The Media, Ahab Levin and Moby Bush

We’ve seen a lot in this campaign cycle, but the media hit a new low with the ABC Sunday love-fest between Hillary Clinton and George Stephanopoulous. For an entire hour, we were treated to an infomercial for the Clinton campaign.  It’s a perfect example of how the political activists who pose as journalists have seized control of the media battlefield. 

ABC News is now Hillary Clinton’s most committed superdelegate.  After Charlie Gibson and Stephanopoulous questioned Barack Obama in the Pennsylvania debate, ABC found itself under attack from other activist media that are siding with Obama.  Still loyal to Hillary, ABC chose to stage a one-candidate debate Sunday morning hosted by a former Clinton White House staffer. Its questioners, other than the host, were all from Indiana or North Carolina, the two states holding primaries tomorrow.  It was effectively an in-kind contribution to the Clinton campaign. 

Barack Obama — facing good questions from Tim Russert on Meet the Press — did much less well yesterday.  Obama has been off his game since the Ohio primary, and thanks to Jeremiah Wright he hasn’t regained his footing.  Answering questions about his former close friend and pastor, Obama was hesitant, flummoxed and appeared as he is: a young pol who’s not ready for prime time.  Russert aired clips of Obama saying he could no more renounce Wright than his white grandmother, and Obama clearly didn’t know how to respond.

This is a candidate who whined for days about the treatment ABC gave him.  How can he face down Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or Vladimir Putin if he can’t stand up to questions tossed at him by Tim Russert or Charlie Gibson?  He can’t, but he can still win the presidency because he knows that the media will rally to him if he knocks off Hillary Clinton.

Before Obama or Clinton win the Dems’ nomination, before the media launch their coming assault on John McCain, and before Gen. David Petraeus testifies on his nomination to be CENTCOM commander, the Dems are planning another bit of political theater, this time courtesy of Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Ahab Levin (D-Mich.).

The last time Captain Ahab Levin and his media crew set sail after Moby Bush, the quest ended in complete failure. 

In that hunt, Ahab Levin reported that the criminal gang that ran the Pentagon had established their own intelligence analysis group to challenge the infallible careerists in the CIA.  One particular cabal, led by Undersecretary for Policy Doug Feith, was accused in Levin’s committee report of October 21, 2004 of having selectively exaggerated intelligence on al-Queda’s involvement in Iraq. 

Unfortunately for Ahab Levin, Moby Bush (and Feith) eluded him.  The Defense Department’s Inspector General — after a non-political investigation — issued a report on February 9, 2007 that found that the actions of Feith’s group, “…were not illegal or unauthorized.” 

In fact, what Feith’s group did was essential to the commencement and conduct of the war:  challenging the CIA’s conclusions based on independent analysis.  Given the CIA’s abysmal track record Rumsfeld would have been foolish to just accept their analysis without independent evaluation of the data.

What Feith’s group did was both timely and — as George Tenet judged after a briefing on it — quite valuable. Levin’s investigation might as well have been aimed at his own staff’s ineffectiveness. 

Levin was deterred, but not for long.  The Congressional embodiment of literature’s Ahab, Levin seems obsessed by the political gold mine that could be found if he proved that President Bush’s war in Iraq is illegal, that those who served him are criminals, fools and torturers.

The Dems’ goal of seizing the White House should be attainable without proving the illegality of the war or the way the president has conducted it.  President Bush’s disapproval rating, at 71%, is the highest for any president in the history of the Gallup Poll. 

But Levin has two problems.  First, the polls.  Second, the facts.  Partisan whale hunts and negligible accomplishments leave Congress — with about 68% disapproval — in the same dismal swamp as Bush.  But the president isn’t running this year. Both Levin and Conyers are. 

Ahab Levin and his gaggle of staff lawyers are not dismayed.  Levin had free rein in the Armed Services Committee through the Abu Ghraib scandal. Now he and his staff are effectively running the Pentagon, even choosing our generals.  Levin killed Gen. Peter Pace’s reappointment as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs without a fight, and is now reportedly interfering with other nominations. 

Levin’s staff is busy launching another hunt for Moby Bush, this time targeting administration lawyers who struggled to adapt our defenses to an entirely new kind of conflict. These are men who history will judge more kindly than Levin and his cadre of Congressional second-guessers.  Another Michigander, House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers is launching a coordinated effort.

Starting with Justice Department lawyer John Yoo and extending to Vice President Cheney’s confidant and lawyer David Addington and former Defense Department General Counsel William J. Haynes, Levin and Conyers are preparing another media show trial to condemn them for supposedly authorizing torture of terrorist prisoners. 

The activist media is eager to be the tools of the Democrats when they aren’t actually leading the Dems by the hand.  And — as usual — the White House will have no plan to expose and repel the Dems’ orchestrated media assault.  There are two huge opportunities here: one for the non-activist media and one for the Republicans.

Most of the media aren’t activists, just part of a tribal culture.  Those who aren’t in line with Levin and Conyers could take an independent look at what’s going on.  They can report the backstory of the Levin/Conyers hearings.  They should be asking which Levin and Conyers staffers are pushing this story in hopes of some political payback.   They should ask what makes the Levin/Conyers crew confident that this bit of political theater will produce more than another series of New York Times editorials?

Confederate Gen. John C. Pemberton, desperate to defend Vicksburg against Grant, was driven to near-insanity by Grant’s continued innovative thrusts against him.  Can the Republicans stop being Pemberton and think like Grant?

Levin and Conyers are doing everything they can to make it harder to fight this war.  How would those voters in the American Legion Post in Flint, in the VFW in Macomb County and all those Reagan Dems all over the state react if a real campaign were launched against two of the members of Congress doing the most to thwart the war? 

I don’t know if Ed Gillespie and President Bush will read this, but if a few campaign commercials told Michigan voters about that, they might just work even in a “Blue” state. 

And Americans are eager for television ads exposing the media’s activism because they see it all around them almost every day. If the Republicans ever responded to that yearning, their gains could be national.