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Fishman: Surging stupidity
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Any day now I’m waiting for someone from the White House to resurrect Spiro T. Agnew and start calling Pelosi and the rest of us “nattering nabobs of negativism.”

Where is the modern version of Mr. Agnew when we need him?

As Richard Nixon’s Vice-President in the late ‘60’s, the former Maryland governor had more choice words for critics of the administration and the Vietnam policy, like the time he called them members of the 4-H club - “the hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history.”

It’s true. I swear. You can’t make stuff like that up.

It goes on. Opponents of the war in Vietnam were “an effect corps of impudent snobs” and “ideological eunuchs,” “professional anarchists,” “vultures who sit in trees.”

We don’t hear language like that anymore. Now it’s more intellectual, more insidious. Now we have an administration that pays friendly “columnists” like Armstrong Williams and Maggie Gallagher tens of thousands of dollars to mimic the White House rhetoric.

Ms. Gallagher was the syndicated columnist who in 2002 wrote vigorously defending Bush’s push of marriage as a way of strengthening families. Only problem is she had a $21,500 contract with the Department of Health and Human Services to promote the president’s proposal.


Commentator Williams? He got $241,000 (typical male-female disparity) from the Education Department to promote the No Child Left Behind law. Maybe no one will notice.

Then we got goofball  “Jeff Gannon,” aka. James Dale Guckert, a phony journalist who somehow received White House credentials and further, got called on by Bush to pitch what is known as softball questions.

Google this character. You won’t believe what you read. He came on the scene in 2005 but does anyone remember him? When it comes to slimebuckets like that our memories are very, very short.


Increased troops, disregard for public opinion or study groups, more bullying at the top. A new year, a resounding election, a milestone of deaths. All more of the same.

Don’t like what the general or the handful of generals before him or much of the your Armed Forces have to say? Fire ‘em. Bring in someone who agrees with you. Muscle your way through.

Consider the source. This is a president who was born on third base and thought he hit a triple. Unlike the country’s 38th president who just passed away, a man who referred to himself as “a Ford not a Lincoln,” this is a Bush, a cheerleader, a draft-dodger, a frat boy.

Through all the hearings, the reports, the studies, the interview with past generals, have we heard anyone say there’s a chance in hell our troops can make a difference in Iraq? Not even close. Leaders on both side want disengagement, not inundation.

So what is really behind Bush’s urge to surge? I can’t help but think he and Mr. Rove are planning ahead. They and others want nothing more than to leave the whole shooting match to the Democrats to solve. What better way to buy some time until the next election than to throw 20,000 more American troops into the fray?

I can’t help but wonder where the 20,000 are going to come from. And what they’re going to look like. And how soon or well they can be trained.

And what’s with this word, “surge?” Can you say “escalate?”

No, we can’t. A couple of years ago people in the media got excoriated for offering the word - heaven forbid! - “quagmire.” Instructions were issued not to show body bags, not to report on funerals, not to mention exit strategy.

In the same vein, there is no effort to tally an accurate number of Iraqi dead. Iraq Body Count at puts the number of Iraqi dead at 58,000 since 2003. Iraq’s health ministry puts the number of dead for 2006 at 22,950.

The numbers vary, yes. But they’re all high.


Closer to home, how about a city that’s determined to bring in a particular whiz kid from the west coast to be the new police chief? Who cares what he does in his personal life? It’s the old wink and nod. If we don’t pay attention to it, it didn’t happen. If we promise not to bring up the subject it will never happen again.

I can’t help but wonder what Martin Jackel thinks of all this. Jackel, an erstwhile Savannah alderman who also had trouble with his zipper when there were women in the room, didn’t get the wink and nod treatment. He got the boot. He’s now on the west coast. There’s an irony.

But that’s not all. Like the new chief, Jackel was smart, head and shoulders above most aldermen. He was a good citizen, committed to public duty. He did his homework. None of those things did anything for Martin.

It’s been a strange month. You look at the lowered flag at the court house and suddenly you can’t remember: Is it lowered for Gerald Ford or James Brown?

Nattering nabobs of negativism. That’s what we are.