Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

ELITIST ENNUI: The Media Elite Tire Of The War (Edward Zehr)
Wednesday on the Web ^ | 11/6/01 | Edward Zehr

Posted on 11/09/2001 6:41:43 PM PST by Jean S

By the end of October, absolutely nothing about the war on terrorism suited the importunate snobs of the "elite" press. How could Tommy Thompson not know everything they thought of to ask about anthrax? The man is really QUITE impossible. And why didn't Tom Ridge DO something about something -- anything would do, really.

As for the war in Afghanistan, after a week of disappointments, it was obviously all but LOST. The leftist German weekly news magazine Der Spiegel ran through the threnody of American "failure" that has become the obligatory theme for liberal presstitutes everywhere: after four interminable, harrowing weeks of "the so-called war against terrorism," there has been "no measurable success."

One might think that Germans, of all people, would realize that early success in war is no valid indicator of the ultimate outcome. (Of course, the volk at Der Spiegel no more consider themselves to be real Germans than the folks at ABC consider themselves Americans -- they're only journalists, you know). Mind you, four weeks seems a bit early to be making judgements about how things are going -- the British spent the first two years of World War II getting the stuffing kicked out of them. And President Bush has mentioned early and often that this war will be an exceptionally long one.

Even so, the Greek chorus persists in its long lamentation: "Now, due to lack of military success, political defeat impends: because ever more civilians are being killed, the support of Islamic states has become shaky. As Afghan
refugees reach Pakistan, [their] misery becomes threatening ... Yet all of the supposed conspirators behind the attacks on New York and Washington remain at large, and Osama bin Laden has disappeared without a trace."
What's more, the bombing clearly isn't working, it's only making the Taliban more resolute.

The last observation is one of the more persistent fantasies of the chattering class. Believe it or not, I have actually talked to people who were subjected to aerial bombardment during World War II. None of them said that it made them more resolute. In actual fact, it made them -- well, delicacy forbids. But they stayed on and did their jobs, didn't they? Yes, they had no choice in the matter. They had no place to go and no means by which to live unless they stayed and did their jobs. In the retelling it is made to sound as though they had all turned down expense-paid vacations on the Riviera in order to stay and do their bit.

At some point, the persistent chatterer will quote German war production figures -- isn't it true that production actually increased, right up to the end? Yes, and had it not been for the bombing, the output would no doubt have
been several times higher. Unless, perhaps, you are prepared to believe that it is more efficient to produce war material in underground factories rather than above ground -- with a significant part of your work force dead and many others homeless.

The part of this story that is not understood, or in any event, not told, is that Hitler -- ever the optimist -- thinking that he had won the war, converted part of
German industry back to civilian production in 1941. The vaunted increase in war production that followed represented a desperate effort to undo the damage that resulted from that decision. Contrary to the misconception
widely held amongst the chattering class, aerial bombardment is not beneficial to people on the ground, else there would be little point in doing it. But don't bother telling them that -- there is such a thing as invincible ignorance.

The corollary to the notion that bombing is good for you is the somewhat contradictory observation that it kills people. Since a portion of those who wind up deceased in this fashion are invariably civilians, we are invited to wallow in
ostentatious and highly fashionable guilt. This is in sharp contrast to the good old, bad old days when the USAAF would wipe out 80,000 civilians in a single fire bomb raid and nobody on our side would turn a hair over it. (World
War II was a politically correct struggle against fascism, you see -- it seems that the "morality" of the left is spelled i-d-e-o-l-o-g-y).

The Rise of  Reflexive Hostility

The press were our side during the Second World War. In general, the war effort was supported, the news was upbeat -- even when things were going badly -- and the justness of our cause was never questioned. We were the good guys, the enemy were the heavies. It wasn't until the Vietnam era that reflexive hostility began to set in with a vengeance. One indicator of this was a TV series about the bombing of Germany called "12 O'clock High," in which the
Tinseltown-simulated  warhawks suddenly began making soft, cooing, dove-like sounds. The main character in the series was an Army Air Corps general who commenced pulling long, guilt-ridden faces and deploring "this dirty, rotten war."

With all possible due deference to Tinseltown, Taurine Scatological Expletive! Nobody in the Second World War thought that way, least of all generals. And if any of them had they would have found themselves on their way out via
Section Eight (that portion of the code which pertains to those who become "nervous in the service," as they used to say).

The thing that struck me in talking to Germans about the bombing is that none of them seemed to blame us for it. Perhaps they had become extraordinarily street smart about these things, or maybe they just aren't accustomed to thinking of themselves as victims. Of course, given half a chance, they would cheerfully have done as much to us -- and then some. This point was too obvious to require elaboration.

