I don’t know how else to describe this from Thomas Friedman:
I was in Israel interviewing Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin just before he was assassinated in 1995. We had a beer in his office. He needed one. I remember the ugly mood in Israel then — a mood in which extreme right-wing settlers and politicians were doing all they could to delegitimize Rabin, who was committed to trading land for peace as part of the Oslo accords. They questioned his authority. They accused him of treason. They created pictures depicting him as a Nazi SS officer, and they shouted death threats at rallies. His political opponents winked at it all.
And in so doing they created a poisonous political environment that was interpreted by one right-wing Jewish nationalist as a license to kill Rabin — he must have heard, “God will be on your side” — and so he did.
Others have already remarked on this analogy, but I want to add my voice because the parallels to Israel then and America today turn my stomach: I have no problem with any of the substantive criticism of President Obama from the right or left. But something very dangerous is happening. Criticism from the far right has begun tipping over into delegitimation and creating the same kind of climate here that existed in Israel on the eve of the Rabin assassination.
Really? Is your stomach turning Mr. Friedman? Because if so, it must be a very recent problem.
Change the name Rabin to Bush, remove the particular situation and add “during his presidency” and you describe the last 8 years and the behavior of the left to a tee. And yet I don’t remember a single column by Friedman or any other liberal lamenting the “poisonous political environment” that existed during that entire time.
Suddenly though, because the opposition is instead focused on Democrats and Obama, dissent is a serious thing that shouldn’t be “winked at” as it was lo those many years when the other side suffered it.
That leads to selective remembrances by ideologues such as this guy speaking about opposition to Obama:
Some of his opposition is politically predictable, since President Bill Clinton was under political attack from the day of his election and presidential candidate John Kerry was slandered in a way that turned voters away from him. Those who present no good ideas of their own can only resort to dubious, rumor driven attacks to generate fear and damage their opponents.
Notably missing is the “selected not elected” tenure of Bush who had eggs thrown during his inauguration parade, was booed by the opposition during a state of the union address and called “incompetent” by the most competent Speaker of the House we’ve ever had. And signs depicting Bush as Hitler were ubiquitous. All, apparently, right down the memory hole.
The Friedman’s of the world feigned no concern whatsoever about the atmosphere of hate engendered then possibly leading to violence when their ideological foe sat in the White House. They seemed to see nothing wrong with the demonization of Bush. The cries of “traitor, “war criminal”, “liar” and “loser” apparently didn’t coarsen the dialog or create a “poisonous political environment” like they do now. And the Southern Poverty Law Center had nothing to say about the virulent hate that was evident then. This demand for respect for the President of the United States we hear today wasn’t at all evident in the left’s gleeful celebration of shoes thrown at the President of the United States during a press conference, was it?
No, according to the left, it is now worse than it has ever been. And that’s because the right is engaged in spirited opposition. The left can deal this sort of thing out, but they simply cannot take it when it is returned in kind. So the entire dialog changes and what was recently the “highest form of patriotism” and “speaking truth to power” is now “dangerous and hate filled rhetoric” and a threat to all that’s decent and good. You have to wonder if the left suffers from a chronic case of political Alzheimer’s disease, because their short-term memory is completely gone.
The conventional wisdom, sold by the left over the years, is that the right is the violent side of the ideological spectrum. And again, those ignorant of history seem to buy into the meme. Never mind that the last two politicians who suffered assassination were killed by a communist and a Palestinian nationalist and the last assassination attempts made on presidents were made on Republican presidents.
It is a sight to behold the left, after an 8 year tantrum, suddenly projecting their behavior and history on the right and calling it dangerous, disrespectful and poisonous. In comparison to their behavior, what is happening now is both mild and warranted. But don’t expect this orgy of leftist whining to end anytime soon. Like a goose does every day, they seem to have awakened in a new world and have absolutely no memory of their own recent behavior or of the recent history of violence toward politicians here. Instead, they prefer to invent their own version as they go.
I love quotes like this because it gives you a little hint about the level of the left’s self-delusion and intellectual bankruptcy.
“A Primer on Reconciliation,” put together by Ken Strickland of NBC at First Read does a nice job of explaining the arcane process and some of the limits that will make it both difficult and risky to push health reform through that process, despite the appealing feature that it can bypass Republican obstruction.
