I’d heard about the new e-mail campaign to scare students and mothers of teenagers into thinking Bush is going to reinstate the draft. And last night, just like clockwork, one of my friends forwarded it to me. So it seems this thing has gone pretty far if my usually level-headed and not-particularly-gullible friend fell for it.
The most salient part of the draftscam e-mail goes like this:
I am deeply concerned by the fact that there is legislation currently being discussed by the Armed Forces committee that would reinstate the draft as early as next summer for both men and women ages 18-26 with no student deferment. Equally disturbing is the fact that there has been no public discussion of this. Who is silencing the media?
Isn’t it clever? Note the passive voice: “there is legislation currently being discussed.” Omitted is the fact–easily learned by anyone who follows the news or knows how to use Google–that the legislation is a liberal Democratic project.
Truth is, the bill to reinstate the draft was proposed and introduced in 2003 by two of the most extreme liberal Democrats in the House, Charles Rangel and Fritz Hollings, who wanted to get it on the table in order to later make the charge that it was under consideration (see this and see also this). Jim McDermott, another Democrat who is one of the most liberal members of Congress, was another sponsor of the draft bill (see this).
This is actually one of the most cynical and cold-bloodedly Machiavellian schemes in my memory, and my memory goes back quite a ways. Let’s see: propose a bill that you have no interest in actually passing, for the express purpose of using it later to smear the opposition by insinuating that it is their bill. Launch an e-mail campaign at just the right moment to get the word out and scare the living daylights out of anyone in college, or anyone with a son approaching college age.
And they thought Nixon was a dirty trickster!!
And then there’s that vaguely conspiratorial “who is silencing the media?” Last I checked, no one–the media has been quite verbose lately, thank you very much. If the media has ignored this subject recently, it’s because it’s a nonstarter and a nonissue and a transparently political ploy. And, as you can see by my links above, it was covered in the media when the bill was originally proposed by Rangel et. al.
The Internet is a double-edged sword in this election, a player as never before. Yes, bloggers like Little Green Footballs and Powerline were instrumental in scotching CBS’s plans to bring down a President through the airing of questionable documents. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Churchill’s old adage, “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on” feels truer than ever, thanks to the instantaneous magic of e-mail.
As a lifelong liberal Democrat turned neocon, I feel ashamed of my former naivete. After all, I used to actually believe liberals were above such dirty tricks. And so I feel the intense anger of a person whose lover has been unfaithful: long ago, I trusted these people, and they have betrayed me, over and over, in a time of grave danger. I’m not likely to forgive them.