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Hullabaloo


Monday, January 26, 2004

 
Bipartisan Disavowal Treatment

Peter Jennings, Tim Russert, Wolf Blitzer and others have been relentless in their pursuit of a proper repudiation of Michael Moore and his deserter comment from Wesley Clark.

As many of you know, I am a big believer in the newdisavowel movement in this country. Guilt by association is an excellent political shortcut and I'm all for it. As Peter Jennings said at the debate the other night, "You can tell a lot about a man by his friends." Politicians, bloggers, supporters and others must realize that they are not only responsible for their own words, but they are responsible for their friends' words as well. And, if anyone takes issue with your friends you must be prepared to defend or reject them on that basis alone. It's the American way.

But, I do wonder if the media's new insistence on taking responsibility for your supporters words is in danger of not being seen as fair and balanced and I think that would be such a shame. For instance, while I'm sure it's nothing to worry about, I was struck that nobody seems to have asked the president about this:

Miller Emerges as New Voice for Bush Re-Election

Sat June 28, 2003 03:10 PM ET

CRAWFORD, Texas (Reuters) - A new voice has emerged in the re-election campaign of President Bush, that of Dennis Miller, who is gaining a reputation as a conservative comic by attacking Democrats with biting humor.

Miller flew on Air Force One from San Francisco to Los Angeles with the president on Friday, and later gave a stand-up routine at a Bush fund-raiser in Los Angeles.

"I spent an amazing couple of hours with Dennis Miller," Bush said during his Los Angeles speech after Miller's routine. "He keeps you on your toes."

He added: "I was also honored to meet his wife, Carolyn. Like me, he married above himself. It may not be all that hard, in his case. But I'm proud to have his help."

Miller, who was an analyst on ABC's "Monday Night Football, had an HBO comedy show and does commentary for Fox News, adds a celebrity touch to Bush's re-election campaign, much like actor Bruce Willis did in 1992 when Bush's father ran for re-election.

Bush remained offstage until after Miller's often caustic comic performance during the fund-raiser that drew in $3.5 million, most of it in $2,000 checks from 1,600 people.

For instance, he took aim at West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd, a Democratic elder statesmen who has questioned the Iraq war and its chaotic aftermath.

Even some in the crowd of Republican loyalists booed when Miller said of Byrd: "I think he must be burning the cross at both ends."

Responding to the boos, Miller said: "Well, he was in the (Ku Klux) Klan. Boo me, but he was in the Klan."

He likened the nine Democratic presidential candidates running to unseat Bush in 2004 to the 1962 New York Mets, perennial losers, and called them an "empty-headed scrum."

He had a special barb for one candidate, former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, who has questioned the Iraq war, comparing him to Neville Chamberlain, the British prime minister who followed a policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany in the years before World War II.

"He can roll up his sleeves all he wants at public events, but as long as we see that heart tattoo with Neville Chamberlain's name on his right forearms, he's never going anywhere," Miller said.


I would be hesitant to call this political hate speech and gawd knows, that Hitler ad that was on the Move-On web-site for 3 and a half minutes was shocking in its allusion to Bush and incipient naziism. But, it seems to me that the whole forearm tattoo reference to Chamberlain might also be seen as a bit tasteless as was the crossburning thing. I could be wrong. (Calling the Democratic candidates "empty headed scrum" is just fine, of course. Who doesn't believe that?)

I realize that nothing could be worse than implying that our Codpiece in Chief is anything but brave and true and heroic, but I still think it could be said that the media aren't holding him to the same standards if they don't at least ask him if he thinks he might want to disavow Miller. He did spend time with him on Air Force One and he did say he was "proud to have his help...." after he made those comments.

I'm sure Bush will clear this right up in a hurry and everyone can get back to harrassing Democrats as it should be. It's just a little housekeeping, that's all.





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