Just Another Effin' Observer

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Location: Huntsville, Texas, United States

Friday, February 25, 2005

Scandal! (Er, Take Two)

Regular readers of this blog (both of you) may have observed that, after a brief, initial spurt of activity, entries have tended to be, shall we say, rather sporadic. There is a reason for that. Actually, there are several.

One reason is the fact that, although I have strong political opinions (some of my more liberal friends would probably say "pig-headed", "reactionary", "neanderthal", and a few other characterizations that are even less polite), I do not feel any urge to write about them all that frequently. (There are exceptions, of course, but that isn't why I created this blog.) There are simply too many other bloggers out there, being political commentators and investigative journalists and what-not, and an already crowded field doesn't need any more population pressure from a lightweight such as me. This despite the fact that there has been an awful lot of politics going on lately -- plenty to write about, if I were to be so inclined, which, basically, is my point: I am not.

Secondly, my "journalistic instincts" (insofar as I actually have any, despite having been a journalism major in college -- for a whole semester) have always leaned less toward Jack Anderson than P.J. O'Rourke. From the Washington Times' review of his book, All The Trouble In The World: "... Economists, political scientists and sociologists are inclined to approach the ills of society with regression analysis. P. J. O'Rourke just points and laughs." That approach has always worked for me. The news lately has left me inspired, angry, jubilant, saddened -- indeed most of your better-known emotions -- but there has been precious little that I could make fun of.

Until now.

Which brings me to my final point: I only post to this blog when the opportunity arises to tweak some hypersensitive twit (one of my more recent postings was a recycled screed that regurgitated a thirty-year-old bitter-fest, in which I got to tweak 430 of them, a.k.a., my entire high-school graduating class) or, in lieu of that, a feeling that it has simply been too long since anything was added. Well, guess what: It has been too long since "new" content was posted to my blog. This time, though, the content actually is new. Topical, too, more or less.

Hard on the heels of the Eason Jordan affair came the Left-wing bloggers' "retaliation": the take-down of one Jeff Gannon, a.k.a., James D. Guckert, a third-tier Internet stringer who covered the White House beat for Talon News (whoever the hell they are), and who, in a previous incarnation, was a noteworthy presence on various gay escort-service Web sites. The lefty bloggers' complaints about Gannon (or Guckert, or whatever nom de voyage he's using these days) included such "high crimes and misdemeanors" as: he is not a "legitimate" journalist (as opposed to, say, Walter Cronkite, who lied to the country about the Tet Offensive, and who thinks Karl Rove was the Executive Producer of the pre-election Osama bin Laden video); that he pitched 'softball' questions to the Administration, thus proving their first point (the question that really set them off characterized Democrats as "divorced from reality" -- which actually reinforces his status as a "legitimate" journalist, because, in point of fact, a great many of them are, and he was sufficiently objective to notice it); that he is an Administration plant, gaining unwarranted access to the White House, under an assumed name, through Administration connections (actually, he used his real name and his real Social Security number, to obtain day passes to the White House Briefing Room); that he is gay (an odd charge, that one, since the Left just loves gays -- and perhaps the less said about that, the better, wink-wink, nudge-nudge); that he was the source of the information that revealed Valerie Plame (Joe Wilson's missus) to be a CIA operative (which information was, in turn, leaked to him by an article published in the Wall Street Journal); that he cannot be a serious journalist if there are pictures of his penis on the Web (okay, they got me there; I, for one, would find Dan Rather's credibility seriously impaired if I found a jpeg of his Johnson on the Internet -- as I would if confronted by images of Jennings' Peter, or Brian William's willie, or Shepherd Smith's "staff", or -- oh, hell, you got three freebies already, make up the rest yourselves). Oh, and did we mention that he's gay?

For reasons that completely eluded (and continue to elude) the Left, that particular "scandal" gained absolutely zero traction whatsoever. Could it perhaps be because Jeff Gannon is a complete nobody, hence no one really gives a flying flamingo about him? And there are so many penis pictures posted on the Web that Jeff's little photographic anatomy lesson cannot even claim the virtue of novelty; "been there, done that, and the T-shirt would hide my six-pack and pecs." And -- okay, I'll admit it -- I've seen the pictures in question, and I am utterly unable to stifle a yawn. A blue whale's penis is over eleven feet long; sorry, Jeff, but as Shania Twain might say, "That don't impress me much."

