Blow Job vs. Snow Job: A
tale of two scandals.
Scandal – building blocks 101
Nobody loves to create a good scandal more than politicians… at the mere mention or question of impropriety by an elected official: investigations are called for, committees are created, and political opponents line up to give their own press releases damning the official… Our elected leaders will investigate almost anything, and some cases if the investigations come up empty… they even find the need to investigate the investigations.
Not too terribly behind the politicians are the journalists. It seems that every investigative reporter is out to break the big one, to uncover the next Watergate, win awards, and have a movie made about them. Sometimes on a hunch… they even will stretch the facts looking for that big headline… sometimes they turn out to be right, and sometimes they turn out to be wrong… but no retraction can ever take away that original front-page headline.
It appears that every major politician is doomed to explain to the world about their improprieties… whether they skinny-dipped in 8th grade, dropped out of freshman calculus in college, or went to a hooker in a drunken stupor on their 21st birthday. Every relationship they may have is considered to be a possible conflict of interest. Seen talking to an old college buddy outside a restaurant?? Better hope that buddy doesn’t work for a corporation that may have contributed to your campaign, lest it be reported that he was asking you for political favors.
What? Me worry?
On the flip side… unless you happen to be a Yahoo political message board enthusiast… the rest of America seems to follow the whole investigation/scandal issues with much less passion and interest than the politicians and journalists.
Did anyone really care if Bill Clinton’s old firm was involved in some government loan to buy some real estate that they shouldn’t been involved with?? Not any more than people care whether George W Bush filed some form on time after he sold some stock options.
Did anyone really care if the Clinton White house used proper human resource procedure in replacing the white house travel agency?? Not any more than people cared who sat in on energy meetings with Dick Cheney.
Did anyone really care if Bill Clinton inhaled, if George Bush drove drunk, if Bill Clinton dodged the draft, if George Bush went AWOL??? Yawn… what’s new with the Laci Peterson story??
Did you say Blow Job??
But bring up sex and politics… and you have a whole other game.
“A President is having a ‘sexual’ affair with an intern?? Tell me more, tell me more!!” cried America. Lets forget for a minute that an extramarital affair has nothing to do with being President, and in terms of being a real political scandal this one pretty much comes up empty… at least a blow job is interesting.
People will argue for years about what effects the impeachment had on Bill Clinton’s presidency and legacy… and whether this scandal worked to remind people of the other, less interesting scandals and tarnish the Clinton image. However, the fact remains that the Republican politicians and conservatives found a formula that sold… at least in terms of peaking interest… even if they failed in convincing much of America that they were ultimately right.
What about war??
Meanwhile, many Democrat politicians and liberals have been looking for that scandal that will put some major dents in the Presidents armor. Much like Republican failures with Whitewater, Travel-gate, and other issues… Democrats have failed to make Harken, Halliburton, Bush’s military background, and 9-11 presidential failures the type of issues that they had hoped.
What about the War?? Couldn’t war be as ‘sexy’ as a blow-job when it comes to scandals?? Certainly if Democrats and liberals can show that the President led us into war with tainted reasons they will have the big scandal they have been looking for. Weapons-gate could be bigger than any ‘gate’ that has come along for quite some time. Right?? Well at the very least… nobody could state with a straight face that lying about a Blow Job is a bigger scandal than lying about the reasons to go to war.
Fact is that many people don’t like war, period. But many more don’t like wars that don’t go well. Was Vietnam unpopular because of reasons we were there, was it unpopular because so many Americans died, or was it a combination of both?? Let’s be realistic. If the Iraqi war had not gone as well as it had, Bush would have tenfold the problems he has right now with the WMD questions. But the fact that it did go well, that American casualties were lower than anyone could have hoped for, that Saddam was brought down quickly… makes the margin of error rather large when it come to the questions of ‘why’ we went to war. Do we question why the coach decided to go for it on 4th and 2 if they get the first down?? Rarely… But that coach is hammered for the decision if they were stopped for no gain.
This leads to fact that there is really two issues that the Democrats and liberals need to convince people of in order to make weapons-gate the scandal they are hoping for. They first need to convince people that the war has not been the success that it is generally believed… and then they have to convince America that the President actually lied about his reasons. Not easy goals for many reasons.
Perceptions of success
When George W Bush flew into the aircraft carrier and declared an end to the military action in Iraq, in many people’s minds it completed the most successful military campaign in history. The evil dictator and his regime were run out of town, and his vaunted military either fled or was destroyed… all done with very little coalition casualties. More importantly, the President was attempting to separate the operation into the war and post war. The war was done, and should be judged on those merits… and the secondary portion of the operation of rebuilding, providing a new government, locating all the weapons and weapons programs would be a long-term project that should be judged in the long term. This creates the challenge to those wanting to convince Americans that the war wasn’t as successful as it was cracked up to be.
