By Brent Budowsky - 04/28/08 05:33 PM EDT
When Edward R. Murrow launched his famous broadside against Joseph McCarthy, he could just as easily have been attacking the media and political elites today.
Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) is right. Low-road tactics are being used by the losing Democrat against the winner that are embittering, divisive, polarizing and arguably aimed at electing the Republican in November.
When Murrow attacked McCarthy, he was attacking not only the purveyors of smear and fear, but those who remained silent, knowing McCarthy embodied a toxic poison but hoping someone else would purge it.
Joe McCarthy had his superdelegates, too.
In our age we witness the death of the referee, in which any politician can launch any attack without leaders having the courage or media having the integrity to provide context, depth and truth. Checks and balances are destroyed, Our free press becomes an arm of insiderism and sensationalism. Superdelegates consider whether to show contempt for voters in a nation that holds insiders in low esteem, in an election that is an outpouring for change.
In 2002 some of the greatest untruths in the history of war were found on the front page of The New York Times and the editorial page of The Washington Post for a disastrous war supported by the establishment of both parties.
No, Sen. Clinton, this is not about words for you to mock. It describes a moment when you and so many others were deadly wrong. The candidate you describe as not being a Muslim, based on what you know, was right.
It is easy to fan flames of intolerance, and hurl accusations, innuendo, guilt by association and hints of unpatriotism, but:
Where is the Ed Murrow attack against how we permit troops to suffer death and wounds we could have prevented, but did not, and the rising tide of veterans’ homelessness, and veterans’ suicide?
What is the real unpatriotism? Why were these matters of no interest to Messrs. Stephanopoulos and Gibson in their debate?
No, Sen. McCain, you should not throw stones from your glass house alongside those you once called agents of intolerance whose support you now cherish. Rather than joining the low road, why not join Sen. Jim Webb’s (D-Va.) bill to provide full GI Bill benefits, rather than undermining it with your inadequate bill?
Where is the Murrow broadcast against the Grapes of Wrath-like foreclosures, the new wave of homeless children, the speculative greed that skyrockets prices of oil and food, promoting pain at home and starvation around the world?
Where is the Murrovian outrage that it is called moral hazard to help average Americans, uneconomic to help starving children, but capitalism to support tax breaks for millionaires who promote and profit from these outrages?
America is tired of the discredited politics of smears, personal attacks, demonization and character assassination committed by unscrupulous politicians, and reported by media that gives the smear greater time than the truth. April 25 would have been Ed Murrow’s 100th birthday. With George Clooney’s film there is a rebirth of interest in Murrow. The enormous surge of voting and small donors proves the people’s heart is where Murrow stood: for courage against fear, for truth against smear.
It will be a long and winding road but America, as always, will get there. Good night, and good luck.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen and Bill Alexander, then-chief deputy whip of the House. He serves on the Advisory Council of the Intelligence Summit and as contributing editor of Fighting Dems News Service. He can be read on The Hill Pundits Blog and reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.