Friday, September 21, 2007

"...Ours is a just and decent God.”

So begins Jonah Goldberg's column today about Dan Rather's latest adventure. Boy is he right!

The take away for my money is here:

Frankly, we need this. And by “we,” I mean a grand coalition of people who delight in watching one of the 20th century’s most pompous gasbags fall from the top of the laughingstock tree and hit every branch on the way down. These are dour times, and if Gunga Dan and Hurricane Dan and What’s-The-Frequency-Kenneth Dan want to trade their Afghan robes, yellow windbreakers and enormous tinfoil hats for some baggy pants, bright-orange wigs and floppy shoes, I say let them. I just hope all of the Dans show up at the courthouse in a teensy-weensy clown car.

Oh, wait...that was the funny. Here was the near-serious: The beauty of this lawsuit, which has most legal observers laughing so hard that their neck veins look like one-pound sausage casings with five pounds of ground chuck in them, is that if it goes to trial (shortly after unicorns file my taxes), CBS will be put in the position of having to prove that the story was bogus, while Rather will be forced to look even more like a grassy-knoll theorist, climbing back to the top of the laughingstock tree.

Which of course anybody with a functioning brain would have figured out by now, this will never see the inside of a courtroom and for various reasons, this not least among them. But the thought of it all I find amazingly titillating.

On the other side, the producer of the original 60 Minutes II piece, Mary Mapes, unloaded at the Huffington Post on the topic:

And we showed for the first time a cache of documents allegedly written by Bush's former commander. The documents supported a mountain of other evidence that young Bush had dodged his duty and not been punished. They did not in any way diverge from the information in the sketchy pieces of the president's official record made available by the White House or the National Guard. In fact, to the few people who had gone to the trouble of examining the Bush record, these papers filled in some of the blanks.

We reported that since these documents were copies, not originals, they could not be fully authenticated, at least not in the legal sense. They could not be subjected to tests to determine the age of the paper or the ink. We did get corroboration on the content and support from a couple of longtime document analysts saying they saw nothing indicating that the memos were not real.

Instantly, the far right blogosphere bully boys pronounced themselves experts on document analysis, and began attacking the form and font in the memos. They screamed objections that ultimately proved to have no basis in fact. But they captured the argument. They dominated the discussion by churning out gigabytes of mind-numbing internet dissertations about the typeface in the memos, focusing on the curl at the end of the "a," the dip on the top of the "t," the spacing, the superscript, which typewriters were used in the military in 1972.
It was a deceptive approach, and it worked.

These critics blathered on about everything but the content. They knew they would lose that argument, so they didn't raise it. They focused on the most obscure, most difficult to decipher element of the story and dove in, attacking CBS, Dan Rather, me, the story and the horse we rode in on -- without respite, relentlessly, for days.

For a complete dismantling of Mapes' revisionist treatise, visit the Captain. As for myself, all the blustering indignation and self-deluding righteous anger does nothing to change the simple truth of the matter.

The devil was in the details and the details were wrong. They were shown to be wrong and while Mapes and others may argue that was never proven conclusively, it was obvious enough to most not blinded by Bush-hate that something was rotten in Denmark. Namely, that Burkett's "documents" were at best re-productions of old documents not available for corroboration and at worst--what most suspected for a number of reasons best laid out in Captain Ed's post--sheer fabrications.

I'd love to see this dirty laundry paraded around a NY court room but alas, I'm sure it is not to be. Oh well.

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