Dan Rather is on a book tour this week. Rather always was a forceful personality, still is. For quite a long time, Dan Rather was the anchor of a well regarded news program, and for a good deal of that time, the program got good ratings.
It was Rather’s bad luck that he ran a piece accusing a sitting President of a crime committed years earlier, and that the President’s people set him up with a faked piece of evidence. Presumably, it was a faked piece of evidence, nobody really knows. CBS hired a lawyer to look into the problem, who said it was fake. Richard Thornburgh, well known Republican. CBS could have hired a non-affiliated lawyer to look into the problem. Could have hired a Democrat. But they hired a Republican, because Rather was not getting the ratings he had enjoyed in years past. Well, that can happen, when part of a man’s success is being a ruggedly handsome character. Rather is still a rather talented journalist, and as his book title will tell you, he is still Rather Outspoken. But by 2004, Dan Rather was getting old with the viewers, even if he was not showing signs of senility or debility. CBS set up the tribunal to clear the decks, and that is what they did.
Incidentally, except for the fact that the font might have not been invented when the memorandum should have been typed, nobody ever showed that there was anything wrong with it. All of the allegations in Rather’s expose were true, it is still the case. George W Bush, who later became 43rd President, was absent without leave, from an Air National Guard assignment that was a gift to start out with. Bush ne er was subject to the draft. He did not enlist, like Mr. Kerry. He did not serve in the National Guard and go to Vietnam like Mr. Gore. He never had to appear in a theater of war, never was exposed to enemy fire. Paperwork associated with Mr. Bush showed that he could actually fly an F-104. Maybe that is true, maybe not. The F-104 was difficult to fly, compared to other aircraft. It required a higher level of attention to detail than most other planes. In fact, it was mostly obsolete… the US Air Force stopped using the F-104 except for a small number that had been modified to go after missile and radar installations. Diogenes never figured out why the Air Force did not take the specialized equipment out of the one aircraft and put it into another better aircraft. Maybe it is because they were losing them on a regular basis anyway – going after missile installations is a very dangerous business. In any case, Lt. Bush did not have one of those, he had an ordinary F-104, and he was never going to be sent into danger. His father was a Congressman. His grandfather had been a US Senator. His mother was known to be a particular fierce Republican (a fierce Pierce), the thing that Richard Nixon liked best about her. Lt. Bush was not fulfilling his duties as a pilot, because he was out of his mind on cocaine, for the whole year. That was Rather’s point, and he was correct.
So, Dan Rather was greased out of the anchor chair at CBS. The network made plans to bring in a younger and more attractive anchor, Katie Couric. The interim anchor, Bob Schieffer, was a close family friend of George W. Bush, a fact that CBS did not advertise, but which they no doubt noticed.
Schieffer, incidentally, was the moderator for a debate between Bush 43 and Senator John Kerry during the 2004 campaign. In an earlier debate, John Edwards made a complimentary comment to Vice President Cheney, about the subject of his daughter, a well-known lesbian. The Vice-President acknowledged the compliment, and they went on. During the next debate, Schieffer asked a question that elicited a similar compliment about Mary Cheney, but this time the Republicans were ready to pounce. They raised every kind of stink about bringing Mary into the debate, even though the Cheney campaign had her assigned to work with the gay community. It was worth a couple of votes in a couple of swing states, and that favor by Mr. Schieffer helped George W Bush to limp over the finish line with a majority in the Electoral College.
An eventful year at CBS.
Rather now has a program on a cable channel, and a new book. He talks about the story that ended his career in a way that indicates that he did not know the skids had been greased well in advance of his hitting them. It is sometimes the nature of reality that people who do very well are totally focused on the task ahead of them, and Diogenes thinks that Rather was insufficiently paranoid. In fact, though, maybe it would have made no difference. CBS was under pressure from the Bush 43 administration, who didn’t play hardball, because hardball requires actual rules. Mr. Bush should have known baseball rules. One of the businesses run by Bush 43 before he became President, was a professional baseball team, and Mr. Bush’s partner in the enterprise was Bob Schieffer’s brother, but it has not been demonstrated that Bush ever actually played by the rules.
The Texas Rangers baseball team never had a winning season while George W Bush was associated with it. Never had a lot of fans in the stadium. The thing that made the team worthwhile was that
the Rangers ball club owned its stadium. It was built by a municipality, on land that was condemned by the local government. Here in New York, if land is taken by condemnation, the city always has to pay relatively top dollar for it. Not the case in Texas, they took the land for next to nothing, built a stadium and gave it to a ball team that had a politically connected partner. Diogenes is still working on which partner that could have been.
Diogenes noticed at the beginning of the Obama administration, that the new President said he was going to look forward, not back. At the time, Diogenes was thinking this was a wimpy way to go about business. The Bush people had done so much deliberate damage, including the death and destruction in Louisiana that led to riches for people associated with Mr. Bush, and taking a sufficiently large number of flood-homeless out of New Orleans that the Republicans won the next election for Governor. And here in New York, where Mr. Bush’s Attorney General signed off personally on an investigation of a man who patronized a brothel. Eliot Spitzer, who had to resign from office in disgrace, might have had a chance to get the New York State budget under control. With the upheaval and uproar and the fact that the next Governor just was not a powerful figure, the budget work and some of the other long term problems had to wait to be addressed. Maybe Spitzer deserved what he got from the Bush people, but the State of New York did not.
Diogenes remembers the Eisenhower years. Republicans were not done trashing Harry Truman, who was perhaps the best President of the twentieth century. The Republicans used the rallying cry, Twenty Years of Treason. Assholes. When Richard Nixon ran for President, he disparaged Truman the whole time, even though he’d been out of office for eight years. Diogenes was very amused during the Bush 43 administration, when Bush compared himself to the most admirable figure he could think of, Harry Truman. Bush kept a bust of Churchill on his desk, and maybe someone told him that Churchill admired Truman, and considered him a friend.
Now, the Republican nominee, who really looks Presidential, says that the problems of America are due to the failed policies of the current President. That is just so much bull-shit. The truth is that the problems of America are due to the failed policies of the Republican Party. Mr. Bush never was much of an idea-man. He certainly was not so stupid as he pretended, but ideas really never were his bag. Like his father, Mr. Bush 43 never had that vision thing. All of his policies were factory made in the think tanks of the Koch’s. Pre-wrapped by the pre-eminent Republican henchman, Mr. Rove.
Passed by the Republican controlled Congress. When Mr. Romney talks about failure, maybe he doesn’t remember the time from 1994 to 2006, when the Republicans had control of the Congress.
Failed policies is right! The failed policies of the Republicans. Tax relief for the people who need it the least. Failing to watch out for foreigners hijacking airliners. The French knew there was an Al-Queda plot to hijack airliners and fly them into the Eiffel Tower. The FAA wanted to order the airlines to install stronger doors on every aircraft. The Republicans in the Congress were able to kill that piece of intrusiveness. Can you imagine how much that would have cost, to replace every control cabin door on every airliner. And for what? Nothing, except it would have prevented the attacks of 9/11, the loss of five thousand lives. And the World Trade Center. For that matter, the reason there was so little loss of life at The Pentagon, is that the airliner hit the one side of the building that had been made stronger just in case of attack. By now, Diogenes hopes the whole building has been modernized, in case of another attack. But at the time, the Republicans in the House were complaining about strengthening the Pentagon – as if anyone would ever attack the Pentagon.