But you would never suspect this to read accounts in the German press these days regarding the dirty, rotten things we are doing to civilians in Afghanistan. Every Taliban account of civilian casualties, real or imaginary, is lovingly
described in vivid detail and body counts are regularly featured in blaring headlines. The American mainstream press have taken up the practice as well, never mind the effect this may have on public opinion. Brent Bozell of the
Media Research Center recently wrote: "Stop us before we spread more Taliban propaganda. ABC News  regularly runs Al-Jazeera video of supposedly U.S.-caused civilian casualties in Afghanistan, airing it more often by my observation than either CBS or NBC, but its not their fault Cokie Roberts suggested on Sunday."

No, of course not -- it wouldn't be, would it? When have the media ever taken responsibility for doing anything wrong? According to Bozell, "She blamed the spreading of the video images, which so help the Taliban cause, on the lack of access U.S. journalists are allowed by the Pentagon." 

There, you see? The media are blameless -- it's all the fault of our dirty, rotten military for not letting the newsies tag along on those special ops missions.  Only the previous week, 26 news organizations had protested "the increasing
restrictions by the U.S. government that limit news gathering," Believe it or not, one of our dauntless newsies even went so far as to rebuke Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for not allowing reporters to "parachute in" to Afghanistan with the troops. 

Rumsfeld blew a great opportunity there. He should have taken them up on the offer -- after they had attended jump school and earned their airborne Ranger wings. And, oh yes, demonstrated a few basic capabilities, such as being able to keep up with the unit in difficult terrain while humping a hundred pounds on their backs. I don't believe for a minute that any of them would have made it, but the effort might have done them a world of good, assuming any of them survived. As Nietzsche said, "Was mich nicht umbringt macht staerker." (What doesn't kill me makes [me] stronger). 

Of course, in order to go along on a mission, they'd have to be on our side, wouldn't they? You know, they would have to be willing to wear an American flag on their sleeve. If I read their current attitude correctly, most mainstream journalists would be unwilling to go along with this last requirement -- it would compromise their "objectivity," you see.

Consider the response of Cokie Roberts' boss, David Westin, when he was asked by a student whether he considered the Pentagon building to be a "legitimate target."   During an event sponsored by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Westin, who is president of ABC News, replied,  "I can say the Pentagon got hit, I can say this is what their position is, this is what our position is, but for me to take a position this was right or wrong, I mean, that's perhaps for me in my private life, perhaps its for me dealing with my loved one, perhaps its for my minister at church. But as a journalist I feel strongly that's something that I should not be taking a
position on."   

Get the picture? If that's the way they feel, why do these jerks expect to be toadied to by the American military? After all, they're not Americans, they're only journalists.

Why would any military person in a position of command risk compromising his mission just to accommodate a bunch of self absorbed, overprivileged ingrates who place their career ahead of their country? Why should the
military be concerned with promoting their careers? They have more pressing matters to deal with. As for improving the image of the U.S., Bozell comments that ABC's record of focusing on everything the American forces do wrong
when the network is given the kind of access they so stridently demand hardly supports Cokie's contention.

A pretty good impression of what we could expect if the mainstream press were allowed to cover the war on the ground in Afghanistan can be gleaned from the way they are covering it right here at home. William J. Lynott writes in the Philadelphia Daily News: "The airways are saturated with sober pronouncements of an America  'paralyzed by fear,' and quotes from officials such as the one from our postmaster general - entirely out of context - saying, 'I cannot guarantee the safety of the U.S. mail.' "  

To put it bluntly, they are fanning the flames of defeatism. A great many pampered media stars seem oblivious to the fact that this war is not optional. We were attacked; thousands of Americans were brutally slaughtered in a
major city, in plain view of their fellow countrymen. To give such ostentatious aid and comfort to the enemy under these circumstances is disloyal, to put it very mildly.

Lynott writes: "Considering the fact that striking terror into our hearts is the ultimate objective of bin Laden and his gang of thugs, he could hardly be more pleased with the media's version of the state of things in America."

This must be read in light of the observation by Eric Gibson in the October 19 Wall Street Journal that ABC arranged an interview with Osama bin Laden several years ago, at a time when he was being sought by the U.S. government for acts of terrorism against Americans. One can but wonder how things would have played out had ABC been staffed with real Americans rather than mere
journalists. Would they not have tipped off the U.S. government as to the whereabouts of this murderer rather than chortling in silence over their sleazy little scoop? And had they done so, is it not conceivable that the horrifying
events of Sept. 11 might not have happened?

