Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Democratic Party Death Watch

Just when you think the greatest threat to free speech come from the religious right, along comes John Kerry to articulate what many on the left have been edging toward. Traumatized by the fading power of the left-leaning "mainstream media" in the face of competition from right-leaning cable news, talk radio, and totally unregulated "blogs," Kerry proposes that government serve as an "arbitrator" of speech.

Thus, the former 1970s "radical" explicitly rallies his supporters to the defense of the entrenched "mainstream." This is yet another example of how the left is lapsing into its own brand of "reactionary" conservatism. Giving up their pretense of being forward-looking populists who represent the rising tide of history, they are becoming reflexive, pessimistic defenders of a decaying old establishment.

Kerry advocates a return to regulating political speech by way of the "Fairness Doctrine," which suppressed discussion of controversial issues on radio and television. Another Weekly Standard article outlines the history and meaning of that regulation—and gives Dan Rather his due for testifying against the Fairness Doctrine in 1987.

"Kerry Loves the Mainstream Media," P.J. O'Roarke, Weekly Standard, dated 3/21/05, posted 3/15/05

"John Kerry effectively ended his political career on February 28, 2005, during a little-noticed event at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.... Addressing the audience of tame Democrats, Kerry explained his defeat. 'There has been' he said, 'a profound and negative change in the relationship of America's media with the American people.... When fear is dominating the discussion and when there are false choices presented and there is no arbitrator, we have a problem.'...

"America is not doctrinaire. It's hard for an American politician to come up with an ideological position that is permanently unforgivable.... But Kerry's done it. American free speech needs to be submitted to arbitration because Americans aren't smart enough to have a First Amendment, and you can tell this is so, because Americans weren't smart enough to vote for John Kerry.

" 'We learned,' Kerry continued, 'that the mainstream media, over the course of the last year, did a pretty good job of discerning. But there's a subculture and a sub-media that talks and keeps things going for entertainment purposes rather than for the flow of information. And that has a profound impact and undermines what we call the mainstream media of the country. And so the decision-making ability of the American electorate has been profoundly impacted as a consequence of that. The question is, what are we going to do about it?' "