In 2003, we predicted that, in their efforts to keep a grip on power, the Republicans would launch a behind-the-scenes smear campaign against the Democratic presidential candidate.
In our article of the time, we predicted: "Watch for the Rove-Bush rumor mongers to be at it again starting in April, May or June of 2004, when you'll start to read comments about unsubstantiated concerns about the Democratic nominee. Remember, you heard about it first here on Irregular Times."
In hindsight, we can see that when we made this prediction, we were right about some things, and wrong about some things.
We were right that the Bush/Cheney re-election campaign would quickly and ruthlessly employ a dirty smear campaign against the pre-eminent Democratic presidential candidate.
We were dead wrong to predict that the supporters of George W. Bush would wait until April, May or June to begin their smear campaign. Here we are in the middle of February, and the Bush/Cheney mud machine is already in full operation, with its first attempt at a personal attack against the frontrunner for the Democratic nomination.
Even we did not anticipate the Bush/Cheney re-election effort would begin its dirty tricks campaign even before the first Republican television advertisements hit the air. Who would have thought that Bush and Cheney would start out dirty? Even we gave them more credit than that. Oops.
The Failed Fake Fornication Front
Take notes, Republican readers: If you're going to conduct a smear campaign, at least make it plausible. The Bush/Cheney scandal squad has been more than a bit amateurish in its first attempt at mudslinging: A plan to accuse John Kerry of having... a secret affair with an intern!
No, we're not kidding. Bush/Cheney supporters actually have tried to reproduce the old Bill Clinton sex scandal, following the same formula, but just changing the name of the Democratic victim. Just a few days ago, Republicans started claiming that John Kerry would soon be proved to have had an extramarital affair with a young intern of his.
That's when things started getting weird. Archconservative media owner Rupert Murdoch arranged for the National Enquirer to cover the story, so that the allegations were put on the supermarket shelves right next to the Weekly World News, with its own claims that Osama Bin Laden and a ballet-dancing Saddam Hussein have been embroiled in a torrid homosexual love affair. Yes, the right-wing libelous media do have a little bit of trouble establishing credibility.
Then there were the odd explanations of Matt Drudge, the Internet scandal-writer who admits that his reports are are just plain incorrect at least one-fifth of the time. Drudge cited Wesley Clark as a source for his allegations of John Kerry's infidelities, but could not explain why Clark would drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination if the frontrunner were so vulnerable. Then, in order to explain the physical absence of any intern accusing Kerry of a sexual relationship, Drudge insisted that the intern had fled into, um, deepest Africa.
So, was it all true? We'll refer to a resource that keeps a broad, non-partisan perspective on such things. Politics1, "The Most Comprehensive Online Guide to American Politics", comments:
"KERRY AFFAIR" REDUX: MUCH LESS THAN IT APPEARS. John Kerry was hit on Thursday by the Drudge Report site with vague and factually shifting allegations of marital infidelity. One day later, there appears to be little to the story besides well-circulated old gossip. An Australian newspaper conducted an interview with the Pennsylvania parents of the 24-year-old woman at issue. The woman's father called Kerry a "sleaze-ball" in his comments and the woman's mother said she believed Kerry had been "after" her daughter. Beyond that, the parents admitted that they have no knowledge that Kerry ever had sex -- or any intimate relationship -- with their daughter. In fact, the only specific they could offer is that Kerry had once "called his daughter 'two or three years ago' to ask her to work on his  re-election team." Kerry himself directly responded to the allegations Friday morning on the Imus radio show, saying that "there's nothing to report, nothing to talk about. There's nothing there. There's no story."
Or, you can take the word of Thomas Oliphant, who, writing for the Boston Globe, called the allegations, "a classic bit of modern media manipulation that has slowly but surely in turn produced the following phenomenon -- published rumors about the possibility of a story about Kerry fooling around with a young woman appearing despite the absence of any allegation (much less purported information) to that effect... A few days of absurd public behavior after a few weeks of equally absurd undercurrents and rumor-mongering have resulted in a new journalistic low -- a frenzy about a "story" that hasn't been written concerning an "allegation" that hasn't been made."
Oops. The big Republican sex scandal of the year turns out to be nothing but idle slander. We'd like to think that it ends there, but history teaches us better. Almost all of the Republican personal smears against Bill Clinton turned out to be untrue, but that didn't stop the Republican leadership from shutting down the government and pushing an impeachment through Congress.
We can't expect mere facts to stop the likes of Matt Drudge and the National Enquirer. In fact, as the election year progresses, we can only expect their accusations to become more bizarre and removed from reality.
It's essential to understand the Drudge/Enquirer allegations in context. Over the last decade, the Republican Party has moved away from its anti-communist past and come to be defined by its obsession with sex.
Republican politicians are pushing an agenda, which, if enacted, would control every detail of Americans' private sex lives: Who could have sex, how they could have sex, which government agencies get to investigate it, what information about sex people will be allowed to hear, who can get married, when they should get married, which contraceptives they could use, and when they must become parents after having sex.
If you were to believe the Republicans, you'd have to conclude that the single most important issue facing the country is that people are having sex without getting special government permission first. They might as well launch a new big government initiative: No Sex Left Behind.
We, for one, believe that there are more important matters for America to deal with. In order to help principled Americans put up a fight against the Republican sexual smear machine, we've created a new postcard, specifically designed to spread the word and encourage resistance.The postcard reads:
Just when we thought America could have a serious debate about the issues that really matter, the Republican smear-and-fear patrol turns the political debate into a tabloid smackdown, with lurid accusations and scapegoating, all based on the terror that Americans are actually having sex!
The time for sexual witch hunts is over. Show the Republican sex police that you know better. This November, take the courageous step of voting for a candidate who can talk about more than just what kind of sex you ought to be having. Vote Democrat, to end the national conservative peep show!
We urge you to spread the word, and send this postcard to your friends, family, neighbors, government representatives, newspapers, and community leaders. There's space on the back of the postcard, where you can put your own note, explaining exactly what you think about Republicans' efforts to become the national sex police.
Then, when you're done writing and sending out your notes, we urge you to make one additional stand against the Republican anti-sex squad. The best way to resist the sexual inquisition of the Republican fundamentalists is simply to have sex - when you want it, how you want it, and with the partner of your own choosing, while it's still legal - and then send a letter to Matt Drudge telling him all about it!
Scandalize that, Mr. Drudge.
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