Backlash Begins

On Oct. 31, Howard Kurz, the Washington Post's "media critic," reported that CNN chairman Walter Isaacson "has ordered his staff to balance images of civilian devastation in Afghan cities with reminders that the Taliban harbors
murderous terrorists,' saying it 'seems perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan.' "

Compare that statement with the question Cokie Roberts posed to Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld:  "Why not allow more press access so that the United States press can show pictures that fight the Arab press?" It really isn't the Arab press that is in question here. A person inclined to cynicism might interpret Cokie's query to mean: we have two kinds of publicity, good and bad -- which kind do you want? The prospect of better publicity would seem to be
contingent on the granting of increased access to the press.

In a memo to CNN's foreign correspondents,  Isaacson wrote: "As we get good reports from Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, we must redouble our efforts to make sure we do not seem to be simply reporting from their vantage or
perspective. We must talk about how the Taliban are using civilian shields and how the Taliban have harbored the terrorists responsible for killing close to 5,000  innocent people."  

There, Cokie, see how it's done? You really don't have to go to jump school and tag along with the troops in order to tell our side of the story. It's possible to be an American AND a journalist. Even Mike Wallace has belatedly
conceded as much. He is no longer quite so certain that he would allow an American patrol to wander into an ambush in order to maintain his "objectivity," rather than tip them off as any American would. (He still finds it a close call, though). You didn't really believe we had swallowed all  that twaddle about "objectivity," did you? Why, that went out with John Cameron Swazey. You guys have been spinning like dervishes ever since.

Meanwhile, the seed planted by ABC News president David Westin at Columbia University, in answering a query as to whether the Pentagon is a "legitimate target,"  was beginning to produce poisonous fruit. The Washington Times reported on Thursday that an Internet poll showed
about 90 percent of the respondents "felt Mr. Westin should resign because he doesn't have a clear sense of judgment and would cause ABC to lose all credibility."

Matt Drudge chimed in on his widely-read Web site that the high muck-a-mucks at Disney, which owns ABC, were outraged at Westin's statement. After all, Disney had also been singled out as a potential target for terrorists, according to recent intelligence. Was Mickey Mouse now to be considered fair game for terrorists, as well? Is nothing sacred?

Under intense pressure from Disney execs, Westin folded like an old suitcase.  In a statement released by ABC on Wednesday, he revised and extended his remarks, saying: "Like all Americans, I was horrified at the loss of life at
the Pentagon, as well as in New York and Pennsylvania on September 11.  When asked at an interview session at the Columbia Journalism School whether I believed that the Pentagon was a legitimate target for terrorists I responded that, as a journalist, I did not have an opinion. I was wrong,"  said Westin. " I gave an answer to journalism students to illustrate the broad,  academic principle that all journalists should draw a firm line between what they know and what their personal opinion might be."

Yet, if Westin's statements are parsed in context it is clear that he was indeed expressing an opinion. The implication of the statement he made at Columbia is that while the attack on the World Trade Center killed thousands of
"innocent civilians," in his words, the Pentagon may have been a legitimate military target. Assuming that this is not merely an expression of traditional Clintonian "loathing for the military," Westin seems to be conceding that the
terrorist attack on the Pentagon may well have been "legitimate." If that isn't an opinion what is it?

Not only that, the opinion Westin expressed is demonstrably in error. It would be a gross violation of the rules of war to attack even a military target without prior warning that hostile action was about to commence. That is what landed the Japanese in hot water regarding the Pearl Harbor attack. In any event, the terrorists who attacked the Pentagon had no standing as a military force under
international law, which makes their act illegal. (Under the Geneva rules, civilians are not allowed to attack soldiers).

And even if their terrorist act were considered to be a military operation, the use of a hijacked airliner, full of civilians, as a guided missile would have to be considered a war crime. Westin's blunder is just the sort of nonsense we have come to expect when squish-liberals attempt to engage in serious discussion.   

Mr. Westin seemed to acknowledge this in saying, "Upon reflection, I realized that my answer did not address the specifics of September 11. Under any interpretation, the   attack on the Pentagon was criminal and entirely without  
justification. I apologize for any harm that my misstatement may have caused." 

The problem with this apology is that it is simply not believable. Nobody who understands the rudiments of American politics believes that ABC has the slightest inclination to report the news objectively, thus Westin's great to-do about "objectivity" must be seen as a ruse used to disguise the fact that the presstitutes at ABC do not wish to support the war effort. In fact, they have gone to a great deal of trouble to put daylight between themselves and "ordinary" Americans by refusing to display the flag, or wear it on their lapels.

