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CHENEY FLIP-FLOPS—BIG-TIME! A phony man pulled a major flip. But will pundits dare to discuss it? // link //

CHENEY FLIP-FLOPS—BIG-TIME: We all know how our Big Pundits hate flip-flops! But are they prepared to report Cheney’s flip? Last week, the dissembling veep kept telling voters that Kerry recommended “sensitivity” toward terrorists. Everyone knows that this claim is pure bunk, but pundits hid beneath their desks, too afraid to challenge Cheney’s fake statement. Result? By Saturday, the veep was playing the rubes extra hard. He played them in Elko, Nevada:
CHENEY (8/14/04): Senator Kerry has also said that if he were in charge he would fight a “more sensitive” war on terror. (Laughter.)

America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was ever won by being “sensitive.” (Applause.)

President Abraham Lincoln and General Grant did not wage sensitive wars. President Roosevelt and Generals Eisenhower and MacArthur did not wage a sensitive war. A “sensitive war” will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans on the morning of 9/11, and who now seek chemical, nuclear and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. The men who beheaded Daniel Pearl and Paul Johnson will not be impressed by our sensitivity. (Applause.)

As our opponents see it, the problem isn't the thugs and the murderers we face, but it is somehow our attitude. Well, the American people know better. They know that we are in a fight to preserve our freedom and our way of life, and that we are on the side of right and justice in this battle. Those who threaten us and kill innocents around the world do not need to be treated more sensitively. They need to be destroyed. (Applause.)

Shocking, isn’t it? According to Cheney, Kerry thinks the problem is us, not the terrorists. They won’t be impressed by sensitivity, he said, implying that Kerry had said something different. What a truly remarkable slander—a slander acceded to by your “press corps,” who cower and hide behind their chairs when Cheney plays games like this with the rubes. And by the way, is the following statement accurate? “America has been in many wars, but not a one of them was ever won by being ‘sensitive.’” Readers, did we learn nothing from watching Patton? Every American war has involved diplomacy—“sensitivity” to allies’ interests. But those voters—laughing, applauding—didn’t know Cheney had played them for fools. And pundits were simply too afraid to notice the plain and the obvious.

And that’s where Cheney’s flip-flop comes in! On Thursday, the VP spoke with conservative talk host Hugh Hewitt (click here, then scroll down for transcript). He started with the week’s prescribed drivel about how “the two words don’t really go together, sensitive and war.” But moments later, Hewitt asked about the current stand-off in Najaf. And wouldn’t you know it? Surprise of surprises! Accidentally telling the truth, Dick Cheney flip-flopped—big-time:

HEWITT (8/12/04): Will the Najaf offensive continue until that city is subdued even if that means a siege of the Imam Ali shrine?

CHENEY: Well, from the standpoint of the shrine, obviously it is a sensitive area, and we are very much aware of its sensitivity. On the other hand, a lot of people who worship there feel like Moqtada Sadr is the one who has defiled the shrine, if you will, and I would expect folks on the scene there, including U.S. commanders, will work very carefully with the Iraqis so that we minimize the extent to which the U.S. is involved in any operation that might involve the shrine itself.”

Good God! As Cheney dumbly but honestly noted, the army hasn’t taken that mosque due to “sensitivity” about cultural issues. Dumbly, Cheney used the very word he had just trashed Kerry for using. Dumbly but honestly, Cheney showed how utterly fake his week-long assault has really been.

But then, the U.S. army has been “sensitive” to allies and potential allies in every war it ever has fought. And Bush and Cheney have pursued the same sort of “sensitive war” for which they’ve assaulted Feckless Kerry. Yes, Cheney has played the voters for fools in his ugly trashing of Kerry. But now, this fake man has flip-flopped—big-time. We know how our pundits just hate those big flips. Will they dare mention this one from Cheney?

IT’S TIME FOR THE “PRESS CORPS” TO ACT: We know! Washington pundits get very scared when faced with the Bush Admin’s endless faking. But this latest example is so extreme and absurd that it simply must be reported. For the past week, Bush and Cheney—and Cheney’s wife—have trashed Kerry over this gimmicked-up scandal. They have baldly misstated what Kerry said—and they’ve played the voters for fools in the process. And now here he is, the great Dick Cheney, expressing the very same view he’s been mocking, even using the very same language! But will your frightened, startled-deer pundits dare discuss what the great man has said? The answer to that is perfectly clear; unless they’re forced, they won’t likely act. They’ll micro-nitpick Kerry’s statements—but run in fear from Cheney and Bush. Your Washington pundits—your Sangers; your Simons; your Meachams, your Kornbluts—these foppish scribes become scared rabbits when it comes to telling the truth about power. You’re going to have to scream and yell if you want them to talk about Cheney’s big flip. They’re very frightened, and weak (more below). You’re going to have to scream and yell if you want your weak pundits to act.

