The Washington Post Indulges In The "Everybody's Doing It" Slander of the President

September 10th, 2005 11:22 PM
The mainstream press does not always blame only Republicans or conservatives. There's a tendency in some quarters to believe that, but it's not true. What is true, however, is that the tendency to blame or criticize Republicans and/or conservatives is much, much stronger than the tendency to blame Democrats and/or liberals. This fact manifests itself in a couple of different ways. The first thing that happens is that a Democrat can get away with things that a Republican just can't. Trent Lott, for example, made an offhand remark at a birthday party for Strom Thurmond that could be read as racist, and the outcry was immediate and widespread. When Richard Durbin went to the floor of the Senate to make comments that were far more inflammatory and inappropriate, comparing the US military to Nazis and genocidal Cambodian dictators, there was no coverage at all for several days, and the little coverage it eventually got didn't compare to what Lott got. The other thing that happens is that Democratic follies and foibles tend to get grouped with others by Republicans, and presented in "everybody does it" arguments. I've said for years that there are three mainstream blame assessment scenarios: if the Republicans are wrong, they get blamed; if both parties are wrong, the Republicans get blamed; and if the Democrats are wrong, both parties get blamed. Well, we've got another splendid example of this in the Washington Post on Sunday. In an article about the potential political fallout from Hurricane Katrina, Jim VandeHei goes to that third option, the "everybody does it" when the Democrats are clearly out of line.
The dispute over Washington's role in saving lives in New Orleans and in the future threatens to make incumbents from both parties among Katrina's casualties, several officials said. With the popularity of Congress and President Bush sagging before the crisis, many officials said Bush and lawmakers made their situation worse by pointing fingers and digressing into political warfare with rescue operations still underway.
(Emphasis mine.) Well, I've watched the coverage over the past couple of weeks very carefully, and that analysis, while true in that people are sick of the "political warfare," is just flat-out wrong in apportioning blame. The Democrats, it's true, have been criticizing FEMA, and the President, and everyone involved in the adminstration. Repeatedly and harshly. A great many of the Democrats have attempted to make significant political hay from this catastrophic natural disaster. But President Bush has not engaged in any "pointing fingers" or "political warfare." None. Not even a serious effort to defend himself and his administration. All of his public comments have been substantive and aimed at the recovery effort. And it is a typical, but sloppy and dishonest, effort from the American media to group him in with those politicians who are "pointing fingers and digressing into political warfare" because he's not doing it.

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