Saturday, October 29, 2005

Hugh and Cry

It is a near guarantee that reading the artless opinionating of Hugh Hewitt will not impart upon the reader any new insights into the nature of anything other than, perhaps, the depths intellectual depravity that passes for much of what is generally considered right wing "punditry." More likely than not, it will simply annoy. And so it was with his latest piece in the NY Times on Friday, which I couldn't help but glance because it was one more draft in the panoply of fightin' words amongst the right wing over the Harriet Miers nomination. Hugh goes on at length about his untrustworthy fellows at NRO's The Corner and their misbegotten criticisms of the nominee and the nomination. Woe is Hugh over the unseemly rift in right wing whingers.

But it took no more than a one paragraph before Hugh would, as certain as the day is light, offer up a palette of hard boiled bullshit that was simply astounding:
The right's embrace in the Miers nomination of tactics previously exclusive to the left - exaggeration, invective, anonymous sources, an unbroken stream of new charges, television advertisements paid for by secret sources - will make it immeasurably harder to denounce and deflect such assaults when the Democrats make them the next time around.
Yes, the tactics were harsh and conducted by foks who know them well. But in Hewitt's clueless universe, these tactics had been previously exclusive to the left. Interesting how the right adopted them so well with hardly a learning curve it sight.

Like most disingenuous right wing hacks, Hewitt's invocation of this oft-repeated yet boundless lie leaves me to wonder whether it is borne of willful stupidity or shameless deceit. Most of the time, who can tell? If that latter, it is not a very convincing attempt to deceive and only the most ignorant of rubes would buy it. Of course, there seems to be no shortage of such creatures on the American political landscape these days and I am also always left to wonder whether the Hewitts of the political realm actually believe their own rhetorical manure. If Hewitt does believe that smear tactics are "exclusive to the left," this doesn't say much about his always less-than-penetrating intellect.

Lee Atwater brought the politics of smear to fore during the 1988 presidential campaign and they were seen in the shellacking that a desultory Dukakis then received. Atwater's protege, Karl Rove, not only learned the tricks of his mentor but brought them to a level not imagined by the old man. And one thing was certain, regardless of party affiliation, if you were an opponent of George Bush, no holds would be barred in the fight for office.

John McCain learned this well in the 2000 GOP primaries when the Bush campaign smeared him with allegations of fathering an illigitimate black child, a child that McCain had, in fact, adopted. Rove strategy also called into question the nobility of his service in Vietnam and questioned his mental state after years as a POW. Attacking an opponent's military service was a tactic that would serve well in the presidential campaign fours years later. The tactic was borne of necessity and it followed directly from George Bush's own obvious lack of serious military service, intellect, moral quality or aptitude in anything. Most people who have payed attention to the previous campaigns of Bush will likely not recall many, if any, qualities that would recommend the man for the presidency. Other than a fondness for clearing brush and running oil companies into bankruptcy, I still have yet to hear just what it is that George Bush is good at, exactly.

Given that Rove's job was to get such a wretched candidate elected, the only avenue open was attack. But it wouldn't just be direct opponents of Bush who would wind up in the cross hairs and this was seen in the sickening smear campaign against Max Cleland, decorated Vietnam vet and multiple amputee from that war, who opposed the bill establishing the Department of Homeland Security because that GOP monstrosity would have eliminated labour rights for the department's employees. In the 2002 election campaign against Saxby Chambliss, who managed to avoid Vietnam with a string of deferments, Cleland was painted as someonee close to resembling bin Laden, complete with television advertisements blending images of the two, claiming that Cleland's vote against the Homeland Security bill made him kin with the head of al Qaeda.

John Kerry would become the next major victim of right wing smear machine and another Vietnam Vet to be vilified for his service during what has come to be known as a swiftboating campaign. Of course, with the focus on Kerry, the attacks and defense, Bush managed to very nearly sail through without much need to address his own paltry and questionable service record. This was a campaign comprising television ads, a television "documentary," and print, including a book demonstrating a vast range of deceipt and dissembling. Needless to say, the vitriol during this episode was approaching record campaign levels.

Right wing vitriol has yet to reach the lofty heights it attained during the Clinton years, however. Clinton truly riled the righties and I've never really understood just why that was and still is, though many have speculated that, ultimatley, it was the Clintons' outside-the-beltway provenance that brought them the DC deep-fryer. Nonetheless, right wingers still love to launch tirades against the man and, given the grim state of the GOP controlled White House and Congress, it seems the only thing they can do to distract themselves from the ignominious problems swirling around many of the heads of the GOP leadership. Republicans long ago gave up any right to make any claims about a vituperating left since Clinton had turned them into raving lunatics. Well remembered claims from the right that Clinton was a murderer, a rapist, a coke-head, a gun-runner ought to ring loudly in the head of anyone who would consider the ill-considered opinion of Hewitt. To have listened to the right during the Clinton persecution, it seemed there was no depraved act beyond the bounds of a legendary and rapacious bestiality. Just where was Hugh Hewitt when that was going on?

These days, Clinton appears to us as some long-lost, good humour man, his corn-pone horniness seems an innocent gaffe compared to the bloodyminded machinations of the current occupants of the White House. And Hewitt is still harping about Clinton's "scandal-plagued" admininstration as though this one is all sunshine and daisys.

Move along, Hugh, just move along.


Blogger The Misanthrope said...

Great post!

1:21 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...


12:58 AM  

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