, to the Democratic Party of the USA or the Gore/Lieberman campaign- their supporters: I have little doubt that a similar "Man of the Pleistocene" mentality, of which "tidbits" have been seen in the posted rantings of Republican National Committee Chairman Jim Nicholson on the RNC site over the past year or so, is- even as I type this- filtering through the GOP down to the bottom-feeders among that Party's supporters who will, I can predict without too much fear of being wrong, send me similar garbage.
Apparently (and I say "apparently" because I have no way of knowing whether or not this is true... nor do I particularly care... nor, for that matter, should you!), this was originally posted on a site called "TOMPAINE.COM" the other day: the headline reads "GOVERNOR BUSH'S MILITARY RECORD; Will The Missing Year Become a Campaign Issue?" (obviously, the "good" people at "Democrats Press" have already answered that in the affirmative, for why else would they waste their time sending this out?). [And let me say one more thing here before I continue: I consider anything I might receive, and which is unsolicited, "fair game"-- if a political party, group or cause sends me something without my having requested it and I see something in there that clearly deserves to be ripped, I'm never going to shy away- in my capacity as the Commentator for "The Green Papers"- from ripping it... and ripping it but good! Don't hand me the loaded gun and then complain when the bullets subsequently strike you!!]
The piece opens with a reference to media outlets that "at least around the fringes" have "finally started covering" the long-standing rumor that Governor George W. Bush of Texas, the Republican nominee for President of the United States, not only allegedly more or less weaseled out of service in Vietnam but also reneged on ANY service to his country after his country taught him how to fly. Fair comment? Yes, so far- both as to the media (for I also have ripped the mainstream media for their shoddy coverage, for the most part, of this Election and its concomitant issues) AND Governor Bush (for, if these allegations be true, they are legitimate fodder for the campaign- since the Governor's heavy emphasis on military readiness flies in the face of his own military background: of course, assuming- but only for the sake of this particular argument, that these allegations ARE true).
But it stops there... and here's where it becomes unmitigated- and, frankly, unnecessary- political dirt: the TOMPAINE.COM "Update" (as it is called) notes that an Iowa farmer, who spent the Summer curled up in bed with Governor Bush's military file, then used it as the basis of a "TomPaine.com" article which- through a series of transmographications via various Internet outlets- eventually generated a "passing comment" a few weeks later on NBC's "Meet the Press" (pardon me if I'm not particularly impressed by this). This "Update" then further goes on to note that Democrats.com, one of the web-based media which was part of the chain leading from Iowa farmer cum "TomPaine.com" correspondent to the seconds of fame on "Meet the Press", "alleges that 'crucial evidence,' such as a flight inquiry board report 'that would reveal the true reason for Bush's suspension... is missing from the records.' ". OK, so far so good- but then "TomPaine.com" asks the crucial question: "Where did this report go? Were incriminating documents pulled from his file during his tenure as governor?"... of course, no answer is provided- primarily because "TomPaine.com" doesn't have one nor seems to be particularly interested in actually having to provide one- but, then again, the purpose of this Update is hardly to illuminate the voting public, is it? (see?!... I can ascribe shady behind-the-scenes motives as well as they!!)
Apparently, the Democrats.com story cited by "TomPaine.com" then went on to note that (I am here quoting from the "TomPaine.com Update") "in April of 1972, 'all the overseas and stateside military services began subjecting a small random sample in their ranks to substance abuse testing for alcohol and drugs... If Bush reported for his scheduled physical in August 1972, he could have been subject to selection for a random substance abuse test.' " Yeah, he could have... but WAS he?! This "Update" doesn't say- but the uninvestigated implication has been made that a.) Governor Bush was suspended for reasons we will never know and that b.) it must have been for substance abuse (and I seriously doubt those who would want to here "gore" Bush are talking ALCOHOL!... a few too many Buds is not going to have the major impact on the presidential campaign that a few too many lines would have now, would it?).
Of course, in the spirit of the multitudes still- nearly 37 years later- combing the Grassy Knoll in Dallas' Dealey Plaza with magnifying glasses, the "Update" has done absolutely nothing to PROVE this and, unlike these amateur World Wide Web journalists, I at least assume the readers of my stuff posted on "The Green Papers" have seen that this has not been proven one bit here. But they then go even further...
I wrote a Commentary for this very site almost a year ago titled IF YOU WANNA HANG OUT, YOU GOTTA TAKE HER OUT... COCAINE! about the Governor's campaign's (in my opinion) rather inept response to the allegations that he had been a youthful cocaine user/abuser which had been bubbling up in the months prior to my penning that Commentary. I noted "I, obviously, have not the slightest idea whether George W. Bush actually used cocaine 'back in the day' but I am forcibly led to the conclusion that he probably did" [NOTE: based solely on the way his campaign was reacting to these allegations- why? because] "if he didn't, he has certainly been acting like someone who did." I then went on to write that "[i]t was Republicans who made long ago illegal drug use an issue of presidential politics eight years ago in their failed attempt to keep George Bush in the Presidency: they are now merely being hoisted by their own petard in their current attempts to put his son into that same office."
