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POST PATTERN! War was Peace and Truth was Falsehood when Kristol limned Bush for the Post:


TRUTH IS FALSEHOOD: Stunning, isn’t it? Last Monday evening, President Bush delivered a speech to the nation in which he made this statement:

BUSH: Later this week, the United States Congress will vote on this matter. I have asked Congress to authorize the use of America’s military if it proves necessary to enforce U.N. Security Council demands. Approving this resolution does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable. The resolution will tell the United Nations, and all nations, that America speaks with one voice and it is determined to make the demands of the civilized world mean something.
Bush also said, speaking of the need for regime change in Iraq, “I hope this will not require military action.”

Apparently, Bush was just funnin’. At least, that’s the view of William Kristol, writing in Saturday’s Post. “What accounts for the president’s success” in winning public support? The scribe asks. In view of what Bush said last Monday night, Kristol’s explanation is startling:

KRISTOL: What accounts for the president’s success? Primarily it’s the clarity, toughness and straightforwardness with which he has marshaled his arguments. There have been impressively serious and high-minded speeches, for example to the United Nations on Sept. 12 and in Cincinnati on Monday. There has been the release of information and the presentation of arguments, including the national security strategy in late September. And there have been the informal comments that have had real political punch, especially the not-so-veiled threat on Sept. 13 to Democrats standing for reelection that they could be accused of subordinating American security to the United Nations.

So the president has succeeded in explaining why Hussein must go, why time is not on our side, why deterrence can’t be counted on, and why war is necessary. But now the president has to move from building support for a war to fighting a war.

Praising Bush for the “clarity” of his recent speech, Kristol says that Bush has now explained the necessity of war—a war which Bush specifically said might not have to happen.

In Kristol’s reinvention, Peace is War. But is anyone surprised to see work of this kind on the Post’s devolving op-ed pages? In the past week, these pages published David Broder’s cock-eyed column, in which The Dean declared that Dems were “damaged” because they had varying views on the war. The next day, a Post editorial feigned confusion over a John Kerry statement—a statement in which Kerry laid out a sequence of preferred actions very much like the sequence currently pursued by Bush. The jingoes down at the Washington Post are spinning, dissembling, and playing boy games. But Kristol takes us to the next level. Before the ink was dry on Bush’s speech, we were told that Bush had said one thing when quite plainly he said something different.

War is Peace! And Truth is Falsehood! The dissembling pundits of our press corps have played these sick games for years and years now. But they have seldom been so insulting and bold as the Post has been in the last week. Indeed, enjoy the sick humor in Kristol’s piece. Did you know you lived in the Orwellian state we all read about back in high school?

KRISTOL: The president now becomes a war leader, not merely—though the “merely” is unfair—a war mobilizer…This will require a change in the president’s manner of speaking. He has benefited, in making the case for war, from an impressive clarity of presentation and lucidity of argument. But now his task is not to educate or persuade us. It is to defeat Saddam Hussein. And that will require the president, at times, to mislead rather than to clarify, to deceive rather than to explain.
Kristol laughs in the public’s faces. Last Monday night, Bush said Up. But Kristol—insisting that he really said Down—praises Bush for his past “lucidity”—and warns us that the president will now have to turn to deception!

When the Post puts work like this into print, it too laughs in its readers’ faces. Will war be necessary? That’s a matter of judgment. But the Post is determined to get us there by treating us all like Winston Smiths. This latest clowning takes the cake. Last week, Broder stirred batter.

SMEAR BOY: We occasionally think we’ve seen it all from Andrew Sullivan, our nastiest current smear boy. But Sullivan outdid his own ugly precedents in yesterday’s work on his website. First, he craftily made it sound like Al Gore is anti-Semitic. Then he slimed treasured target Robert Fisk in this nasty, moronic presentation:

