Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2002/ 27 Kislev, 5763
Some helpful hints
for Tom and Al
Seems like old times. Everybody's pickin' on us.
That's actually Al Gore's line,
complaining about how he can't
get no respect from the right-wing
media, which in Al's telling includes
everybody to the right of the New
York Times, and that includes just
Or maybe it was Tom
Daschle's. He was last heard
complaining that Rush Limbaugh,
or Fox News, or The Washington
Times, or the Wall Street Journal
is out to get him and the
Bill Clinton once complained to the editors of the
Minneapolis Star-Tribune that "the right wing has The
Washington Times, and we don't have a Washington Times."
On another occasion he complained to a radio interviewer in
St. Louis that "Rush Limbaugh has three hours to say
whatever he wants and I won't have any opportunity to
respond." (It's a shame how we muzzle our presidents.)
Republicans complain, too, but right now they can't get a
word in edgewise.
It's tough, the life of a Washington pol. "What happens
when Rush Limbaugh attacks those of us in public life is that
people aren't satisfied just to listen," Mr. Daschle says. "They
want to act because they get emotionally invested. And so,
you know, the threats to those of us in public life go up
dramatically and - that's very disconcerting."
No doubt. The problem the pols have is that when voters
get "emotionally invested" they go to the polls, sometimes in
concert, and for every winner, there's at least one loser, and
lately a lot of the losers are Mr. Daschle's colleagues.
Al Gore, following Mr. Daschle's grand strategy, picked
up the theme and started chunking rocks at warm and cuddly
ol' us. "The media is kind of weird these day on politics," Mr.
Gore told Josh Benson of the New York Observer, who was
kind enough to print his remarks. "There are some major
institutional voices that are, truthfully speaking, part and
parcel of the Republican Party. Fox News Network, The
Washington Times, Rush Limbaugh - there's a bunch of
them, and some of them are financed by wealthy
ultra-conservative billionaires who make political deals with
Republican administrations and the rest of the media. The rest
of the media has been slow to recognize the pervasive impact
of this fifth column in their ranks."
Well, some of this is true. Many press lords are, in fact,
billionaires, even though a billion dollars doesn't go as far as it
used to. Ink, even by the barrel, is expensive. You could ask
any of the Grahams, the Sulzbergers or even the Chandlers,
who have used their billions to finance the journals (The
Washington Post, the New York Times, the Los Angeles
Times) that control, or try to, the politics of the republic.
Tom and Al have had a run of bad luck. Tom couldn't
enjoy his turkey yesterday for the pain in his back, what with
all his recent heavy lifting. He's moving out of the big office of
the majority leader of the United States Senate, and he has
no idea how he can get all his stuff into whatever closet Trent
Lott has in mind for the new Daschle digs.
Al, of course, is flogging his new book, "Joined at the
Heart." It's not doing well. Al went to a cocktail party to
celebrate his book the other night - the party was in a very
nice ZIP code and the little cucumber sandwiches were
particularly delicious - but on his way out he saw, to his
horror, that stacks of the book were on a table at the door,
Bashing the press is one of the most honored of our
national traditions, and great fun for everybody, newspaper
editors included. But there's an art to press-bashing, and the
modern Democrats don't do it any better than the modern
Huey Long was a master at it. George Wallace did it as
well as anyone of his time. One of the best was a
turn-of-the-century senator named Jeff Davis of Arkansas,
named for but no kin of the president of the late
Confederacy. (All were Democrats.)
"Mrs. Davis and I have a little son," the senator was fond
of telling the crowd gathered in the evening heat at the foot of
the marble Confederate soldier on the courthouse lawn. "We
love that little boy more than we love life itself.
"If it turns out that that little boy has above-average
intelligence, we intend to send him off to seminary and make
him a preacher of the Gospel.
"But if turns out that he has only average intelligence,
that's all right, too. We'll send him off to law school.
"But if it turns out that he doesn't have any more sense
than a goose in a thunderstorm, why, we'll just send him
downtown to edit the morning newspaper."
So pay attention, Tom and Al. If you want to play in this
league, lighten up.
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