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Washington Post's Hired Gun Deals With Ex-Conservative Hit Man
by Jerry Politex, Bush Watch, www.bushwatch.com, 03.18.02
In the very early hours of Sunday morning I was one of a number of members of the media and government who received an impassioned letter accusing the Washington Post Of "shameful" and "utterly unprofessional behavior by publishing critic Bruce Bawer's "nasty" review of David Brock's "Blinded By the Right" without mentioning that Bawer is a former writer for the "American Spectator," the very magazine, funded by arch-conservative Richard Scaife, that Brock is attacking in his book. Brock, of course, also wrote for the "American Spectator" when he was a well-paid conservative "hit man" for what Hillary called the "far-right conspiracy" against her husband. The letter writer contends that "Bawer's association with the "Spectator" would speak for itself - if only the association were made known to readers of the review. But the Post omitted all references to Bruce Bawer's ties to the American Spectator, hiding the conflict of interest in an attempt to maximize the damage against Mr. Brock's book!"
The letter writer's is correct about Bawer having written for the American Spectator. The Washington Post editors didn't include that important detail, thus leaving him unprotected from those who might charge him with a hidden conflict of interest in writing his review as he did. I would think that most book review editors, as well, would want to cover themselves from such charges by adding a needed short sentence of explanation at the end of the review. Of course, it's not as though Bawer is an unknown among book editors, having published in the mainstream for years, even having previously written a negative book review about the work of another representative of the gay and lesbian liberal movement for the New York Times in 1995. But in its identiification of the gay conservative reviewer at the end of the piece, the Post only says, "Bruce Bawer is the author of "A Place at the Table: The Gay Individual in American Society" and 'Stealing Jesus: How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity."
According to Book List, "A Place at the Table" is a "silent majority" report from a conservative Christian homsexual who is uncomfortable with what he thinks of as the in-your-face approach of his more liberal brethern. Three years later in a review of a new Bawer book, "Beyond Queer: Challenging Gay Left Orthodoxy," Kirkus Review writes, " Continuing in the vein of his last book, Bawer (A Place at the Table, 1993, etc.) here marshalls 38 recent articles from writers who attack the ``queer establishment'' and argues for a more moderate approach to lesbian and gay rights. This volume thus provides the next salvo in internal debate over strategies for improving gay life--legislation vs. liberation, integration vs. transformation, etc. 'Queer' ideology, writes Bawer, is 'selfish and immature.'"
Andrew Sullivan, the conservative ex-editor of New Republic, was one of the contributors to "Beyond Queer." Elsewhere, in a piece on the gay conservative movement, Surina Khan, then an Associate Analyist at Political Research Associates, has written that political writers such as Bawer, Sullivan, Brock, and others made up the new, increasingly influential conservative gay movement, said to have begun in 1978, and that "many gay white men, for the price of remaining in the closet, have held positions of power and influence within the conservative ruling elite." Of course, Bawer, Sullivan, and Brock are not closeted writers, and as Kahan remarks, "the increasing numbers of gay conservatives and the novelty of their apparently odd political allegiance has attracted coverage by both mainstream and gay media." And, as alluded to above, the Bawer negative review of the Brock book is not the first time a national mainstream publication has paid him for a book review that, not surprisingly, turns out to be a negation of the position held by a gay liberal writer: "the New York Times assigned conservative Bruce Bawer to review [long-time progressive activist] Urvashi Vaid's Virtual Equality, with predictable results," writes Kahn.
