[Caveat lector: There is a photograph below that can properly be considered offensive. It is included here to illustrate a point, not to cater to prurient interests. ]
Nature played a vicious trick on Neil Cavuto by making him a near clone of Eddie Munster. Being victimized by a cruel caprice of that kind should be sufficient hardship for one lifetime. But Mr. Cavuto has also had to contend with both cancer and multiple sclerosis, beating the former and enduring the latter with commendable grace.
I suspect that there is a decent and knowledgeable man behind Mr. Cavuto's television persona. Tragically, the corporate (and corporatist) culture of Fox News apparently requires him to keep those facets well-hidden, as befits someone cast in the role of a media herd-poisoner.
His calling is to fling State-glorifying slogans and sound-bites at his audience, and, where appropriate, to act as a kind of media prosecutor when dealing with public figures who threaten to infect the public with unauthorized opinions.
It was in that latter role that Cavuto attempted to put Ron Paul on the defensive regarding a $500 donation to the Paul presidential campaign by white supremacist Don Black, who operates the Stormfront neo-Nazi website.
By focusing on this one aberrant contribution, Cavuto – or, most likely, those who sign his paycheck and determine the specific length of his leash – wanted to convey the impression that the significance of that donation eclipses the Paul campaign's accomplishment of collecting roughly $18 million, most of it in very small individual amounts, in a fund-raising drive that is being carried out almost entirely by volunteers.
A related assumption here is that a $500 contribution from a marginalized, malodorous crank somehow trumps the huge donations the Paul campaign has received from active-duty and retired military personnel, who see the candidate as an heir to the patriotic foreign policy of Washington, Jefferson, John Quincy Adams, and Robert Taft.
Does Cavuto, or the other adolescents peddling this complaint, really believe that Ron Paul's allegiance could somehow be purchased by a white supremacist for a mere $500 investment? Of course not.
Apart from the mathematics of the proposition, Dr. Paul is either renowned or notorious for being inhospitable to lobbyists who seek to purchase his support in exchange for far larger blandishments. While other congress-entities are being plied with expensive lunches charged to K Street expense accounts, the abstemious Dr. Paul (who at 72 still has the physique of a state track champion) can be found in his Capitol Hill office eating an austere meal while working at his desk.
Rarely, if ever, has American politics produced a statesman less compatible with the politics of rent-seeking, or more thoroughly “over” himself, than Ron Paul. In tribute to his near-incorruptibility, the lobbyists who swarm the Imperial Capital, Dr. Paul have more or less written him off, their absence from his office being a singularly eloquent testimony to his character.
Mr. Paul does have standards regarding the money he'll accept. He will not vet private donors regarding their worldview, and will take their money as long as it is honestly and legally earned. He will not receive stolen property, however, which is why he won't accept "matching contributions" from the federal government.
Mr. Cavuto must have known at least some of this when he raised the issue of the tainted donation. He appeared to be a little ashamed and reluctant to broach the issue. And when he did, he fell victim to one of the most thorough and humiliating forensic demolitions ever captured on film – an experience that must have been made all the more painful by the polite and earnest way in which Dr. Paul applied the scalpel. (See below.)
We are taught by the Source of all wisdom that it is pointless and self-destructive to obsess over the mote in a neighbor's eye while our own vision is occluded by a beam. In this case, the comparison is not between a mote and a beam, but rather between a sub-microscopic particle of matter and an obstruction roughly the size of the Sears Tower.
Ron Paul's supposed offense was to accept an unsolicited donation – a minuscule amount, delivered in perfectly legal fashion – from a deservedly obscure figure who reeks of wretched opinions. His moral auditor is a figure who was among the most conspicuous supporters of an illegal, immoral war that has cost tens of thousands of lives, and the better part of a trillion dollars.
Neil Cavuto, moral tutor: In keeping with the corporate priorities of his employer, the Fox "News" personality interviews two largely non-biodegradable participants in the "Lingerie Bowl."
In April 2003, Cavuto addressed a “Common Sense” segment to “all those who opposed the liberation [sic] of Iraq." At the time, Fox "News" was emitting a gale-force wind of flatulent flackery promoting the Dear Leader and his war. Cavuto did his part by regurgitating a thick slurry of partially digested triumphalist buzzwords.
“I want to show you all the joyous scene in downtown Baghdad today,” he declared. “People oppressed. Now people free. People once hopeless. Now hopeful. People you forgot. But we remembered. If you had things your way, they'd still be under the thumb of a dictator. And you were fine with that. We were not. You had no problem telling them, live with it. We had a big problem telling them, get over it. Look at their faces. See their smiles. Feel their joy. Their freedom. Their fervor. How do you feel now? Still sure going the extra mile for them wasn't worth it? I don't think they'd agree.”
Even at the time it was clear that "liberated" Iraq was about to descend into unalloyed barbarism. By now, four and a half years after Cavuto composed and recited his juvenile philipic, any honest and rational person would admit that the critics and opponents of the war at the very least had a point. There's no point in expecting as much from Cavuto, of course.
As someone who has done nothing to promote or advance Don Black's views, Ron Paul has no responsibility to apologize for them. Had he returned the check, Dr. Paul would not have placated those who feign offense over the donation. Instead, he would have given them fresh ammunition: The next talking point would be that the Paul campaign "had to return a donation from a neo-Nazi."
In this instance, the association was chosen by Black, who did so on Ron Paul's terms, rather than the reverse. Rather than inferring that Paul has been influenced by Black, it may be reasonable to hope that Black, after decades of devotion to bigotry, might succumb to the appeal of a movement (not just a candidate, a movement) that promotes liberty, prosperity, and peace for all people.
I grant that this is an anorexically slender hope. But on the available evidence, Don Black is more susceptible to reason than Neil Cavuto.
Dum spiro, pugno!