How Low Can They Go? How Dumb Can They Get?

By now you’ve probably heard that the military Times papers — Army Times, Navy Times, Air Force Times, and Marine Corps Times — is calling for Rumsfeld to go. Taylor Marsh has the text of the editorial. As Taylor says, this is unprecedented.

For opposing views of the military Times papers, compare Billmon some rightie bloggers. Start with Billmon:

Long ago, I worked for the company that owns the military Times publications, although my own paper was aimed at the civilian side of the government (we called our small corner of the newsroom “the demilitarized zone.”) Maybe things have changed in 20 years but I can assure you that back then the Times papers were even more mindlessly pro-military than the Pentagon itself (which is kind of like being more Catholic than the pope, but with superior firepower). If they’re taking aim at the SecDef — and timing their battery fire for maximum political effect — it’s reasonable to believe that the generals have reached a point that in many countries would be followed in short order by a military coup.

Billmon points out that the military Times papers were taken over by Gannett awhile back, which makes them part of the evil “MSM.” And, sure enough, you can click here to read a rightie blog post titled “Liberal Army Times calls (again) for Rumsfeld’s head.” The blogger writes,

CNN fails to report that the editorial position of the Army Times has been and still is VERY liberal. I know that as I did a stint them as a journalist way back. Note most of their most editorized stories have come during less than stellar times for the military.

As proof of this runamuck liberalism, the blogger linked to a CNN story:

In May 2004, when the Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse scandal broke, an Army Times editorial said, “This was not just a failure of leadership at the local command level. This was a failure that ran straight to the top. Accountability here is essential, even if that means relieving top leaders from duty in a time of war.”

Human decency, abiding by the Geneva Conventions, and accountability are “liberal.” OK, I accept that.

The Flopping Ace:

For those of us who actually served in our Military I can tell you what these papers really are…to the troops.

The National Enquirer of our military. Their editorials are always dripping with disdain for the military and have a huge liberal bias. They are owned by the Gannett publishing company who also publish the USA Today.

They are NOT representative of our military. For the MSM to allege otherwise is being dishonest.

Dr. Steven Taylor of PoliBlog — conservative but not crazy — writes,

Much will no doubt be made about the timing, but it is worth noting that the response is [to] the President–he is the one who brought the whole thing up in the first place.

I have passing acquaintance with the Army Times as a friend of mine is a subscriber and I have seen some (granted, limited) coverage of Iraq from the paper. It was certainly more positive than that in the MSM. Indeed, given that the four publications are aimed a military audience, it is rather difficult to make “liberal media bias” claims in this context. Members of the military or regular readers of the papers in question are welcome to correct me if they feel the need.

I sent enquiries to my military contacts, and I will let you know if any of them offer an opinion as to the political proclivities of the Army Times. Personally, I have a hard time believing that newspapers catering to military families are going to be The New Daily Worker.

As Dr. Taylor says, the editorial writers claim the timing of the editorial is not about the elections, but is a reaction to what the President said about keeping Rumsfeld. The Blue Crab, a rightie blogger (why isn’t he the Red Crab?), will have none of this.

The editorial protests that “This is not about the midterm elections.” Uh, sure. That’s why it was released to the major media outlets on Friday. …

… Of course it is about the midterms, and of course they are doing their level best to help drag the Democrats across the finish line. This is all part of that media crescendo.

“Media crescendo” refers to another post in which the Crab complained that the New York Times had the unpatriotic and liberal-bias nerve to quote people criticizing the President.

You’re shocked, I know. Truly, objectivity requires heaping only praise and glory and flowers and stuff on the President, at all times. Unless the President is a Democrat.

I see that much of the Right Blogosphere is still rampaging over the Kerry joke flub. Like that wasn’t ginned up just to distract voters from issues. It’s OK to try to swing the election by stirring up a phony crisis about someone who isn’t even running, but discussing a real issue critical to the nation is outside the pale.

Joan Vennochi writes in the Boston Globe:

The president earns dismal marks for job performance, according to recent polls. His unpopular Iraq war policy stands to turn voters against Republican candidates across the country.

Yet even with the presidential juice at low octane, some Democrats swiftly echoed the White House talking points after John Kerry bungled a bad joke. Kerry, a decorated combat veteran, insulted the US military, they insisted; he must apologize.

All it took to bring them to their knees was the usual: a blast of hot air from the White House, fanned by Matt Drudge, Rush Limbaugh, and cable TV, and then giftwrapped by the mainstream media.

And like trained seals, rightie bloggers honk away on cue.

At the Los Angeles Times, Meghan Daum picks up on the Dick Armey quote I discussed here.

Former House Majority Leader Dick Armey explained the process during the Kerry flap even as he conceded that what Kerry said was just a slip-up. “It’s pretty standard-fare political discourse,” he told MSNBC’s Chris Matthews on Tuesday. “You misconstrue what somebody said. You isolate a statement, you lend your interpretation to it, and then you feign moral outrage.”

