Friday, August 05, 2005


By Gene Lyons
Decauter Daily Democrat

For years, the Republican media machine has dominated national politics. Through a combination of ideological certitude, message discipline and bullying, the right often succeeds in defining issues its way. Outfits like Fox News, the Washington Times, and Wall Street Journal editorial page, as well as Rush Limbaugh and his cohorts, serve as propaganda organs of the Republican National Committee.

Democrats have no equivalent apparatus. Indeed, one of the GOP's most useful fictions is "liberal bias," the idea that big city newspapers and TV networks pick on poor, beleaguered Republicans. But nobody touted Iraq's imaginary WMDs harder than The New York Times and Washington Post.

With Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, GOP agitprop (as Marxists called it) has grown increasingly brazen. As New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, puts it "we're living in a country in which there is no longer such a thing as nonpolitical truth..... (T)here are now few, if any, limits to what conservative politicians can get away with: the faithful will follow the twists and turns of the party line with a loyalty that would have pleased the Comintern."

Krugman must be reading my e-mail. What's got the faithful upset is the Wilson/Plame leaks investigation. The revelation that the White House falsely denied that Bush insider Karl Rove and Vice President Cheney's chief of staff "Scooter" Libby "outed" a covert CIA agent in an attempt to hurt her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson, has driven True Believers to near-hysteria.

They sound like the sheep in Orwell's "Animal Farm," chanting mindless slogans to drown out challenges to the party line. Expletives deleted, here's a typical example: "You are calling political hack Joe Wilson a whistleblower. Joe Wilson is a proven liar.... His wife arranged for him to go to Niger to drink sweet tea. Vice President Dick Chenny (sic) did not authorize the trip. Neither did (CIA director) George Tenet. Mr. Wilson lied about those facts."

The rest of the party line goes like this: Rove and Libby were warning reporters against false stories. Anyhow, Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, wasn't really a covert agent working on WMDs, but a nobody bureaucrat. Or if she was a spy, Rove didn't actually say her name. Besides, the Brits say Wilson was wrong. There was plenty of evidence Iraq tried to buy African uranium. Anybody who says differently is pro-terrorist. President Bush rules!

Why are the sheep agitated? Basically for the same reasons White House operatives attacked Joe Wilson to begin with. They'd concocted a fake nuclear threat to scare Americans into supporting a war against Iraq that Bush's neoconservative supporters had long planned for other reasons, and they were afraid the public would figure it out.

Blow the smoke away, and it's a simple, therefore politically combustible story: the White House attacked Wilson's wife to punish him for telling the truth, revealing an American agent's identity to hide falsehoods that drove the nation to war. They did so in 2003 to get President Bush elected as a strong wartime leader; and they're doing it now to hide their own dirty tricks.
To hold otherwise requires what Orwell called "doublethink": believing simultaneously in two contradictory facts. That evidence for Saddam's nukes was powerful, for example, although the Bush administration's own Iraq Survey Group, after searching everywhere and interviewing arrested Iraqi scientists, concluded that no nuclear weapons program existed there after 1991, therefore no attempts to buy uranium.

It's this simple: Wilson was right, President Bush was wrong.

All the rest is rubbish. GOP robo-pundits were everywhere last week saying Wilson lied about Vice President Cheney authorizing his trip -- Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and the allegedly thoughtful New York Times columnist David Brooks.

But Wilson never said that. Here's the relevant passage from his original whistle-blowing article: "In February 2002, I was informed by officials at the Central Intelligence Agency that Vice President Dick Cheney's office had questions about a particular intelligence report....The agency officials asked if I would travel to Niger to check out the story so they could provide a response to the vice president's office."

Who sent him? "Agency officials."

Others sneer that Plame wasn't undercover, as if they had any way of knowing.

Did Wilson's wife "authorize" the trip, as Rove told reporters? Not that it matters, but no. Her bosses did. "She was not in a position to send Joe Wilson anywhere except to bed without his supper," Larry Johnson, a former CIA colleague, told the L.A. Times.

Sometimes even the most brazen agitprop can't stand against reality. Under communist rule, Moscow had two newspapers: The standard joke was that "There is no Pravda in Izvestia, and there is no Izvestia in Pravda." ("There is no truth in News, and no news in Truth.")

Americans aren't there yet, but the Wilson/Plame affair is pushing them in that direction.

Snave's note: this article is obviously somewhat biased to the left, but I think it contains some valid points. I believe paragraphs 7 and 8 are especially true.


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