Thus, Mr. Westin's singling out the Pentagon as a possible "legitimate" target comes across as a calculated affront to the military and, by extension, to the nation. No amount of lame apologizing under pressure from the power suits in the main office is likely to change that impression for those who are familiar with the background of this awkward incident.

Back in 1989, Mike Wallace of CBS and Peter Jennings of ABC were asked if they would warn U.S. troops if they,  in their capacity as journalists,  had been accompanying an enemy unit that was preparing to ambush the Americans.
Jennings at first said that he would give warning of the ambush about to take place, but when Wallace demurred, insisting that, "Your job is to cover what's going on in that war," Jennings changed his position without batting an  eye. 

This was a very telling moment. For one thing, it established that Jennings is a superficial snob with no deep convictions about anything beyond advancing his career by going along with the politically correct trend of the moment. Wallace, on the other hand, seemed determined to distance himself from us mere Americans -- put us in our place, so to speak.

What's it to him if Americans get mowed down by squads and platoons? What does he care about the widows and children who will grow up without fathers? Wallace is miles above that sort of thing. He's all right, Jack -- he's a
JOURNALIST (holy, holy). Wallace was disdainful when media critic James Fallows called the two presstitutes on the PBS panel "poster boys for moral cowardice," replying with a self assured smirk that,  "The television audience
understood our dilemma better than you did." An when a Marine officer commented, "They're not Americans, they're only journalists," Wallace made no attempt to respond -- thereby making it abundantly clear that he couldn't care less.

But now the media are having second thoughts. As noted above, even the proud and haughty Wallace has belatedly conceded that the lofty ideals of journalism might not completely trump the national interest in every instance. Tom Rosenstiel of the Project for Excellence in Journalism comments: "It sounds as though they're worried about people being mad at them more than about providing the information that is useful." But then the light flickers on as it occurs to him that the networks have a problem: "how do you communicate information that some in your audience might perceive as sympathetic to the enemy? . . . If people get so mad at you that they tune you out, you're also failing." 

You bet, especially when the ratings plunge and the boys in  the front office, who are already working on the budget for next year, start looking for ways to cut expenses. Advertising rates are contingent on ratings and the ratings of late indicate the public do not regard the networks' coverage of the war with unalloyed approval. For example, the Washington Times reported on Oct. 31: "Nielsen ratings released yesterday found that CNN's viewership hit 3.3 million the week of September 11  but fell to 946,000 last week."

Could this possibly explain CNN chairman  Isaacson's sudden concern that scenes of civilian devastation in Afghan cities be balanced with reminders that the terrorists are the bad guys, after all, and the Taliban are harboring them? Neilson found bad news for the networks across the board, e.g. "MSNBC averaged 1.28 million  falling to 547,000 viewers." For all the nihilistic disdain
they have recently exhibited towards traditional values, it seems the networks have finally united behind the single transcendent value which they all regard with worshipful reverence: the Almighty Buck.    

Catherine Donaldson-Evans wrote for the Web site: "Every day, they gather at the Pentagon and clamor to ask questions about the war on terror. They demand details about military strategy, civilian casualties and locations of troops and targets ...  With America's war on terror approaching its third month, the tone in media reports is increasingly bleak. Why haven't we won the war already, they ask. Why are civilians dying, they want to know ... Their inquiries are laced with  skepticism over how the government is handling the war. But that cynicism has made some average Americans angry."

I wonder why? Notice the similarity of the press' attitude regarding the war with the points mentioned above from the article that appeared in the left-wing German news magazine, Der Spiegel: an obsessive interest in civilian casualties, cynicism about the purpose of the war, skepticism regarding the government's handling of it, and pessimism as to the outcome. These are all points that would be stressed by an enemy waging psychological warfare on this country. During the '70s, Der Spiegel was absolutely swimming with moist-eyed sympathy for the Baader-Meinhof terrorists who were being run by the Stasi (East German state security). Following the withdrawal of Soviet troops and the collapse of that puppet regime, it was learned that a significant portion of Der Spiegel's staff was also being run by the Stasi.

