Ministers of Truth

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

True, the far Left, in the manner of the far Right’s hatred of Bush’s Iraq War and his support for Israel, has begun to murmur disappointment with Obama.

But it is quite astounding that the mainstream liberal media — NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, PBS, Time, Newsweek, etc. — has simply offered no substantive criticism of Obama’s flips on renditions, military tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, Iraq, or — given their past fury over the Bush deficits — the Obama plan to run up more red ink in a year than Bush did in eight.

Bush was constantly criticized by mainstream conservatives for his comprehensive immigration proposals, for deficit spending, for failure to veto any bills in the first term, for No Child Left Behind, for the prescription drug benefit, for the Harriet Miers nomination, for the first pullback from Fallujah, for appointments like Scott McClellan and “Brownie,” etc.

The result, I think, will prove fatal for the media. For the last eight years, rendition (hey, they even made a hit-piece movie about the supposedly awful practice), intercepts, military tribunals, and Iraq were sort of the refrains of the liberal-media choruses. Looking back, in light of the Obama media, was such hysteria simply politics, pure and simple? Bush did it: bad; Obama did it: fine? Was the issue always just Bush, and never (as alleged) the Bush profligacy in spending — given the silence now over Obama’s crazed borrowing? Was there never any real concern about the supposed “culture of corruption” when the media seized on a Tom DeLay, Duke Cunningham, Mark Foley, etc. — given the pass granted to Rangel, Dodd, and the tax-fraud nominations to the Cabinet.

In other words, to pick up any of these magazines and newspapers now is to see tortured apologies to explain why a flip-flopping Obama is playing “long-term” or “not going to get suckered by his base” or “first has to clean up the Bush mess” instead of disinterested commentary about (a) the disconnect between what Obama now does and what he once said; (b) the staggering amount of debt added, and how to pay the sums off.

Perhaps the media doesn’t get it that the American people can more easily take the bias of an attack-dog, go-for-the jugular media that claims it is the watchdog of the public trust and therefore must skin the president, far more than such carnivores suddenly becoming sheepish and obsequious, as ministers of truth, rephrasing and repackaging the party line. How odd that just six months ago we had screaming reporters and columnists talking about the near-end-of-days with Bush — and now doing contortions to assure us that things suddenly aren’t that bad after all, or that we must give Obama flexibility and time to sort out the prior mess. Quite scary, all this chest-thumping about tough journalistic integrity of 2001-8 suddenly devolving into, “Hey everyone, we can reassure you that the Emperor really does have clothes on.”

©2009 Victor Davis Hanson

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