This Inauguration Doesnt Auger Well

We were discussing tsunamis with somefriends, and the subject came up of one years ago in Alaska or somewhere, where photos showed all these dumb clucks standing on the shore watching the water recede, with no apprehension it would come rushing back their way real, real soon.

A lot of us watched the inauguration Thursday, and maybe history won't make us seem so bright, either. Didn't we know what was coming?

That's right, it's Mr. Sore Loser here again.

When President-elect Bush was asked recently by the Washington Post whether anyone would ever be held accountable for their miscalculations and missteps in Iraq, he responded, “I think America died a little bit this last election, when they voted for our policy of lies, torture and the blind slaughter of war.”

Sorry, that was my liberal bias again. What he actually said was, “We had an accountability moment, and that's called the 2004 election. The American people listened to different assessments made about what was taking place in Iraq, and they looked at the two candidates and chose me, for which I'm grateful,” by which I think he was saying, “Hey, you guys must like lies, torture and the blind slaughter of war. Meet my new Attorney General.”

Over half of Americans now think the war was a mistake. Bush's reasons for going to war proved to be marsh gas; his bad assumptions and planning for the war are still being tallied in the body count; there's talk now of our troops spending a generation in Iraq; and a new CIA report ratifies what others have long said: Bush's war has been a recruitment and training boon for terrorists.

Nothing needs a reassessment there! Medals and promotions for everyone! On to the inaugural balls, where in one night of engorgement we'll spend one-seventh of the amount we're sending for tsunami relief.

Hey, this just in: After three years of doing squat to actually make America safer—cargo containers still unchecked, chemical plants unguarded, internet open to attack, etc.—the recent South Carolina train wreck in which chlorine gas killed nine people, injured hundreds and led to thousands of evacuations has spurred Washington to act. From now on, trains carrying potentially deadly cargo will be re-routed around major population zones, as long as that zone is named Washington, D.C. The rest of us? At least our teeth will be bleached white as we die.

You know what's worse than sore losers? Sore winners. Conservatives own the nation and have a lock on all branches of government, yet they just cannot stop bellyaching.

I don't know Hugh Hewitt, but I never cared for his hair. It looks like it grows from entirely too tidy a place, one that would never permit a cowlick of doubt to muss its linear certitudes. Hewitt recently penned a piece in the conservative Weekly Standard on CBS's investigation of its bungled story on Bush's curious National Guard record. Hewitt termed the investigation's report a “whitewash” and “stonewall,” even though there were four firings in its wake and the investigation was co-helmed by Republican Richard Thornburgh, whose liberal bias went unnoticed when he was U.S. Attorney General for Reagan and Bush I.

Like other “large and powerful institutions,” CBS engaged in denial and ass-covering while avoiding any “genuine accountability,” Hewitt wrote. But if they get good ratings, Hugh, isn't that an “accountability moment?”

Gee, who else has been lacking in self-examination? For those of us who see Iraq as a quagmire, Bush domestic policy as an oil gusher for the rich and Rovian politicking as a cesspool, it's fascinating to watch Hewitt nimbly dance to avoid stepping into any such muck. Instead, he cites the UN oil-for-food scandal (the worst examples of which, incidentally, occurred with Bush administration approval), steroids in sports, the CIA (upon whom he posits the blame for pre-9/11 and WMD lapses) and, chiefly, the molestation scandal in the Catholic Church.

You see, CBS's newsroom has an ingrained liberal bias and its failure to address that is tantamount to the Church coddling and covering up GENERATIONS OF PREDATORY PEDOPHILES SODOMIZING HELPLESS CHILDREN WITH IMPUNITY WHILE SUPPOSEDLY REPRESENTING GOD'S WILL. Sorry, I must have hit the caps-lock key. Anyone can see the obvious parallel: CBS didn't even try to root out the liberals in its midst, so they've been allowed to slap their filthy bias into America's information bunghole ever since Edward R. Murrow stuck it to that nice Joe McCarthy.

