OK, that's a little harsh; a bit of fun on my part. It's some pretty ugly rhetoric -- even in jest -- but likely no worse than what we'll be hearing soon enough on CNN.
Last week saw a renewed effort to impugn George W. Bush's service in the Air National Guard -- and thereby, his integrity as a whole. This scandal hardly made a ripple, but it may only be a hint of what's to come.
Washington has been teeming with rumours that far more sensational charges have already been unearthed. Today, those charges will finally be brought to light by a sure-to-be-best-selling book, "The Family" by the notoriously devastating biographer Kitty Kelley.
Given the sudden flop of last week's scandal, it's apt to compare the new allegations made by Kelley to the Guard allegations already disposed of so effectively by the Bush camp.
The resurgence of TANG stories began with an AP report confirming that Bush missed several months of Guard duty between April and October of 1972. Ironically, Bush's missed drills included "a mission to safeguard against surprise attack". (So, he's got quite a history of fucking that stuff up, doesn't he?)
The Boston Globe quickly followed up with a story revealing that after moving to Massachusetts to attend Harvard, Bush failed to finish his sixth year of service -- despite making a commitment to resume training within 60 days.
60 Minutes II then hit the Bush administration with a double whammy of its own. Dan Rather scored former Texas Lieutenant Governor Ben Barnes' first national interview about keeping Dubya out of Vietnam. Later, CBS added some spice with a few newly discovered, or possibly forged, documents, including a memo ordering Bush to take a flight physical -- an order he never obeyed.
Now that's all very interesting, but well -- no, it's not. That stuff's not interesting. It's boring. It's boring as all hell. It's all documents, and dates, and regulations.
To generate real interest in this stuff you'd at least need a highly organized group of Swift boat liars, or even a reporter willing to ask questions of a "war president".
But it doesn't look like that's gonna happen. We're might just have to rely on sex and drugs for our entertainment this election season. Thankful, we've got Ms. Kelley for that.
From the Sunday Herald:
"Kelly [sic] -- the bitch of biographers who has already assassinated the characters of such luminaries as the Reagans, Frank Sinatra, Jackie Onassis and the Windsors -- says she spoke to the President’s sister-in-law Sharon Bush, who divorced the President’s brother, Neil."
"Sharon Bush apparently told Kelly: 'The President did coke at Camp David when his father was President [1989-93] and not just once either.' ... Sharon Bush, however, is now denying that she made the cocaine claim to Kelly [Sharon Bush denies having made this claim despite Kelley's editor having been present at the time.]."
"Proof of coke use in the late 1980s and early 1990s would mean that Bush used the drug after his reported conversion to Christianity. If that was proved to be the case then the one thing that protects Bush from his hard-partying past -- his born-again status and his repentance for past sins -- would fall to bits."
But wait, there's more:
"Even more damaging is the allegation... that she has gathered 'a great deal of circumstantial evidence' that the President helped arrange for a girlfriend to have an abortion in the 1970s [before Roe v. Wade]."
"Kelly says four friends of the woman who had the abortion provided affidavits to the authoritative US current affairs magazines Time and Newsweek about the abortion but the magazines did not run with the story."
And just for fun, there's this:
"There are even claims that First Lady Laura Bush was a drug dealer in her youth.... Kelly says she was the 'go-to-girl for dime bags' of grass at the Southern Methodist University. Kelly quotes a PR executive, Robert Nash, who says: 'She not only smoked dope but she sold dope.'"
It's sad, not only to see American politics devolve to the point that substance is trumped by scandal, but devolve to the point that even scandal is trumped by more tawdry, personal scandal.
To say that I'm 'of two minds' about this would be an understatement -- I'm of several.
On the one hand, I would never condone the use irrelevant personal smears, but on the other, George W. Bush is a dangerous man, I won't be crying myself to sleep the night he's brought down no matter what the circumstances.
On the one hand, I would never ascribe to an 'injustice for all' view of political retribution, but on the other, perhaps this is the only way by which some will ever learn.
American voters probably don't that believe coke-snorting abortionizers are irredeemably evil, but they certainly long for a breed of leadership that has long since been lacking. Ironically, that is why smears tactics work: they blind us to true leadership. No manner of counter smear will ever lay bare the hypocrisy of such attacks, but exposing what hypocrisy we can will illuminate the simple truth that human weakness knows no party. And those who revel in the politics of personal destruction should remember that.
Ultimately, success or failure is ours. We were young once, and our heroes seemed larger than life. We are older now, and in the omnipresent microscope of media no one seems larger than human. But just as courage cannot exist without fear, human frailty does not diminish our leaders, it provides the contrast that allows them to achieve greatness. We ought to try and remember that, if only occasionally.