American voters are certainly inured to the fact that "irregularities" are to be expected in not just presidential politics, but on politics at every level. Actually, the term "irregularity" is just a euphemism for DISHONESTY or DISTORTION. The political circus this year is no different.
From the beginning of his campaign efforts and certainly in the Democrat Convention in July, Senator Kerry made it plain that he would premise his campaign not on the issues that matter the most today, but on what happened back in the 60s-70s with respect to the service in the Texas Air National Guard of President Bush, thus strangely proving that what happened (or actually didn't happen) then says something about the president's fitness to continue as president now, especially after his having created a record of nearly four years in the job. In doing this, Kerry juxtaposed Bush's record with his own as a naval officer, particularly during a four-month tour in Vietnam in '68-'69, perhaps unwittingly inviting some close-up examinations of his service. Those examinations have happened, spurred on by a relatively large number of Viet vets who have taken strong exception to Kerry's behavior during and after his Viet service.
Major media/publishing outlets (some connected to each other corporately) such as CBS have used what might be called book-mongering in an effort to assassinate the president politically. At least seven high-profile books (or at least books by high-profile writers) have come out this year in the bushwhacking attempt, and another is due out soon. The latest effort, this one by CBS and its news anchor, Dan Rather, is an exercise in down-and-dirty skullduggery, the apparent use of forged documents supposedly dating back to the ANG days to paint Bush as everything from AWOL to refusing to carry out a direct order by a superior officer, never mind that if he had done that he would probably have been subjected to a court-martial, something even Rather probably would not try to contrive with respect to records.
In the face of determinations by eminently qualified experts that the documents (letters supposedly written by a lieutenant colonel now dead for 20 years and therefore conveniently unable to defend himself) are false, CBS has no choice but to stand on its account, though it will not divulge the origin of the documents or the identities of the people involved in its securing them. This predictably makes one wonder if CBS itself just manufactured the things, condescendingly judging the public's gullibility to be so pronounced that it would "just believe," and perhaps believing the other main-media, Bush-bashing news outlets would join the fun, rather than make their competitor look both dishonest and silly by reporting the truth. This, of course, is hard to believe, but stranger things have happened. Especially when noticing that the three TV biggies - ABC, NBC, and CBS - are trailing Fox News in listener response, one can see a certain scenario.
The book The Price of Loyalty was written by former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill, who was fired by Bush for apparent incompetence and was probably most famous for his African tour with the rock singer BONO. In the book, O'Neill concluded that Bush always intended to invade Iraq, never mind that Bush answered the 9/11 tragedy by correctly invading the Taliban in Afghanistan. Payback? One wonders.
Richard Clarke, known as the "Terrorism Czar" or by some such title in especially the Clinton administration wrote Against All Enemies, another book critical of Bush. Clarke, who had been reassigned in the Bush administration, discredited himself and confessed to being a liar in an appearance before a congressional committee. Lesley Stahl of the CBS clambake Sixty Minutes gushed for probably half a program over Clarke, whose motives should be apparent enough. Bob Woodward of The Washington Post, a Bushwhacker newspaper, came out with The Plan of Attack, another book critical of Bush; however, in his TV appearance he did some backtracking, so enough said. Like Kerry, he may just not know what he believes.
Former diplomat Joseph Wilson concocted the Bush-bashing book The Politics of Truth: Inside the Lies that Led to War and Betrayed My Wife's CIA Identity. It turns out that Wilson lied about how he got the job of investigating whether or not Saddam had tried to secure the A-bomb-making ingredient "yellowcake" from the African nation Niger. He said his wife had nothing to do with his position, but it's been well documented that she actually suggested him to the powers that were. He then proceeded to lie about the yellowcake matter, principally upon evidence developed by other intelligence agencies that discovered the Iraq-Niger connection. CNN biggie Robert Novak outed Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as a CIA operative, but attributed his sources as unnamed administration officials, not yet found. Could it be that Wilson just fed the information to Novak, who took it from there?
Syndicated columnist Maureen Dowd, she of the vitriolic syntax, came out with a collection of Bush-bashing columns in her book Bushworld. There may be some who can't see through her biases, but most readers will probably consider the stuff "entertaining," but not much else. The gossip biggie, Kitty Kelley, is making the rounds now for her Bushwhacker, The Family: The Real Story of the Bush Dynasty. It remains to be seen, in the light of the CBS fiasco, if she will get the exposure on the TV venues necessary to promoting her venal stuff. Those who read it will take it with a grain of salt, since Kelley has already been so thoroughly debunked. Besides, why should any network spend the time and energy trying to separate fact from fiction? Would CBS take another chance on being burned?
Florida Senator Bob Graham's just published book Intelligence Matters is the latest of the Bushwhackers, but a book by Ben Barnes, former lieutenant governor of Texas, is in the offing. Barnes, a Kerry fund-raiser, recently reckoned as how he helped Bush get into the Guard so the young man could dodge the Vietnam war. His daughter, Amy, has publicly called her father a liar, stating he told her in 2000 just the opposite. In 1999, he said under oath that he didn't help Bush. From a practical standpoint, why should a democrat official help the son of a republican honcho do anything? Barnes was lying at some time, at any rate. Which time was it? Who knows?
In the middle of all this, the Clinton book, My Life, came out, and so it goes. The book Unfit for Command, put together by a host of former "Swift Boat" personnel who blow the whistle on Kerry is out, and a motion picture is being made concerning the "Swift Boat" subject. Perhaps it will to some degree counterbalance the Michael Moore Bush-bashing movie that has made multi-millions, featuring a large collection of well documented lies; however, the ratio of all these things is humongously tilted against Bush. It remains to be seen just how gullible the public is.