Indeed, the lunacy of the flap about Durbin shows the disturbing point weve now reached; if youre a Democrat, a firestorm can quickly spread around you if you make remarks which are perfectly accurate. In this case, a Democrat actually did say something thats about as mundane as the sky is blue. Have you read that FBI report—the report which Durbin was discussing? No one would associate the conduct it describes with the nation described in our civics texts, with the country you were taught to believe in as school kids. But given our modern press culture, Crawford was right; its foolish for Dems to mention Hitler, and its amazing that major Dems like Durbin still havent grasped this fact. Yes, its only foolish because our discourse is now in the hands of fakers and crackpots. But then, this unpleasant fact has been fairly plain at least since early in Campaign 2000. At THE HOWLER, weve written about this every day—every day for the past seven years! And as weve done so, fiery career liberals have hid from this fact, because it might hurt their careers.
In the lunatic attacks on Durbin—in the lunatic attacks on average citizens disturbed by the troubling Downing Street memos—we finally see what these years of silence have, at long last, brought us. How crazy has our press culture become? McCain and Russert disgraced themselves in the hunting of Durbin this Sunday, and its astounding to see a man like Bill Kristol carry on in the way he did on Fox News Sunday. Until recently, Kristol has almost never stooped to this type of idiocy. But he participated enthusiastically on Sunday—along with his disgraced host, Chris Wallace, who played the fraud, faker and clown.
But lets return to the basic point; this situation has been growing for years. We have written about it daily, and fiery career liberals have refused to follow. When they came for Gore, these self-dealers kept quiet. Now they have come for our sanity.
Although youve surely read it elsewhere, heres the report Dick Durbin discussed. Does this sound anything like the America described in your childrens civics texts? Does this sound anything like the America adult citizens would present to the world?
FBI REPORT (7/29/04): On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food, or water. Most times they urinated or defecated on themselves, and had been left there for 18-24 hours or more. On one occasion, the air conditioning had been turned down so far and the temperature was so cold in the room, that the barefooted detainee was shaking with cold...On another occasion, the [air conditioner] had been turned off, making the temperature in the unventilated room well over 100 degrees. The detainee was almost unconscious on the floor, with a pile of hair next to him. He had apparently been literally pulling his hair out throughout the night. On another occasion, not only was the temperature unbearably hot, but extremely loud rap music was being played in the room, and had been since the day before, with the detainee chained hand and foot in the fetal position on the tile floor.Durbin asked an obvious question: If youd read that report, would you ever have thought that it was describing American conduct? Or would you have thought what Durbin said—that it must describe an evil regime, the type we have long denounced? The answer to that is perfectly obvious—and so is the state of our fallen culture, the culture being trampled under by the Russerts, the McCains and the Wallaces.
But weve now reached a miraculous point in the crumbling of our discourse. Weve reached the point where citizens are mocked by major scribes for wondering if we were lied into war—and where United States senators are told to apologize for denouncing the conduct described in that report. But then, lunacy has spread throughout our discourse over the course of the past dozen years. And your fiery career liberals have known to be silent. They looked away again and again. Now we see what that has bought us.
Remember: If youre troubled to think that we may have been lied into war, that makes you a wing nut to todays mainstream press corps. And if you think that FBI report sounds un-American, you need to apologize to the Senate! McCain, Russert, Kristol, Hume, Wallace? Theyve turned their backs on sanity itself. Everyone has to fight this spreading press culture—and you have to ask more from those who kept quiet while this culture of insanity was born.
This is just nuts, Crawford said. But then, your public discourse was already nuts in March 1999, when the mainstream press began assembling the scripts it would use to take down Candidate Gore. And from that day to this, career liberals kept quiet, every step of the way. When they came for Gore, career liberals clammed up. Now they have come for our sanity.
