Nobody Died in u2018Rathergate!'

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Bob
Shaw, the recently deceased former mayor of Manchester, NH, uttered
several memorable phrases in his time. One of them, "the double
standard of the single-minded," recently came to mind after
hearing so many Bush loyalists, most of whom have not and will not
see the film, dismiss the Michael Moore movie, "Fahrenheit
9-11," as propaganda. The phrase is usually uttered in a snarl
or growl, as though the Bush defender were disdainful of propaganda
in all its diabolical forms.

Well,
now that's pretty hard to swallow, especially when coming from people
whose daily mental diet includes hefty servings of high-cholesterol
propaganda from the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Bill O'Reilly, Sean
Hannity and other wailing banshees on 24-hour "hawk" radio.
("All war drums, all the time!") And there are shrub-loving
Republicans who may not listen to the talk masters, but get much
or all of their news from the crudely propagandistic Fox News channel.
At the very least, they swallowed whole the phony case Bush made
for the war with Iraq, a country that never attacked us, posed no
foreseeable threat to us, and did not want war with us. Indeed,
one Bush-loyalist friend, when I pressed him as to why he believed
our war against Iraq was justified, insisted: "I believe my
government!" And this is someone who, though a good deal younger
than I, is old enough to remember (and has since read about it)
Vietnam, Watergate, etc. When I persuaded him to see the "Fahrenheit
9-11," he left the movie grumbling about "propaganda!"
Really. The double standard of the single-minded.

As
it turned out, there were a number of discrepancies in the Moore
film, some of which may have been due to sloppy research, others
to deliberately misleading statements or innuendoes. But they all
pale in comparison to the misleading and misinformed statements
coming from the Bush administration in the "run up" to
the Iraq war. (To cite just one example, Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld said in a nationally televised interview that we not only
knew the Iraqis had the infamous and elusive weapons of mass destruction,
"We know where they are.") Say what you will about Michael
Moore, at least the boorish, unkempt, left-wing filmmaker never
got us into war.

Nor
has Dan Rather. The Bushites are all in a lather right now over
some highly questionable (at best) or thoroughly bogus (at worst)
documents used in a CBS "60 Minutes" report about George
W. Bush's record as a member of the Texas Air National Guard. As
of this writing, even Rather, a "60 Minutes" correspondent
and the anchor of CBS Evening News, has admitted some of the documents
are questionable. That has Republicans pointing fingers at the Kerry
campaign and Democrats wondering if the notorious Karl Rove and
his nefarious friends and allies didn't really mastermind the whole
thing as a ploy from the "Dirty Tricks" playbook.

And
the "conservatives" are, of course, in high dudgeon over
the apparent CBS deception and are calling for Rather's scalp. But
suppose Rather did air something inaccurate, based on "faulty
intelligence." Isn't Bush a hero for taking the country to
war on faulty intelligence? Why is it that the same conservative
commentators beating the drums for Bush's reelection apparently
believe justice will not be served until Dan Rather has been reduced
to doing weather and traffic reports on a CBS affiliate in southern
Mississippi? Is it because Rather lacks what Bush had, a CIA director
to walk the plank for him?

At
least the "60 Minutes" story, however unpleasant it may
have been for Mr. Bush, did not result in any deaths or serious
injuries, save possibly the damage done to the credibility of CBS
news. Here again, the Bush supporters are straining at gnats in
the CBS report after swallowing camels in the Bush drive to war.
CBS, which can ill afford to give further evidence of partisanship,
must nonetheless be tempted to say to the Republicans, "Nobody
died in Rathergate!"

None
of that matters of course to the Bush die-hards. (I use the term
in its loose and common figurative sense. The ones who are dying
hard are the young men Bush has sent to Iraq and those who are killing
and being killed by them.) They are howling for Rather's scalp (and
no doubt wish he were subject to impeachment), even as they praise
Bush seven times a day.

So
the question is, why will the Bushites not hold the president, the
secretary of defense and other "malefactors of great stealth"
in this administration to the same standard of truthfulness to which
they are eager to hold Michael Moore and Dan Rather? I guess my
old friend the late Mayor had it right.

It's
the "double standard of the single-minded."

September
18, 2004

Manchester, NH, resident Jack Kenny (send
him mail
) is a freelance writer.

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