"Slarrow" refers to the "slings and arrows of outrageous fortune" from Hamlet's soliloquy. Here are the chronicles of such darts and whatever attempt there may be to take arms against such a sea of troubles.

Location: Ozarks, United States

Friday, September 17, 2004

Where is Dumbledore?

Hugh Hewitt solicited some Lord of the Rings analogies for the Rather debacle. With respect, I think Hugh's barking up the wrong tree. He shouldn't be looking to Tolkien for his literary analogy; he should be looking to J.K. Rowling.

LoTR analogies don't really work because the epic is a titanic struggle between good and evil, and however tempting it is to cast newsman and Democrats as Saruman or Sauron, they aren't our enemies. They are our opponents, to be sure, but their sin is corruption, not a desire for complete domination despite the means.

But the last two Harry Potter books provide a perfect model for the CBS document fraud scandal: Cornelius Fudge.

For those who don't know the books, Fudge is the Minister of Magic, a kind of head of government for the magic world. When Harry sees the rebirth of Voldemort, the leader of evil in Rowling's world, he tells his story to Fudge and to Professor Dumbledore, head of the school of magic Harry attends. When confronted with this hard tale, Fudge denies it and its ramifications, choosing rather to treat Harry as some addled kid and putting political considerations ahead of the truth.

Dumbledore finally rages at him: "You are the love of the office you hold, Cornelius!"

Cornelius Fudge is emblematic both of the national Democratic party since 9/11 and Dan Rather's CBS crew in this latest scandal. 9/11 should have changed everything, but it didn't change the Democratic party. Rather than be willing to stand by the President or take the bold initiatives required to defeat the new evil, they retreated to politics-as-usual positions, like demanding union protections for homeland security and desperately trying to ignore the war and run on health care and the economy. Protecting their position became more important than defeating our enemies which destroys them when reality intrudes, just as it devastates Fudge when Voldemort's return is confirmed.

As for CBS and Dan Rather, I'm put in mind of an early scene in Order of the Phoenix, the fifth and latest Harry Potter book. Harry is summoned to a trial for the underage use of magic, even though he does so to save himself and his cousin from soul-sucking ghouls. Fudge runs the trial and means for it to be a sham trial to discredit Harry and remove him from the fight. Fudge ignores testimony, denies plain reality, and otherwise tries to force the trial into his predetermined desired outcome, no matter the evidence. Sound familiar? Harry is saved by Dumbledore who uses the law and logic to defeat Fudge's pattern of smear and innuendo, thus granting Harry a reprieve. Foiled, Fudge plants stories in the magic world's newspaper of record to discredit Harry, and a minion is dispatched to school to keep the natives in line.

The character, motives, and actions of Cornelius Fudge seem to me to align much more naturally with the Democrats and CBS news than the LoTR characters. At the end of the day, Fudge just can't bring himself to believe there's really a threat from Voldemort, especially when acting in that fashion brings such a high personal political price. His ramrodding of the trial and his defense mechanism of imputing political ambition to his opponents are an excellent mirror of Dan Rather's actions in this scandal.

So, for the analogy, we know who Cornelius Fudge represents. What about the others? I tend to think of the blogosphere as Harry; like Harry, they're the ones pressing the issue, bringing things to a head, and doing the heavy lifting. Like Harry, the establishment tries to brush them off or discredit them because of the damage they can do to the establishment (pajamas, anyone?) The Swift Boat Vets might also qualify as Harry. If someone wants to cast Susan Estrich as Umbridge, I have no objection.

But who is Dumbledore? Oh, you might try to make a case that the Bloodhound Blogs use the same tactics, but they don't (yet) have the stature a Dumbledore does. Bush doesn't really fit, nor does the national Republican party, because they're natural opponents of Democrats while Dumbledore is not Fudge's natural opponent. Dumbledore's analogue would need to be a highly respected member of the media and/or Democratic establishment who steadfastly and sympathetically would take Fudge to the woodshed to make him see reason.

But who in the Democratic party has those kinds of credentials and that kind of courage? Where is the figure who will work to see that we have two strong parties united at least against our deadliest enemies? Who will be--or can be--Dumbledore?

Without such a figure, the Democrats--and the country--are in trouble.

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