"The questions aren't going over well with out-of-the-beltway Americans, nearly 80 percent of whom tell pollsters they approve of the war's progress," writes Evans, who quotes Jim Goran of Bloomfield, N.J., a World War II Navy veteran as saying, "The pundits sitting on their fat backsides in Washington -- I really have a problem with them.  I would jail them, that's how angry I am." According to Evans, "Goran takes issue with most of the questions posed by the press corps, calling them 'insensitive, unpatriotic and devoid of any intelligence.' "  

The problem would seem to be that a lot of our journalists sympathize with the "peace" movement, although they are reluctant to admit this while 95 percent of the public support the war effort. So they bide their time and spin their stories in such a way as to undermine public support for the war effort. During the Civil War such journalists were known as "copperheads," after a particularly insidious poisonous snake. They eventually became such a problem that Lincoln found it necessary to jail a number of them. One scribe in particular had made himself so obnoxious he was sent across the lines to the Confederates with a note offering them full use of his services. They sent
him back a short time later with a note politely declining the offer. Nobody really likes a traitor.

Fighting a long-term, low-level protracted war while the mainstream press and academe make every effort to undermine and sabotage the war effort is certain to prove futile. We've already tried that with disastrous results. This time, however, we are not in a position to bug out, leaving our erstwhile allies to face the music. Our enemies have attacked us in a most brutal and unequivocal fashion, leaving little doubt that they intend to kill as many of us as possible -- if we don't kill them first.

One hopes that the media moguls will not allow matters involving them to degenerate to the level of Vietnam, or the Civil War. There could be only one outcome this time around and it would be so distracting. I couldn't help notice that the carping criticism and defeatism of the media came to an abrupt pause last week, about the time CNN stopped slouching, came to attention, clicked heels and saluted smartly. By week's end they were at it again. carping, crabbing, krexing and moaning, but much of the steam had gone out of the media's attack on the war effort.

The Washington Times comments: "It may be the first stirrings of a media on the verge of legitimate,  mature war footing." Maybe -- with a few notable exceptions, e.g. Ted Koppel's Friday night shriek-in, starring a wall-to-wall
gaggle of hate-America half-wits, "explaining" that it is ALL OUR FAULT.

Koppel is an annoyingly pretentious little primped-up twit whose labor of Hercules consists of forever trying to make the manifestly absurd seem perfectly logical. Had he been broadcasting a few decades earlier, no doubt he would have invited Doc Goebbels over to "explain" how the invasion of Poland had resulted from the sinister plotting of "international Jewish bankers." For "balance" he might have had Prime Minister Tojo tell us how we had forced
him to attack Pearl Harbor. [stiff bow] "So sol-ly."

Junk "Generals"

At week's end, President Bush took a swipe at critics who complain that the war in Afghanistan, having only justbegun, is fading fast.  "There are some that say, 'Well,shouldn't this have happened yesterday?' Bush told reporters, adding, "This is not an instant-gratification war."  Zeroing in on critics in the media (and one in the Senate), the president insisted that, "this is a different type of struggle, and our strategy reflects that."

He may have had in mind such armchair strategists as der Herr General-Feldmarschall Krauthammer, who recently noted in his syndicated column that, "The war is not going well." There followed a long laundry list of things that are going wrong, for example: "The Taliban have not yielded
ground. Not a single important Taliban leader has been killed, or captured or has defected. On the contrary. The Taliban have captured and executed our great Pashtun hope, Abdul Haq. The Joint Chiefs express surprise at the
tenacity of the enemy," and so forth.   

The reasons the war is not going well are summarized for us by Krauthammer: "It has been  fought with half-measures. It has been fought with an eye on the
wishes of our 'coalition partners.' It has been fought to assuage the Message Boards' Arab 'street.' It has been fought to satisfy the diplomats rather than the generals."  

These are the same kind of mistakes we made in Vietnam, grouses Krauthammer, adding that, "One of the products of that war was Colin Powell. He and his generation vowed that never again would American lives be sacrificed, their missions compromised, their objectives distorted to satisfy
purely political objectives." 

Bitte, Herr General-Feldmarschall? How's that again? Gen. Powell charges off astride a foaming steed, waving his saber and shouting "Gung Ho!" whilst the Joint Chiefs stroke their chins and mutter, "Um, let's not be too hasty, now"? That can't be the same Gen. Powell I'm thinking of, who happens to be the most cautious of leaders. Mind you, I'm not faulting him -- some generals are like that.  The Civil War general, McClellan, for example. He was a brilliant general -- built the Army of the Potomac up from nothing. It's just that fighting wasn't his strong suit.

Whenever he had the enemy virtually in his clutches, outnumbered three-to-one, with the trap set and his troops primed to pounce, he would invariably order them to dig in and then scream for reinforcements. The way I heard it, Powell is the very one who has been urging compromise to satisfy "purely political objectives" (he's a diplomat now, remember?) and it is far from self-evident that he is entirely wrong in doing so.