Although the “Primer” is quite instructive (you can find it here), the point of the post is to highlight the typical nonsense the left loves to try to run by everyone. The only reason reconciliation is being considered has nothing to do with “Republican obstruction”. It has to do with the fact that the Senate’s Democratic Caucus numbers 60 – all the votes necessary to invoke cloture in the Senate and avoid a filibuster. But they cannot be sure of their own caucus. So the easy and lazy thing to do is blame it on the opposition party which hasn’t the ability to stop anything.
Yes friends, after an apparent 8 year hiatus, the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy has again surfaced. Apparently it has been evident since January 20th of this year. We’re sure of that because we have the word of an expert:
Bill Clinton says a vast, right-wing conspiracy that once targeted him is now focusing on President Barack Obama.
The ex-president made the comment in a television interview when he was asked about one of the signature moments of the Monica Lewinsky affair over a decade ago. Back then, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton used the term “vast, right-wing conspiracy” to describe how her husband’s political enemies were out to destroy his presidency.
No word on how the Vast Left Wing Conspiracy operated these past 8 years or what it’s goals were.
Bill Clinton was asked on NBC’s “Meet the Press” whether the conspiracy is still there. He replied: “You bet. Sure it is. It’s not as strong as it was because America has changed demographically. But it’s as virulent as it was.”
Tired old politicians coming up with the same old tired excuses. However, as you may have noticed, there is a little bit of a twist this time according to our expert:
Clinton said that this time around, the focus is on Obama and “their agenda seems to be wanting him to fail.”
Ah, the implication that being focused on Obama is what? Say it with me – raaacism. And “their” agenda seems to be “wanting him to fail”? Here’s a clue for the left – that’s the agenda of every opposition party or movement known to man. One has to wonder if those who stood against Iraq and Bush would have the balls to even attempt to claim they wanted him to succeed. The left never even tried to pretend they wanted Bush or his agenda to succeed. They wanted and worked tirelessly toward an “epic fail” for both Bush and his agenda. It was personal for them.
Of course, previous to this president, dissent was the highest form of patriotism and the left celebrated every time Bush failed to achieve something he wanted. But that wasn’t at all wanting him to fail, was it? Nope, to hear the left spin it, they were trying to save the country (and if that meant Bush failed, so be it).
Now dissent is racism or some vast conspiracy of evil. This opposition couldn’t at all be motivated by anything other than hate (or race), right? It is like the last 8 years never happened. Is the left so ideologically addled that it doesn’t understand that they are facing honest and righteous dissent for the very same reasons they felt so patriotic about opposing Bush? The right genuinely believes that the left led by Obama, Pelosi and Reid have an agenda that will kill our economy and forever cripple our country. They are dissenting. The left needs to sack up, quit whining and casting aspersions and deal with it forthrightly and without all the drama.
This dissent isn’t some vast right wing conspiracy aimed at ego-maniacal politicians (who, like Clinton, can’t imagine it isn’t about them). It is movement just as patriotic as anything the left did for the past 8 years and yes, they want the left’s agenda to fail. In fact they want it to fail miserably. And if that means Obama, Pelosi and Reid don’t get what they want passed into law, then so freakin’ be it. That’s what “fail” means.
I’m tired of the whining and crying on the left. You dealt in this for 8 long years. Throwing crap’s a lot easier than having to actually govern isn’t it? Man up and deal with it now without sounding like a bunch of shrieking little girls. And quit sending tired old hacks like Clinton and Carter out there to excuse your failings and try to shift blame. It’s pathetic.
No amount of whining, blame shifting or crying about nonsense not in evidence is going to move your legislation for you. That requires persuasion and here’s a clue – calling those you have to persuade “un-American”, a “mob”, “brownshirts” and “astro-turf” isn’t a good way to go about it. You’re in the shape you’re in because of your own stupidity and inept actions. That’s not the fault of “dissent”. It’s not because of some VRWC. It’s because you on the left have been arrogant, condescending, and clueless. All the right can hope is you continue to do things precisely as you’ve managed them to this point. You’re your own worst enemy, your identity politics is coming home to roost and you are setting yourself up to fail.
And I wish you all the luck in the world in doing so.
You have to read Maureen Dowd’s column in full to understand how far the left will go to try to make any disagreement with this administration into racism. They still believe that the political correctness they’ve attempted to impose on the country over the least few decades makes that charge into a magic bullet they can use to stifle debate.
No matter how tortured the logic, now matter how spare the evidence, and despite how much evidence to the contrary they have to ignore, if they can swing it, the big “R” card is going to be played.
And of course it all emanates from the liberal premise that the right in the is country is obsessed with the president’s race and therefore all opposition against him is based in racism.