WHY THEY KEPT QUIET: In case you dont know why career liberals kept quiet, lets get Jack Shafer back out here again! We have written, for the past seven years, about the press corps spreading lunacy. Why did your fiery career liberals kept quiet? Take it away, Cactus Jack:
SHAFER (4/8/05): I started writing press criticism at Washington City Paper back in 1986, because as editor I couldn't get anybody else to do it. Writers were frightened that if they penned something scathing about the Washington Post or the New York Times they'd screw themselves out of a future job.Yep! When the Post and the Times came for Gore, careerist liberals knew to keep quiet. Today, in the lunatic hunting of the senator, we see what their self-dealing bought us. More on this topic to come.
MUST-READ NYT: In todays Times, Anthony Lewis discusses the hunting of the senator. You know what to do—just click here.
RUINING A GOOD MANS CAREER: We dont know why Crawford wants to ruin his budding career by displaying residual logical skills, but heres another troubling exchange between himself and Imus:
IMUS (6/17/05): Back to Senator Durbin for a moment. A case can be made that these rants from these guys cant help the morale of troops or provide some motivation maybe to some of these terrorists, although it doesnt appear that they need much, does it?Uh-oh! For the record, we go all the way back to the days when Crawford, then editor of the Hotline, would engage us for hilarious evenings of comedy. Here at THE HOWLER, the analysts cheered when Crawford gave this admirable answer to Imus question. But for ourselves, we dont understand why a dude would imperil his career by displaying this capacity for logical thought. Good Lord! In an age of total cracked pottery, why display this residual grasp of the American system?
CRAWFORD: Oh, I dont know. I mean, this is democracy. I mean, were over there spreading democracy. This is democracy. We debate these things...I just get irritated with the idea that when somebody complains about the policies, its immediately connected to, that theyre complaining about the troops and that theyre demeaning the troops. I just dont think it goes that way.
PART 1—ITS HARD TO GET REAL INFORMATION: Its hard to find a real discussion about those Downing Street memos. On Sunday, George Stephanopoulos asked Condi Rice to discuss the memos on This Week. ABC has now posted its transcript. Lets marvel as Rice, a flim-flam star, refuses to honor his request:
STEPHANOPOULOS (6/21/05): As you know, there's also been a lot of talk back here in the United States about these Downing Street memos, the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring and summer of 2002 where they discussed their meetings with the United States. I want to show you what one mother, Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a U. S. soldier, had to say about that memo this week.How do you respond to Mrs. Sheehan? How else? By completely ignoring the question she raised! Go ahead. Try to find a single word that actually responds to Mrs. Sheehan. Did our leadership rush us to war using prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence? Rice wasnt willing to discuss it this day. Instead, she ran a minute and 43 seconds off the clock with a rambling, prefabricated non-answer—I can only say what the president has said—and Stephanopoulos allowed her to do it. After her rambling filibuster came to its end, he politely asked Condi a whole different question (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 6/20/05). Lesson for the Bush Admin? When Stephanopoulos asks a question, theres no reason to answer it. None.
SHEEHAN (videotape): The so-called Downing Street memo, dated 23 July 2002, only confirms what I already suspected. The leadership of this country rushed us into an illegal invasion of another sovereign country on prefabricated and cherry-picked intelligence.
STEPHANOPOULOS: How do you respond to Mrs. Sheehan?
RICE: Well, I can only say what the president has said many, many times. The United States of America and its coalition decided that it was finally time to deal with the threat of Saddam Hussein. There had been multiple resolutions against Saddam Hussein and his activities, everything from concerns about his weapons of mass destruction programs and his continued unwillingness to answer the legitimate questions of the international system about those programs, his having used weapons of mass destruction in the past, everything concerning the way that he treated his own people—after all, we found more than 300,000 people in mass graves. You know, people are talking about, in the UN reform, a responsibility to protect? We happen to think that the Security Council is the place that that discussion ought to take place. When you consider what the Iraqi people had gone through in the Saddam Hussein regime's reign, what about the responsibility to the Iraqi people? We finally undertook an action that got rid of one of the worst dictators in modern times sitting in the center of the world's most troubled region and sitting here today in Jerusalem, I can tell you, George, that this region is far better for it and we now really have a chance to build a different kind of Middle East with a different Iraq in the center of it with potentially a Palestinian state that is democratic and with changes taking place all over this region that are democratizing that will be more stabilizing and that will bring greater security to the American people. Saddam Hussein is gone and that's a good thing.