Krauthammer goes on to tell us that "for three weeks in Afghanistan we held back from massively bombing the Taliban front lines facing the Northern Alliance. Why?  Because Pakistan does not like the Northern Alliance."

That may be part of the explanation, but the main reason has been there in plain view, on the tube, for all to see during the past few weeks. The "regulars" of the Northern Alliance comprise some of the scruffiest-looking sad sacks assembled since the Whiskey Rebellion. It's hard to imagine they would be good for much more than firing off the occasional round from their antiquated field pieces at the behest of news camera crews -- for a modest
consideration, of course. (Properly tipped, they might even throw in a desultory "Allah ahkbar!") Last week some fresh troopers appeared on the scene. They looked almost - - well, military. At least they knew how to click heels and
line up straight. Is it possible that our spec-ops people have been using those last several weeks the media have been moaning about to train them up behind the scenes? The word is that the Turkish army will take over training the
Northern Alliance forces. All of which might explain why the bombing on the Northern Front has not been too intensive until quite recently.

During his regular weekend appearance on "Inside Washington," Krauthammer continued his criticism of the bombing in the north, saying that only 100 sorties per day were being flown, compared with 500 sorties per day in Kosovo. Appearing on Deutsche Welle, a real German general, Klaus Reinhardt (now retired) commented that the bombing in Afghanistan is mostly done by carrier-based aircraft, which limits the number of sorties that can be
flown. In Kosovo, by way of contrast, most of the combat missions were flown from ground bases. That doesn't include the B-52s, which have been quite active in recent days, carpet bombing Taliban positions. CNN reported, "Wave upon wave of high-flying U.S. bombers carpet bombed this sector of northeastern Afghanistan Sunday ... Sunday's attacks were so heavy that at times it was difficult to count the number of explosions.   The bombs landed on Taliban positions on a ridge along the front lines." Field Marshal Krauthammer should be pleased. 

It is hard not to sympathize with Krauthammer's plaintive observation: "To restrain our military now in order to placate the diplomats is a  tragic reprise of Vietnam,"  but it is difficult to see how the politics of the region can be
ignored when the only access to Afghanistan is through countries that can hardly be considered traditional allies. Pakistan, for example, is shaky at best. Should it fall into the hands of Islamic extremists, the entire effort would be
endangered. If Krauthammer knows a way of handling this problem without diplomacy he hasn't given us much indication of this. Incidently, when asked his opinion regarding the progress of the war, Gen. Reinhardt told Deutsche Welle that it appears to be going just fine, so far.

Sen. John McCain was even more outspoken in his criticism of the way the war is being run. "Our enemies harbor doubts that America will use force with a firm determination to achieve our ends," the senator wrote in an Op-Ed piece for the Wall Street Journal, in which he decried the use of "half-measures." He subsequently amplified his statement in a TV appearance, saying: "We're going to have to put troops on the ground. We're going to have to put them in force ... They are going to have to be very, very significant."

However, the senator is just the slightest bit vague as to how this "very, very significant" ground force would be supplied. A modern combat force has a gigantic logistical tail. It takes months to transport and accumulate the supplies required to support an army division, which is why small, highly mobile light infantry units that can be supplied by air are presently deployed in that area. Given the convoluted politics of the region, the prospect of being able to support a "very, very significant" ground force in Afghanistan is hazy at best. In view of McCain's position as a ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, one might expect him to understand such things. He is doing a disservice to the country by behaving as a petulant schoolboy who just can't get over the way Dubya rubbed his face in it during last years presidential
primaries, despite the fact that he had become the darling of the mainstream media.

An indication of what a reckless lightweight this guy really is can be seen in his blunder over the airline security bill which he sponsored. The bill that passed the Senate 100-0 provides for all baggage screeners and other security personnel at airports to become federal employees. It was expected to have a good chance of passage in the House as well, until McCain mouthed off about House members being "real profiles in courage" during an appearance on
"The Late Show With David Letterman." He referred to the decision by House leaders' to shut down for several days after the widely publicized anthrax attack on Oct. 15.

This is a sore point with House members who feel that they were sandbagged by Senate leaders who had told them they were going to shut down as well, only to change their minds.

McCain rubbed it in on the Letterman show,  telling a nationwide audience "the House had 'head[ed] for the hills' although the Senate remained open," according to the Washington Times. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) responded,
calling McCain and his Senate colleagues  "pompous windbags." Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho), referring to McCain, told the "Hill" newspaper, "It'll be a cold day in hell before I vote for anything he's sponsoring. He has lost any credibility in the House that he ever had." A meeting of House Republicans booed McCain's name to the echo when it came up during the course of their business.

