by James De Pietro
Editor's note: If this attack sounds familiar, think of Wille Horton.|
In 1988, George W. Bush was behind the creation of a series of highly negative "attack" ads against his father's opponent, Massachussetts Governor Michael Dukakis. The ads charged that Dukakis' "liberal experiments" had allowed Horton, a black convicted murderer released on furlough, to rape a white woman. But as author J.H. Hatfield points out in his critical biography "Fortunate Son," George W. took care to distance his father's campaign from the racist and misleading ads:
Techically and, more importantly, legally, the Bush/Quayle campaign was not behind the Willie Horton ads. In a successful effort to provide his father with plausable denial, Junior (George W.) had raised the necessary funds and assisted in establishing the various "sponsors" and political action committees that financed the controversial ads. Although the Bush/Quayle campaign denied having any association with any person or organization that was responsible for the television commercials, the campaign refused to repudiate them. It was later revealed that the so-called "independent" group, the National Security Political Action Committee, had established ties not only to the Republican Party, but to Bush ad Chief...
On the cover was an unflattering photo of U.S. Sen. John McCain and a headline that called the McCain movement, "A campaign platform that should give Republicans pause." Thursday, the New York Times' Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and former Republican speechwriter William Safire called the article inside "religio-political sleaze in action."
Safire, a spokesman for conservatives throughout the world and a former speechwriter for President Richard Nixon, charged Thursday that the article unfairly assaults McCain on issues ranging from his tax policy to his marriage and traces its origins to the relationship between the magazine's editor, longtime Bush strategist Marvin Olansky, and Bob Jones, the president of the South Carolina college that owns and publishes God's World Publications. The article was written by Bob Jones IV, the son of the president of Bob Jones University.
What troubled Safire was that both the university and the magazine enjoy tax-exempt status, as religious organizations. Under U.S. tax laws, such organizations are not allowed to engage in partisan political activity or to actively support any political candidate.
At 3 in the morning on Feb. 2, just a few hours after Gov. Bush was unexpectedly battered by Sen. McCain in the New Hampshire primary, the college's campus was the site of a huge Bush rally by 1,800 students. And Thursday, Safire's Op-Ed page column called the article a "repugnant anti-McCain campaign document."
Referring to McCain's tax policy, Safire notes that Jones wrote, "He makes his case with liberal, even Marxist, terminology." On McCain's crusade for campaign finance reform, Jones wrote, "McCain would essentially suspend the First Amendment for 60 days prior to any federal election."
Jones gets personal.
"Yet for all his dependence on his wife's money, Mr. McCain doesn't appear to be a particularly attentive husband," says Jones, referring to McCain not knowing of his wife Cindy's dependence on pain relievers after an illness.
Safire says the article is a product of "backdoor backing of Bush."
The editor of World magazine is Marvin Olasky, an advisor to Bush and also an author of Bush's "compassionate conservatism" campaign strategy. Ironically, one of 12 books Olasky has authored is "Telling the Truth: How to revitalize Christian Journalism." Olasky also teaches an undergraduate class entitled "Media Law and Ethics" at the University of Texas at Austin, among others.
"William Safire messed up," Olasky said when contacted by the American Reporter about the Safire article.
"Journalists should be the eyes and ears of voters," he continued. "If they fall in love with a candidate and adopt a policy of see, hear, and speak no evil, we will recognize tell-tale scratching only when it is too late."
Bob Jones IV has no formal connection to the Bush campaign. However, his father's university offered its facilities to Bush to launch his campaign in South Carolina, a gesture not extended to McCain.
Yet, says the publisher of World, Joel Belz, "We cannot endorse candidates or legislation. In 58 years, we have never backed any candidate."
Neither the Bush nor the McCain camp returned several phone calls requesting comment. But after former GOP hopeful Gary Bauer endorsed McCain in South Carolina, both candidates can probably find a use for the World's coverage -- Bush to make inroads with South Carolina's religious conservatives, and McCain to prove his charges about the Bush campaign's negative approach to the voters.
Safire's message appears to be that using partisan journalism to trash the policy and character of McCain under the pretext of being neutral, and distributing the article to Congress and the media while maintaining a tax-exempt status, calls into question the credibility of journalists, the secualr nature of the political process, and the independence of religious institutions.
February 21, 2000 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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