How does Dowd set it up? With her imagination, of course – assuming unspoken but racially charged words:
Surrounded by middle-aged white guys — a sepia snapshot of the days when such pols ran Washington like their own men’s club — Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at a president who didn’t.
But, fair or not, what I heard was an unspoken word in the air: You lie, boy!
Of course that’s what she heard – she’s the racialist. She hears the word “racism” in the caw of a crow. She’d certainly have no problem imagining that’s what Wilson was really saying, would she?
And naturally, she introduces race immediately in a very subtle way with her description of the Republicans present. The use of “middle-aged white guys” is a sure sign that a racialist is about to pounce.
Then there’s this sweet little move:
I’ve been loath to admit that the shrieking lunacy of the summer — the frantic efforts to paint our first black president as the Other, a foreigner, socialist, fascist, Marxist, racist, Commie, Nazi; a cad who would snuff old people; a snake who would indoctrinate kids — had much to do with race.
I tended to agree with some Obama advisers that Democratic presidents typically have provoked a frothing response from paranoids — from Father Coughlin against F.D.R. to Joe McCarthy against Truman to the John Birchers against J.F.K. and the vast right-wing conspiracy against Bill Clinton.
One assumes the “shrieking lunacy” of the past 8 years completely escaped Dowd’s attention (it didn’t – she contributed to it), but her denunciation of what has happened this summer (and yesterday in DC) is he way of calling everyone both a loon and a racist: “I’ve been loath to admit the shrieking lunacy of the summer … had much to do with race.” But the implication is unmistakable – she does consider them to be about race, loath to admit it or not.
So now that she has the “you’re all racists” group tarring done, this is where she again works from some false assumption to bolster the case. She, of course, has the prefect foil for the task at hand – Joe Wilson. She describes him in lovingly racialist terms – member of the Sons of Confederacy (I wonder if she checked to see if he had ancestors that fought for the confederacy), wanted to keep the Confederate flag waiving on the capital, and apparently mistakenly denounced as a “smear” the claim that a black woman was the daughter of Strom Thurmond who she feels obliged to remind us ran as a segregationist candidate for President in ’48 (She conveniently forgets to remind us that Thurmond was a Democrat at the time then as well).
However now having set Joe Wilson up properly, she leverages that to make everything that has happened on the right this past summer to be tinged with race. And then she plays what she believes is the most damning bit of “evidence” to wrap it all up in a neat little Dowdified racist ball.
After extensively quoting James Clyburn of SC – who sees a racist behind every tree – she lays this out there:
For two centuries, the South has feared a takeover by blacks or the feds. In Obama, they have both.
The state that fired the first shot of the Civil War has now given us this: Senator Jim DeMint exhorted conservatives to “break” the president by upending his health care plan. Rusty DePass, a G.O.P. activist, said that a gorilla that escaped from a zoo was “just one of Michelle’s ancestors.” Lovelorn Mark Sanford tried to refuse the president’s stimulus money. And now Joe Wilson.
Rusty DePass? Who in the heck is Rusty DePass and why is he included with DeMint and Sanford, or even Wilson? Well, quite simply, without DePass Dowd has nothing. A little known political activist in SC, who has never successfully run for office (gee, wonder why?) makes a racist joke on his Facebook page and that somehow links DeMint, Wilson and Sanford to him? Does DePass’ inappropriate joke mean that DeMint’s opposition isn’t based in an understanding of the damage this president’s agenda would do to the country, or Sanford’s desire to not take the money isn’t rooted in his belief state’s rights without federal strings, or that Wilson’s outburst, as inappropriate as it was, couldn’t be about actually believing that he was being lied too?
Nope, they’re all racists trying to bring down the black president. It’s an amazing performance by Dowd, but it is so poorly crafted and unconvincing that even the White House has blown it off.
But this isn’t the last you’ll see this contemptible tactic used, believe me. The side obsessed with race is not the right. The side who makes everything about race is not the right. And, as with this example, the side that looks more and more desperate when it plays the race card is not the right.
I don’t know about you, but I’m getting pretty tired of it.
One of the more entertaining things to do is watch partisan political columnists adjust their outlook and opinion based on who is in power at the moment. The convolutions, contortions and outright memory lapses are something to behold. Bob Herbert is no exception to the rule as he demonstrates today. Apparently he’s upset with the right-wing crazies out there and is sure their dyspeptic mood and demonstrations signal the demise of our once great nation:
Maybe the economic stress has been too much. Looking back at the past few months, it’s fair to wonder if the country isn’t going through a nervous breakdown.
