It can be hard to follow the news these days if you’re not a fan of obscene manipulation, bizarre doublespeak and the shameless exploitation of a brain-dead Floridian woman. So when I get tired of Mission Accomplished, the culture war and Sen. Bill Frist (or should that be “Dr.”?), I play a little game that helps me to retain what’s left of my sanity. It’s called “What Would They Say?,” and the rules are simple: Take something ridiculous from the world of politics that’s happened in the past few years (which is like saying “find a drunk kid at a frat party”), pretend there was a Democrat rather than a Republican in the White House, and then imagine what your pundit of choice would say or write in response to said incident.

Jesse Singal

Seriously, try it — it’s fun and quite cathartic. If you come up with a good one, e-mail it to me. I’ve written a few to help get you started. Here’s Parallel Universe Bill O’Reilly commenting on the outing of a formerly undercover CIA agent by John Kerry’s top political advisor:

“In tonight’s Talking Points Memo, the Valerie Plame scandal continues to snowball as it is revealed that President Kerry’s chief political strategist, Corey Haim” — it’s my parallel universe, not yours — “was responsible for leaking the identity of Plame to Time Magazine’s Matthew Cooper. This, folks, was a vicious act of political reprisal, and if Kerry hopes to salvage any of the dignity of his office, he will get rid of Haim immediately. By revealing the identity of someone who had honorably served overseas in a covert role, Haim played games with the lives of thousands of innocent Americans. This is simply unacceptable. Firing Haim is the only real option Kerry has at this point. And that’s the Memo.”

Parallel Universe O’Reilly seems pretty heated. But it’s not as though the Plame affair has been the only odd recent occurrence in the White House. Remember that Jeff Gannon guy? I know, me neither — the media didn’t really follow up on that one. He was the reporter (“reporter” in the same sense that Gatorade is “fruit juice”) who somehow got into the White House press corps under a fake name and asked President Bush questions that made Regis Philbin look like a Guantanamo interrogator. Oh, and it also turned out that he was a gay escort. I imagine that Parallel Universe Ann Coulter would have had a thing or two to say about this in one of her measured, strictly analytical columns:

“So it’s clear that, in a Democratic White House, you need to meet one of two criteria to be a member of the press corps: You need to either be a well-respected journalist with years of experience and a penchant for asking tough questions, or, barring that, a gay escort who will treat the resident like one of your clients. Whereas conservatives see the press as a liaison between the people and the government, liberals see it as merely another opportunity to circumvent the war of ideas (which they are about as likely to win as Jeff Gannon is a lifetime achievement award from Focus on the Family) and viciously attack their opposition with cheap propaganda and tawdry media manipulation. The only surprise is that he was only gay — imagine if he’d been gay, black and an atheist! It would have been that much easier for liberals to accuse us of coming down on him ‘just for who he is.’ Maybe next time, guys.”

Ann, as usual, is right on point. Finally, here’s Parallel Universe Sean Hannity with some words on another unfortunate incident:

“ ‘Bring it on’? What really worries me is that the president would view the lives of American troops so cheaply. This is a war, not a game of pickup basketball. Does he actually want insurgents to attack our troops? It’s bad enough President Kerry got us into this war for no reason whatsoever, but for him to provoke the insurgency as an act of political grandstanding is completely uncalled for. This has, unfortunately, been part of the liberal agenda all along: It’s not about what’s best for the country; it’s about what’s best for them. What would be best for the country would be a president who is humble, modest and honest about the situation in Iraq, because that would put our troops in the best possible position to succeed. Unfortunately, he’s more interested in using their deaths to prop himself up for cheap sound bites.”


Singal can be reached at jsingal@umich.edu.

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