SULLIVAN (10/14/02):
THE TERROR SPIN: If you were the p.r. spokesman for al Qaeda, what would you have to say about the Bali massacre? I think you’d say it was payback for Australians’ support for President Bush’s war on terror. Funny, that’s just what Robert Fisk has just written. Fisk goes on to warn the Brits that they’re next, among others, if they don’t stop backing Bush…
Try to follow Smear Boy’s “logic.” According to Smear Boy, if you asked al Qaeda, they would say that the Bali attacks were retribution aimed at Australia. If Smear Boy is right in that judgment, then Fisk is simply making an accurate statement when he presents the same point. But Smear Boy is skillful at slimy attacks; in this case, he makes it sound like Fisk is defending these attacks. Of course, if you actually link to the Fisk piece, you will find him, in his very first sentence, describing the Bali attacks as a “crime against humanity.” And you will also find Fisk, in his very first sentence, referring to “the atrocities of September 11.”

What does Fisk actually say in his piece? When Fisk discusses the Bali attacks, he refers to Australian support for the War on Terror, then says this: “It’s a fair bet that yesterday’s savagery was al-Qa’ida hitting back.” Sullivan, of course, agrees with the judgments expressed in that statement. But he doesn’t like Fisk’s opposition to Bush, so—smearing away, as he does so instinctively—he tries to make it sound like Fisk approves of the latest group slaughter.

This slimy man shows no sign of stopping—all who stand in his way must be smeared. Andrew Sullivan keeps emerging as one of the nastiest characters in our public discourse. There’s nothing so stupid that Smear Boy won’t say it; no insinuation so slimy he won’t toss it out. It’s amazing to think that so ugly a man was editor of one of our great publications. Socrates warned about people like this. Why, oh why, does the insider press corps keep taking this small man so seriously?

ONE OF THE STUPIDEST MEN OF OUR TIME: Sullivan’s stupidity is never-ending, generally serving as a pretext for misstatements against those he opposes. For example, read his treatment of the Human Rights Campaign in last Friday’s posting. Sully criticizes HRC for its take on that controversial ad in Montana. “HRC doesn’t come out and say that this was a homophobic ad,” he writes. They don’t? Here are the opening paragraphs of the press release to which Sullivan links:

WASHINGTON—The Human Rights Campaign today criticized a negative ad by the Democratic Party of Montana that is widely seen as bringing into question the sexual orientation of Republican state Sen. Mike Taylor.

Earlier this week, Taylor ended his bid for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., citing the effect of the ad on his campaign.

“HRC deplores any attempt to make a political issue of a candidate’s real or perceived sexual orientation,” said HRC Political Director Winnie Stachelberg. “This type of ad has no place in politics, it is an affront to gay people and we hope we have seen the last of this campaign tactic.”

Later on in its press release, HRC further criticized the ad. “HRC also sent a letter this morning to Montana Democratic Party Executive Director Brad Martin, expressing deep concern with the tone of the ad,” the group wrote. But—parsing hard for all he’s worth; as Clintonian as the greatest of all Clinton caricatures—Sully pretends that the HRC just couldn’t make up its mind on this ad. In best gonzo fashion, Sully says that the phrase “any attempt” in the passage we quote is a “weasel word” which “leav[es] the possibility open that this ad was a genuine and non-homophobic one.” Remember: The person who puts such clowning into print was once editor of the great New Republic.

Sullivan is fairer to the HRC than he is to Gore or Fisk. But his presentation is utterly silly. What is truly amazing about his HRC piece? This silly spinning of the HRC statement is Sullivan at his fairest and best!

Those who subscribe to Salon’s premium service should check out Sullivan’s essay today. In it, he lambastes Harold Meyerson for daring to say that Reagan “appeased” the Soviets. In fact, he calls Meyerson’s statement the “Idiocy of the Week.”

Sully works himself into his Standard Lather over Meyerson’s statement. But isn’t it perfectly obvious, from everything said in his piece, that Meyerson is speaking ironically? Meyerson’s claim is very clear: Deterrence—which he proposes in the case of Iraq—is not a form of “appeasement.” When he says that deterrence worked with the Soviets, he calls it “appeasement”—ironically. But Crazy Boy—missing Myerson’s point and tone altogether—assails his statement as the week’s leading “idiocy.” The actual idiocy involved in this piece? The fact that Salon stooped to print it.