I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Family Values & Chris Wallace (updated)

It's one thing to have strong political convictions and an emotional attachment to George Bush. But it's quite another when those convictions and attachments cause you to publicly attack your own 87 year-old father and ridicule him in front of the world as being a senile lunatic:

"Fox News Sunday" anchorman Chris Wallace says father Mike Wallace has "lost it" - after the legendary CBS newsman told the Boston Globe last week that the fact George Bush had been elected president shows America is "[expletive]-up."

"He's lost it. The man has lost it. What can I say," the younger Wallace lamented to WRKO Boston radio host Howie Carr on Friday.

"He's 87-years old and things have set in," the Fox anchor continued. "I mean, we're going to have a competence hearing pretty soon." Wallace Jr. quickly dispelled any notion that he was joking. When Carr suggested that his comments were likely to be covered by NewsMax, he responded: "You know what? Fine. Go ahead. Call them. That's fine. I'll stand by that."

Apparently, he wasn't content to "stand by that," since he then went further - even when doing so seemed impossible:

Returning to the topic of his father's competence, Wallace Jr. explained: "He's checked out. I don't understand it," beyond the fact that Wallace Sr. has "problems with the war."

He "checked out"? There are lots of people who are willing to defend George Bush from any accusation from any quarter. Is Chris Wallace really so devoted to the Bush Administration that he is willing to castigate his own father in this extremely personal and ugly way -- seemingly disclosing private medical information about his father's mental health -- just to discredit his father's criticisms of George Bush? Apparently so.

And, oh - just for good measure: Howard Dean is Tokyo Rose:

Asked about DNC chair Howard Dean's recent prediction that the U.S. would lose the war in Iraq, Wallace told Carr:

"We are in a war. We do have 150,000-plus American soldiers over there. I mean, it's Tokyo Rose, for God sakes, going on radio saying we can't win the war."

One thing you have to give Chris Wallace. He is a supremely objective journalist who never lets any of his political views or ideological leanings be known.

UPDATE: Pam Spaulding's post on this subject reminds me that Chris Wallace may feel a particular emotional closeness with George Bush because both of them stood for a long time, and really continue to stand, in the suffocating shadows of their fathers, as both Chris and George W.'s lives and careers followed behind their fathers' accomplishments.

Generally speaking, there is a highly disturbing, counter-productive and quite un-meritocractic trend in America towards returning to some sort of monarchic value system where political power and positions of prominence are passed along through quasi-aristocratic family inheritance. Over and over, we see political figures on both sides of the ideological spectrum, as well as non-political elites, who have risen to prominence by virtue of being the child or spouse of some well-known and prominent person. I think this process ends up rewarding stunted and weak personalities who never experience the quite indispensable adulthood ritual of forging one's own path separate and apart from one's own father.

But leaving all of that to the side for another day, there is an undeniable similarity between Chris Wallace and George Bush vis-a-vis their fathers, and it's not at all unlikely that this is what accounts for Chris Wallace's rather reprehensible willingness to smear his own elderly father all in order to defend his fellow nepotism beneficiary, George Bush. Something needs to explain extraordinary behavior like that, and this theory is as good as any.

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