As for the other book that the Washington Post uses to identify Bawer, "Stealing Jesus," it can be thought to be the needed second prong of the two-pronged plan by the gay conservative wing of the Republican Party to establish its political relevance. Not only must gay conservatives disassociate themselves from the traditional Republican negative stereotypes of the gay movement, but it must also counter the Christian Conservative fundamentalist orthadoxy that gays should be shunned by the GOP as sinners. Since this disagreement can't be spun in their favor, the gay conservatives simply attack the Christian Conservative fundamentalists, and assert that they are not Christians at all, thus the subtitle of the book: "How Fundamentalism Betrays Christianity." As one Christian fundamentalist sympathizer writes, "the author depends too much on recent 'scholarship' like the Jesus seminar to bolster his points of view. Bawer is a homosexual who is an active Episcopalian. He takes fundamentalists to task for the way they have the gall to take what the Bible says seriously." Hence, it appears that the Washington Post's identification of Bawer at the end of the review has more to do with establishing him among the political literati as being part of the Republican gay conservative movement than it does in either informing the reader of his ties to the "American Spectator" or his apparant role as conservative a literary "hit man" against gay and lesbian progressives. And given that Bawer is nearly as well-known as Andrew Sullivan, it's really difficult to believe that Washington Post editors were unaware of this when he was selected to write his review of Brock's book.
In fact, Bawer's approach to Brock's book appears to be the GOP line in dealing with his revelations that he was part of the core of the "far-right conspiracy" focused upon Bill Clinton. . Since Brock tells us that he was part of the calculated conservative strategy to destroy the Clinton presidency through lies and endless attacks upon his character, and is willing to provide countless details to prove it, those who disagree with his decision to confess all and turn over a new leaf are attacking his character, rather than defending the conservative movement from his allegations. This approach was apparent recently on Ameica Now, CNBC's political-financial show, when Larry Kudlow focused on Brock's credibility and his acid descriptions of the Republican players in his past, rather than having him outline the dirty deeds that took place during his tenure in the conservative camp. Kudlow's sidekick, Jim Bob Kramer, may have been more interested in having Brock provide such details of his experiences, but never got much beyond echoeing Kudlow's tisk-tisking of Brock's biting the hand that used to feed him. As Ludlow told Brock, he asked his friends about the reporter's allegations and he was told they were not true, so he doesn't believe them, either. Case closed. As for Brock, he seemed more interested in defending his change of heart and his methods of characterization as an element of memoire writing than of going into detail about the allegations in his book. This response, of course plays into the hands of his conservative opposition who wish Brock would just shut up and go away without making too many waves.
And Bawer, picking up on Brock's confessional tone, uses the same strategy in his Washington Post review, beginning with an attack on Brock's description of clothing worn by the conservative political characters he met, thus making Brock appear bubbleheaded; talking about the money Brock made through conservative attack-dog writing, thus making Brock out as a whore; then alluding to Brock's description of parties attended, thus making him out to be a sycophant. In short, Bawer does whatever it takes to fill up the all-important initial paragraphs of his review with ad hominem attacks, leading the reader away from any consideration of the political content of the book. And the rest of the review is no better. Bawer goes on to pick up the Kudlow theme of Brock's acid characterizations, segues into a discursive paragraph on Brock's hero worship of Jack Kennedy, and ends with a description of Brock's new liberal friends and an attack upon his morality, asking that Brock give back the keys to his house in Washington, purchased with money earned from his conservative hatchet job on Anita Hill.
Frankly, when a review so obviously biased is published by the professionals at The Washington Post for millions to read, and when the writer selected to do the job is so clearly not the person to write a balanced book review on a fellow American Spectator writer who once was part of the same gay conservative political movement, it's hard to believe that the resulting hatchet job is unintentional, and where does that leave The Washington Post's credibility? --Jerry Politex, 03.18.02, Bush Watch (www.bushwatch.com)
by Jerry Politex, Bush Watch, 12.21.01
Central Jersey's WCTC-AM owns the distinction of being the launching pad for the radio career of Bruce Williams many years ago. Since then, Williams has become, in the words of the station rep, "one of the most listened to and popular talk show hosts in the history of radio." I agree. Been listening to the ever amiable and laid-back Bruce Williams for years. So when I was invited to chat with Williams over the air for a couple of segments during Friday morning's drive time, I jumped at the chance. Here's how it went.
