Jewish World Review Nov. 4, 2004 / 20 Mar-Cheshvan, 5765

Thomas Sowell

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A narrow escape | Although more people voted for President Bush than for any other President in American history, it was still a narrow victory — and a narrow escape for this great nation.

Can you imagine what it would be like to have a Massachusetts liberal filling the federal courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, with liberal judges who would be turning more criminals loose for decades to come, as well as repeatedly over-ruling the voting public's right to govern themselves on such things as gay marriage?

With so many elderly members on today's Supreme Court, the choices of their successors will be historic in their consequences. Those consequences could be tragic if they are replaced with more Justices who think their job is to impose their own pet notions or — worse yet — to be guided by what is in fashion in other countries, instead of what is set forth in the Constitution of the United States that they are sworn to uphold.

President Bush has made some excellent judicial nominations who have been stymied by Senate Democrats, led by Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota. Perhaps Dachle's defeat at the polls will send a message to other Senate Democrats that partisan obstruction is not what the voters sent them to Washington to do.

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The implications of this election reach beyond the government. The election results demonstrate that the mainstream media has lost its power to control what the public will know and not know. If there were not alternative media like talk radio, Fox News and the Internet, the public would have heard nothing but pro-Kerry spin masquerading as news.

Dan Rather's forged documents were just the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Ted Koppel's contrived "ambush journalism" against John O'Neill of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth was more clever, but no less sleazy. Chris Matthews' shouting down and browbeating JWR's Michelle Malkin on Hardball was not his finest hour either.

Other examples abound. Double standards in the media have long been applied to everything from reporting unemployment statistics to demanding to see the military records of the candidates.

When the unemployment rate was 5.4 percent during the Clinton administration, it was hailed as a great achievement but the very same unemployment rate has been treated as a disaster under President Bush.

Unsubstantiated charges that Republicans were trying to suppress voters who were likely to vote against them have been trumpeted through the media. But the documented fact that Democrats tried to stop the absentee ballots of people in the military serving overseas in 2000 from being counted in Florida, and tried to stop Ralph Nader from even being put on the ballot this year, received very little mention.

Unsubstantiated rumors were also enough to keep the media howling after President Bush for months, demanding more information about his military service, even after he signed the official form releasing all his military records to the public. Senator Kerry never signed that same form but this fact was passed over in utter silence.

No one even raised the obvious question as to why Lt. Kerry's honorable discharge from the Navy was issued during the Carter administration, even though his service ended earlier. Was his original discharge not honorable but only made "honorable" retroactively under the Democrats?

We don't know and we will never know, so long as the media think their job is to filter and spin for their own causes and candidates, rather than to inform the public and let them decide.

Some are saying that the Democrats are going to have to go back to the drawing board and figure out what they are doing wrong, if they want to regain the support of the public. The time is long overdue for the mainstream media to do the same.

Perhaps as the aging anchor men on network news programs retire, and are replaced by younger people who were not steeped in the heady sense of power that the media acquired during the Vietnam war and Watergate, maybe there will be more emphasis on news in the news rooms.

The election results have spared us the worst but it will take some rethinking in a lot of places for us to achieve the best.

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JWR contributor Thomas Sowell, a fellow at the Hoover Institution, is author of several books, including his latest, "Applied Economics: Thinking Beyond Stage One." (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.) To comment please click here.


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