Margolis Nails It

He’s done it again.  Eric Margolis has captured the zeitgeist of American national politics with his latest column for Sun Media.  In the piece, he talks about the upcoming midterm elections and how they should spell disaster for the ruling Republican Party (and even a large number of complicit Democrats).  
He notes at the beginning that, under normal circumstances, midterms are “humdrum affairs that usually produce low voter turnouts”, but 2006 is different.  A lot is at stake.  Americans are angry.  Really angry.  Congress’ approval rating is 16% (as he points out in his column).  President Bush is a widely despised President and justifiably so.  His approval ratings are routinely in the 30 to 40% percent range.  Vice President Cheney’s approval ratings are in the teens.  CNN has been producing a series of documentaries under the title “Broken Government”, an unthinkable proposition 5 years ago.  CNN personality Lou Dobbs (the host of Moneyline) frequently introduces a series of reports by CNN correspondents under the banner “War On The Middle Class”.  He also rails against the Administration for its lack of concrete action on illegal immigration, a pet issue for Dobbs as well as Pat Buchanan, among others.  Rolling Stone Magazine has declared President Bush the worst President in history and recently documented why they believe this particular Congress is the worst it’s ever been, singling out the ten worst offenders (9 of which are Republicans).  Media conservatives who refuse to tow the Republican party line, like Andrew Sullivan, former New Jersey Governor and EPA Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, John Dean (Nixon’s official Counsel) and a growing list of others have written books about Republicans losing their way.  Others have publicly advocated the defeat of the Republicans so things can get better.  Liberals, for their part, have also been highly critical, most notably Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd of The New York Times.  Like Margolis, they’ve been pointing out the flaws and deceitful actions of Bush and company, since 2001.   
If the Democrats manage to take over both The House Of Representatives and The Senate, there’s a very good chance that we will finally get to the bottom of a number of scandals that the Republicans are responsible for.  Then again, maybe not.  CNN reported that there was a secret Congressional, behind-closed-doors “gentlemen’s agreement” that had occurred after the Bill Clinton Impeachment fiasco in the late 1990s.  We were told that both Republicans and Democrats agreed to not prosecute each other in the future.  It’s time to reverse that secret policy. 
There’s more to be disillusioned about.  As Margolis has pointed out time and time again in the last 5 years, the American media is a timid animal when it comes to consistently holding the Bush Administration to account.  Perhaps it’s because of all those ridiculous, frequent and unproven accusations of “liberal bias” hurled at them by conservatives.  It’s a clever tactic to use when you can’t defend yourself with facts and for some reason, it’s convinced otherwise talented and hardworking journalists to question their instincts and not ask elected officials the tough questions and demand honest answers from them, most especially if they stonewall.   
I tend to think that the media choose to simply parrot Republican talking points (as Margolis, Media Matters For America, Crooks And Liars, Daily Howler, The Huffington Report, Bill Maher and countless others have reported breathlessly and endlessly for years) because they have a commercial interest in seeing this Administration survive every rotten scandal they’ve gotten themselves into.  People forget that Corporate America is much more conservative than creative artists.  A lot of that has to do with tax policy.  (Yes, like everybody on this planet, CEOs and other Corporate bigwigs hate to pay taxes and will do anything to get them as low as possible (or preferably non-existent) so they can make as much money as possible with as little legal interference as possible.  As Bill Maher has pointed out often, Republicans are the party of the rich.)          
But this is a capitalist country where greed is a natural impulse.  With Fox News’ ratings in decline (overall viewership is down almost 20%), perhaps from a moneymaking perspective it would be better to focus on government malfeasance rather than Paris Hilton’s latest sex video.  Keith Olbermann, one of the few strong, dissenting voices on MSNBC, has seen his fortune rise thanks to his acclaimed and critical coverage of The Bush Administration.  (They’re also up because of his entertaining feud with the increasingly dishonest and desperate Bill O’Reilly.)  He’s not number one in his time slot but within the next two years, if he continues to grow his audience and remain critical of corrupt Republicans, he might become the most influential newsman on TV, bringing back more sincere (and less histrionic) coverage of politics.
But back to Margolis.  He levels American politicians so effectively in his October 29th column I can’t see any of his Sun colleagues effectively refutting any of his spot-on criticisms.  From the beginning he opposed the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts and was villified for both by foolish readers and fellow columnists like Peter Worthington and the now-deceased Bob McDonald.  Both Worthington and McDonald supported these illegal, immoral and ultimately, ineffective conflicts (as well as The Toronto Sun Editorial Board) to the point where if you didn’t see it their way, you were “pro-Saddam” (in the case of Iraq).  (The Editorial Board, rightfully, never crossed the line like that.  They said that dissenters were “honourably opposed” (their phrase regarding Iraq War opponents) even if they thought they were wrong.)  Both have made predictions about the wars that have been so off the mark you wonder why anyone trusted them in the first place.  Margolis, for the most part, has been the complete opposite.  He’s been right on the money so many times Artie Lange is thinking of betting on him from now on. 
He is the voice of reason in a sea of insanity.  He puts up with a lot of bullshit for getting the truth out to readers.  If he is ever let go for any reason, it would cause calamity at a newspaper chain that has enough problems (like keeping an editor-in-chief in Toronto for more than 2 years, for instance).  He remains the only Toronto Sun columnist who is willing to consistently criticize conservatives as strongly as liberals.  I wish there were others like him. 
More than any other writer at Sun Media, Eric Margolis has proven that if you don’t pay attention to what he writes, you end up like The Bush Administration:  living in a permanent state of denial.
Dennis Earl
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sunday, October 29, 2006
2:13 p.m.
Published in: on October 29, 2006 at 2:25 pm  Leave a Comment  

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