Armey added that “the Democrats have been doing it for years,” and, of course, he’s right. Sloganism-as-national idiom isn’t a partisan tick. Here’s Kanye West’s post-Katrina mantra, although he didn’t so much reinterpret a statement as an entire agenda: “George Bush hates black people.” It mushroomed into a rallying cry for black America. Catchy, yes. True? Come on.

Except that Kanye West wasn’t speaking on behalf of the Democratic Party. As far as I know he was speaking on behalf of Kanye West. And if his remark had “legs” it was because (a) it was amusing to see someone go off-script; and (b) lots of people were already thinking it. As far as I know, nobody in the Democratic Party got their fax machines going and sent their minions forth to push the story onto news media as hard as they could push. So, Ms. Daum — you had a good column going, and then you got stupid. Try harder next time.

Truly, Stupid is in the saddle and riding mankind. Mahablog commenter k has seen campaign ads that smear candidates by associating them with the Democratic Party.

One thing I have noticed- I am in a ‘red’ state with a Dem Governor who will win easily- The R opposing him is running ads attacking him by showing him at the 2004 Dem Convention saying “John Kerry” and amplifying it: the implication being that Kerry is his hero and that it is a crime to attend one’s convention and endorse one’s party candidate. Another commercial attacks a local Dem for ‘ taking money connected to Hillary Clinton and John Dean. Well they are Dems and Dean is the Chairman of the party so yea, we get the slur but it is the attack on being a member of another party and gasp taking party money that is being attacked here. Another ad attacks a Dem for state senate, an Iraq vet, a lawyer, for defending drug dealers and criminals. Yea it is what lawyers do. What I’m seeing is the attack on belonging to another party, participating in the legal system.

They’re running on smears and air. It’s all they’ve got.

See also Glenn Greenwald on Faux Nooz’s weekend program schedule.

I want to go back to Billmon — I think he has a point here —

Now I despise Donald Rumsfeld as much as any commie pinko, but this kneejerk habit the generals have gotten into of blaming Rummy for all their problems in Iraq is getting pretty old. The Army’s own failures — most particularly, in deciding that because it doesn’t like to fight guerrilla wars, it wouldn’t prepare to fight one — are well documented in Tom Ricks’ Fiasco and elsewhere. The ossified bureaucracy obsessed with budgets, rank and military ceremony (in roughly that order), which led defense gadfly Chuck Spinney to label the Pentagon “the Versailles on the Potomac,” had grown deeply dysfunctional long before Donald Rumsfeld came back to town. If anything, he at least tried to reform it — even if most of his ideas went in diametrically the wrong direction for the “fourth generation” war the military now finds itself fighting. …

… trying to make Rummy the sole scapegoat for America’s failure in Iraq is as big a lie as Shrub’s insistence that the SecDef has done, and is still doing, a great job. It looks to me like the Times papers are simply pandering to their special constituency (something that was also their editorial bread and butter when I was there.)

The Dems may applaud now, but if I were them, I’d be extremely wary of the precedent. As a group, the joint chiefs are developing a taste for bureaucratic blood — they’re trying to destroy Rumsfeld just as they destroyed Les Aspin and emasculated Wesley Clark. Only now they’re doing it openly (or at least semi-openly) and in the middle of an election campaign.

That’s usually not a good sign for a republican government — and I’m not talking about the political party.

So, while at least Rumsfeld is a real issue and not a phony issue — keep what Billmon says in mind.

Update: Don’t miss Media Matters by Jamison Foser.

19 thoughts on “How Low Can They Go? How Dumb Can They Get?

  1. I’ve been entertaining myself singing Borat’s little song “throw the Jew down the well”, where the word Jew has been replaced by Rummy. It’s not a bad tune… ♫ Throw Rummy down the my country can be free. ♫

  2. i wonder if the military is what will rescue this country. is there a patriotic vein running through the generals core? Or is power the only luster worth pursuing? If generals smite littleboots on the heel what happens with the next step? too much to understand

  3. My own contacts in the military tell me:

    1. The four military newspapers are not published by the four branches of the military, they’re published by Gannett Newspapers, a chain with a decidely left-wing POV.

    2. The editorials in these papers reflects the opinions of the editorial staff, many of whom never served in the military.

    3. Opinions expressed, for instance, in Army Times do not reflect the opinions of soldiers and officers in the US Army.

    4. John Cox, who is running for the 2008 GOP presidential nomination, a staunch conservative, believes that the military by-and-large support the DefSec.

    5. These generals griping about Rummy not listening to them are full of baloney. Rummy listened. He just didn’t agree.

  4. Nathan — your points 1, 2, and 3 are already in my post. Read before your comment next time.

    However, I do have some contacts in the military. Your points 4 and 5 are flat-out wrong.

  5. I think an editorial note is in order regarding the item by “comment k” that refers to a local Democrat taking money from Hilary Clinton and “John Dean…the chairman of the party.” Obviously this is an error. The Chairman of the Democratic Party is HOWARD Dean while John Dean is a noted Republican and conservative author.

