In case you missed it, at the January 22 New Hampshire primary debate,
ABC's Peter Jennings directed this shot at Wesley Clark:
At one point [Michael] Moore, said in front of you that President Bush
-- he was saying he'd like to see a debate between you the General and
President Bush who he called a deserter. Now that's a reckless charge not
supported by the facts so I was curious to know why you didn't contradict
him and whether or not you think it would have been a better example of
ethical behavior to have done so. (For context, see Peter Neiwart's
entry at our "Best of the Blogs").
Note the begged assumption (the "when-did-you-stop-beating-your-wife"
ploy) -- the unexamined assumption that ("as every fool surely knows")
"that's a reckless charge not supported by facts."
To the contrary, of course, it is not a "reckless charge" and it is not
"unsupported by facts." However, Jennings and his cohorts in the
corporate media have heretofore have managed to bury this potential
bombshell by treating it with near-total silence.
There is an abundance of "facts" supporting the charge that Bush took a
(shall we say) "unauthorized early departure" from his military obligation.
(See the reports by
Robert Rogers and
Martin Heidt). Moreover, we can be assured that if a Democratic
candidate had committed such an offense, the "librul media" would have seen
to it that he would be banished from politics and forgotten before the
morning editions. After all, authentically unsupported and reckless
charges of "disloyalty" cost Viet Nam hero, Max Cleland, his senate seat.
Finally, if this nagging and troublesome "rumor" about "our
President" were unfounded, the White House could conclusively and
permanently put it to rest by producing the muster sheets from Bush's
Service Record and from the base files. If he were on base, as
required, there simply must be a record of this. And
yet, not a word of substantive refutation. Only poses of outrage by
the likes of Peter Jennings.
"Desertion?" Possibly an exaggeration. (I'll leave that to
the experts in military law). AWOL? Seems closer to the mark.
But these are semantic questions. The hard, non-reckless fact, which
the media is manifestly unwilling to confront, is that Bush violated his
So, with the media unwilling to raise the issue, it falls upon the likes
of Michael Moore to push it under the noses of the Grand Poobahs of
broadcasting -- and also, thankfully, the audience that is tuned in.
At last, the genius Bushista spin-meisters, and their
media-whores, have dropped the ball. Far better that they had
simply ignored Moore's "desertion" remark. Instead,
they attempted to use that arguably intemperate remark to flog Wesley
Clark, and it has backfired. It was Topic One on the following
"Crossfire" as Bob Novak brought it up repeatedly, and over the weekend,
it has rebounded throughout media.
The anti-Bushites can only relish their contemplation of the ensuing
conversations at the other end of the tube, throughout the realm:
Charlie Nascar Dad: "How dare that librul snake,
Michael Moore, call our President a deserter!"
Sally Soccer Mom: "Yes, dear, it's just awful.
But gee, just suppose that Mr. Bush did, in fact, walk away from his
military obligation. Do you suppose there's anything to it?"
Dad: "I dunno. I've heard nothing about it. But if it's a
lie, why don't the President's people prove it? Makes ya kinda
wonder, don't it."
And so, in living rooms across the country, the door of doubt is
unlatched and opened just a crack.
Time now to rush in and pry it open. It's an opportunity not to be