THIS IS EXACTLY THE KIND OF STUFF I WAS TALKING ABOUT!!!
more dirt and mud flying thick and fast across the political landscape
Tuesday, October 17, 2000
by RICHARD E. BERG-ANDERSSON
OK... I predicted it would continue getting dirty in this campaign and it has... another unsolicited "Democrats Press" e-mailing comes to me today filled with the same time of shoddy reporting I talked about in my 12 October Commentary "LET THE NASTINESS BEGIN!"
I got a lot of emails (40-plus all told) as a result of that Commentary, of which all but a few were the least bit supportive of my comments. Most (some three-fourths) were from people who actually understood that what I was attacking was NOT the actual digging into Governor Bush's military record (which, again, I think is a perfectly legitimate issue) but the unverified statements in the e-mailing itself, which I outlined not only in that Commentary but also in responses to two "Vox Populi" [1, 2] I chose as being representative of what I was receiving- one of these two "Vox Populi" was from among these three-fourths who actually made the effort to figure out what I was actually writing about.
But almost a quarter of the e-mails I received were from people who either did not very carefully read (or, in some cases, did not appear to even WANT to read) what I had actually written- I chose the second "Vox Populi" to which I responded as fairly representative of this last group. In both responses (which you can read- if you wish- in the "Vox Populi" section of this web site), I carefully outlined the gist of what I had originally written in that earlier Commentary.
I would strongly suggest that, before you respond to this one, you very carefully read EVERYTHING I have written on this subject (including my responses to the two "Vox Populi" we posted late last week). I have to confess I was rather amused at all the e-mails (from both groups- those who understood my 12 October Commentary and those who didn't [or didn't even bother trying to understand]) accusing me of being a defender of the Texas Governor or even a closet (since I have never publicly revealed my presidential preference and will not do so now) Bush supporter... which doesn't bother me in the least, by the way, since it more than offsets the many e-mails I have been receiving from people who have read my "Ten Point Must" scoring of the Debates and who all seem to think I'm a closet Gore/Lieberman supporter! (Who knows? Maybe I'll end up voting for BOTH men... after all, I DID go to college in Boston: one-time land of "Vote Early and Often").
I will reiterate one more time: I am not here taking sides, I am not picking on Democrats, I am not- in any way, shape or form- defending George W. Bush and I am certainly not- nor was I ever- opposed to the responsible investigation of his military record or apparent lack of same. But as long as "Democrats Press" is going to keep my e-mail address on their mailing list and is going to continue to give me such wonderful examples of irresponsible investigation for purely political purposes, I am going to continue writing about this very kind of unmitigated garbage they keep sending to me. There is a very easy way for "Democrats Press" to have me stop writing Commentaries such as this: stop sending this stuff to me (though I'd much prefer they become more responsible in what they, in fact, send out... I'm not foolish or naive enough, however, to expect them to do so- primarily because I understand what this really is: it is hardly a "news report", it is purely "electioneering disguised as a news report")- until they do, however, I'm going to rip them- assuming, of course, I feel they deserve to be ripped... and, boy, do they deserve to be ripped THIS time!
The headline of this e-mailing, put out under the auspices of one Bob Fertik (e-mail: "email@example.com") reads "Democrats.com Doubles $1,000 Reward Offered by Alabama Veterans for Proof of Bush's Military Service"... the basic story is that a group of 10 Vietnam veterans from Birmingham, Alabama had- before network TV cameras- offered $100 apiece as a reward to be paid to anyone who can prove that George W. Bush actually served his country. I myself have no problem with this per se- the Alabama veterans are exercising their rights of free speech and using the freedom of the press to openly express their dissatisfaction with Governor Bush's answer to questions about his military service... as I've said, it is legitimate fodder for the campaign. I am not here attacking these 10 Alabama veterans nor impugning their integrity, honesty and sincerity; indeed, I commend them for what appears to be a grass roots effort to get to the truth.