After sharing a war story about recently running a bar in Austin, Texas, Williams moved on to Ashcroft. He said from reading the Ashcroft pages at Bush Watch, we're in general agreement about the Attorney-General. I threw in the idea that Bush tried to get a war declared after Sept. 11, but no dice with Congress. Then he did an end around with executive orders that were as vague as possible and, in effect, asked us to trust him on the details, but given his questionable record on issues of trust, many have been reluctant to do so. I suggested that Ashcroft was the same way.
Williams said he was more interested in civil liberties than the politics of it, and said his concern was over Ashcroft's position that when it comes to terrorism: "You're either for us or against us." I offered to read the quote: "To those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty, my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists--for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America's enemies and pause to America's friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil."
Williams asked me what other problems I had with Ashcroft. I said he had a history of attempting to limit free speech and, while Senator, attempted to change the Constitution seven times in six years, then attempted to have the Constitutional rules for changing the Constitution changed. He asked me for an example of a change Ashcroft wanted and I referred him to the source of that info, a web site created by People For The American Way (www.opposeashcroft.com). Williams said that source was pretty far left, so I quoted from a more moderate source, The Des Moines Register, with respect to Ashcroft's attacks on free speech (12/08/01): "Nothing would give more aid and comfort to the enemies of America's freedoms--such as the freedom to criticize the government--than for the government to succeed in silencing its critics...[Mr. Ashcroft], have you no shame?"
Bruce Williams responded by saying that he was particularly concerned about Ashcroft's "back-door" attempt to prevent the citizens of Oregon from carrying out their legal wishes for assisted suicide. He felt that Ashcroft's actions were not within the range of options available to him as Attorney-General. I added that during Ashcroft's nomination hearings in Congress he indicated that, as Attorney-General, he would attempt to discover holes in the laws he disagreed with and would do whatever he could as Attorney-General to overturn those laws on that basis.
I told Williams that one area of law I wished Ashcroft would do something about is the laws for gun shows. They're much weaker than laws for buying guns in licensed shops. It's been documented that terrorists have purchased weapons at gun shows because it's much easlier to do than through stores. Williams answered that while he wasn't an NRA groupie, his feeling was that if folks didn't buy weapons at gun shows, they would just find an illegal way to do so. Same with the I.D. issue. "We both know that University of Texas students can get fake I.D.s down there in Austin."
I pointed out that Williams' argument could be used in support of legalizing pot. He said he had no problem with legalizing drugs and placing their sales under government control. He said that was probably the Conservative in him speaking. I thought it was the Libertarian, myself, but never got the chance to say so, as we bid our adieus and the WCTC announcer cut in with the News.
An editorial in today's New Your Times calls our attention to the unusual rapprochement between the Kennedy and Bush clans. We're told that it's unusual for political dynasties to cozy up to one another, even those in the same political party. Why, then, have we seen Bush courting the Kennedy's from day one of his White House residency? The Times suggests that it's simply political expediency. They can help one another get their respective political agendas through Congress. As we see it, the problem is that the two men play with slightly different rules. History suggests that Teddy tends to be more honest in his quid pro quo's than Junior. From our observation of the latter over the years, it seems that Bush implies agreements rather than makes them, and when he breaks his word, he knows what "is" is and, when caught, calls his improprieties "just Texas politics." (Har-Har)
Here's what the Times writes about the latest Kennedy-Bush episode, naming the Justice Department Building after Bobby Kennedy:
"The question of Robert Kennedy's heritage was one of the most piquant parts of the Justice Department ceremony. The fact that John Ashcroft, currently under fire for doing an end run around the Bill of Rights, was the attorney general presiding over the renaming could not help but bring up reminders that Robert Kennedy was not just a presidential candidate who stirred the heart of the nation, he was also an attorney general who authorized wiretaps of Martin Luther King Jr."
