- It gets repeated so frequently that it eventually becomes accepted as fact even outside of the immediate radio audience who hears it;
- The high-level forms take on the feeling of religious belief and are so broad and nonsensical as to be unassailable -they are like inalienable truths to the radio listeners and hosts.
Let's just ignore the second prong of Boortz's attack. The first point -that Wesley Clark said John Kerry's war record qualified him to be President- made me wish that Boortz would cite his sources. The thing is that in the act of meme-fuscating, citations never occur. That would get in the way of the flow of the sermon. Perhaps I've spent too much time writing research papers, but I really think it's irresponsible to make such claims without backing them up. To help Boortz out, I did some research and found a transcript of Clark's speech to the 2004 Democratic National Convention (hat tip to the next right). He said, in part:
It certainly seems that Clark is implying that Kerry's military service prepared him for office or at least that it reflects up on his character. He never directly says it qualifies him for office, but he does come close. How hard would it be to just mention the date and location of this speech instead of just talking in abstract terms? How hard would it be to admit that Clark never explicitly said what you claimed he said?
John Kerry has heard the thump of enemy mortars.
... He's seen the flash of the tracers. He's lived the values of service and sacrifice. In the Navy, as a prosecutor, as a senator, he proved his physical courage under fire. And he's proved his moral courage too.
John Kerry fought a war, and I respect him for that. And he came home to fight a peace. And I respect him for that, too.... John Kerry's combination of physical courage and moral values is my definition of what we need as Americans in our commander in chief.
What's worse is that Clark is taking heat for something he didn't do. It turns out that in the course of an interview on Face the Nation this past Sunday, Clark was in the process of heaping praise on McCain when Bob Schieffer turned his comments around to attack Obama. Clark simply said that Schieffer's argument didn't make sense. Taken out of context with the rest of the interview, Clark's dismissal of the argument has somehow been taken as a criticism of McCain. If you don't believe me, watch the video here. Then consider what Clark had been saying before Schieffer interrupted:
I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world.Now how is that slamming McCain? Why are we going to have to keep hearing about this story for days if not weeks?
Clearly Boortz shouldn't be alone in taking the blame for this episode of meme-fuscating. The major media outlets are running with the story as well. Maybe this is just an unfortunate side-effect of our rapid-fire media cycle, but some people are knowingly running with this story in a direction they know entirely misrepresents the truth.
Boortz's comments (along with dozens of others echoing similar cries) should not and cannot be understood as individual commentary when in fact they are emblematic of a larger movement that is entirely at odds with helping people understand the news of the day.