Irony: Not dead.

The Chicago Tribune's Eric Zorn writes about the irony of the president's jet-landing on the USS Lincoln: Bush asked for a transfer from his Texas Air National Guard post in Houston to a desk-job in Alabama, then wandered off, a year early, never to return to the Guard. That story got some news coverage in the 2000 election campaign, enough to raise the "character issue," prompting Sen. Bob Kerrey to ask, "If he is elected president, how will he be able to deal as commander in chief with someone who goes AWOL, when he did the same thing?" But, as Zorn reports, the story all but died: searching through the LexisNexis database for the last seven months of the 2000 campaign he "found 114 stories referencing Bush, the Texas Air National Guard and Alabama. Over that same span, nearly 10 times that many stories--1,076 to be exact--referenced Al Gore and the expression 'invented the internet'"--a fact which has some, however exaggerated, basis in fact. Despite the dearth of reporting on Bush's AWOL year, wouldn't you think the press might catch the irony of an AWOL commander in chief donning a flight suit to play Top Gun? Nah. Zorn writes:
Imagine the derisive merriment in the columns and on the chat shows if former President Bill Clinton revived the skirt-chasing issue by touring a sorority house or if Gore delivered a lecture to the engineers at Netscape Communications Corp. Think of the snickering and the sardonic rehash of history.

But for Bush in flyboy attire, a discreet silence. The only voices I encountered raising this issue were David Corn in the Nation; Newsday columnist Jimmy Breslin, who asked, "Tell me if you ever heard of anybody with as powerful a resistance to shame as Bush"; and talk station WLS-AM's token progressives Nancy Skinner and Ski Anderson, who spent a full hour Sunday afternoon savoring the irony of it all.

There was no relentless examination of the damning timeline on cable news outlets, no interviewing the commanders who swear Bush didn't show up where he was supposed to, no sit-downs with the veterans who have offered still-unclaimed cash rewards to anyone who can prove that Bush did anything at all in the Guard during his last months before discharge.

So much for the cynical distortion that has become conventional wisdom in many circles. So much for the myth of the "liberal media."

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