Pretty obvious, isn't it? Bush is saying, "See, Bobby Kennedy, a Democratic Attorney-General, did the same things that my Attorney-General is doing, and few got bent out of shape about it back then." True, Bobby Kennedy legally employed wiretaps. True, he said that he would arrest a member of the Mafia for spitting on the sidewalk. But did he say he wanted to interview thousands of Italian-Americans to discover their Mafia connections? Did he say that he wanted to listen in on phone conversations between those arrested and their lawyers? On the other hand, no Mafia member took over a jetliner and flew it into a skyscraper, either. But that's the point, isn't it. There are fewer connections between what Kennedy did and what Ashcroft is doing than Bush would have you believe. For that matter, there are fewer connections between members of the Mafia and the Islamic terrorists. Unlike "The Sopranos," I don't see HBO running a hit series on Islamic terrorists any time in the future.
The Kennedy's knew what Bush was up to by attempting to use Bobby Kennedy as a shield for his questionable executive orders. Why did they allow it to happen? Most likely because they knew that fighting the idea would cause more harm than good in today's political climate. And while they graciously accepted the tainted honor, they left it to a younger member of the brood, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo, to make clear to the public that they were aware of Bush's political intentions. Addressing her daughter in a public speech the same day as the naming ceremony, but at a Capital Hill location, she said, "Cara, if anyone tries to tell you [what Bush is doing] is the type of justice your grandpa would embrace, don't you believe it." --Politex, 11/30/01
Rootin'-Tootin' Putin Meets The Preppy Kid
In February I wrote...
"While they both wear cowboy boots and call each other "amigo,"... a big difference between Resident Bush and Mexico President Vicente Fox is that Fox can ride a horse and Bush apparently cannot. Their meeting in Mexico last week at Fox's home in San Cristobal, was dubbed the "Ranch-House Summit." Fox gave Bush a silver buckle the size of a hub cap and a couple of pairs of cowboy boots made by his brother, but when Maximiliana, the horse, was trotted up for Bush to take a ride on with Fox, our drug store cowboy said, "No mas!" Can it be that Bush can't ride a horse? I've been in Texas over twenty years and have never seen a picture of Bush on a horse nor have I read a story reporting same. It would figure. Bush is all photo op and no cattle. Take his land outside of Waco. Folks around there call their spreads "farms," not "ranches." Instead of the Bush spin of the tough cowboy from the West, we should see him for what he is: a privileged, conservative millionaire product of Eastern estblishment schools who lives on a farm, rides golf carts, not horses, and thinks of himself as John Wayne. Pathetic. --Politex, 2/25/01"
Yesterday, Maureen Dowd wrote in the New York Times...
"The two men are so chummy now that when Mr. Bush called Mr. Putin to invite him to the ranch, the Russian president said he was looking forward to riding horses with the American president. Mr. Bush had to explain that he doesn't ride. He prefers to saddle up his jeep or his golf cart, Gator, around the ranch."
As for calling his farm a "ranch," here's what, Ken, a Bush Watcher and native of the area around Crawford, had to say about that yesterday...
"Re: farm/ranch: I spent my early years here "in town", then as I was going into 2nd grade we moved to my grandmother's farm, 140 acres south of Temple, and we lived there until I was a freshman or so in high school. We would NEVER think of calling our 140 acres a "ranch", and never thought of ourselves as "ranchers" -- we were "dirt farmers", pure & simple, although we did run a few head of cattle and for a time my dad and a brother of his had some ranchland leased west of Belton and ran a few head. From what I gathered "from the ethers" as a boy was that a RANCH meant some SERIOUS acreage where you ran cattle. (No self-respecting Texan would cop to a "sheep ranch".) I myself would describe Bush's place as more of a 'spread.'"
