06.02c Former NYTimes Editor, Libel Bush on National Guard Service, Recommends That Kerry Lie to the Voters, Wrong on History. Via Best of the Web, via Captain's Quarters, I found a Howell Raines Manchester Guardian article in which the former editor of the New York Times, Howell Raines, manages to combine libel, historical mistake, and an admission that he thinks liberals should tell the public lies, for the good of society.

First is the libel. Mr. Raines says,

There's hardly an American who does not know that George W got into the Air National Guard when others couldn't through his father's political pull, that he got into flight school ahead of others due to his father's political pull, that he was allowed to skip his normal weekend drills and make them up without being punished because of his father's political pull.

Well, *I* certainly don't know that, and I don't think Howell Raines does either. Does he have even a shred of evidence that George W. Bush's father's political pull helped? I think we would have heard of it if he did. Rather, Mr. Raines is guessing that because George W. got into the National Guard, etc., it was because of his father's political pull. I wouldn't make a charge of corruption unless I had pretty damning circumstances. Were these circumstances damning? Were there many Texans who at that time were trying to get into the Air National Guard, flight school, and so forth who had as good credentials as Yale graduate, son-of-a-war-hero-pilot Bush? Were other people denied permission to skip weekend drills? Maybe, but my impression is that national guard service, while a way out of the draft, was not an easy way out. Even if it had been, many thousands of people were in the national guard, and I don't think all of them had congressmen as fathers. It is no more fair to say that George W.'s National Guard service was dominated by his father's political pull than to say that John Kerry's fishy first Purple Heart, the one for the scratch that was at first denied and then later given, was due to *his* father's political pull in the State Department.

Second is Mr. Raine's philosophy that it is okay for liberals to tell the public lies, for the good of society. He says that Mr. Kerry,

must appeal to the same emotions that attract voters to Republicans - ie greed and the desire to fix the crap-shoot in their favour. That means that instead of talking about "fixing" social security, you talk about building a retirement system that makes middle- class voters believe they will be semi-rich someday. As matters now stand, Kerry has assured the DLC, "I am not a redistributionist Democrat."

That's actually a good start. Using that promise as disinformation, he must now figure out a creative way to become a redistributionist Democrat. As a corporation-bashing populist, I'd like to think he could do that by promising to make every person's retirement as secure as Cheney's investment in Halliburton. But that won't sell with the sun-belt suburbanites. Not being a trained economist like, say, Arthur Laffer, I can't figure out the exact legerdemain that Kerry ought to endorse. But greed will make folks vote for Democrats if it's properly packaged, just as it now makes them vote Republican, and in terms of the kind of voters Kerry must win away from Bush, I think the pot-of- gold retirement strategy is a way to work. Forget a chicken in every pot. It's time for a Winnebago in every driveway.

Surely someone in Kerry's campaign can figure out a way for him to say, "Here's my plan for getting us out of Iraq and defeating terrorism," and "Here's my plan for making sure you're not sick and poor in your old age." And then make him say it over and over again, no matter what question is asked of him. Kerry has to face the fact that even though the incumbent looks like Goofy when he smirks, he's going to win unless Kerry comes up with something to say. To stay "on message", you have to have one.

Mr. Raines thinks a candidate must have a message, but the truthfulness of the message does not matter-- indeed, he seems to prefer lies. We can deduce that the decline of the New York Times's truthfulness under his tenure was no accident.

This, by the way, illustrates the liberal attitude more frankly than one commonly sees. Mr. Raines thinks everybody in politics lies, and there is nothing wrong with that, at least for liberals. Politicians should treat the public as the supersitious and selfish peasants they are. We have to let them vote, but we can't let them actually choose which policies are to win the election.

Third is the history mistake. Mr. Raines says,

As America's first war-hero candidate since John F Kennedy, he ought to be leading the national discussion on what went wrong in Iraq.

The Best of the Web catches him out on this.

Raines also is so eager to perpetuate the JFK myth that he commits an embarrassing historical error, calling Kerry "America's first war-hero candidate since John F Kennedy." Pardon us, but didn't John McCain run for president just four years ago? If McCain doesn't count by virtue of not having won the nomination, we still have George McGovern, George H.W. Bush and Bob Dole, so Kerry is the fourth war-hero nominee since JFK.

If we include VP's, Mr. Raines's mistake gets even more embarassing. THen, in the years since 1952 only in 1964, 1968, 1992, and 2000 did we *not* have a war hero running on a major-party ticket. In 1952, 1956, 1960, 1972, 1976, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992, and 1996 we did. And I'm not sure about 1948 and before-- Truman was a soldier in World War I, I think, though I don't know if he was heroic. Strom Thurmond, who won some states that year as a Dixiecrat, was a war hero...

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