There has been a rush to judgment. But Iâ€™m not referring to a federal juryâ€™s decision yesterday to convict former Enron chairman Kenneth L. Lay and his protÃ©gÃ© Jeffrey K. Skilling (see Washington Post coverage). What I am talking about is a rush to condemn President Bush along with Lay and Skilling.
I was going to write an essay yesterday warning readers that partisan Democrats and their accomplices in the media would try to make the Enron convictions a political issue. But Howard Fineman of Newsweek beat me to the punch in his online column: â€œKenny Boy, Meet Brownie: The conviction of Enronâ€™s founder marks another dark moment in the Bush era.â€
Instead of doing a straight report on the Enron convictions, Fineman provides an â€œanalysisâ€ that reinforces partisan Democrat demagoguery of President Bush. Fineman writes,
If you want a date to mark the beginning of the end of the Bush era in American life, you may as well make it this one: May 25, 2006. The Enron jury in Houston didnâ€™t just put the wood to Ken Lay and Jeff Skilling. The jurors took a chainsaw to the moral claims of the Texas-based corporate culture that had helped fuel the rise to power of President George W. Bush (source).
In spite of half-hearted â€œcaveats,â€ itâ€™s clear where Fineman is going with this. He wants to write a narrative of the Bush presidency that on balance tells a story of failureâ€”that is, a failure of moral clarity in the face of corporate scandals, a failure of pre-war intelligence, a failed Iraq War, a failure to find Osama Bin Laden, a failure to respond adequately to Hurricane Katrina, and on and on.
This is the storyline that we will be hearing from Democrats through the 2006 congressional elections, and I suspect all the way through the 2008 Presidential election. But make no mistake. This analysis represents a very one-sided partisan point of view, a point of view that I believe to be a manifest misrepresentation of the facts. This story is told for the purpose of undermining a Republican president so that Democrats can fare better in upcoming electoral contests.
Iâ€™m not saying that the President is perfect or that all his policies are good. All Iâ€™m saying is that the history books are likely to tell a different story than the one being told by the partisans and by the media right now. I guess for the present, weâ€™ll have to get used to news â€œanalysesâ€ that reinforce political agendas in the short term. But I think the results of President Bushâ€™s policies will speak for themselves in the long term.
I wish I could say that I expected better from Fineman, but I really donâ€™t. His â€œanalysesâ€ have been tilting left for quite some time. His rush to judgment in this essay only confirms that fact.