Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The final word is in. Killian's secretary says that she could not have typed the memos. She only had a basic mono-spaced Selectric.

These are not real, she told The Dallas Morning News after examining copies of the disputed memos for the first time. They are not what I typed, and I would have typed them for him.

She said the typeface on the documents did not match either of the two typewriters that she used during her time at the Guard. She identified those machines as a mechanical Olympia, which was replaced by an IBM Selectric in the early 1970s.

She said that the culture of the time was that men didn't type office-related documents, and she expressed doubt that Lt. Col. Killian would have typed the memos. She said she would typically type his memos from his handwritten notes, which she would then destroy.

More lies from a Bush partisan? Nope. She hates Bush and speculates that the memos might have been recreated from memory (since Killian died 20 years ago, it must have been done by psychic John Edwards).

ABC News says that two people who examined the documents before the broadcast expressed warnings but that these were ignored.

Where does this leave us? What were the motivations at CBS? Without the documents much of the credibility of the story rested on the evolving statements of a major Kerry fund-raiser.

CBS could have re-edited the piece and taken out the documents but it would have lost a lot of its impact. They could have held the piece or pulled it completely. This story shouldn't have been urgent. CBS had been working on it for weeks, the events all happened 30+ years ago, and the election isn't for another month and a half. They could have waited.

Why didn't they?

Remember, Texans for Truth, a new 527 formed to attack Bush's military record, began running ads the day after the 60 Minutes piece and building on the 60 Minutes story. How much coordination is there between the two?

Is it possible that CBS executives didn't want to hurt Texan's for Truth by pulling or diluting the story?

Is CBS trying to influence a presidential election by knowingly including forged documents in an anti-Bush story?

So far CBS has refused to release the source of the documents. Protecting sources in a journalistic tradition but most journalists agree that all bets are off if your source gives you false information.

There are rumors that the documents came from (Click here to see how careful they are about the truth.)

CBS was supposed to release a new statement around noon. As of 1 pm I haven't seen anything. They have an updated story on their web site. It has all of the current accusations and rebuts them with what amounts to "I don't care if there's no proof, I just know it happened!"

There is talk about Congress holding hearings on the matter. They should.

Back when all news came from newspapers and even small cities had multiple papers, there was no pretense to neutral coverage. Papers had "their" candidate and promoted him shamelessly. This came with the rise of TV and the consolidation of papers. "There is no need to worry about slanted coverage," they told us. "We are only interested in truth and truth is non-partisan." If all bets are off and the networks are no longer paying lip service to fair coverage then someone needs to say so.

Speaking of CBS news, their web site has this opinion piece about why Democrats tend to lose.

The problem begins with the fact that majorities of the public tend to agree with Democrats on the issues. This isn't universally true, of course, but it's true with regard to more issues (perhaps many more issues) than not. On health care, the environment, investment, education, just about everything except national defense, majorities lean toward the Democratic position.

This sounds like a good thing. But in fact, it's an incredibly bad thing, because it leads Democrats to believe that they can win on the issues. So a Democratic presidential candidate's pollster goes out into the field and comes back with data proving that 54 of percent of the people are with us on this issue, and 61 percent of them are with us on that one, and so on. And so the pollster tells the candidate, "Just talk about the issues, and everything will be ducky."

He goes on to say that the nasty Republicans attack the Democrats' character and get people to vote against their best interests. He gives four examples of scurrilous lies about Kerry.

  • First, label him a flip-flopper. Establish him as unreliable. When dealing with someone who's been in the Senate for 20 years, casting thousands of roll-call votes on everything under God's sun, that's child's play.
  • Second, go after his war record in Vietnam. It's the one obvious resume advantage Kerry has (had?) over Bush. Erase it with a bunch of old and not credible charges. Turn Kerry's advantage into a wash.
  • Third, bring in Kerry's 1971 testimony. That should have the effect of planting the seed: Gee, if he spoke out against America then, can we be sure he'll defend America now?
  • Fourth and last, once the historical groundwork is established, bring it up to the present. Tie it into terrorism and Iraq. Kerry -- the flip-flopper, the war-story embellisher, the critic of American military aims -- can't be trusted.

Let's take a close look at these.

The first one, the one about flip-flopping first came up in the primaries. It wasn't minor senate votes that they were talking about either. It was war votes. Just look at the statements Kerry has made on Iraq in the last two years and tell me that he doesn't flip. Just look at statements made in the last six months and tell me if he is going to increase the troops in Iraq, decrease them, or leave them the same.

The second and third points show the problems with this year's abbreviated primary. Kerry ran on his Viet Nam record and and little else. Voters never heard about his anti-war record. But a lot of veterans never forgave Kerry for his protest days. I don't think for a second that they are Bush operatives. I think that they are exactly what they say, outraged vets. It should also be pointed out that many of their charges have been proven.

So can Kerry be trusted on terrorism?

As for the larger argument, I have seen it before. Democrats complain that people are voting against their best interests. If we would just vote the Democrats in then we would have universal health coverage, an end to global warming, and lollypops all around.

We did vote the Democrats in in 1992. We didn't get health coverage. We didn't even get lollypops.

Voters are skeptical of Democrats who promise too much. Either they will not deliver or, worse, they will deliver and make everything worse.

Voters are also more complex than the issues checklist makes them out to be. Congressmen vote hundreds of times in a term (except for Kerry who has missed most of his roll call votes). Only a handful affect the "issues". You have to choose someone you trust based on his character, not his laundry list of issues.

Then there are the issues themselves. Kerry is pushing jobs as an issue. Most candidates do. I have yet to hear a candidate run on an anti-jobs platform.

On other issues, all Democrats are pro-abortion (not pro-choice). It's an entrance requirement. Republicans are nominally anti-abortion although there are several pro-choice Republicans and there is no movement to outlaw abortion. The majority of Americans think that abortion should be legal but are very uncomfortable with it. Neither side really represents their views.

Gun control just came up again but few voters really believe that criminals armed with AK-47s are about to burst into their home. It is an issue but not a big one with most people.

You find this on most of the big issues. They might be big to the politician but they are not all that important to the average voter. They want someone they can trust, not someone who filled in the right check-boxes on a candidate position survey.

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