White House issues Edict Ending Any Questions From Democrats. <---TRUE. Stranger than Fiction!
....Last week’s decision by the CBS television network to withdraw its mini-series on the Reagans was another milestone in the dissolution of American democracy. All it took was a quickly organized campaign of letters, e-mails and protests from right-wing media commentators and the Republican National Committee to convince CBS executives and their superiors at the corporate giant Viacom to pull the television film less than two weeks from its scheduled broadcast date. It marked the first time a major US network removed a completed project from its schedule due to political pressure.
No less significant than CBS’s capitulation to the thought police of the Republican right was the reaction of the formerly liberal press. The New York Times castigated CBS not for caving in to pressure from the right, but for scheduling the mildly critical film in the first place.
The Washington Post began its editorial by belittling the significance of CBS’s action, writing: “It’s not the dark night of fascism descending on the land when a TV network gets bullied into canceling a controversial program about a national political figure...” The Post suggested that the network’s decision “might have been the right one” and solidified itself with Ronald Reagan’s defenders, calling an anti-gay remark directed against AIDS sufferers attributed to Reagan in the program “neither documented nor in any way characteristic of the former president.” Citing his “undisputed accomplishments,” the Post declared that the ex-president “remains in good standing with much of the country.”
Both newspapers ignored the basic and principled issue: the public airwaves are now subject to the veto power of an extreme right-wing element whose sway over the government and the media is grotesquely out of proportion to its actual support among the American people. This element faces no serious opposition from any section of the political establishment.
There is no legal foundation for the blacklisting of the Reagan mini-series. The former president is a public figure, and therefore fair game for writers, producers or directors who choose to portray him in a critical manner.
As a matter of history, the Reagan years marked a turning point in the decay of American democracy. Reagan’s administration ended in a morass of scandal and criminality, with the exposure of a White House conspiracy to illegally and secretly finance the Contra terrorists in their war against the government and people of Nicaragua. Had the Democrats retained any serious allegiance to the US Constitution, the so-called Iran-Contra affair would have likely ended with Reagan’s impeachment.
Bush appeals to the forces of social reaction
The far-reaching significance of the CBS debacle was reinforced by two further political events of the past week. On November 5, one day after CBS pulled its Reagan mini-series, George W. Bush signed the bill banning the procedure dubbed “partial birth abortion” by the anti-abortion lobby. Bush turned the bill-signing into a victory rally, staged in the Reagan office building and attended by hundreds of prominent Christian right leaders and other stalwarts of the Republican Party’s “base.”
Speaking before such notorious bigots as the Baptist fundamentalist Jerry Falwell, Bush leveled an attack on the core democratic principle of secular government and the separation of church and state, declaring, “This right to life cannot be granted or denied by government, because it does not come from government, it comes from the Creator of life.”
None of the media reports on the event noted the staggering hypocrisy of this statement, coming from a man who, during his five years as governor of Texas, presided over 152 executions.
The bill-signing ceremony was indicative of the political strategy Bush intends to pursue for the 2004 presidential election. The Republican campaign will, in the first instance, appeal to the most backward and reactionary sections of the population. According to the November 3 edition of Newsweek magazine, Karl Rove, Bush’s chief political adviser, has said he is determined to capture the votes of 4 million evangelical Christians who stood on the sidelines in 2000.
On the same day as the anti-abortion bill-signing, in an action that was barely reported, the Bush White House notified the House and Senate Appropriations Committees that it would no longer respond to questions submitted by members of the Democratic minority. House committee Democrats had just asked for information about how much the White House spent installing the “Mission Accomplished” banner for Bush’s May 1 appearance aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln, where the president announced the end of “major combat” in Iraq.
With its November 5 memo, the Bush administration repudiated long-standing parliamentary norms. At a single stroke, it challenged the legitimacy of any political opposition as well as Congress’s constitutionally delegated powers of oversight of the executive branch.
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