The version of the airline security bill supported by President Bush was approved 286-139 after the House defeated the version sponsored by Sen. McCain 218-214.  In view of the closeness of the vote, the possibility that the
senator squelched his own legislative proposal by taking a puerile cheap shot at the House cannot be discounted. And to think that McCain was the candidate the media had urged us to vote for because Bush lacked -- what is the word -- gravitas. Imagine that.

 Obviously stung by the result -- McCain has yet to get any of his Bush-baiting proposals passed by the House -- the senator told "Fox News Sunday" that he hoped nocongressman would be so petty as to change his vote on "so important a measure" because of his little quip.

In truth, the airline security bill is just another example of down & dirty politics as usual. There is no reason to think that the hijackings of Sept. 11 were made possible by errors committed by civilian security personnel. The box cutters which the hijackers used as weapons were not on the list of prohibited items compiled by government FAA drones. If airport security is inadequate why had there been no domestic airliner hijackings for years prior to those of last September? Contrary to popular delusion, it isn't possible  -- or even necessary -- to spot every potential weapon carried by airline passengers. It is only necessary to spot a large enough percentage of them to make their use too risky for organized terrorists.

The real purpose of this legislation is to garner free face time on TV for certain bloviated gasbags who pretend to represent us. If they were really concerned about this issue they would authorize pilots to arm themselves, as they have
requested. A similar observation can be made regarding the inane prattle of media presstitutes over the progress of a war that is hardly more than a month old. Most of these showboating dim-wits have but one area of expertise with
respect to war: their frenetic, and largely successful, efforts to avoid fighting in one during the Vietnam era. They could do an enormous service to the country, their readers or viewers, and themselves if only they would summon up the good sense to sit down and shut up regarding matters that are beyond their comprehension.

Edward Zehr can be reached at

TOPICS: Editorial; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: ccrm; edwardzehr; edzehr; zehr
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

1 posted on 11/09/2001 6:41:43 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: JeanS
It frightens me that our liberal media subverts the war so easily- where a percentage point represents 'americans growing tired of war'. I fear we may not have the resolve for real war that isn't over in Clinton media-minute- quick and easy where the enemy surrenders in droves. Anyone really think they are being 'objective'?
2 posted on 11/09/2001 6:50:24 PM PST by nicstepro
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Comment #3 Removed by Moderator

To: nicstepro
Liberals always did have short attention spans.
4 posted on 11/10/2001 8:24:01 AM PST by ikanakattara
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: abwehr
insightful reply....
5 posted on 11/10/2001 8:41:36 AM PST by prognostigaator
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
"Believe it or not, one of our dauntless newsies even went so far as to rebuke Defense Secretary Rumsfeld for not allowing reporters to "parachute in" to Afghanistan with the troops. Rumsfeld blew a great opportunity there. He should have taken them up on the offer -- after they had attended jump school and earned their airborne Ranger wings. And, oh yes, demonstrated a few basic capabilities, such as being able to keep up with the unit in difficult terrain while humping a hundred pounds on their backs."

I agree with Zehr on this. In fact, just the very idea conjures up some of the most vividly-delicious images. Rumsfeld says, "Sure, we'll take the first 100 of you that can do the following:

"Take and pass Basic Training.
"Pass Airborne Training.
"Become a Ranger.
"Carry a 100-lb. standard Ranger pack on a one-week, 100 mile march. Any camera or satellite gear you require is in addition to the 100-lb standard Ranger pack.
"Demonstrate the ability to operate in difficult terrain behind enemy lines in ABSOLUTE SILENCE."

"Oh, and WE get to select the first hundred. Helen Thomas, you're first. Line up over there. Ratfa...I mean, David Gregory, you're next. Line up. Sawyer Brown, third. Get in line. Cokie, you wanted to watch? You'll get an eyeful. Now keep that line straight.

"OK, who's next. Wolf - you and Schneider stand behind Cokie. Nina, you'll represent NPR. Hut one hut two. No, Brit, you can't go. You might actually be able to DO this. We'll take Bob Woodward. Bob....Bob, you clean that up right now! At ABC, George, you carried a TON of water for the last administration, you should be able to handle a 100-pound pack. Besides, don't-ask, don't tell.

"Your induction papers are on the table at the back - report by 6 pm. On the double!"

So many hack reporters, so little time.


