Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler is doing a very important job of pointing out how the Beltway courtiers, otherwise known as the media, give Americans a profoundly distorted picture of the historical truth. He's done a convincing job of showing how most of what we think we know about Al Gore is just wrong because of the witheringly unfair treatment he received by the Beltway MSM. They did everything they could to make sure he would not be elected in 2000. And the pass they gave to the profoundly flawed George Bush was equally as noxious.
The MSM defines too much of our reality, and the picture we get from it has only the most superficial bearing on what is happening. We have learn to read between the lines and we have to find more reliable sources of information on the net if we want to have any reasonable measure of confidence that we understand what's going on.
Somerby this week has come to the defense of Hillary after her having been attacked by David Geffen. And I think that his main point is well taken--that if Hillary is a polarizing figure, it's because our perception of her is conditioned by the way she and her husband were treated by baseless accusations and other unfair distortions of the right-wing noise machine. Almost everyone believes that where there's smoke there's fire, and nobody is better at blowing smoke than the right wingers in this country. The flap about Nancy Pelosi air travel arrangements are a recent trivial example of it--a lot of smoke, but no fire. Same with Whitewater, same with accusations that Gore claimed to invent the internet. The truth doesn't matter, creating confusion is the only goal.
That's why Bob Parry's piece on Clinton and the truth is important, too. The problem is not that the right-wing machine creates a lot of smoke, but that guys like Clinton when they had the chance didn't do what they should have to clear it away. Parry points to the fact that when Clinton took office in '92, he had the opportunity to help the American people to get to the bottom of the truth about the Reagan years and about the crimes the right-wingers in the Reagan administration were responsible for in Latin America and the Middle East.
Special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh was still battling the cover-up that had surrounded the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s; Democratic congressmen were digging into the “Iraqgate” scandal, the covert supplying of dangerous weapons to Iraq’s Saddam Hussein in the 1980s; and a House task force was suddenly inundated with evidence pointing to Republican guilt in the “October Surprise” case, alleged interference by the Reagan-Bush campaign in 1980 to undermine President Jimmy Carter’s efforts to free 52 American hostages then held in Iran.
Combined, those three investigations could have rewritten the history of the 1980s, exposing serious wrongdoing by Republicans who had held the White House for a dozen years. The full story also would likely have terminated the presidential ambitions of the powerful Bush family, since George H.W. Bush was implicated in all three scandals.
After winning in November 1992, however, Bill Clinton and the leaders of the Democratic majorities in Congress didn’t care enough about the truth to fight for it. Heeding advice from influential fixers like Vernon Jordan, Clinton and the congressional Democrats turned their backs on those investigations.
He didn't have the stomach for it. And in retrospect if he had done it, it might very well have saved his presidency. If he attacked the right wing elements in this country and kept them on their heels, they would have had to spend more time and energy defending themselves, and less time attacking him and blowing smoke. As Parry points out:
But Bill Clinton never ordered a major declassification project, nor did he establish any U.S. truth commissions to put the Cold War history in a meaningful context. To Clinton, truth never seemed to be a high priority, either in his private life or in his public duties.
Ironically, Bill Clinton’s protection of the Reagan-Bush administrations didn’t protect him. Clinton saw his prized domestic agenda, including Hillary Clinton’s health care reform, defeated; his party lose control of Congress in 1994; the House vote to impeach him; and his Vice President, Al Gore, have the 2000 election stolen from him.
Then, once the Bush family again controlled the White House, one of the first acts of the new President, George W. Bush, was to sign an executive order ensuring that Reagan-Bush-era historical records, scheduled for release in 2001, stayed locked up, possibly forever.
Clinton is a very flawed, very foolish man, and that being said, is there any sane, informed American who at this point would prefer this group of right wingers to him, to Gore, or for that matter to Hillary? They are all in their different ways flawed, but they are not viciously dangerous the way Cheney/Bush is. So I agree with Somerby that the noise machine and its manipulation of the MSM will find a way to make any non-rightwinger candidate seem polarizing, and they will gloss over the warts of guys like Bush or Giuliani. But if we think Hillary is polarizing, wait to see how polarizing a figure they will make Obama to appear. Obama might be the best person for the country, but my guess is it's going to be Edwards. I could live with that. The worst possibility would be Giuliani. He will be the new tool for the authoritarian right in this country that just is not going away.