GWB, unperson

Cong. Frank Wolf is scrubbing references to George W. Bush from his campaign website.

In Nineteen Eighty-four, a Party member who lost a power struggle became an “unperson.” All references to him in existing records had to be deleted. That was part of Winston Smith’s job.

It looks as if a certain George W. Bush has become an unperson in the mind of Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Va.). Caught in a tight race with Judy Feder (a policy wonk’s policy wonk, the dean of Public Policy at Georgetown) in a Northern Virgina district where Bush has become unpopular, Wolf seems to have scrubbed his campaign website of references to the Beloved Leader.

Here’s the old version, captured in a screenshot by the alert folks at the Feder campaign:

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But guess what’s missing from the current version of the Wolf website?

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I’m glad Bush is unpopular, and I’m glad Wolf is smart enough to recognize that fact. Still, tossing your party leader, who also happens to be the President, down the Memory Hole does seem a little bit excessive, not to say disingenuous.

Wolf is personally popular, though some of his positions (e.g., against stem-cell research) aren’t, so Feder has faced an uphill battle. But she seems to be closing the gap: a new robo-poll has Wolf leading, but by only 47-42. Five points down isn’t as good as five points up, but on the other hand long-time incumbents don’t usually pick up many undecided votes, especially not if they’re Republicans running in Purple districts this year.

If you’re in the mood to send some cash, here’s where.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

14 thoughts on “GWB, unperson”

  1. So would you be willing to have as your political representative someone who was a fair-weather politician? An opportunist and a hypocrite? Doesn't seem like a difficult choice.

  2. One thing that I will say for Wolf is that he, as co-chair of the Congressional Human Rights Caucus, has been a consistent voice on human rights issues, which may be one reason why he took that off his website.
    On the other hand, I would be voting for Feder regardless if I lived in the district.

  3. I live in Wolf's district, and he has done us no favors. The memory hole is big enough for Frank, too.

  4. I too live in Wolf's district, having just moved here two years ago. To this point about the only reminder I have that he is my representative are the political signs that have sprouted in this election season. Much different from my previous state, Massachusetts, where even though a democratic win was a foregone conclusion in the recent past, one still saw the members of congress on a regular basis. One would think that in such close proximity to the halls of government the members of government in the local area would be even more visible.

  5. Actually it is still on the home page if you look. I wish people would be more careful as this just looks silly.

  6. actually, that sentence on the front page has been removed and put back a few different times.
    The fact still remains, they've removed the language "Fully supports President Bush" from the issues page where they discuss the war on terrorism.
    From what I can tell there's nothing incorrect about what is being claimed by the Feder campaign. The language was obviously removed, regardless of whether or not they've quickly put it back on the home page in a little game of CYA.

  7. Randy, is Wolf's vote for the Military Commissions Act (eliminating habeas corpus, condoning prisoner abuse, and pardoning war crimes) part of his "consistent voice on human rights issues"? Only seven Republican House members (including your fellow R. Paul) were principled enough to vote against it.

  8. "actually, that sentence on the front page has been removed and put back a few different times" and they will simply say that they change the website all the time. . .this is something that right wing radio would do, find something insignificant and try to make something out of it. Let's not get to that level.

  9. "this is something that right wing radio would do, find something insignificant and try to make something out of it."
    Right, they can say their website changes all the time. But with all due respect, they didn't make some small insignificant change…they removed the words "fully supports President Bush" from their "on the record" position on Iraq and the war on terror. That's hardly insignificant.

  10. KCinDC,
    Good point on the one hand, but allow me to elaborate.
    Wolf has been consistent on issues involving Africa, Asia and China, even when the Bush administration has sought to downplay issues in specific countries in this region.
    Voting for the Military commissions act, and, as I said, I would not be voting for him in any case if I lived in his district.
    This makes no sense, however:
    Only seven Republican House members (including your fellow R. Paul) were principled enough to vote against it.
    I live in Jackson Heights, Queens New York, Joseph Crowley is my congressman (the only member of congress who lost a family member on 9/11).

  11. Randy, I had no idea where you lived, and that wasn't the point of my comment. It was just a little joke about the similarity between Ron Paul and Randy Paul. Sorry for the confusion.

  12. Sorry for not picking that up. It's funny, but every time I meet someone with the surname Paul, they always ask me if we're related and I always say no. Such is the life of one whose father had to anglicize the name from Polsky while living in Georgia (the US Georgia) in the 1930's.

  13. Actually, I bet Wolf isn't "memory holing" Pres. Bush any more intensely than Prof. Kleiman is memory holing Gerry Studds.
    "It isn't convenient to bring Gerry Studds right now. It isn't the party line. If you persist, you too will become an unperson."

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