Political Hay

The Lynching of the President

The media lynch mob can't impeach him, so it's doing the next worst thing.

By 1.25.07

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So there I was, lying in my bed in Malibu with my dogs, watching Mr. Bush's State of the Union speech. I thought it was darned good. Realistic, gracious, modest, sensible. I happen to think we should get out of Iraq yesterday, but I thought Mr Bush put forward his case well. And Congress responded graciously and generously on both sides of the aisle.

Then, whaam, as soon as the speech was over, ABC was bashing him, telling us how pathetic he was, how irrelevant he was, how weak he was, how unrealistic he was.

Right after that, Jim Webb gave a very short speech biting Bush's head off -- but not making any concrete proposals about anything. No network person mentioned how simple minded and unrealistic he was.

Then, tonight, the next night, I walked into the kitchen where my wife had left the radio going with NPR to amuse the cats. NPR was having a call-in show talking about the State of the Union. The first speaker I heard was a country music legend, Merle Haggard, who said he had never seen things so bad in this country. Then a legion of anonymous callers chimed in with similar thoughts.

And suddenly it hit me. The media is staging a coup against Mr. Bush. They cannot impeach him because he hasn't done anything illegal. But they can endlessly tell us what a loser he is and how out of touch he is (and I mean ENDLESSLY) and how he's just a vestigial organ on the body politic right now.

The media is doing what it can to basically oust Mr. Bush while still leaving him alive and well in the White House. It's a sort of neutron bomb of media that seeks to kill him while leaving the White House standing (for their favorite unknown, Barack Obama, to occupy).

How dare NPR ask a country singer who hates Bush to spew venom at Bush? Merle Haggard is a truly great singer and musician, but he's just one old guy. There are plenty of country singers who love Bush and would campaign for him right now. And in what sense is Mr Haggard an expert on the state of the union?

The truth is that we are in a huge economic boom. We are coming off a mammoth real estate explosion that put the most Americans in history in their own homes. We have totally full employment. After decades of stagnation, real wages are rising. Gasoline prices are way, way down. The nation is wealthier than it has ever been (although this is very unevenly distributed). Opportunities for subsidized higher education are better than they have ever been.

Most important of all, who would have ever been rash enough on September 12, 2001 to say there would not be one major or even minor successful terrorist incident against the U.S. homeland in over five years? Who would have thought we would escape without more massive terror? But we have, and it is a foolhardy person who would say that's an accident. Bush may not have done it by himself, but he had something to do with it.

True, we are mired in a war without end, costing us far too may great young and old Americans and too many limbs and wrecked families and vastly too much money. But we all know we're getting out soon. It was a huge mistake, but I'd like to see a President who did not make immense mistakes. Compared with the mistakes of Truman and FDR and Kennedy, Iraq is a mistake, but not worse than theirs.

True, we have virtually no federal oversight of corporate looting and executive suite misconduct, but we didn't have any under Clinton either. The rich get away with murder. That's what happens in the real world. Bush is to blame, but all politicians cater to the rich, and Hillary will and Barack Obama will, too. It's nauseating and I fight it constantly, but that's life.

My point: let's be aware that Bush has presided over a lot of success in addition to substantial failure. My second point: no one elected the media to anything. If we let them lynch the man we elected as President we are throwing out the Constitution with the war in Iraq. In the studios and newsrooms, there is a lynch mob at work. Let's see it for what it is. We have a good man who has made mistakes in the Oval Office. He's the only President we have, and I trust him a lot more than I trust unelected princes of the newsroom.

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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.