So there you have it. Bush doesn't ride horses and he calls his farmland a "ranch." Yet, he wants us to think of him as John Wayne. As one reporter confided to me some years back, one obvious similarity between Bush and John Wayne is neither apologizes for mistakes made. When Rootin'-Tootin' Putin arrived in Texas yesterday looking for some real ranch action, he met up with an urban preppy in a pristine white four-door pickup, bigger than an SUV and looking like it has never seen a day of hard work, who calls his farmland "ranch" and his rusty steed "Golf Cart." --Politex, 11/15/01
by jerry politex, www.bushwatch.com
Ever since Bush was selected by the Supreme Court by a vote of 5-4 to take over the U.S. presidency, the Dems have said that a fair and thorough recounting of the Florida vote would prove that Gore won. While the jury is still out on whether the reported Consortium recount, published late Sunday November 11, was fair and thorough, let's assume that it was. What does it tell us? It tells us that Gore won the Florida electoral vote, the U.S. Supreme Court took the presidency away from him, and the media is wrong in reporting otherwise. Here's how Bush lost Florida.
First, it is an established fact that Gore beat Bush in the national popular vote by over a half million votes. (*) Secondly, Consortium interpretations of the voting data conclude that thousands more people voted for Gore in Florida than Bush. The problem for Gore is that many more votes in his favor were declared invalid than similar votes for Bush. Third, discounting such invalid votes, Consortium interpretations conclude that Gore still beat Bush statewide in Florida by a thin margin of under 200 votes. Which brings us back to the Supreme Court decision.
In its Dec. 12 decision the Supreme Court indicated that its conclusions were based upon equal protection law, and decided that in order to have equal voter protection in Florida the entire state should be recounted. However, even though there were weeks left for such a recount prior to the formal reception of the states' electoral college votes in Congress, the court decided that there wasn't enough time for such a recount, so five of nine members of the court decided, along party lines, to select Bush as the winner in Florida. The Consortium data indicates that they were wrong to think that Bush had won the popular vote in Florida. At any rate, in its Dec. 12 decision the Court made clear that if it hadn't selected Bush, its fallback decision would have been to call for a statewide election, since it considered the case to be a matter of equal rights. It further indicated that not taking a position on the matter was not an option.
Strangely, not one media member of the Consortium has reached the conclusion that if the Supreme Court had not selected Bush, Gore would have won the election by a Florida recount. Instead, in every instance of Consortium reporting, the big headlines say the data shows Bush won with more "valid votes," that he won because of the partial recount mandated by the Florida Supreme Court, or that he won because he would have had more votes than Gore under Gore's recount request. Buried in some of the stories are the six ways that Gore could have won. However, all of these suppositions are moot.
The unvarnished fact is that the U.S. Supreme Court had the final say on the election, not the Consortium voting data, and, left with the choice of giving the election back to the people of Florida through a statewide recount or selecting Bush, they selected Bush. That's what makes the New York Times headline for the Consortium story particularly egregious: "Study of Disputed Florida Ballots Finds Justices Did Not Cast The Deciding Vote." While the headline represents a badly needed attempt to restore credibility to the U.S. Supreme Court, it fails on the facts and it fails because the media cannot do what the Court, itself, has failed to do since its politicized decision in the case of Bush vs. Gore.
(*) All documentation may be found at http://www.bushwatch.net/gorebush.htm.
(c) copyright 2001. May be reprinted with attribution and link to www.bushwatch.com
2. More Florida Voters Voted For Gore Than For Bush (SPT, CT)
3. The Supreme Court Selected Bush, 5-4. (Supreme Court)
4. The Supreme Court's Alternate Plan Was To Recount All Florida Votes. (Supreme Court)
5. A Recount Of All Florida Votes Would Have Gore Winning By Over 100 Votes. (NYT, WP)
As you read the Consortium membership comments on the Florida presidential election of 2000, please keep in mind that Bush was selected to be president by a U.S. Supreme Court vote of 5-4. If the Supreme Court had not decided to take such a vote, it stated that neither the Bush solution to accept the State of Florida's count nor the Gore solution to recount four counties would be acceptable. Nor would the Florida Supreme Court's solution to recount 43,000 ballots be acceptable. Rather, the entire state of Florida would have to be recounted, the Supreme Court said. (Supreme Court summary ("equal protection") and decision here.) That scenario would have Gore winning by over 100 votes, based upon the recount by the Consortium. --Politex, 11/12/01