What's All This Then?

commentary on the passing parade

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I deliberately avoided last Sunday morning’s talking heads after discovering that Condoleezza Rice was the guest on CBS and ABC at the same time. A neat trick - courtesy of videotape of course.

I am just sick of the constant spin on just about everything emanating from the White House and its cohorts. I cannot remember an American administration with so many things to spin that it makes it obvious that they are not to be believed on almost any subject. Rice is typical with her lying in concert with the rest of the White House gang about Iraq. Do they really expect us to believe that all of the insiders who have revealed what they know about the lead up to the Iraq invasion were making it all up? For what purpose? Do they want us to believe that documents that have been uncovered, backing up the revelations of the insiders do not say what they say? Apparently so. Well I’ve quit listening to the garbage other than to keep current on the latest twists in the ongoing spins.

But even without the benefit of week-end television garbage, I was able to be irritated by the folks writing on the op-ed page of my Sunday newspaper - among them of all people, Clarence Page - who rarely if ever annoys me with his writings or his television essays for the PBS News Hour.

Page’s op-ed piece was a defense of Tony Snow, the new White House Press Secretary. He thinks Snow is a good pick and not a member of the goofy right wing populated by Rush Limbaugh and his ilk. And so Clarence is unhappy that liberal critics are all over the place attacking Snow and using an item that appeared in his - Page’s - own column. This was a column in which he quoted a 1991 comment by Snow to the effect that when Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke was running for governor in Louisiana, he was talking about things that concerned voters - "high taxes, crummy schools, crime ridden streets, welfare dependency and equal opportunity."

According to Page, Snow was trying to explain why Duke had won an estimated 55% of the white vote in the Louisiana governor’s race and in making the case had said "You can’t write off Duke’s voter’s as racist." Apparently Page agrees and is unhappy that Snow is being attacked because of that statement - particularly because it appeared in one of his own columns.

I know nothing about Snow. I’ve never seen him on television nor read anything he may have written so I’m not one of those who will attack him for making the statement. But I think it was silly comment to make and about as far off base as a reasonable observer of the political scene could get and I’m surprised that Page doesn’t see it the way I do.

There’s no question that there are people registered to vote who shouldn’t be allowed to do so. People who can’t find New York on a map or name the sitting President. There are such people. Some of them might vote for a David Duke because of campaign rhetoric without having full knowledge of who he is, what he stands for and why he’s spouting that campaign rhetoric. But anyone with a sixth grade reading ability and some knowledge of this nation’s racial history, would be able to recognize that David Duke is a racial bigot who uses whatever tools he can get his hands on to advance his cause. One advance he wanted to make was to ascend to the Louisiana governorship.

Snow’s point was that not all those who voted for Duke were necessarily racists. Very likely true. But apart from the group described above that shouldn’t be allowed to vote, the rest of them knew that Duke was an avowed racist and so they were knowingly and willingly giving their votes to an avowed racist. I guess I could concede that voting for Duke doesn’t automatically make them them racist - but at least it makes them sort of racist by proxy. If Baron von Munchausen were alive today, he would have been better able to describe the syndrome than I.

I gather that Page had talked to Snow about the comment because in his column he says that Snow "wanted him to know" that just as attending Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March didn’t necessarily translate into endorsement of his ideas of black supremacy or anti-Semitism - neither did a vote for Duke make one necessarily a racist

And I might go to watch Farrakhan perform on the fiddle or even listen to one of his nutty speeches. But I wouldn’t vote for him for dog catcher let alone governor knowing what he is and what he stands for. And I suspect - no, I’m damned sure - neither would Clarence Page.

Maybe Snow will be an improvement over McClellan but it wouldn’t surprise me if he carried on in the McClellan tradition of handing the White House press corps a daily snow job - perhaps just with a little more sophistication.

Too many things happening to keep up with comments on all of them - but I’ll try to make brief note of as many items of the "passing parade" as I can.

I didn’t think Bill Frist could top himself when he signaled an end to his elective career by diagnosing a comatose patient as being less than comatose by watching a videotape of her grimacing and moving her head. The Terry Schiavo case of course. How anyone could take Frist seriously after that ridiculous episode is beyond me.

But I guess when it comes to our illustrious leader of the Senate, there is no low mark which he cannot top - or rather sink beneath. How much lower can you go than coming up with the idea of sending everyone a hundred bucks to help defray the high cost of driving? I heard him say that the idea was dead this morning - and I think I heard him say that it was a shame that it wasn’t going to happen.

I honestly don’t know how to comment on this latest bit of idiocy - other than to express a measure of pleasure that Frist doesn’t plan to run for the Senate again. Of course this guy is so out of it, he may actually believe that he’s Presidential material and make a run for the nomination. That’ll give me and every pundit in the country - fodder enough to fill a special edition of the Encyclopedia Brittanica.

The National Anthem in Spanish? What are these folks thinking? This isn’t a popular song that can be adapted from one language to another. It’s O.K., to have English version of something like the Jaque Brel classic Ne Me Quitte Pas because the literal translation from the French wouldn’t rhyme at all. So it became "If You Go Away" in English. But Oh Say Can You See was never meant to mean "Jose - can you ? Si!!"

All right, those aren’t the Spanish words, but the recording that has been cut apparently was done with words that aren’t even close to what Francis Scott Key wrote for the Star Spangled Banner - even if they do try to convey patriotic feelings. It isn’t hard to learn any short piece of poetry or prose phonetically - in any language. If Hispanics living in the United Sates want to express there devotion to the country by recording the National Anthem - that’s what they should do. If they don’t speak any English - at least take the trouble to learn the words phonetically.

Doing what they’ve done conveys the opposite impression. At least to me. And I would suspect to a great many Americans who otherwise sympathize with their cause to become recognized as citizens or citizen candidates.

Another candidate to add to the American Olympic team competing for the gold if Exercise In Arrogance should ever become an Olympic sport, is the temporary - snuck in under the cover of darkness - US UN Ambassador John Bolton. Previously appointed to the team by me were Don Rumsfeld - an automatic choice - and former Exxon CEO Lee Raymond - he of the jowls and the four to five hundred million retirement package, depending on which way you want to figure all the components.

After watching Bolton testify before a House Committee on C-Span last night, I would elevate him to team leader. I swear I have never seen such arrogance publicly displayed by a government official. After watching him perform, I can understand why so many people with whom he had worked in the past were vehemently opposed to his nomination to the UN post and why President Bush didn’t try for the advice and consent from the Senate and instead made a recess appointment.

As congressman after congressman tried to get him to answer questions, he instead pontificated on things he wanted to say - and lectured his questioners on their lack of knowledge and understanding of the issues under discussion. At one point, the chairman of the committee asked Bolton if he had any time problems or if he was able to stay to answer some more questions. With a broad grin, he responded that he could absolutely stay. He was, he said, having fun!!

I can just imagine how much fun he must be having at the UN, telling all those stupid delegates from all those inferior nations how ignorant they are on so many matters. That’s really going to help as we look for consensus regarding Iran!!