But what I wrote 11 months ago is a far cry from what the "TomPaine.com" goes on to say about the ramifications of this "drug use- maybe: but, of course, don't expect us to prove it" stuff as regards this Election. Their "Update" goes on to note that the New Republic "takes Bush to task for hypocrisy in promising 'to usher in a period of personal responsibility.'" before adding the rather sardonic parenthetical "(Bush: 'I want each and every American to know for certain that I'm responsible for the decisions I make, and each of you are as well.' Really?)" Of course, little- if anything- is said by them that the Texas Governor is here clearly referring to decisions he might have made as GOVERNOR or that he might make if he is elected PRESIDENT (NOT what personal decisions he may or may not have made more than a quarter century ago!: and, even if he were, how many parents who might have- in their youth- ingested more than their fair share of "Mary Jo" read their own kids the riot act about Drug Abuse?!)... but the people at "TomPaine.com" won't tell you any of this, thereby revealing their own irresponsibility in the manner in which they have been describing this issue (just what is their argument here?: that they can nail Bush on his claim to want to usher in a "responsibility era" precisely BECAUSE they themselves are acting so irresponsible?? Really?! [see?!- I can be just as sardonic as they as well!])
Of course, the issue of "who snorted John" 20-something years ago- as applied to this Election- is little more than silly: a loser's gambit if ever I saw one! To again quote from that long ago Commentary of mine: "I don't think George W. Bush should, on general principle, have to apologize for any drug use- cocaine or otherwise- he might have indulged in earlier in his life. Why should I care whether a presidential candidate used drugs so long ago? As long as there is not even a scintilla of evidence that George W. Bush, say, has snorted lines of white powder off the rug of the Texas Governor's Mansion lately, the question of Mr. Bush junior's drug use is totally irrelevant... and the fact that the mainstream media has spent such an inordinate amount of time wasting yours spent reading/watching it on just such an issue is proof positive of why web sites such as 'The Green Papers' are necessary to keep the 'big boys' in the Fourth Estate honest and in line."
I then went on to say that "whether I vote for or against the Texas Governor for President is ultimately going to have absolutely nothing to do with whatever illicit chemical substances he may have ingested a quarter century ago; instead, MY vote for/against him will be based on his stands on the issues of the day and the policy options Mr. Bush may... support or oppose"; I opined that "[t]here is this bizarre notion in our society and culture that if someone used (pick one: marijuana, cocaine, etc.) when they were 20-something, they are totally incapable of enforcing the drug laws when they get into their 40's or 50's. Knowing whether Bill Clinton actually inhaled or George W. Bush, indeed, snorted actually tells the voter nothing about either politician's policies re: the drug problem". I closed that piece with the observation that "the issue of past drug use by candidates for high office is totally irrelevant to how I, for one, choose my Presidents: at the same time, and rather unfortunately so, it has become an issue despite such irrelevance. Moreover, it is just further evidence of the sorry inability of Americans to hold an honest political debate about drugs, legal as well as illegal, and truly face the issue of substance abuse in this country; it is little wonder we have never been able to deal with the drug problem as we, instead, waste our time going through the trash heap of our politicians' pasts."
I have not changed my thinking one bit on this since I first wrote those words because, let's face it, this "Update"- so helpfully forwarded to me by "Democrats Press" (whoever in hell THEY are!)- does little to enlighten the voters on the Drug Problem as an issue for our Society. Yes, it is true (and I very well know this from my mere one year's experience so far here with "The Green Papers") that "in the Internet age, when the big guns of journalism fail, the man in the street can seize the battlefield"- but that "man in the street" who dares step into the oncoming traffic of the Information Superhighway had better know how to use the weapons well and should also be able to get the right Range and Coordinates or that battle's going to be, at best, pretty damn indecisive!
But this is all merely a symptom of a much larger disease which, I am afraid, will once again infect this campaign, as it has so many past campaigns, as we get closer to Election Day early next month: for we have heard, just earlier this week, Democratic National Committee Chairman Joe Andrew announce a whole new slew of what can only be described as "attack spots" against Governor Bush. I have often said- going back to before the first primaries and caucuses last Winter- that this Election was Al Gore's to lose more than George W. Bush's to win: I still think so, though I also argued- at the time of the National Conventions- that Gore had to stay "on message" TO win!
This kind of... well... crap!- whether from the DNC or "TomPaine.com" or
"Democrats Press", among the Vice President's supporters- is, most
assuredly, NOT "on message". Those who say they support the Vice
President's bid for the White House instead do him a grave disservice
with this kind of alleged "journalism". They are, of course, free to do
so; we have constitutional guarantees to Free Speech and a Free Press...
by the same token, we- the American voters- are free to ignore the
lesser lights of Freedom... and, assuming we are reasonably intelligent,
we will come 7 November!