I WILL however impugn (once again) "Democrats Press"... the e-mailing they sent out today announces that this organization intends to match the reward money put up by the Alabamans- this from what describes itself as "Democrats.com, an independent news and community site for America's 100 million Democrats". This reminds me of an old New England joke in which a wealthy matron, who happens to be the only one left staying at a winter resort which has been snowed in, complains to the hotel's manager that the cream served at breakfast was sour to which the manager- a crusty, irascible old Yankee- responds "That, madam, is a lie from the start- as we have no cream in the house!" The "lie from a start" here is that this e-mailing is from an "independent" news site, for- if you exist "for America's 100 million Democrats"- you are hardly independent. "The Green Papers", on the other hand, IS independent because we are a political information site for EVERYBODY!
But here is the disturbing part of the e-mailing (besides the idea that this alleged news organization would offer reward money [and then goes on to quote one of the veterans as saying "We're not looking for people to just come off the streets to say, 'I know him and he was there.' We're looking for hard-core evidence."... aye! there's the rub!!- for one man's "hard-core evidence" is another man's "not good enough for me"] reads as follows: "Democrats.com has reported extensively on the Bush's military record in the Air National Guard from 1968 to 1974. On October 4, Democrats.com published the first independent review of Bush's record by an Air National Guard pilot, Bob Rogers... The investigation by Rogers revealed that... Pilot George W. Bush was grounded from flight in 1972 with two years left to fly, very possibly as a direct or indirect result of substance abuse. Bush has never provided a credible explanation for why he stopped flying, even though the U.S. Government invested nearly $1 million training him to fly. 2. Following his grounding, there is no hard evidence that George W. Bush ever reported for duty, despite several direct orders. Bush has said repeatedly during the campaign that he served his time – including specifically reporting for duty in Alabama – but his superior officers never saw him, and the campaign cannot produce any credible evidence."
'OK, Rich', those of you reading this might say, 'what's the problem?' HERE's the problem- the middle portion of item # 1. Granted that Bush was grounded, but what's this "very possibly as a direct or indirect result of substance abuse"? Was it or wasn't it?? How come Mr. Rogers' investigation (or at least that portion of his investigation which "Democrats Press" has today deigned to share with me) doesn't say??? I doubt very much that the vast majority of people would have accepted the NTSB's final report on the TWA 800 disaster of more than four years ago if they had simply written on a blank piece of paper "very possibly the direct or indirect result of a fuel tank explosion": we have every right to accept or not accept the NTSB's determination of what caused that terrible tragedy as we see fit, but at least the NTSB backed up its claim with some hard data. If a working journalist had written what appears in this "Democrats Press" mailing as an article for a newspaper or magazine, they should have been fired- and deservedly so!
Now, why do I even bother writing about this kind of election campaign filth in the first place? (as one of the less angry e-mails I received late last week so plaintively asked). In part because there are a lot of people around this third stone from the Sun who look at the United States of America as the most successful democracy in History- and they are right to do so because this Nation IS the most successful democracy which has ever existed. But a large number of these same people- filled to the brim with democratic aspiration- also have a rather bad habit of attributing a level of perfection to our political system it simply doesn't deserve (I know this because I have- since "The Green Papers" went online a little over a year ago- received e-mails from well over 75 countries from all the inhabited continents of the globe [though I'm still waiting, Antarctica!]) A lot of unsubstantiated "attack literature" such as that I have heretofore described is shot back and forth across the bow of the average American voter from all sides and against all sides; it is America's "dirty, little secret"- but it deserves to be exposed for what it is and those who utilize "The Green Papers" from outside the USofA should understand that this is an unfortunate part of the American electoral process which I sincerely hope is never emulated outside our borders.
However, I also write about this as a warning to my fellow American
voters: be very careful what you read- that "believe half of what you
see and none of what you hear" of a popular song of the late 1960's-
even if it comes from groups ostensibly representing a Party or a
campaign you yourself support. If someone writes "very possibly... the
result of--" or "if such-and-such did, in fact, happen, it would mean
this then would be true" (with the obvious intent that the reader
conclude "therefore, this MUST be true" even though they have not made
the least effort to work hard enough to prove to you it's true), use
your heads! "God gave me a brain and the Eleventh Commandment is 'thou
shalt use the brain thy Lord hath given thee' " Take nothing at face
value as we get closer to Election Day three weeks from today and make
your ultimate decision on who our leaders should be wisely!!