Nobody Died in u2018Rathergate!'

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.