CHRIS MATTHEWS ACTS: We were startled—and very pleased—at the way last night’s Hardball segment began. Land o’ goshen! Chris Matthews played tape of Bush’s latest misstatement—and Kerry aide Tad Devine came out swinging! Ignore the specifics of the case for a moment. Just take in what Devine finally said:

MATTHEWS (8/17/04): Let me to go Tad Devine. Do you believe that that was an accurate portrayal by the president to say that your candidate declared himself the anti-war candidate in that interview?

DEVINE: No. It was completely inaccurate, totally misleading and part of a conscious campaign on the part of the president and the vice president to distort the truth and mislead the American people.

Hallelujah! For months, Bush and Cheney have played voters for fools, with the pundit corps too frightened to notice. Finally, the Kerry campaign stood and fought—and said what the Bush camp has done!

How was Bush “misleading the people?” Matthews challenged a standard Bush claim about something Kerry once said on Hardball. Throughout this part of last evening’s show, Matthews hammered Bush aide Matthew Dowd about the president’s phony statement. Amazing, isn’t it? An American pundit showing concern when a sitting president makes bogus statements? No, you won’t find that kind of concern from the Simons, the Meachams, the Kornbluts, the Sangers. Weak and trembling, they’re schooled in avoidance—and even “applaud” distortions (see below). But last night, Matthews behaved like a journalist! Why, you might even say that Matthews behaved as an American should.

You can read the transcript yourselves to see the issue under discussion. Bush’s statement is patently false—but comically, Dowd kept insisting it wasn’t. For the record, this misstatement by Bush is less significant than many others he has made. Yes, Bush and Cheney have “distorted the truth and misled the American people” on a wide range of issues about Kerry, for months. The Sangers and Meachams know not to care. Last night, Matthews actually stood and complained. And so—Hallelujah!—did Devine.

Do you mind if we make an observation? Bush and Cheney already have reputations for being untruthful. Despite this, the Kerry campaign has failed to complain when these men go on the trail and baldly “distort and mislead.” It’s time for Kerry’s campaign to fight—for the public’s interests, if not for their own. Last night, Tad Devine stood up and fought. Hallelujah! And so did Chris Matthews!

WASHINGTON, WEAK: We were shocked when we saw Matthews fight—because we’ve seen how his cohort behaves. Example? Last Friday, the pundit corps’ foppistry was on full display on Washington Week. Guest host Alan Murray cited Bush’s complaints about that “sensitive war” Kerry wants. And watch the way your pundit corps thinks! Watch the way they congratulate Bush—for saying something they acknowledge is phony:

MURRAY (8/13/04): Speaking of code words, the other code word that came out this week was “sensitive.” That was the big debate on the campaign trail, believe it or not. John Kerry talking about waging a “sensitive war” on terror. Here's what he said, and here's what Vice President Dick Cheney said in response.

KERRY (videotape): I believe I can fight a more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror that reaches out to other nations and brings them to our side and lives up to American values and history.

CHENEY (videotape): Senator Kerry has also said if he were in charge he would fight a more sensitive war on terror. America has been in too many wars for any of our wishes, but not a one of them was won by being sensitive. A sensitive war will not destroy the evil men who killed 3,000 Americans and who seek the chemical, nuclear, and biological weapons to kill hundreds of thousands more. As our opponents see it, the problem isn't the thugs and murderers that we face, but our attitude. Well, the American people know better.

MURRAY: You're a sensitive guy, David, what do you make of this?

SANGER: What I make of this is the 1990's are over.

MURRAY: No Alan Alda for president.

SANGER: Back then, people were thinking about a sensitive man for president. This is an example of where one word taken in two different contexts can mean different things. You heard the vice president say that Mr. Kerry wanted to fight a sensitive war. Mr. Kerry, I think, would argue, no, the fighting part he didn’t plan to be sensitive, but the reconstruction, the bring our allies together part, he feels should be done more sensitively. In fact, when you listen to President Bush, he makes the same argument without using that word. He says he's going to bring in allies and, with Iran and North Korea, he certainly has proceeded in a much more sensitive way.

