Thursday, July 08, 2004

Reclaiming the Low Ground

Still off my regular schedule; I need to write again tonight and then maybe I'll be back in my regular Sunday rotation.

I had fun with this column. I also got a block quote, the sentence at the end of the "Kristoff says" paragraph. The newspaper version is available here, at least for about a month.

Civility in Politics

East Valley Tribune, July 8, 2004

You want civility? Go Dick Cheney yourself if you want civility. Liberals should get to behave just as badly as conservatives. Desperate times do call for desperate measures.

There is a media double standard -- yes, even in the So-Called Liberal Media. It’s more than the usual hack stuff, where the location of a Democratic fundraiser gets a snarky remark as either too nice or too plebian, but Republicans hold events wherever they please. But when conservatives also get to say whatever they please, it’s time for liberals to reclaim the low ground.

Liberals must fight this double standard. Maybe that’s what’s happening with Fahrenheit 9/11; people know they aren’t getting the truth from mainstream media, much less Fox and the other right-wing outlets. What, only conservatives can complain about media bias? That’s bull-Cheney.

Nicholas Kristoff, of The New York Times, bemoans liberals who call George W. Bush a liar. He thinks Bush probably sincerely believed stuff he said that wasn’t true, or that Bush’s statements were “overzealous” or “self-deluded” exaggerations. Yeah, that’s the ticket!

Just like Fahrenheit 9/11, which isn’t always coherent and which gives impressions more nefarious than the script’s actual text. Just like how Bush implied that Iraq posed an imminent danger. So as fellow Times columnist Paul Krugman noted, let’s hold Michael Moore to the same standards as the president. If Moore’s self-deluded or overzealous, I guess he’s honest enough to be president. Or are only Republicans never held accountable?

There’s no way liberals should let conservatives -- or even liberal pundits paying homage to the false idol of on-the-other-handism -- force us into behaving better than conservatives. If George Bush can say stuff that isn’t true and it’s fine because he believes it, or if he can imply all sorts of stuff and it’s fine because he left himself a rhetorical out, then sign us up for these conveniently lower standards.

Every Democrat was expected to denounce some anonymous person’s submission to a website linking Hitler to Bush. Within hours, the website sponsor removed the offensive submission, and started screening everything submitted before making it publicly available. But now the official Bush-Cheney website posted an ad linking Hitler and Kerry, using the excuse that a Democratic-leaning site previously made the comparison. Hitler analogies are officially fine for Republicans, only verboten for Democrats. Even Hitler is now a double standard.

Kristoff says that conservatives “have always been quick to detect evil empires. But liberals love subtlety and describe the world in a palette of grays -- yet many have now dropped all nuance about this president.” In other words, only conservatives can indulge in baseless speculation and rumor-mongering; liberals are required to behave better. To Cheney with that.

So let’s treat Michael Moore with the exact same disdain that conservatives treat those who gave currency to claims that the Clintons had Vincent Foster murdered -- like Rush Limbaugh and The Wall Street Journal editorial page. Limbaugh’s a fine example; he’s paunchy like Moore, so fat jokes won’t work. Let’s condemn Moore to the same purgatory where we put Limbaugh after his over-the-top innuendo and invective. That means Moore can be an honored guest at the Capitol, sit in the First Lady’s box at the nominating convention, and get hired as an expert commentator by NBC. That’s one well-paying purgatory.

Actually, Moore should get [ital] better [unital] treatment than Limbaugh; Moore doesn’t have all those divorces -- or the drug problem. From a “family values” perspective, Michael is far superior to Rush.

So conservatives: Stop yapping about the movie, and show the same respect you demand for Limbaugh.

And liberals: Let’s behave only as well as conservatives do. They deserve it.

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