How Low Can You Go?


Throughout the scandals of recent years, the public has seemed
a lot more sober than the reporters. Take the Dick Morris affair.
You have to work yourself into a state of extreme delusionary
rectitude to be shocked by a relationship between a political
consultant and a prostitute. Indeed, when I first heard that Morris
had been caught with a prostitute, I thought he might just have
been by himself.

What was surprising was not Morris's affair, but that it was treated
as such a big story, even in the supposedly high-tone press. Time
magazine put Morris on its cover two weeks in a row; I don't recall
any world leader getting such back-to-back treatment. Reporters
gave their profound opinion that the latest scandal could only
damage the President. In fact, it didn't even cause a blip in
the polls. Most people hadn't heard of Morris and, quite sensibly,
didn't care. This was not Profumo betraying national security.

Maureen Dowd, who devoted at least two of her columns in the New
York Times
to Morris, later wrote that the tabloids had won,
"driving the coverage in '96 and dragging the rest of us
along on scoops about kinky consultants." Dragged along?
Please. The National Enquirer should sue her on false charges
of journalistic rape.


It was absurd enough when Bob Dole and other Republican leaders
claimed at their San Diego convention that they had not bothered
to read the party platform that conservatives had written. But
Dole has since been outdone by none other than Ralph Nader, presidential
candidate of the Green Party.

Nader insists that not only isn't he bound by the Green Party's
platform but that he never talks with any of the party's leaders.
Apparently, he doesn't want to comply with any of the financial
disclosure requirements of the Federal Elections Commission; and
if he spends less than $5,000 on his campaign, he doesn't have
to. He campaigns on the cheap; his problem is the expenses of
the Green Party. But, in his lawyerly view, as long as he avoids
coordinating his campaign with the Green Party, he need not count
the party's expenses toward his total.

Coming next: presidential candidates who claim never to
have heard of the party that nominated them.

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"It's about women and children being tortured and murdered,"
began the full-page advertisement for Court TV.

"It's about a no-name tavern keeper from Bosnia who they
say became a monster and a defendant who says they've got the
wrong guy."

"Which means it's about everyday people testifying at a whodunit
criminal trial . . . "

Imagine what Court TV could have done with Nuremberg or the Spanish
Inquisition. They've got the genocide and torture market sewn

-Paul Starr

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