Heroes and Villains; Trophy-Hunting with the Media

Article excerpt


Victor Davis Hanson says it best in the current issue of City Journal. I paraphrase: Thanks to George W. Bush, the Taliban are gone. So is Saddam Hussein. Yasser Arafat is isolated, restricted to the wretched confines of his Ramallah compound. American troops no longer stake their lives guarding the terror kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and Europeans finally feel a righteous American heat over their cold accountings of anti-Semitism and their largesse to Islamist terror organizations.

Thanks also to Mr. Bush, Islamofascist "charities" have been shuttered in this country. Al Qaeda is in splinters around the world, desperately seeking a new state-haven. In one of the great diplomatic coups of our time, Pakistan has been turned, as Mr. Hanson put it, from "a de facto foe to a scrutinized neutral." Just this week, India's prime minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, publicly credited the U.S.-led war in Iraq with pushing nuclear rivals India and Pakistan to set about resolving their dispute over Kashmir. Mr. Bush has further pressured Libya, Iran and Pakistan to come clean on nuclear cheating; and where the Middle East once feared Iraq's military, the president has had reason lately to lament its ineffectualness. Then there's always the fact that he has "so far avoided another September 11 - and promises that he is not nearly done yet."

What next? Since he's on a roll, maybe Mr. Bush could pre-empt the White House media. There may be no weapons of mass destruction stockpiled by the Washington press corps, but that doesn't mean they aren't a threat to peace and freedom. Having abandoned the pursuit of fact and meaning to chase down a kind of therapeutic humiliation - therapeutic for them, humiliation for the president - the White House media, with a couple of notable exceptions, revealed in this week's presidential press conference a particularly disturbing taste for presidential blood, along with a patent antipathy for his accomplishments. This bloodlust now borders on icky obsession.

"Do you feel a sense of personal responsibility for September 11?" asked the New York Times' Elizabeth Bumiller. "You never admit a mistake," said NBC's David Gregory. "Is that a fair criticism?" Were there "any errors of judgment that you made" regarding "those topics [Iraq and September 11] I brought up?"

Again and again, the White House media went apology-hunting. "Two weeks ago," said CBS' John Roberts, "a former counterterrorism official at the NSC, Richard Clarke, offered an unequivocal apology to the American people for failing them prior to 9/11. …