CBS is not biased news. This is biased news: George W. Bush eats stinkbugs at his Crawford ranch. He is a stupid-head. Film at 11.

CBS's sin, rather, is one shared by all U.S. network news: There is so little depth, diversity or follow-up in its reportage that the nation is running blind. Did you read the recent account in the Los Angeles Times about the Australian citizen who the U.S. held and secretly flew into Egypt, so that he could be tortured with an Old World gusto we, as yet, haven't achieved? The guy may be innocent of anything; he sure hasn't been charged, just tortured. After an international uproar, he is finally going home after years at Guantanamo. Do Americans still have the compassion and sense of fair play to be outraged by such things done in our name? How would we know? There was no uproar here, because issues essential to defining our nation's character are rarely even communicated to most of the American people. That's what the hell is wrong with TV news.

So CBS admitted its mistakes on “Rathergate,” investigated itself, fired four valued employees and that's not enough? Anyone remember when Geraldo Rivera wept on camera while describing the bits of human flesh flecking the bomb crater he was standing beside in Afghanistan, where U.S. soldiers had been blown to bits? Did Fox launch an investigation, or Hewitt care, when it was learned the actual site was hundreds of kilometers away and Geraldo just picked a convenient hole to emote beside?

Few in the media ever examined why they so uncritically parroted the administration's inaccurate claims on Iraq's WMDs, Jessica Lynch's reality-TV rescue or myriad other Bush credibility lapses. If media outlets are so liberal, why has their coverage of so many issues—the White House outing of a covert CIA operative, Bush's support for possible double-agent Ahmed Chalabi, etc.—fallen utterly by the wayside? This was the same supposedly partisan media that had kept Clinton's every blowjob on the front burner for a year.

Hewitt's attack on “large and powerful institutions” omits the one Republicans most often like to fault (except when they're running it): the federal government. When top military brass, administration insiders and our more patriotic Republican leaders are noting massive mistakes in our planning and conduct of the war in Iraq, aren't those matters due a little more than an “accountability moment” from Bush and Co.? Instead, the parties most at fault are retained or promoted.

This administration brooks no doubt and certainly no shame. Instead of trying to hide torture-justifier Alberto Gonzales under a rock, Bush names him Attorney General. That's more of a flip-off to American values than if Clinton had flown Monica's splotched dress from the White House flagpole, but it warranted just a blip on the news.

And speaking of bird-flipping, remember the cover the Weekly ran several weeks back, showing George W. Bush giving the one-finger salute? Oh, the angry “how dare you run a doctored photo” letters we got, until it was cleared up that, no, that's an actual photo of Bush when he was Governor of Texas. Then came the letters berating the Weekly for publicizing the image, which had originally occurred in the privacy of a TV studio in front of running cameras. And this, again, from people who had no doubt gloried in Clinton's very private moments being exposed in lurid detail, and didn't mind the $73 million of tax dollars spent doing so. Unlike Clinton's lies, Bush's lies have led to more than 1,370 American deaths in Iraq, and have placed the nation in greater jeopardy. But you don't hear much talk of impeachment, do you? There's the influence of that damn liberal media again, and the fact that impeachment is a leisure-time activity.

During Clinton's presidency we were cruising along under blue skies, the world quiescent and the economy blooming like Butchart Gardens. Clinton was sort of unflappable, so his opponents figured the nation's well-being wouldn't suffer overmuch if they lobbed a political cluster bomb his way.

But Bush? In the best of times, the guy has more My Pet Goat moments than he does accountability ones, and these aren't the best of times. Answering pre-arranged questions before handpicked audiences, he can barely navigate his way through a sentence. Remember how rattled he was in his opening debate with Kerry, the first time in months he'd actually had to face real questions? Multiply that 100 times to get the Captain Queeg-under-klieg lights that you'd see if he was under impeachment.

It's going to be a very long four years.

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