But so it goes when normal citizens question the Downing Street memos. Millionaire journalists mock their concerns—Michael Kinsley calls them extremists with a paranoid theory, even as he says that everyone knew Bush was faking all along. And Rice wont even show them the courtesy of pretending to answer their questions. But this has long been Rices approach. When she is challenged on serious questions, she takes big chunks of time off the clock and talks her way, smiling sweetly, to the end of the session. For this shes rewarded with icon status by the foppists now in charge of your press.
So yes—for normal people, its hard to come up with real information about those Downing Street memos. And thats a bad thing, because the memos raise questions which go straight to the heart of our struggling way of life. The original memo—dated 23 July 2002—comprises, as Stephanopoulos almost got right, the minutes of a meeting with Prime Minister Tony Blair in the spring and summer of 2002. And those minutes, though murky, raise troubling concerns. Heres the section most often quoted by the extremists who have found this memo disturbing. For the record, C is Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British intelligence:
DOWNING STREET MEMO (7/23/02): C reported on his recent talks in Washington. There was a perceptible shift in attitude. Military action was now seen as inevitable. Bush wanted to remove Saddam, through military action, justified by the conjunction of terrorism and WMD. But the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy. The NSC had no patience with the UN route, and no enthusiasm for publishing material on the Iraqi regime's record. There was little discussion in Washington of the aftermath after military action.In short, the memo seems to suggest three troubling possibilities. It suggests that Bush had decided on war with Iraq by July 2002—a time when he was still insisting that war would be his last resort. (Bush wanted to remove Saddam through military action, the minutes say, and the NSC had no patience with the UN route.) It seems to suggest the possibility that the Bush Admin was faking intelligence on Iraq. (The intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy.) And it suggests that the Bush Admin had given little thought to the aftermath of a successful invasion. Years later, its abundantly clear that this last problem never got fixed.
But what about Bushs decision on war? And what about the fixing of the intelligence? Those were the questions Cindy Sheehan tried to ask—questions the contemptuous Rice wouldnt even pretend to answer. And yes, even putting Rice to the side, its amazingly hard for normal people to get information about these concerns. The mainstream press corps calls them names, and shows a disinclination to speak; and the reigning liberal/Democratic establishment has long proven itself inept at framing these critical questions. Did Bush decide early on for war? Did he then start faking the intel? Information is all around us, but the mainstream press doesnt want to discuss it, and libs and Dems have been too inept to bring forth the relevant stuff.
We are not the leading experts on this pair of questions. But we do know how to read a book, and we know how to read a magazine article, and we know that a good deal of relevant info has gone unexplored and undiscussed. Therefore, over the next few days, well read back through one source of information—Bob Woodwardes Plan of Attack, a book which every pundit praised and almost no pundit seems to have read. Woodwards book is extremely puzzling, a matter we have discussed in the past, but it also sheds a good deal of light on the questiuons raised by the Downing Street memos. By 23 July 2002, had Bush decided to go to war? And was the Bush Admin faking the intel? Dems and libs have failed to frame that second question in a helpful, informative way. At THE HOWLER, well try to flesh those questions out in an incomparable series.
TOMORROW—PART 2: Had Bush decided?
VISIT OUR INCOMPARABLE ARCHIVES: Rice made an absolute joke of her oath before the 9/11 commission. For all four parts of Rice Under Oath, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/17/04. To see Icon Condi take time off the clock, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 4/16/04.
We wrote at length about Woodwards puzzling book. For one highly relevant example, see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/3/04. For more examples, enter Plan of Attack into our whirring search engines.