This summer, one big story is replaced by another -- the London bombings July 7, the speculation that Karl Rove illegally named a covert CIA agent, the nomination of John Roberts to the Supreme Court, more London bombings last week. But beneath the hubbub, we can see the playing out of another, less reported story: the collapse of the attempts by liberal Democrats and their sympathizers in the mainstream media -- The New York Times, etc., etc. -- to delegitimize yet another Republican administration.
This project has been ongoing for more than 30 years. Richard Nixon, by obstructing investigation of the Watergate burglary, unwittingly colluded in the successful attempt to besmirch his administration. Less than two years after carrying 49 states, he was compelled to resign. The attempt to delegitimize the Reagan administration seemed at the time reasonably successful. Reagan was widely dismissed as a lightweight ideologue, and the rejection of his nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987 contributed to the impression that his years in office were, to take the title of a book by a first-rate journalist, "the Reagan detour." As time went on, as the Berlin Wall fell and Bill Clinton proclaimed that the era of big government was over, it became clear that Reagan was a successful transformational president -- something the mainstream media grudgingly admitted when he died in 2004 after a decade out of public view.
You think they'd learn. But for the past five years, the same folks have been trying to undermine the presidency of George W. Bush. The Supreme Court's decision in Bush v. Gore was denounced as an outrage, and Democrats noted, accurately, that Bush did not win a plurality of the popular vote in 2000. The nation rallied to his support after September 11, but Democrats held up his judicial and other nominations even if they had to violate Senate tradition to do so. Coverage of Bush during the 2004 campaign was heavily negative; for months the mainstream media mostly ignored the Swift Boat Vets' charges against John Kerry and broadcast accusations against Bush based on forged documents eight weeks before the election. News of economic recovery in 2003 and 2004 was pitched far more negatively than it had been when Bill Clinton was president in 1995 and 1996.