CALMES: I think the context of what Senator Kerry said makes complete sense and it's what he's been saying all along, but I completely applaud the Bush-Cheney people for being able to get that out there. Because it played—the word "sensitive" played right to their image of John Kerry.

Take a good look at what happened here, readers. All the pundits agreed, sotto voce, that Bush’s complaint was a big load of crap. Sanger mildly noted that Bush says the same thing that Kerry said. Indeed, in his best milquetoast manner, he noted the obvious—Kerry wasn’t recommending sensitivity to terrorists, the ridiculous claim that Cheney has made. And Calmes quickly said that, in her opinion, Kerry’s statement “makes complete sense.” But who ends up being “completely applauded?” Of course! George Bush does, for fooling the voters! Neither Sanger, nor Calmes, nor Murray, nor Michael Duffy complained about Bush’s fake/phony statements. None of them voiced a bit of concern about Cheney’s use of “one word taken in two different contexts.” (Note to readers: We return you now to English.) No, the strongest view any pundit expressed was Calmes’ statement of praise—for Bush! So gaze on the soul of your Washington “press corps!” Well-fed; well-wined; overpaid; overpraised; they’ve reached the point where they “completely applaud” a sitting president—when he’s misleading voters! Kerry’s statement “makes complete sense,” Calmes said. And just like that, she applauded Bush for making the voters think otherwise!

The Duffys; the Calmeses; the Murrays; the Sangers? These pundits know they’re now cast as fops. By contrast, Matthews actually stood and complained when he saw a president fooling the voters. Our civics books tell us, That’s how the press acts. They haven’t met Duffy and Sanger.

SO SIMPLE THAT EVEN A PUNDIT CAN GRASP IT: Congratulations to Fareed Zakarai, another scribe now stating the obvious. In this morning’s Post, he derides the notion that Kerry has a “nuanced,” “sophisticated” position on Iraq. But listen one more time to Sanger, reciting on Washington Week:

MURRAY (8/13/04): Good evening. While fighting heated up in the Iraq city of Najaf this week, a new war of words was being waged on the campaign trail here at home. President Bush and Vice President Cheney were taking challenger John Kerry to task over his position on the Iraq war and his call for a more sensitive war against terror.

David Sanger has been chronicling the point-counterpoint between the candidates. David, why is John Kerry having a hard time answering such a simple question?

SANGER: He doesn't have a bumper-sticker position. And a year into the Iraq war, maybe that's a good thing. There are a lot of people who think it was simple solutions and simple slogans that made for a rough time in Iraq. But what happened here, Alan, was interesting. The president set something of a trap last Friday when he said he wanted a yes or no answer. If John Kerry knew what we know now about weapons of mass destruction, would he have gone in anyway? After thinking about it over the weekend, Mr. Kerry decided to step into the track and said "Yes, I would have." He goes on with an explanation, you heard a little of it there [on the tape which was played], about how after he voted for the authorization to go to war, he would have done things differently. Put allies together, get ready for reconstruction. But the fact of the matter is that the president had enough to turn around and then say, see, his position's the same as mine. Which is not exactly what their positions are.

Kerry “doesn’t have a bumper-sticker position?” As a matter of fact, yes, he does. Here it is, simple enough so that even Sanger can grasp it:
KERRY’S POSITION: I voted to give President Bush the authority. Then President Bush f*cked it up.
So simple that even a pundit can grasp it! But the Bush campaign has a favorite tale—Kerry’s position is very confusing—and pundits like Sanger all know to express it. Did we mention the fact that these people are fops—that they never will act in the ways the civics texts describe to your children?

By the way, earth to Sanger: Kerry plainly didn’t say that “he would have gone in anyway.” He said he would have voted for the authority. Here’s what Kerry actually said in the statement which Sanger butchers:

KERRY (8/9/04): Yes, I would have voted for the authority. I believe it was the right authority for a president to have, but I would have used that authority, as I have said throughout this campaign, effectively. I would have done this very differently from the way President Bush has.
No record exists of what Kerry was asked. But we plainly can see what the dude plainly said. I would have voted for the authority, Kerry said. Question: Why does the Times keep hiring scribes as weak and inept as David Sanger?

POSTPONEMENT: We’re postponing the start of our four-part series RE the Times’ trashing of Bill Clinton’s book. Today, readers should focus on Cheney’s big flip. How can we get this discussed?