6 posted on 11/10/2001 9:07:57 AM PST by Wright is right!
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Wright is right!
Well said.
7 posted on 11/10/2001 6:10:27 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: backhoe; Arthur Wildfire! March; eddie willers; Senator Pardek
Ed Zehr bump.
8 posted on 11/10/2001 6:14:32 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Wright is right!; JeanS
THIS IS WONDERFUL! The perfect retort. Oh please send this in to the Washington Times. Rummy and our Prez deserve to see this-what a hoot! Brit will be puffed up for weeks! LOL

Jean-What a good post! I love the sub-title 'JUNK GENERALS, think I will be stealing it frequently!

And as for McCain, and Billy Kristol and the rest of the fat butted seat warmers who want to coach this war from their safety zones, pooey! By carefully executing this war, LIVES WILL BE SAVED and a SECURE SYSTEM of PROGRESSING INTO DIFFERENT GOVERNING SYSTEM will be able to succeed. Just look what the Northern Alliance was able to do WITHOUT American ground troops by the careful execution of duties via our air troops. Gish. I wish these idiots would GROW-UP and not trade in trust in our military for their own ugly mugs in some photo-op.

9 posted on 11/10/2001 6:19:10 PM PST by Republic
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 6 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
The wanna-be self-fulfilling prophesy that the media is trying to sell is simply not catching on. The keep saying that Americans will tire of the killing or will lose interest, or will just forget.

They can keep trying to sell it, but nobody's buying.

I hang around with alot of liberals, and to a man (or womyn) they want dead arabs. Buckets of them. And they're willing to wait a little while, as long as the dead start rolling in.

The media is on their own on this one.

10 posted on 11/10/2001 6:19:54 PM PST by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: dead
The media is on their own on this one.

I hope you're right.

Off topic - are you going to start writing again?

11 posted on 11/10/2001 6:24:00 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: JeanS; dead
I hang around with alot of liberals, and to a man (or womyn) they want dead arabs. Buckets of them. And they're willing to wait a little while, as long as the dead start rolling in

I think dead's got it right here-- before Pearl Harbor, both of my parents ( not liberal, but beside the point ) thought we should let those fool Europeans kill each other off and stay out of it.

After Pearl? Well, they both signed up for service....

The media is this country has degenerated into a bunch of whiny elitists who mostly talk to each other, and whose main purpose in life seems to be yakking at each other. They hate to be bored, and this war is just not sufficiently entertaining to them.

12 posted on 11/11/2001 2:09:46 AM PST by backhoe
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
Off topic - are you going to start writing again?

Well thanks for asking Jean. I bought a house and had my second child, so I pretty much put writing on the back burner for a while. I’m about to start up again, though it might not be political parody at first.

I do have rough plans for one political parody project in mind. My company has been sending me to Flash and Dreamweaver classes, so I have been formulating a Flash movie in my head. I’m hoping to put something together in a few weeks.

13 posted on 11/11/2001 4:58:40 AM PST by dead
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
This was apparently Ed Zehr's last column. According to Wednesday on the Web (see source link above), he passed away on November 5th or 6th.

Ed, you're missed.
14 posted on 12/17/2001 9:43:37 PM PST by RightOnTheLeftCoast
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: RightOnTheLeftCoast
The link is dead.

Ed Zehr cannot be dead.


Ed Zehr is the best commentator I have ever read.

15 posted on 12/17/2001 9:59:38 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
should read..........."The Auto-Erotic Media Tire of the War". (They all take breaks from contemplating their belly buttons and the busts of Josef Stalin.)
16 posted on 12/17/2001 10:03:19 PM PST by ripley
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: JeanS
Very sad, but true, Jean -
17 posted on 12/17/2001 10:06:08 PM PST by Senator Pardek
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: RightOnTheLeftCoast
I used to print out his columns from the Washington Weekly every Sunday. His was the only column that I ever printed out and it usually went 10-12 pages.

I loved that man.

18 posted on 12/17/2001 10:09:12 PM PST by Jean S
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: backhoe
They also hate not to be able to affect things - and W's crew has done a remarkable job of both finessing and backhanding them - as and when necessary.
19 posted on 12/17/2001 10:24:19 PM PST by 185JHP
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: JeanS; calypgin; peacerose; bert; newslady; Patriot1; Landru; CCRM
In case you missed the original post on 11/9.... Great piece here folks. According to posts toward the bottom, apparently Mr. Zehr's last column. He died shortly after writing it.


20 posted on 12/17/2001 11:35:05 PM PST by ForGod'sSake
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-2021-26 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794 is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson