Two talk-radio-driven campaigns this past week – one national, one local – show the continuing power of the right-wing echo-chamber. By all of their surrogates saying the same thing – and saying it loudly – the GOP was able to get its twisted messages wedged into the MSM, whether it was newsworthy or made any sense or not. The result, as usual, was the continued poisoning of the political well; the result of the twisted message without a sufficiently-funded or radio-distributed answer.
The first example was the theatrically hyperventilated "reaction" to a full-page ad MoveOn.org bought in the New York Times and that ran on the first day of Bush-apologist David Petraeus’s "report" before Congress. MoveOn had the gall to rhyme "Petraeus" with "Betray Us", and the race to smear the messenger – and, more important, the messenger’s perceived friends – was on. From the halls of Congress to the "golden" microphones owned by inflated egos across the country, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth of this infamous slander against "our general in the middle of a war".
How dare they say he betrayed us?! Are you calling him a traitor? Well, no, MoveOn wasn’t – just saying Petraeus betrayed any trust the general populace may have had in him to come and tell the truth about the continuing disaster in Iraq. Instead, the ad accurately predicted that he would pump the propaganda of his masters in Washington. Other than the rhyming name-calling, the supporting text of the ad is uncontroversial and fully supported by the facts. Knowing not the meaning of irony, the noise came from the same chicken hawks who impugned the good, heroic names of John Kerry, Max Cleland and anyone else when it suited their purposes.
But, never mind what MoveOn was really saying or whether they were right. It wasn’t about them anyway. The whole phony controversy was used to drive the GOP talking-point that the leading Democrats running for president are beholden to the "fringe" of the party. Demands were made for Hillary Clinton and others to condemn the ad with the same heavy breathing employed by the purveyors of the fraud – bait which, to their credit, was not taken by any of the targets of the demands.
One of the fake controversies within the controversy (the best of these sideshows have cleverly false sub-plots) was the lie that the Times had given MoveOn an over-friendly $100,000 discount on the full-pager. Never one to pass up an opportunity to turn death and tragedy (be it 9/11 or Iraq) into political hay, Rudy Giuliani cynically put together an ad attacking Clinton for her excellent "suspension of disbelief" comment to Petraeus and her failure to condemn the red-herring MoveOn ad. He also bravely demanded the same rate for his ad. He got it, of course, on the same terms MoveOn did (you get the discount if you don’t ask that it run on a specific day). And, of course, Rudy’s ad was not so much a defense of Petraeus as it was his first major political broadside at Clinton. Who used Petraeus more – the organization trying to point out the truth to end a disastrous war or the politician who jumped on a bandwagon populated by the usual Bush-enabling yahoos to pump up his venal campaign for president?
There was indeed offensive language used last week surrounding the Petraeus/9-11 circus. House Minority Leader John Boehner used the occasion to opine that the American soldiers dead and soon-to-be was "a small price to pay" for whatever the hell we are doing over there. Not to be outdone, professional blowhard Bill O’Reilly put a number on it and announced that he is happy to provide Petraeus another year and, even if it means (and it does) another 1,000 dead GIs. In terms of offensiveness, this makes MoveOn’s perhaps impolitic name-calling look like a schoolboy’s speaking in class out of turn while his classmates are out tagging the outside of the school with obscene graffiti.
Meanwhile, back at home, the radio and blog wing-nuts were in full lather about a judge in Sheboygan who tossed a jury verdict in a child enticement case because the alleged slug chatting up the poor girl wasn’t trying to get her to a "secluded" place, as required under the law. The judge, who, we presume, after all, did take an oath to uphold the law no matter what the wing-nuts think, took all manner of abuse from big-city out-of-town demagogues Sykes, Belling and various of their third-rate counterparts, who pretended not to know how the obviously liberal judge could do such a thing. True to form, the Journal Sentinel, its weak ear ever to the radio while looking for a clue, ran front-pagers in the Metro section two days in a row (with more to come, no doubt) about the "outraged" citizens and the hot-to-appeal DA.
The dirty little secret is that all of them know why the judge did what he did. Even if they are not lawyers, they know he was faced with a law that required enticement to a secluded place and that the park shelter (a roof with four legs) was not secluded. But they decided to fudge the facts and the law, pretending that the judge had done something outrageous, calling for his defeat in the next election, using the case as a wedge to eliminate the judicial substitution law, etc.
Their loud squawking has nothing to do with what is right and wrong and everything to do with creating distrust of the criminal justice system and generally stirring up the woe-is-me victimhood of those who are vulnerable to this kind of blather. The criminals have all the rights and we have none and blah de blah blah. You’d think, if they want to cast aspersions on the judiciary, they’d just look across the dining room in their country club at their buddy, Annette Zeigler. But, no.
Even their fellow traveler, attorney Rick Esenberg, admits to knowing better and ever-so-gently says so. But they didn’t need to call him to get the legal scoop. They know what is right and pretend not to in order to enrage the townsfolk to head for the courthouse with pitchforks and torches. In the middle is the family of the poor girl, another victim of an over-charging prosecutor and a bunch of agenda-driven wing-nuts who don’t care who gets hurt in the process.