The political debate has been poisoned by birthers, deathers and wackos who smile proudly while carrying signs comparing the president to the Nazis.
Of course that wasn’t the case in good old says of 2007 when the anti-war protests were in full bloom and Herbert was sure that they signaled a new and wonderful resurgence of public activism that he felt, at least at the time, was so refreshing and so badly needed:
You can say what you want about the people opposed to this wretched war in Iraq, try to stereotype them any way you can. But you couldn’t walk among them for more than a few minutes on Saturday without realizing that they love their country as much as anyone ever has. They love it enough to try to save it.
You can be sure that’s not the case with the present crew who Herbert gladly stereotypes. They obviously can’t at all love this country – especially if they’re carrying signs calling the president a Nazi. Of course for Herbert to have missed the abundance of signs calling the then president a Nazi on the “beautiful, sunlit day” in January of 2007, then his blinders were surely well in place.
The goal of the crowd was to get the attention of Congress and persuade it to move vigorously to reverse the Bush war policies. But the thought that kept returning as I watched the earnestly smiling faces, so many of them no longer young, was the way these protesters had somehow managed to keep the faith. They still believed, after all the years and all the lies, that they could make a difference. They still believed their government would listen to them and respond.
Yet apparently the goal of the “birthers, deathers and wackos” Herbert denigrates in his latest couldn’t at all be that they too believe they have a right to petition Congress or that “their government would listen to them and respond”. Nope, they’re completely different than the smiling, expletive shouting anti-war crowd which made signs calling the president a Nazi a cottage industry. Obviously, unlike the anti-war/anti-Bush crowds of 2007, the “birthers, deathers and wackos” hate their country- right Mr. Herbert?
The rise and fall of Van Jones has been a rather interesting situation to watch for a number of reasons.
One is the effect it has had on what David Sirotta calls “movement progressives”. Any one else would call them radical leftists. For those needing a definition, a “movement progressive” is one who comes from the grassroots of leftdom and has earned his or her way up through activism. That’s not to be confused with the “Team of Corporate Zombies”, per Sirota, with which Obama has surrounded himself. “Zombies” like Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers and Tim Geithner.
So what was the value of Van Jones and his position? Per Sirota he was the only movement progressive in a real position to actually influence policy rather than being shuffled off into a “political/tactical job”. Sirota believes progressives have been badly dissed by the administration’s decision to throw Jones under the proverbial bus. And, of course, Sirota can’t imagine anything but racism being the motivator for those who went after Jones.
Jane Hamsher goes into it even further with a real “movement progressive” blast at the entire Obama administration. She’s of the opinion that the only groups under attack (and being compromised) right now by the White House are progressive groups. Likening them to a calf in a veal pen she writes:
And so the groups in the DC veal pen stay silent. They leadership gets gets bought off by cocktail parties at the White House while the interests of their members get sold out. How many have openly pushed back against the Administration on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell or DOMA? Well, not many. Most tried to satisfy their LGBT members by outsourcing activism to other organizations, or proving their bona fides by getting involved in the Prop 8 battle that is not directly toxic to the White House. It’s a chickensh*t sidestep that betrays their members in the interest of personal gain, which they justify with feeble self-serving palliatives about the importance of “maintaining a seat at the table.”
I think the phrase “not happy” is an understatement. And the Van Jones debacle just further aggravates the situation.
However not every voice from every liberal area is in synch with the “movement progressive” crowd. What I’m sure some of the grassroots liberals would consider to be the voice of the corporate media, papers like the San Francisco Chronicle still dutifully carry water for the administration and a little lecture for the Hamshers and Sirotas of the world:
For all those on the left who are expressing frustrations that the Obama administration did not choose to “fight” the forces who are determined to discredit Jones because of his past, we say: There was a time for that fight. It was before Jones assumed his high-level position in the administration.
Since Jones was never vetted publicly, that moment passed without note. And that, of course is the problem with such appointments. When finally vetted by public scrutiny, problems like Jones are bound to surface. Expect more.
The Chronicle also makes an interesting point about regional politics vs. national politics that seems to be lost on progressives:
Those of us who have observed Van Jones’ work over the years know him as a dedicated activist whose once polemic and confrontational style on matters such as police misconduct has been redirected and transformed into a more polished and inclusive advocacy of the environment. In the politics of the San Francisco Bay Area, a fiery radical past is almost a rite of passage.
