Sunday, August 30, 2009

Two Sets of Rules

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By one measure, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is one of the luckiest guys in American politics.

I mean, think about it. He becomes the center of one of the more bizarre unfaithful-politician stories in recent memory, one in which he walks out on his job for a few days, leaving his long-suffering staff wondering where the heck he's gone and frantically spinning an ever-evolving series of tales about his taking time off to do some writing. Or hiking the Appalachian Trail. Or something.

Then, when they catch him flying back to the U.S. after a long canoodling session in Argentina with his South American "soulmate," he gives a tearful confession. The news media lick their chops and get ready for one of their most beloved rituals: the slow, painful stripping of the flesh from Sanford's political carcass.

Twenty-four hours later, Michael Jackson dies and knocks Sanford off the front pages.

Then the story starts heating up again. Sanford's wife moves out of the governor's mansion with the paparazzi watching. An investigation begins into whether or not he may have misused taxpayer money to make his long-distance rendezvous. The lieutenant governor of South Carolina calls on Sanford to resign.

Twenty-four hours after the call for resignation, Ted Kennedy dies and the media run off to cover that.

It's not like the lieutenant governor's demand really mattered, anyway. Because, as we all know, the rules are different for Republican politicians. Sanford, back when he was a congressman, was one of the ones demanding that Bill Clinton resign over his infidelities. "Very damaging stuff," he called the revelations of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. "This one's pretty cut and dried. I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally to resign."

But now, see how Sanford digs in his heels.

"I'm not going to be railroaded out of this office by political opponents or folks who were never fans of mine in the first place," he said. "Me hanging up the spurs 16 months out as much as I might like to do that on a personal basis, it is wrong." Unless, one supposes, you're governor of Alaska.

What's undeniable is that the deaths of Michael Jackson and Ted Kennedy have helped keep the spotlights off Meanderin' Mark.

That's only a coincidence, I'm sure. But what if the shoe were on the other foot? You can bet your Obama-Biden button that if two famous deaths had distracted the media from an embarrassing scandal involving Barack Obama, Glenn Beck and Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity would be giving every crackpot conspiracy theorist a "fair and balanced" chance to accuse Obama of complicity in their deaths.

And the rest of the media would troop right along behind them, because the accusations themselves are stories, and who needs to worry about whether they even make sense?

Wouldn't it be irresponsible to engage in such speculation? Well, to quote conservative writer Peggy Noonan in another case, "It would be irresponsible not to." Of course, she was writing about Bill Clinton and a loopy right-wing conspiracy theory that he was being blackmailed by Fidel Castro.

It's very bad, tasteless, and downright hateful to suggest such skulduggery on the part of Republicans. Any crackpot railing against a Democratic president, calling him a Nazi, a secret Muslim, or not really American, gets a hearing by the biggest names in our "liberal" media.

But if anyone on the farthest reaches of the left uses the "N" word (Nazi) about a Republican, that's an outrage that burns in the hearts of Republicans down through the years, a long-held and fondly nursed vendetta.

Because the rules are different.


Tom said...

And I can tell you why.

It's because bullies are thin-skinned cowards.

Charlie said...

JD, are you seriously arguing that Republicans get treated better in the media than do Democrats? I’d have to say it’s pretty equal (unless you watch one or the other networks with their own agenda—Fox (regular and cable) for Republicans, CBS, NBC, ABC and MSNBC for Democrats. Sanford was one lucky SOB regarding timing, but how can you suggest the “investigative reporting” is a one way fiasco? MSNBC ranted about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for 7 years (Keith-o ended his show every night with a countdown from the day “Mission Accomplished” was declared). Not even FOX is doing one about "the wrong war in the wrong place at the wrong time" still going on, never mind the Afghanistan fiasco that is starting to look more and more like Obama’s waterloo (what Vietnam was to Johnson). I agree Steele should’ve been pinned to the wall with comments by the moron who requested a “great white hope” (but I honestly don’t know if that occurred or not—his being questioned on it). I do know that nobody mentions the body counts with the same vigor they did while Bush was in office. I was greatful Rachel Maddow seemed to hold Obama’s feet to the fire one night regarding health reform, but that died before Ted Kennedy died.

I don’t know that you can point fingers regarding the media. I think except for Fox it is slanted left, but not enough to make a difference. It gets pretty bad when Bill Maher’s cable show is the only place where I learned that Obama increased Blackwater’s budget in Afghanistan. Where was the anti-Blackwater vitriol over that?

JD Rhoades said...

JD, are you seriously arguing that Republicans get treated better in the media than do Democrats?

Elliot Spitzer: named as a client by a prostitute, forced to resign.

David Vitter: named as a client by a prostitute, stayed in the Senate, no one ever brings it up.

Which one of these people is a Republican?

John McCain: Demonstrates repeated inability to distinguish Sunnis from Shi'ites. Nobody in the media brings it up.

Barack Obama: orders orange juice instead of coffee. Much hand-wringing by Chris Matthews about whether this means he's "not a regular guy."

Hillary Clinton: days of media speculation over whether she tipped a waitress and whether it was too much or too little.

Which of these people are Republicans and which are Democrats?

Ronald Regan dies: no one brings up death squads, arms for hostages, or Ollie North. That would be disrespectful.

Teddy Kennedy dies: every single goddamn story brings up Chappaquiddick.

How many more examples do you need, Charlie?

Charlie said...

JD: That is called "cherry picking" and I don't have the time or desire to grab stories about democrats and the lack of consequences.

But firstly, if you are seriously suggesting that Chris Matthews is pro Republican, you're reaching, my man. He only went after HC to bolster Obama and he hasn't touched Obama on real issues (orange juice--tell me you're kidding that that is as important as what the President hasn't accomplished or the hole he's digging himself into in Afghanistan) since the inauguration.

More importantly, I would think it serves your purpose that guys like Sanford aren't touched. Think of the campaign fodder for your guys at the next election.

And I only just went back to your response and saw the McCain thing and that is pure bullshit. I heard Keitho and Matthews jump on that for days on end (over and over).

Like I said, it depends on which show you're watching and their agenda.

Right now Obama still has a pass regarding the change he promised. I suspect he'll hold on (because of his own ability to manipulate the media--he's great at it), but if Afghanistan is still "fundamental to our defense" in another year or so and he hasn't delivered on health care, the luster may well come off his ability to perform.

I still think overall the media leans left (slightly) but that it's not important at all.

I would have thought you'd mention Bush lying us into a war as something big that was pretty much ignored, but then again, the Dems seemed fine with it (and everything else they gave their blessing to).

Stacey Cochran said...

We definitely need less men and more women in office.