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Right vs. Left: It Ain't a Fair Fight

3 years ago
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The other night I was on "Hardball" with conservative bad-boy Pat Buchanan. Michael Smerconish, the guest host, asked about a column I had written noting that George W. Bush, in his new book, had disingenuously airbrushed Karl Rove out of his (superficial) accounting of the Plamegate affair. The reason was obvious: Bush wanted to avoid dealing with the dishonesty his White House had relied upon during one of the darker moments of his presidency. Buchanan guffawed, calling the CIA leak case a "silly episode" and a "trivial" matter.

Now imagine this scenario: David Axelrod, President Obama's top political adviser, leaking to two reporters the name of an undercover CIA officer because doing so helps the White House beat back criticism of a major national security decision. And add to that the White House covering up Axelrod's deed and Vice President Joe Biden's chief of staff being indicted (and eventually convicted) for lying to FBI agents about his own role in this affair. Conservatives would be going ape, accusing the Obama gang of helping the terrorists and endangering the safety of the nation. Republicans on the Hill would be talking of treason and calling for multiple investigations, some, no doubt, raising the prospect of impeachment. Fox News would be covering the story 24/7, as if it were the apocalypse. Rush Limbaugh would be in hog heaven. And Sarah Palin would be tweeting. (I'm sorry, my imagination is not sufficient to conjure up how Glenn Beck would respond.)

Is my point that conservatives can be hypocrites? Yes. There's also another point: They often fight harder and more underhandedly than liberals.

Conservatives and Republicans like Buchanan have spent years dismissing the CIA leak case. Some of them are now ticked off that a new movie, "Fair Game" (starring Naomi Watts and Sean Penn) has reprised the scandal, capturing in many respects the essence of the controversy and countering the many rightwing distortions. The film does use dramatic license when depicting the specific operations Valerie Plame Wilson engaged in as a CIA officer assigned the all-important task of uncovering information about WMDs in Iraq and elsewhere. But the film does hit the key point: when Rove and other administration officials leaked her name and CIA connection to reporters -- as part of a campaign to undermine her husband, former ambassador Joe Wilson, who had charged that the Bush-Cheney administration had misled the nation into the Iraq war -- they potentially imperiled significant CIA operations aimed at protecting the United States from the spread of nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons.

Yet for years, the right-wing noise machine did all it could to drown out this fact in the public discourse. And to an extent, it succeeded. Bush largely dodges the matter in his memoirs, and it's no biggie. But if anything similar were to happen on Obama's watch, conservatives-gone-wild would make it the equivalent of Watergate.

Jon Stewart might say that there's hypocrisy on the right and left and that each side irresponsibly turns serious issues into political fodder for our national shout-fest. But I do believe the right is more guilty than the left. See the conservative attacks on the president for being a socialist, secret, Kenya-born Muslim who pals around with terrorists, who is trying to set up "death panels," and who is plotting the destruction of America.

It really isn't a fair fight. Obama has attempted to work with Republicans on the Hill -- even if GOPers dispute that. (I suppose devoting one-third of the stimulus bill to tax cuts on their behalf wasn't bipartisan enough.) Yet House Republicans held a rally on the grounds of the Capitol during the health care debate where tea party protesters shouted "Nazis, Nazis" in reference to Obama and the Democrats. Not one House Republican -- not John Boehner, Eric Cantor, or Michele Bachmann, who were all there -- publicly complained.

Here's another ripped-from-the-headlines example of the left-right imbalance. In an interview with Howard Kurtz of The Daily Beast this week, Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, referred to the executives of NPR as -- there's that word again -- "Nazis":
They are, of course, Nazis. They have a kind of Nazi attitude. They are the left wing of Nazism. These guys don't want any other point of view. They don't even feel guilty using tax dollars to spout their propaganda.
Nazis? Because they canned Juan Williams? That was a boneheaded move, but it ain't the same as murdering millions of people. (On Thursday, House Democrats defeated a GOP effort to cut federal funds for NPR, which says it receives only 1 to 2 percent of its revenues from sources related to the federal government.)

So let's engage in another thought exercise: What would have happened had an NPR host referred to Fox News as the "Nazi network"? Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity would have howled. Conservatives from coast to coast would have called for that person to be tossed off the air -- before being drawn and quartered. House GOPers would have announced hearings and try again to defund NPR. And Sarah Palin would have tweeted. Most likely, that NPR host would have been disciplined, if not fired. But Ailes' outburst prompted no such outrage from these people. And he will suffer no consequences. Remember that the next time the right goes nuts over some perceived misdeed on the left.

(For the record, Ailes apologized to the head of the Ant-Defamation League on Thursday, saying in a letter that he "should not have chosen that word.")

Hurling the N-word, condoning White House skullduggery and deceit -- it's tough to have a solid, good-for-the-country, let's-find-the-best-solution policy debate with folks who play by such rules.

You can follow David Corn's postings and media appearances via Twitter.