Faced with this abject failure at scandal-mongering, the lefty bloggers set their sights on a much bigger, infinitely higher-profile, target -- Fox News' Brit Hume. Hey, let 'em know you're going for something, that's my motto. The result was almost pathetic. No, not almost; it was pathetic.

I suppose, if the "scalp-hunters" are going to go after a major-league journalist, then Brit Hume is as good a target as any, and probably better than most; he certainly has better hair than Jeff Gannon, if only by virtue of the fact that he has hair. (Gannon shaves his head.) From a tonsorial standpoint, Hume stands Head and Shoulders(TM) above the likes of Ted Koppel (isn't it amazing what they're doing with fiberglass these days?); besides, Koppel's one of theirs. Sam Donaldson, on the other hand, would be easy pickings -- too easy, in fact; a good gust of wind would do the job, no real effort required. I know that most people would scoff at the thought of Sam Donaldson being a conservative journalist, and I daresay Sam himself would vehemently deny it. But I saw it happen, on This Week with David Brinkley, back around '85 or '86. In response to Cokie Roberts' chastising Ronald Reagan for not holding a summit with the leader of the Soviet Union, Donaldson immediately rose to the President's defense: "Maybe it's because they keep dying on him!" They all laughed it off as a nice throw-away line, but I knew that something positively seismic had just occured.

So what was Brit Hume's crime that several liberal bloggers are demanding his head? According to them, he misquoted President Franklin Delano Roosevelt on the subject of Social Security. Misquoting someone -- a hanging offense if ever there was one! Of course, Maureen Dowd does that kind of thing all the time, but I've never heard anyone clamoring for her pretty little head. (Probably because it isn't particularly pretty -- at least, not to me. Now, Claudia Schiffer is pretty. But MoDo? There ain't enough Stoli in the world.) But what, exactly, did Mr. Hume say that was so unforgivably heinous? Here's the actual quote, from an article he wrote on FOXNews.com:

In a written statement to Congress in 1935, Roosevelt said that any Social Security plans should include, "Voluntary contributory annuities, by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age," adding that government funding, "ought to ultimately be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans."

Now, this is what FDR said, vis-a-vis Social Security:

In the important field of security for our old people, it seems necessary to adopt three principles: First, non-contributory old-age pensions for those who are now too old to build up their own insurance. It is, of course, clear that for perhaps thirty years to come funds will have to be provided by the States and the Federal Government to meet these pensions. Second, compulsory contributory annuities which in time will establish a self-supporting system for those now young and for future generations. Third, voluntary contributory annuities by which individual initiative can increase the annual amounts received in old age. It is proposed that the Federal Government assume one-half of the cost of the old-age pension plan, which ought ultimately to be supplanted by self-supporting annuity plans.

(If you doubt me, here it is from the Social Security Administration's own Web site. It's a bit more than half-way down the page, the third paragraph following the 'Congressional Consideration' heading.)

The gist of the lefty bloggers' accusations is that Brit Hume, using a bit of "editorial license", edited FDR's statement to convey a meaning quite different than what Roosevelt intended. Rather like what the afore-mentioned MoDo did with George W. Bush's "they're not a problem" statement about dead Al Qaeda terrorists. (Dowd carefully edited out any reference to the terrorists Bush referred to as being dead, giving the impression that the President was not taking Al Qaeda seriously.)

But here's the thing: other than splitting an infinitive (which I personally abhor, but is no longer considered the unpardonable grammatical sin that it once was), Brit Hume's truncated quotation by FDR, and the article in which it appears, is entirely correct. Franklin Roosevelt, the "father of Social Security", did in fact propose something very akin to President Bush's voluntary individual accounts. So those lefty bloggers are demanding Brit Hume's scalp over -- what, exactly? Being right?

Bill at INDC Journal offers an excellent recap of the whole kerfuffle (and this is a situation that definitely warrants such a twerpy characterization).

Then again, when did the facts ever get in the way of a juicy left-wing witch-hunt?


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