The re-election of George W. Bush in 2004 was the single biggest failure in modern democratic history. No responsible, conscious or sane society would have re-elected this criminal administration. But the American electorate was not responsible, conscious, or sane. The American populace was simply not aware of how badly the wool was being pulled over their eyes.
The Karl Rove/Valerie Plame leak story is bigger than you can possibly imagine. It is proof positive of the criminal intent and conduct of the Bush Administration. An necessary war based on false pretences was declared by the Bush Administration, and now we have irrefutable proof.
But, how did this happen? How, in an open and democratic nation, did an administration that initiated an illegal war, and failed miserably to meet the needs of the American people in every policy decision made, fool enough people enough of the time to become reelected?
You this is a two-pronged issue. Primarily, the Rove leak is evidence of the mendacity, duplicitousness, and corruption of the Bush Administration. Secondly, it is evidence of the media's complicity in covering the Bush Administration's failures. The failure of the media to perform it's established role is almost the bigger story here.
The performance of the Whitehouse Press Corps over the past week is the glimmer of hope that those of us who have been paying attention have all been waiting for. I almost feel sorry watching Scott McClellan, now stuck between the lies of the administration and the evidence that is now available to the press. There is simply nowhere for the Administration to run.
Let's take a little history lesson, shall we? I recently finished reading "What Liberal Media?", by Eric Alterman. The chapters on the 2000 Pre-election coverage and the Florida Recount where, at this point, almost unbearably difficult to read. This could have all been so easily avoided, had the media done it's job in the first place. There is simply no way Bush would've been elected in 2000 in a fair election. Gore much better represented the hopes and aspirations of the American public - it was only through the lies and deceit of the supposedly liberal media that Bush was able to even remain competitive in this election.
The emergence of the republican noise machine has been well documented by Brock and Alterman. Through corporate financing, deception and intimidation, the neoconservative movement has been able to conduct a hostile takeover of traditional news media. Through continuous decrying of "liberal media bias", along with slanderous attacks and accusations, the right wing attack machine has been able to cow the media into submission - No longer do we have a "fair and balanced", but instead a mouthpiece for the RNC and the rightwing think tanks.
I keep coming back to the obvious point of how this all could have been avoided. Drawing to the close of the 2000 election cycle, Gore held a comfortable 10 digit + lead on the conservative candidate George W. Bush. How did the media let Bush back into the race? There was simply no way that Bush would've taken the election on the issues. Instead, the media focused on meaningless tripe, such as Bush's phony down-to-earth personality. The ultimate transgression of the media was the tarring of Al Gore's personal character - It was media and the talking heads who pulled Bush back into the race through a concerted character assassination of Gore, painting him as a compulsive liar, based on out-of-context quotes and deceptions.
It was the media who announced a much-too-close to call election for George W. Bush, and worked feverishly to curry favor for Bush's presidential bid. It was the media that failed to denounce the paid-for, staged riots in Florida that disrupted the Florida recount effort - a despicable act that should've landed the Bush administration in Jail before the president was ever even confirmed. It was the media that failed to cry foul when the supreme court handed Bush the election without a recount - an unbelievable action that even the supreme court was unwilling to make permanent out of fear of setting a precedent. George W. Bush is a man who should never have been elected president of the United States - It was only through the willingness and complacency of the media to go along with the ranting and raving of the Republican Noise Machine that allowed this travesty to occur.
The number of scandals surrounding the "Teflon" Bush administration over the past few years is simply amazing - From the staged bourgeois riots, the supreme court decision to hand Bush the election, Gannongate, the public propaganda revelations, the Valerie Plame leak, the lack of connections between Saddam and Al Qaida, the lack of weapons of mass destruction, and the complete lack of evidence that there were ever a trace of WMDS, the closed-door energy task force meetings with Cheney, the outrageous social security scheme the administration attempted to pass onto the American public, the lies used to justify the massive tax cuts to the rich, the massive decline from a budget surplus to record budget deficits, the lack of evidence that Bush ever served in the Texas Air National Guard, the smearing of John Kerry's character by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, the prisoner abuse scandals in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, the inability to guard the weapons cache at Al Qaaqaa, the Alberto Gonzales torture memos, the nuclear option, the failure to release the John Bolton-related surveillance records, Bush's Harken Energy-related insider trading scandal, Cheney's Halliburton financial scandal, Bush's close ties to Enron and the California Energy Crisis, the conflicts of interest in the huge no-big rebuilding contracts awarded to Halliburton, the missing $8 billion in Iraqi rebuilding funds, Coingate, the massive irregularities in the 2004 Ohio election and recount, conflicts of interest in having Ken Blackwell and Katherine Harris oversee the closest state elections, having Diebold's CEO declare that he is "committed to helping Ohio deliver its electoral votes to the president next year", the ChoicePoint Florida voting purge, the failure to sign onto Kyoto Protocol, to even recognize global warming as a serious threat to our existence, or rto pass any kind of regulations with aims to reduce carbon dioxide emissions, the gutting of the clean air act, the passing of the bankruptcy bill, passing laws which favor corporate interests time and time again, Bush calling the Iraq War a "Crusade", stating "Bring it on", very prematurely declaring "Mission Accomplished" almost three years ago, dismissing the single largest worldwide anti-war protest as little more than a "focus group", and increasing anti-American sentiment throughout the entire world to the point where most of the world now considers the United States to be the number one threat to world peace.
Many of these issues passed through the American media with little more than blip on the national radar -- Instead we have a media that focused on Kobe Bryant, Michael Jackson, or the latest kidnapping or murder trial. Any time a political issue did make the headlines in the media, it was more than likely at the behest of the Republican Noise Machine -- outrage over the audacity of Newsweek to publish a story concerning Koran abuse at Guantanamo - a story that was later publicly acknowledged by the Pentagon. The lambasting of respected career journalist Dan Rather for publishing a story concerning Bush's record with the Texas Air National guard - a story that was never actually factually disproven, or the defamation of Joseph Wilson after he dared question the authenticity of the Bush Administration's claimed evidence of Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq.
So, here we are full circle with the Valerie Plame leak. I believe this to be a defining moment in American history. For the first time we are witnessing the White House Press Corps realizing how badly they have been fooled and really putting the administration to task.
We have two ways this can end up. In scenario one, we retain the status quo, the media will eventually succumb to the pressure of the neoconservative attack machine: the pundits, talking heads, and spinmasters, armed with the latest RNC talking points. The story would run it's course, weakened and muddied by the continual lies and deception of the noise machine, and everyone would eventually forget the story ever happened.
The possibility, I'll even hazard probability, of scenario two is the glimmer of hope that we have all been waiting for.