On the national stage, it requires explanation, context and a touch of contrition – just as the past writings and statements of conservatives from other parts of the country seem so offensive and inexplicable here.
The fact that Jones’ activism, ideology and statements were obviously not acceptable on a national level should tell progressives something about why their ideology isn’t translating into what they expected when they signed on to the “hope and change” express.
The Wall Street Journal provides a little more insight for the progressives:
No President is responsible for all of the views of his appointees, but the rise and fall of Mr. Jones is one more warning that Mr. Obama can’t succeed on his current course of governing from the left. He is running into political trouble not because his own message is unclear, or because his opposition is better organized. Mr. Obama is falling in the polls because last year he didn’t tell the American people that the “change” they were asked to believe in included trillions of dollars in new spending, deferring to the most liberal Members of Congress, a government takeover of health care, and appointees with the views of Van Jones.
The “reality-based community” is having to face political reality for the first time and they don’t like it one bit.
Finally, any discussion of the Jones story has to include the shameful handling of it by much of the mainstream media. Or should I say the non-handling of it – for the most part, with obvious exceptions, they chose to ignore it. Consequently, when it broke, they were caught flatfooted and trying to catch up. They did their readers and viewers a great disservice and delivered yet another self-inflicted blow to their waning credibility.
A chore I don’t particularly enjoy but which does reward me with a few laughs.
Fairly typical of what I’ve been reading would be a fellow named Jack Turner blogging at Jack & Jill Politics, a blog which claims to be “A black bourgeoisie perspective on U.S. politics”. Turner apparently took a bit of a blogging hiatus after the inauguration to take care of some personal commitments. He’s now shocked, shocked I tell you to return to the political arena and find everything has gone to Hades.
When I returned in mid August, it was to a country that had clearly lost its damn mind. I turned on one cable station to hear people demanding President Obama prove he’s an American citizen, an insane movement led by an Israeli citizen. I switched channels to see another group screeching in fear that Obama’s health care proposal would institute death panels to kill grandma. On yet another station, Glenn Beck accuses this president of having a deep-seated hatred for half of himself. Flip again to find parents removing their children from school because they don’t want their kids exposed to Obama’s socialist indoctrination. And yesterday, Green Jobs Czar Van Jones resigned after extreme pressure from right wing groups and extreme tepidness from the White House that hired him to do his very important work.
Great. After a brief respite, the most accessible American political discourse has returned to fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of a high-volume, low-intellect minority.
Now where’s the laugh in that? Well I’ve put it in bold for you. Mr. Turner unknowingly admits that the brief “quiet” was a respite. A respite from what?
How about 8 years of “fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of high-volume, low-intellect minority” on the left? It seems, as usual, that for the left, history began on January 20th of this year. However, occasionally you see the truth reflected in their words even when they perhaps didn’t mean to reveal it.
Black Star News, which touts itself as “New York’s Leading Investigative Newspaper”, decided to weigh in on the Van Jones resignation with an unsurprising slant on the whole thing:
So we see the Witch hunt escalating. This is just the beginning.
Van Jones, the White House environmental adviser resigned last night following a smear campaign launched by Glenn Beck and other Republicans.
Jones, who is Black, was criticized as a “radical” whose views are out of the mainstream.
The Republicans dug up various incidents from Jones’ background; that he once headed an organization that fought police brutality; that he was one of the demonstrators who protested the police brutalization of Rodney King; that he once described himself as a socialist; that he criticized white owned companies for dumping toxic waste in African American neighborhoods; and that he signed a petition which questioned whether the government’s laxity allowed the 9/11 tragedy to occur.
Of course, Jones didn’t describe himself as a “socialist”, after 6 months in jail he called himself a “communist”. He didn’t just criticize “white owned companies” for dumping toxic waste in minority communities, he accused “white environmentalists” as well. And last, the truther petition wasn’t about “government laxity”, but the claim that the government knew and actually planned the 9/11 event. Communisim, racism and radicalism all rolled up into one big green ball, totally ignored or minimized by his defenders in order to call those who went after him “verbal terrorists”.
Of course I’m sure BSN wasn’t included in Jack Turner’s “fearful, hate-filled, ignorant rants of a high-volume, low-intellect minority.” Note too that while BSN doesn’t overtly introduce the subject of racism into the rant, it does make sure you know that Jones is black very early in the editorial. You’re then left to draw your own conclusions.
Back to Turner, who apparently learns much about American policy from movies:
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from the movies, it’s that “The United States of America does not negotiate with terrorists.” Yet this White House is willing to let these psychological terrorists set the terms of the debate and negotiate from their insane positions.
