Sunday, September 12, 2004

Distractions and the Wurlitzer

Both the blogosphere and the media have been obsessed with the question of whether or not some memos purporting to show Bush shirking duties are forgeries. The claim is that the documents use both justified text and a superscripted "th", which typewriters couldn't handle at the time but modern word processors can. Unfortunately, none of this is true.

I haven't got involved or commented for the same reason that I avoided the equally spurious "Swift Boaters" controversy: both are really silly distractions thrown up by the Bush campaign to try to muddy the waters. The attacks are and were almost ludicrously flawed: one capitalizes on people's ignorance of past typewriter technology; the other on the vast difference between patriotically serving one's country and knee-jerk McCarthyite nationalism.

(Yes, one can be a soldier and yet understand that your leaders messed up in going there and do whatever one can to ensure that others don't go through what you did. Former firemen are allowed to speak out against unnecessary fires; why not former soldiers and unnecessary wars?)

In the end, though, the biggest reason why I have trouble summoned up the energy to pick through all this, well, crap is explained well by the poorman:

Let me save everyone a whole lot of time. They are genuine. How do I know? Because the internet is currently awash in wingnuts claiming the memos are fakes. Ergo, they are for real. Q.E.D.
Some people may feel that I'm just being flip here. Is that so, some people? Tell me: how rich would you be right now if, every time something was posted on a right-wing message board, or everytime Drudge had an exclusive, or any time Rush Limbaugh revealed a secret truth that the liberal media won't tell you, you called up your bookie and put down $20 even money on "bullshit"? The correct answer is: "pretty fucking rich".
For decades, almost every supposed "scandal" hauled out by the right has turned out to be a steaming load--just ask Bill Clinton and his barber-- so why on earth should we pay attention to it now?

Lets be honest. The only reason this river of faeces exists is because Scaife 'n Co. figured out that you can flood the media with appalling lies to get them to believe moderate ones. Say that Kerry sacrifices puppies to Set, and the media will triangulate between that lie and the truth to conclude that he only kicks them for fun. Sure, you'll eventually get discovered, but if the river keeps flowing, they'll be too caught up in the next scandal to care, and the whole thing will wash over any of the real issues that should have been the subject of discussion in the first place.

Of course, this wouldn't be necessary if they could actually claim a coherent and defensible position on said issues, but you know what Khrushchev said: if you don't have either the facts or the law on your side, bang your shoe on the table and make as much noise as you can.

Fortunately, Wurlitzers and typewriters are pretty good at that.

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