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41 Comments

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Will

Hey aol,what gives with your one-sided moderators and your approach to comments?
Attacks from the left all over the boards,and I'm attacking no one and you still won't let me post?What,are my comments not extreme left enough?

January 11 2011 at 12:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Will

And the democrars wouldn't do anything like that,would they?At least nothing you'd hear about from the leftist media.That's the reason it ain't a fair fight,90% of the media is nothing more than mouthpeices for the left.And it's almost amusing how quickly you forget about 8 years of continuous liberal attacks on Bush.And of course,according to the left,every little problem everywhere in the world is because of Palin,Beck,and the tea party.Repeat the same lies enough times though,the sheeple start to accept them as truth.I've got an idea,though.let's amuse ourselves by calling MSNBC a bunch of nazis,see how much screaming and name-calling Shults and Matthews do.

January 11 2011 at 12:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
morristhewise

About 75% of Americans are living large and are not giving up their way of life. It is naive to expect a well paid employee to bite the hand that feeds him. Real change can only come when most workers are living in pup tents and sharing sleeping bags.

November 20 2010 at 10:11 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
dc walker

You all are the total of the information you ingest, true or not.

November 20 2010 at 8:16 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
snrar

I just crack up at the left ever since the elections they are in a deep free fall that they can not seem to stop . David says the conservatives just do not fight fair but are more guilty of fighting more underhandedly than the liberals , Yea right David the left not only goes after someone they go after the family of there targets . They want to destroy that person at all cost . David is so wrapped up with Bush that he even makes speculations as to what thinks happens No facts at all just pure speculation .

November 19 2010 at 3:08 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to snrar's comment
drakecennedig9

Really? Former President Bush doesn't skirt over his breach in CIA security? Maybe that book is more interesting after all; I always figured it was a bunch more 'Legacy' propaganda, instead of an honest admittance of errors in judgment.

November 20 2010 at 4:23 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
ngpcdhs

Rove did not leak Valerie Plame's name. Richard Armitage did. All Scooter Libby did was misremember a conversation(which had occurred a few months earlier) incorrectly. If I had to serve time for every incorrect memory of past conversations I would be a lifer. It was a political witch hunt hoping to catch Rove or Cheney. What a tremendous waste of tax payer money and the ruining of one man's life over what?

November 19 2010 at 2:58 PM Report abuse +13 rate up rate down Reply
Ann

It is amazing how Republicans keep sticking their heads in the sand. Valerie Plame was a COVERT SPY for the CIA. She was exposed. People all around her were killed because of her being exposed. Cheney didn't care what he did to her. Even the CIA turned their backs on her. Isn't this just like the Republicans? Yes, it is just like them. Wars make money for them. War on Iraq took millions of innocent people and our soldiers. Shame on anyone who supports Cheney and the Republicans.

November 19 2010 at 1:43 PM Report abuse -13 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Ann's comment
Mrs. Standley

Ann, I can understand your anger, but be accurate: "People all around her were killed..."? As far as I've researched, there is no evidence anywhere that any of Plame's contacts lost their lives as a result of Plamegate. Don't exaggerate just 'cause you're mad.

November 19 2010 at 2:39 PM Report abuse +16 rate up rate down Reply
louhou69

You got that right!

January 14 2011 at 9:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
ettu

Plame, and the Liberals, have elevated this woman to some sort of top secret agent of the US Gov't. She was less than a bit player on this stage, and time to get over it. As for Conservatives being more underhanded than Libs, it seems we each view the other through the same looking glass.

November 19 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to ettu's comment
Ann

Republicans have lied over and over. No Democrat could have ever gotten away with this behavior. Valerie Plame was a Covert Spy for the CIA. The Bush/Cheney did the unthinkable by exposing her. All because they wanted to kill Saddam.

November 19 2010 at 1:36 PM Report abuse -9 rate up rate down Reply
jpb5068

It's called treason.Cheney should swing and lil george, who stands on the corpses of 4000 American kids in Iraq and 30,000 plus wounded, blinded dismembered for his pals in International Oil...PRICELESS..God is still watching..

January 11 2011 at 12:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dewey and Candace

I have to disagree with just about every blog/comment here. Media is neither democrat or republican, liberal or conservative. They are people simply stoking the fire. They are ANTAGONISTS!!! Most media out there care nothing about thruth, political agenda, or integrity. IF IT BLEEDS, IT LEADS!! They give everyone, no matter what the subject, just enough information to insite fear and/or anger, because those are the greatest motivators of all emotion. I'll give you a classic and very real example. This article. Read through the blogs/comments and get a real good idea of the emotion that has been sperned. This writer has done his job well.

November 19 2010 at 12:49 PM Report abuse +9 rate up rate down Reply
bubba1zfg

It's a fair fight when you put the country and our constitution first!

November 19 2010 at 12:26 PM Report abuse +10 rate up rate down Reply

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