    Now with respect to the military Times publications, I am a retired Army officer and I subscribe to the Army Times. The military is not known for its liberality. Aside from general articles aimed at the youger soldiers and their families, the Times provides information about what is happening in the military world that is specifically aimed at servicemen and women. And, because family members who are not in the service also read these papers, there are items in it for them too. Of course, non-service family members may be more liberally oriented. I believe that I am a liberal yet I find myself sometimes taken aback by an overly liberal perspective that surfaces in their reporting.

  6. I’ll try. By liberal I mean articles like the one we are discussing where the reporter or editor will report or comment in a way that might lead one to believe they are not conservatives or that they do not support the military/government view. That’s all. Naturally, that is a very subjective view and very likely a minority one.

  7. I would just like to add that quoting Joan Venocchi, Boston Globe, amuses me. I have written her before about her constant bashing of John Kerry before the 2004 elections. Now she sees the light. Oh, great. Just like the “War on Gore”, magnificently chronicled by Bob Somerby at the Daily Howler, this suddenly horrified posture from our pundits just cracks me up. I notice that the neocons threw W under the bus, in a big scrum, yesterday in Vanity Fair. Oh, My. The Gods must be ordering a change.

  8. By liberal I mean articles like the one we are discussing where the reporter or editor will report or comment in a way that might lead one to believe they are not conservatives or that they do not support the military/government view.

    Opposing the “military/government” view is in itself neither liberal nor conservative. In any event, never forget that the “military/government” is not supposed to have a view without the consent of We, the People.

  9. “And like trained seals*…”

    The bloggers you link – Mac, Blue Crab, Flopping Ace, and disparage, all have something in common, as opposed to the Military Times editor Robert Hodierne,, cited in the post, and darned if it isn’t actual military service.

    “Trained seals?” “Sheep?” “How dumb can they get?” “We support the Troops!!??

    Blues and (imaginary) coups. Golly.

    *Navy Seals perchance?

  10. and darned if it isn’t actual military service.

    Other people have actual military service, too — John Kerry, John Mertha, Wes Clark, plus a generous number of Democratic congressional candidates who are running because they are opposed to Bush’s War.

    I know you righties like to pretend that you have a copyright on the military, but it ain’t so. And it is becoming less so with every passing day.

    Also, please note that the trained seals were rightie bloggers generally commenting on the phony Kerry controversy — Michelle Malkin, Glenn Reynolds, and many others who are no more vets than I’m the Virgin Mary.

  11. “I know you righties like to pretend that you have a copyright on the military, but it ain’t so. And it is becoming less so with every passing day.”

    Maha, I agree, and think that is a very good trend, and a long time coming (home, as it were). I was a JFitzK Dem last century.

    Hail Maha.

  12. These people aren’t stupid. Ignorant and naive and unsophisticated, but not stupid. They’re like the men in Second Hand Lions who have a mode of reality and refuse to let anything intrude or make a chink in their armor. If they did, they might just lose their minds. So they hang on with all their might and hope for the best and try to make facts fit into their reality. As Rush Limbaugh says about the far-left “There is no reaching them or intruding upon their reality. You just can’t get through.” Maybe things have been this way always, politically, with the far-right and the far-left at each other’s throats. All I know is, I’m tired of it and I long for the days when I was naive and thought we were all just Americans and all wanted what was best for the country above all else.

  13. *Navy Seals perchance?

    Me thinks it would be more like hydroceles.

    Having military service means shit when you try to use it to buttress stupidity. The military can give you experience but it can’t give you brains. It might also lead you to believe that you’re somebody special, but in reality your just another nobody with no real advantage over anybody. And with enough peanuts, and enough patience….. I could train a monkey to do the Manual of Arms.

  14. Pingback: Thudfactor » The rules of the Game

  15. To be honest, I didn’t read the military papers much when I worked there and I read them even less now — although their early coverage of the Iraq War was gung ho enough and their chat site for military people was downright Nurembergish.

    On the other hand, Gannett (I worked there, too) is definitely less conservative than the old military Times management (although calling the chain that publishes USA Today a “liberal” company is a bit of a stretch, even for the pod people of hte Malkin right.

    A lot of the old reporters I knew (ex-military or ex-military PR to the man) are probably gone, so who knows? Maybe Gannett has stocked the place with the dreaded liberal elitists, but I doubt it. Commercial logic alone would tell you that a string of papers dedicated to covering the U.S.military FOR the U.S. military couldn’t afford to get too ideologically out of step with the readers.

    If this keeps up, we’re going to get to the point where everybody in this country who the remaining diehard conservatives think is NOT a liberal can fit comfortably in a phone booth.

  16. kerryinalaska, that’s a very scary idea.

    My big worry about the current nonsense is that it may get to the point that the military will decide that they can’t leave the idiots in charge anymore. That happens pretty regularly in some parts of the world, and no matter how well intentioned the military people are, it always goes badly. That’s why it is important for military people to stay disciplined. And why I admire the service they provide in times like these is even more than when the cause makes sense.

  17. Pingback: The Mahablog » Army Times

  18. Pingback: PoliBlog ™: A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » Hey Look, I’m a “right wing nut”

Comments are closed.