Political observers recently got to watch Republican wedge politics go down, in textbook fashion. At a fundraiser in New York for Sen. John Kerry, Whoopi Goldberg said something naughty about President Bush. Ken Mehlman of the Bush campaign called the formerly obscure event a "star-studded hate fest" and demanded the Kerry campaign release it on video - implying even naughtier tidbits to come. Fox News, then the rest of the media, granted Goldberg's attack legitimacy as an "issue." The mighty GOP ax had fallen again, predictably, right at the point where two key constituencies of the Democratic coalition are joined. [...]Rick, Rick, Rick, Rick, RICK. Leave the Democratic party. Now. Go. Beat it. You have no business representing us on the pages of a big newspaper. Pack your things. GET OUT.
One chunk of voters falls to the right side of the hatchet, angry at Hollywood's insult to their piety. Another falls to the left, ready to cancel their checks to Kerry if he insults free speech. Pundits pile on, interpreting the flap as something Democrats foisted upon us.
"Why is it that the Hollywood folks, who are very bright people, don't get that this campaign is about middle America, not the left and the right coasts?" asked Chris Matthews on MSNBC.
The next part was predictable too. As the story spent another week in the news, Democrats howled with outrage. "The Republicans have gotten away with it again!"
I'm not howling - at least not at Republicans. Instead, I'd like to howl at my fellow Democrats convening now in Boston. In the Case of the Star-Studded Hate Fest, I'd like to congratulate Republicans on a nice play. The only thing that frustrates me is that Democrats never try the same thing.
The rest of you will know why I threw Rick Perlman out.
First of all, he didn't even BEGIN to look for a Democratic response. If he had, he would have seen this searing response from Mary Beth Cahill of the Kerry campaign on 7/13, which for all intents and purposes shut down the discussion from Ken Mehlman. This time, we're posting all the requests made by Cahill so it'll sink in.
...we find your outrage over and paparazzi-like obsession with a fund-raising event to be misplaced. The fact is that the nation has a greater interest in seeing several documents made public relating to the President's performance in office and personal veracity that the White House has steadfastly refused to release. As such, we will not consider your request until the Bush campaign and White House make public the documents/materials listed below:Miraculously, after this was posted at the Kerry site and e-mailed to the Kerry database, Mehlman quietly crawled back into his hole to find the next non-issue to cry to the media about.
Military records: Any copies of the President's military records that would actually prove he fulfilled the terms of his military service. For that matter, it would be comforting to the American people if the campaign or the White House could produce more than just a single person to verify that the President was in Alabama when said he was there. Many Americans find it odd that only one person out of an entire squadron can recall seeing Mr. Bush.
Halliburton: All correspondence between the Defense Department and the White House regarding the no-bid contracts that have gone to the Vice-President's former company. Some material has already been made public. Why not take a campaign issue off the table by making all of these materials public so the voters can see how Halliburton has benefited from Mr. Cheney serving as Vice-President?
The Cheney Energy Task Force: For an Administration that claims to hate lawsuits, it's ironic that the Bush White House is taking up the Courts' time to keep the fact that Ken Lay and Enron wrote its energy policy in secret behind closed doors. Please release the documents so that the country can learn what lobbyists and special interests wrote the White House energy policy.
Medicare Bill: Please release all White House correspondence between the pharmaceutical industry and the Administration regarding the Medicare Bill, which gave billions to some of the President's biggest donors. In addition, please provide all written materials that directed the Medicare actuary to withhold information from Congress about the actual cost of the bill.
Prison Abuse Documents: A few weeks ago, the White House released a selected number of documents regarding the White House's involvement in laying the legal foundation for the interrogation methods that were used in Iraq. Please release the remaining documents.
See? If you did your freakin' homework, you would have seen that the Kerry camp fought back with some real fists and some real issues. But it somehow got past your infallable radar, eh, Rick?
Which brings us to the second part of our outrage. Rick Perlman missed a golden - nay, platinum opportunity to do what the media refused to do when Cahill made her challenge: LET THE PUBLIC KNOW ABOUT IT. Instead, he ignores it, falling in lockstep with a press who just reads the GOP press releases and takes them at face value.
Perlman could have used his platform and newspaper space to spank the media for completely shutting out the response to Ken Mehlman's childlike stampy-feet demands. And he would have shown that there are teeth on the Democratic side which the mainstream media simply refuse to acknowledge.
Instead, he is merely one of them. Generalizing. Stereotyping. Not researching. Taking everything at face value rather than breaking a drop of sweat to see if the IS another side to the Republican farce. And worst of all, giving the GOP credit for something they were smacked down for - just not as publicly as we had hoped.
But if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to report it - or of the GOP doesn't dispatch a fax about it - it never happens. Right, Rick?
Wait - before you leave, read the e-mails Hoffmania readers will send to the LA Times. Okay. NOW leave.