Thursday, February 10, 2005

What We Didn't Learn from J.D. Guckert 

We are mildly surprised that the ongoing revelations about the pseudonymous faux-reporter, Hot Military Stud, and -- as our revered colleague Billmon revealed today -- tax evader known variously as "Jeff Gannon" and "J.D. Guckert" continue to dominate the (lefty) blogosphere. While it is always pleasing to see the Bush administration hoist by its own petard, its guts exposed to public inspection, we are hard-pressed to find any larger significance to the case. What, exactly, is it supposed to teach us?

1.) That the Bush administration is running a phony propaganda campaign?

But we knew that! This is an administration that scripts its press conferences and demands that rally audiences sign a loyalty oath, out of mortal fear that someone might ask an inconvenient question -- which could result in disaster if the President were to blurt out a straight answer. The Guckert/Gannon charade is by any measure one of the Bush crew's more harmless deceptions. Remember the war in Iraq? Remember the Medicare bill? Remember the Social Security crisis? Remember the "strictly historical" August 6 PDB? Remember the hijacking scenario that "no one could have predicted"? Remember the clean, safe air at Ground Zero after 9/11? Remember the . . . Jesus, life's too short. Give us a list of the times when this lot told the truth.

2.) That the Bush administration is corrupting the institution of journalism!

But we knew that! The GOP has been aggressively courting the ethical bottom-feeders of the fourth estate at least since the 1980 debates, when George Will coached Reagan using the stolen Carter playbook and neglected to mention that fact in his post-debate commentary. The standard informal payback system has always been in place, although the paychecks cut to Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher, Michael McManus, and players to be named later may represent a new wrinkle; they certainly rise to a new level of brazenness.

We applaud the administration's thrift in utilizing such a sorry-assed yutz as Mr. Guckert. Since he had no journalistic career, and no influence beyond what Scotty McClellan bestowed upon him, his services must have come dirt cheap. And his lack of professional ethics (since he wasn't a professional) no doubt made him especially useful when it came to dodgy operations like the smearing of Joe Wilson and Valerie Plame.

Actually, we take that last bit back. It's hard to imagine anything Guckert might do that Robert Novak and his ilk wouldn't.

3.) That the same cat who wrote a bunch of anti-gay articles for "Talon News" also registered a web domain called "militaryescortsm4m.com" and posed in tighty-whities for a hot 'n' humpy AOL profile? Which means that there are gay men (or, to be more exact, men who give off a strong gay vibe; men who are at the very least wrestling with their sexuality, if not with each other) willing to support the administration's homophobic agenda? And not only that, but the administration is willing to use persons of dubious moral character (by its own standards) to promote its platform of "values"?

But we knew that! There's never any dearth of oppressed people who want to become the oppressor. If you're already denying your own reality, it's not that hard to identify with the oppressor. After that it's a short step to flattering the oppressor, appeasing the oppressor, serving the oppressor. Unfortunately, the most this approach can buy you is temporary immunity, which lasts only as long as you're useful. They'll keep you around if you're willing to do their dirty work, but you'll never really get to join the club, because deep down inside they still hate you, almost as much as you do. See Roy Cohn. See Terry Dolan of NCPAC. See Mary Cheney. See the mysterious Ken Mehlman. Good Lord, David Brock could probably write a book about it.

Do we imagine for a moment that the Bush administration would hesitate to deploy spokespersons for family values who do not exactly embody family values? Who in the Bush administration does embody family values? Bush? Cheney? Rumsfeld? Karl Rove? Please.

4.) Steve Soto makes the excellent point that "It’s easy to see now how the administration was able to push past the media a fake war rationale when the media clowns couldn’t even figure out the frauds in the room with them every stinking day." So the White House Press Corps, in other words, is composed almost exclusively of otiose, gormless buffoons?

But we knew that! These worthless bastards sat there every weekday for two and a half years eating the shit du jour served up by Ari Fleischer. After he quit they ate the shit du jour served up by Scotty McClellan. And each day, when their plates were clean, they scuttled off to their word processors and told their readership how very, very tasty the morning's feast had been.

This was the same bunch, recall, that couldn't be bothered to utter a token word of protest when Mr. Bush sent Helen Thomas to the back of the class. They deserved Guckert.

The one intriguing aspect of the case is the CIA memo leaked to Guckert; with any luck, it will turn out to have come from the President's Brain, and the Plame grand jury will finally have the evidence it needs for a conviction, and Mr. Rove will do his long-anticipated frogmarch after all. Until and unless that happens, l'affaire Guckert has absolutely nothing to teach us. And when I say "us," loyal Zemblans, I mean us; there are millions of others who might learn quite a bit from this latest minor scandal, but sadly, they are the very same people who, over the last four years, have shown absolutely no inclination to do so.

UPDATE (via our distinguished colleagues at Cursor): Please read this immediately.

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