I don't know how old Katherine Mangu-Ward is, but judging from the sketch that accompanies this article in The Weekly Standard, which she wrote, she's rather young. Which makes me suspect that the article demonstrates how you try to separate yourself from the pack if you're a young right-wing apparatchik/journalist: you take the most innocuous news item you can find and show that you can manipulate its facts to persuade people -- or at least people who are really, really simpleminded -- that Democrats are the embodiment of pure evil.
Here's Mangu-Ward's lead:
THIS AFTERNOON, a ceremony will be held for the 2003 Medal of Freedom recipients in the East Room of the White House. President Bush's list is uniformly excellent, and incredibly revealing when compared with some of Bill Clinton's picks for the nation's highest civilian honor.
Clinton's choices, of course, included several remarkable and deserving man and women. But he placed them on equal footing with other, lesser lights, including Jesse Jackson (2000), Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter (1999), George McGovern (2000), and Marian Wright Edelman (2000), who is currently suing the Bush administration over the No Child Left Behind program.
Clinton's most controversial pick was J. William Fulbright (1993); his most entertaining was Albert Shanker (1998). Shanker, the late president of the American Federation of Teachers, may be most famous for his cameo in Woody Allen's comedy "Sleeper": Allen's character, frozen in 1973, wakes up after 100 years and learns that civilization was destroyed when "a man by the name of Albert Shanker got hold of a nuclear warhead."
A glance over a full list of Clinton's choices hints at the political machinations at work beneath the surface.
Mangu-Ward knows a lot of readers won't bother to click on the link. Click on it -- and ask yourself which Clinton-era honorees Mangu-Ward finds objectionable. Thurgood Marshall? Colin Powell? Rosa Parks? Admiral Elmo Zumwalt? Admiral William Crowe? Simon Wiesenthal? Aung San Suu Kyi? And which choices strike her as made through "political machinations"? Bob Dole? Gerald Ford? Elliot Richardson?
Yes, there are a labor leaders and environmentalists and civil-rights leaders on Clinton's list -- advocates of evil liberal principles. But look who's on Bush's list this year, as Mangu-Ward reports: Charlton Heston. Albert Shanker is controversial, but Heston isn't? And Nancy Reagan and Irving Kristol made the list last year. Utterly apolitical choices?
Right-wing readers will swallow Mangu-Ward's article whole, because they so desperately want it to be true. They'll accept as accurate its preposterously hyperbolic title -- "Night and Day."
This is how the conservative two-minute-hate machine works.