What do a high school garage band in Colorado, the Central Intelligence Agency and a Republican Senator have in common? All have recently seen what happens when you run afoul of the new political correctness. Being conservatively correct is the new standard to keep you employed in certain federal positions and to keep the hounds of talk radio, the internet and the pulpit at bay.
Students musicians at Boulder High in Colorado playing in a rock band mockingly named “Coalition of the Willing” had the feds sicced on them by the mother of a fellow student because they rehearsed Bob Dylan’s anti-military industrial complex anthem, Masters of War, replete with a photo of President Bush on the stage of the school’s talent show. The overly concerned mom did not bother to call the principal. No, she called a local right wing talk radio host who spread the story like wild fire and encouraged his listeners to call the Secret Service because of Dylan’s final stanza which begins;
“And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon”.
Call they did. It seems neither mom nor the Limbaugh-wanna-be had a clue about the context of either the lyric or the First Amendment. According to Friday’s Denver Post the federal officers charged with protecting the President from this group of adolescents armed with guitars and drums were still investigating.
Now we have reports that Porter Goss, the CIA’s new Bush appointed chief, has been given orders by the White House to purge the agency of “those soft leakers and liberal Democrats.”
It seems that the Bushies think that some of our spies and analysts are not being conservatively correct when they write reports that do not flatter our leader’s world view. Perhaps these analysts are the same few who cautioned before the Iraq war that we did not know for sure if Saddam had WMD. Or maybe they are the ones who claim that our Iraqi focused approach to the War on Terror is creating more terrorists than it is killing. Or maybe they are just ticked off that that the White House leaked the identity of one of their covert agents last year. Who knows?
Whatever the reason, this new round of political loyalty tests caused Stephen R. Kappes, the deputy director of clandestine services, to resign. Another casualty is Michael Scheuer, former head of the CIA's Bin Laden unit, who wrote a scathing anonymous critique of the administration’s Al Qaeda policy in his book Imperial Hubris. Schuer resigned last week reportedly under pressure.
Even die hard Republicans had better heed the infamous words of Ari Fliescher and “watch what they say and watch what they do.” Pennsylvania Senator, Arlen Specter is being emasculated by the religious right and the their friends in D.C. for expressing his innocuous opinion that judicial nominees who overtly oppose Roe vs Wade would have a hard time being confirmed by the senate. Specter did not say that he would oppose them, only that the senate as a whole may have problems with such a nomination.
Specter is in line to become Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. But now even the Senate Majority Leader, Bill Frist, is saying that the pro-choice Specter must “prove” that he is the right man for the job. One would think that since Specter almost single handedly ushered through the controversial nomination of Clarence Thomas to the bench that he would have earned the GOP’s benefit of the doubt. Then again, under these new rhetorical rules his comment was not judged to be politically correct.
This evolving culture of intimidation is a natural outcrop of the Rovian political style that requires the personal destruction of opponents. Whether it is narking on activist teenagers or ruining careers, the ethos that it is OK to throw a drowning foe an anvil has trickled down from on high to the “values” motivated masses. This behavior is a much bigger threat to democracy than Bob Dylan ever was or will be.
Then again, in a world where Dan Rather can spark a right wing jihad by being duped by forged memos but the President can get away with quoting from “obviously fraudulent documents” to justify a war, nothing really surprises me.