Wednesday, September 22, 2004

SNOOZING SAFIRE GETS A WAKE-UP CALL. William Safire today advocates shackles and leg irons for whoever was responsible for the fake Jerry Killian memos. He writes in today's New York Times:

That was no mere "dirty trick"; it could be a violation of the U.S. criminal code. If the artifice had not been revealed by sharp-eyed bloggers, a national election could have been swung by a blatant falsehood.

Who was the forger? Did others conspire with him or her to present a seeming government document - with knowledge of its falsity and with intent to defraud, which is a felony in Texas? Who was to benefit and how?

CBS News belatedly apologized and agreed to appoint independent examiners. That's a start.

Wow! Look out Democratic dirty-tricksters: Safire is in da house.

But you might be interested to learn that I did a quick check this morning on how the extremely even-handed former Nixon operative has dealt with other shocking scandals during the past year. For instance, I learned that the word "Plame" came up in a Safire column precisely once, on July 14.

Actually, it didn't even appear in Safire's column per se - it was, rather, cross-indexed by Lexis-Nexis. The column itself was an attack on Valerie Plame's husband, former ambassador Joseph Wilson, of the infamous Niger mission. Wrote Safire:

Wilson testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee that he had assured U.S. officials back in 2002 that "there was nothing to the story." When columnist Robert Novak raised the question of nepotism by reporting that he got the assignment at the urging of his C.I.A. wife, Wilson denied that heatedly and denounced her "outing," triggering an investigation. The skilled self-promoter was then embraced as an antiwar martyr, sold a book with "truth" in its title, appeared on the cover of Time and every TV talk show denouncing Bush.

Now let's see ... any mention of the fact that identifying Plame, an undercover CIA employee, may have been a federal crime, and that the "senior administration officials" who leaked her name to Novak might be eligible for shackles and leg irons? Or that some of Safire's fellow journalists have been threatened with prison if they don't tell a special prosecutor who those "senior administration officials" are? In a word: no.

Even more hilarious is that the only time Safire has used the words "Kerry" and "swift" together during the past year was this past Sunday, in his "On Language" column in the New York Times Magazine. Never mind that, for weeks, Kerry was hammered by smears put forth by the lying Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, funded and supported by some of the same Texas Republicans who support George W. Bush. What was interesting to Safire was where the term "Swift boat" came from:

Larry Wasikowski, of Omaha, Neb., who styles himself "the unofficial historian of the Swift Boat Sailors Association," recalls, "We believe it came from Sewart Seacraft, the manufacturer," but he claims no certainty about the origin. Another association member, Jim Schneider, of Rapid City, S.D., says that the owner of Sewart Seacraft, F.W. Sewart, who died in 1995, told him ...


Meanwhile, fellow Times columnist Nicholas Kristof today goes on sensibly for a bit, blasting the swift-boat attacks as the disgusting untruths that they are. But then he wigs out, more or less equating them with Kerry's criticism of outsourcing. You can't make this stuff up:

If they're intellectually consistent, Democrats will speak out not only against the Swift Boat Veterans but also against Mr. Kerry's demagoguery on trade, like his suggestion that outsourcing is the result of Mr. Bush's economic policies. Trade demagoguery may not be as felonious as an assault on a war hero's character, but it harms America by undermining support for free trade.

And so goes this depressing campaign - and the even more depressing media coverage of it.


John Farrell said...

Hmm. I thought the debunking of the claim about Kerry's being in Cambodia on a secret mission, Christmas Eve 1968, wasn't an untruth. Isn't that why that tale was pulled from Kerry's web site and his team admitted that he really wasn't there?

Is someone doing a point-by-point review of what's in the Swift Vets book, Unfit for Command?

Dan Kennedy said...

Funny you should ask. You will find the definitive takedown of "Unfit for Command" at

Anonymous said...

Wow, Safire's awake. His comments about violations of law sound remarkably similar to John Ellis' 'she better get a lawyer' one the other day. Myself, I think I hear the conservative media's echo chamber cranking up.