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Foley Hoopla Ends with a (Nuclear) Bang   October 9th, 2006
       

 
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There's nothing like a rogue nation detonating a nuclear device to wake-up Americans to what is important.

The 2006 mid-term elections have most definitely been one of the most brain-dead election cycles in recent memory. There's been no substantive debate on any serious issue. Where has the endless debate on minimum wage been? Where have the Democrats made the case for increasing minimum wage to assist the poor, with the Republicans making the case that such an increase would hurt the economy? Who's been talking about the long-term viability of social security, with Republicans arguing for more privitization and Democrats calling such privitization a hand-out to the rich? Where's the almost petty debate on gay marriage? Where has been the discussion of Republicans pushing for increased oil exploration while the Democrats criticize Republican's supposed ties to big oil and, instead, suggest money be invested in alternative fuels? In this year that saw "An Inconvenient Truth" in movie theaters, where has been the environmental debate? For all sense and purposes, none of this has happened. This election has been about two things: Bush saying "stay the course in Iraq" and the Democrats saying "Don't vote for Bush." That is it. With so many complicated issues that should be discussed, none of them have been even remotely touched on.

Then, right around the last week of September, two things happened: A Republican representative from Florida (Foley) resigned his seat in Congress due to the revelation of some lurid text messages and email to underage Congressional pages. At about the same time, North Korea announced its intention to conduct a nuclear test within a week. Given these two stories, the media did the only thing it could responsibly do: it all but ignored the North Korean threat and dedicated day after day into investigating Foley--who had already resigned--and tried to turn it into a scandal by trying to prove that other high-ranking GOP representatives knew about it long ago and covered it up. Immediately pundits and polls concluded that this was the last straw and that the Democrats were all but assured a takeover of Congress in the November elections. The Democrats and the press had successfully avoided any substantive discussion of the issues and, for some reason, Republicans had not insisted on it.

Then, on Monday October 9th, North Korea conducted the nuclear test that it had threatened to conduct a week earlier but which the media had all but ignored in favor of the more important emails of an ex-Congressman. With North Korea's nuclear test, however, I suspect (and hope) that the Foley hoopla has ended. External world events have once again forced themselves on the little cocoon of American soap-opera politics.

It's for this reason that I find myself very upset this morning.

First, I'm upset with Bush and the Republicans who, in the last six years, did no more than Clinton did in the 90's to stop this threat. The North Korean nuclear issue hardly happened overnight. It's been brewing since Clinton's early years in office and has made headlines several times throughout Bush's presidency. No-one, including Bush, can claim that we didn't know this was coming. The North Koreans made no effort to conceal it over the years and, in fact, bragged about it; yet for some reason we dismissed their claims and acted as though they were making it all up. Granted, there's been a tense "peace" along the Korean DMZ for the last 50 years that no-one wanted to shake, but you can't ignore nuclear escalation to avoid a conventional war. And that's exactly what we did. In the interest of appeasing post-Iraq world opinion and avoiding a conventional war on the Korean penninsula, we now face a nuclear confrontation that has the potential for far more loss of life than the conventional war we tried to avoid.

Second, I'm upset with the Democrats who, for nearly four years, have fueled a blind anti-war movement that, I suspect, succeeded in tying Bush's hands in dealing with North Korea and Iran, and probably even Iraq. While some may dispute that the Democrats' anti-war efforts have hurt the war effort in Iraq, no case can be made that it has helped us achieve victory there. And, at the same time, the anti-war movement has succeeded at making Bush a very unpopular president who very possibly did not have the political capital to take decisive action against North Korea despite the clear threat. Bush's current unpopularity is certainly in large part his own fault, but Democrats cannot claim innocence in weakening this president to the point where he was unable to take necessary actions against foreign threats. It will be an outright insult to the voters' intelligence if the Democrats in any way try to brush this off on Bush, criticize Bush for inaction, or act like Clinton wasn't just as much at fault as Bush. This problem could have (and should have) been nipped in the bud any time in the last 14 years or so.

Third, I'm outraged at the media and those that would deny its left-leaning bias. I don't think there can be a more crystal clear example than that which we have witnessed in the last week: In the face of an impending nuclear threat and a Republican "scandal" involving nothing more than emails and text messages, the media decided to focus almost entirely on the latter. Heck, the scandal didn't even involve any real actions, it was just virtual email! And yet the media decided that that is what headline after headline should be about for the last week. There was virtually no mention of North Korea's threat. And a couple days ago, the media started reporting on how all the Foley-related media coverage had indeed hurt GOP prospects in the November election, even though the guilty party had already resigned from Congress. From the start this was nothing more than the Democrats' "October surprise" in order to further distract the voters from the already-ignored issues of this disgraceful election. And the media played right along, ignoring its duty to report far more important information to the public.

But, as it turned out, North Korea had its own "October surprise." And I hope that this will end the blatantly biased effort on the part of the media to milk the Foley resignation against the Republicans. There is real news to report and the media has already been positively negligent in dwelling on Foley when North Korea was a week away from joining the nuclear club. If the media continues with the Foley story in any significant way now, it'll be hard to separate them from MoveOn or some other propaganda arm of the Democratic party. This should be a wake-up call to the media that they must make a choice as to whether they want to serve a useful reporting function or be a propaganda machine for the Democratic party. They can no longer be both.

Oh, and that "poof" you just heard? That wasn't North Korea's nuclear test but very possibly the Democrats' hopes to take control of Congress in November.

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