The focus, of course has been on the casualties both American and Civilian… even though they were not high by any war standards, liberals have attempted to relate the 200 Americans or so deaths as the direct responsibility of the President... as well as floating numbers into the 5 figure area when talking about civilian casualties. The attempts are to show that these deaths were not worth the war… if in fact the war did not accomplish all that that was promised it would accomplish. They will talk about continued fighting in Iraq, and point to the possibilities of more casualties on both sides. They will attempt to convince Americans not to be patient with the rebuilding process, creating a new government, and policing the country. Most importantly… they cannot allow Americans to have any patience in regards to the ongoing weapons hunt.
This must be an ongoing process, done in a manner that does not become simply redundant, irritating, or perceived in any manner as politically motivated. The reason it must be ongoing is that unless this remains in the face of the American public… they will move on, as they most often do. Not only that, the Democrats and Liberals cannot just be out to make a now supportive America wishy-washy on the matter… they need collective America to become at least somewhat angry with the war… and stay angry. Anger is the key to any scandal.
Of course the main challenge is to convince the public that President Bush has lied to them about his reasons for going to war. The President, his administration, and coalition allies have stated over and over that they believes that Iraq has WMD and WMD programs, and that they are convinced that we will uncover evidence to prove them right. Right now, most Americans believe that those claims are made in good faith… according to Gallup only 31% believe that the President has deceived them, and only 21% believe that he has done more than simply exaggerate claims. But even given that… does deception and exaggeration mean the same thing as ‘lying’?? Is convincing people that claims were exaggerated, or that only selective information was used to make the case… enough all by itself to create enough anger for a scandal?? Or have we lowered the political bar so low that exaggerations and selective information is actually expected of our politicians. While you stop to think about this a second, remember that at the time, many Americans did not feel that Bill Clinton lied about his Affair with Lewinsky. In fact, even today, you will run across people who will suggest that by technical standards that Bill Clinton told the truth. We now ask about the definition of the word “is’ before passing judgment on our politicians perceived honesty.
Others will question whether or not an opinion can ever really be a lie. If the President claims this belief, who is someone else to tell us that the President doesn’t really have this opinion?? After all… I knew many people who were absolutely convinced that the St Louis Rams would trounce the New England Patriots in the Superbowl a couple of years ago… Did the Patriots victory make them liars… or did it just make them wrong?? If the President turns out to be ‘wrong’ about this… it may not be a good thing. But being wrong is a far cry from actually lying about it. So the burden is on the Democrats and Liberals to ‘prove’ that it was impossible for the President, in good faith, to have the solid belief that WMD existed in Iraq… and that in fact he wasn’t just ‘wrong’.
It has also become a known fact that the Administration probably did not originally rank the WMD reason as the main reason for the war… but found this to be the most generally accepted reason and easiest to sell to both Americans and the World. Does this, in and of itself, create any credibility problems?? Does it create a scandal??
All of this, of course is dependent on the continued failure to come up with any proof of WMD or a WMD program. If the new team of 1000 plus coalition inspectors are able to uncover anything, it will put a big damper on the whole scandal. Even if the evidence is only interviews with scientists who admit to working on programs, or recent papers showing WMD programs… every little bit of evidence will further dampen the chances of scandal.
Three major problems in regards to making this a large scandal that will cause a lot of damage to the President and Republicans…
First is the problem with the other reasons for the war. Even if people are convinced that the WMD argument was not all it was cracked up to be, the lowest common denominator argument has always been the brutal and tyrannical regime of Saddam Hussein. If at the end of the day, Americans say to themselves… “Yeah but, Saddam is no longer in charge of Iraq and that was still worth the war all by itself”… then everything else becomes moot.
Second is the issue of proof. It will be highly unlikely that anything can be found that can actually prove to most Americans that the President ever actually lied. Likewise, until the coalitions inspectors have given up and left Iraq, you cannot actually prove that the weapons or the weapons programs don’t exist. And even under those circumstances it is impossible to rule out the possibility that the weapons existed and were moved or destroyed in the wake of the war.
Third is the anger aspect. Not only do you have to convince people that the war wasn’t worth the cost AND convince people that the President was less than truthful on the issue of WMD… you still have to convince them enough for them to be passionate about it. If someone gives begrudged agreement that the war could have gone better, we could have been more honest, and maybe it was a mistake… they still will change the subject to the Laci Peterson case or the NBA finals pretty quickly… and it is unlikely to create a scandal or change their vote in 2004.