Remember now, Turner has returned from his hiatus expecting reasoned dialogue to be the rule. Yet it only takes a few paragraphs for him to get into the ad hominem swing. “Psychological terrorists?”
To again make the point that selective memory seems to have infected the left, take a gander at Turner’s rationalization for engaging in demonization and marginalization:
I realize I’m lumping a variety of “opposition” camps together: birthers, deathers, those who accuse the president of racism and those who accuse him of socialism. I’m grouping them because to me they all come from the same place. They’re engaging in a form of terrorism. They are using psychological violence (and occasionally the threat of real violence) to pursue a political objective, and in so doing, inflicting harm upon non-combatants.
Yeah, see the “opposition” couldn’t just be ideologically opposed to the sweeping takeover of America by the radical left and speaking out about it – you know, speaking “truth to power”? Nope, they have to be “terrorists” who are engaged in “psychological violence”. Dissent, you see, is no longer the “highest form of patriotism”. It’s now political terrorism.
You can’t help but chuckle when you think about how quickly that bit of rhetorical defense disappeared from the lefty vocabulary as soon as they took power.
The answer? Stomp ’em flat. Act like they don’t exist. Steam roll ’em:
This White House, this administration and this president failed Van, failed its supporters and failed to honor the efforts of millions that got them into office in the first place. What’s the point of having power if you don’t use it? When will this White House realize that nothing it does will ever be acceptable to the loud-mouthed, ignorant minority? When will it learn that you cannot negotiate with terrorists??
Indeed, what is the point of having power if you don’t use it? The radical left wants it used and used brutally. Ram the agenda through. Marginalize and demonize the opposition. Stuff it down their throats while the power is in hand and the opportunity exists. And claim to be upset and scandalized by how the “opposition” has eroded the level of debate, all the while acting like the past 8 years and the tone you set never occurred.
Selective history, selective memory and selective facts all combine to empower clueless rants like that of Turner and BSN. After vastly outdoing today’s “psychological terrorists” the past 8 years in the level, depth and vileness of the attacks on the “opposition” and its ideas, it is amusing to watch them suddenly take umbrage when their sacred cows are effectively attacked.
But then, as I’ve often said, the left is chronically irony impaired.
As many predicted, Van Jones has resigned. Naturally, he picked the middle of Labor Day weekend to do it. That means minimal coverage, which is somehow fitting, seeing how little the mainstream media covered the whole thing. This has been the deftest handling of an Obama appointment miscue ever; by the time Labor Day cookouts end, this will be over and the average voter will have never heard of Jones.
Of course, Jones’ take on the whole thing is drearily predictable:
“On the eve of historic fights for health care and clean energy, opponents of reform have mounted a vicious smear campaign against me,” Jones said in his resignation statement. “They are using lies and distortions to distract and divide.” [Emphasis mine]
He somehow doesn’t manage to pinpoint any specific lies or distortions. I suppose you could maintain that the whole thing about him signing a Truther petition was a distortion since he maintains that it doesn’t represent his views, but you would then need the underlying assumption that he’s a lazy radical who doesn’t bother to read what his fellow radicals write, and then fails to take responsibility for the resulting mistakes. I don’t see how that helps much.
The New York Times has yet to weigh in as best as I can tell. But they did find time late last week for this article, which contains the following:
Mark Steyn, a Canadian author and political commentator, speaking on the Rush Limbaugh show on Wednesday, accused Mr. Obama of trying to create a cult of personality, comparing him to Saddam Hussein and Kim Jong Il, the North Korean leader.
This was picked up and repeated by newspapers from Ireland to Las Vegas, with the usual “he’s loony” side comments. Problem is, here’s the actual quote from Mark’s guest host appearance on Rush Limbaugh that the NYT is using as a source:
Obviously we’re not talking about the cult of personality on the kind of Saddam Hussein/Kim Jong-Il scale. [Emphasis mine]
Now I suppose you could be pedantic and say, “Well, he is comparing the two, in a sense.” No, actually he’s contrasting the two, and one would hope the august journalists at the Times would know the difference, after all those “compare and contrast” essays in English class.
In my mind, this qualifies as a true smear. Instead of quoting someone, a misquoting is used that modifies the meaning of the original to make someone look bad.
As far as I can tell, this never happened with Jones. People just put up his own words and videos.
But it doesn’t matter. The word “smear” has been debased by the left, just as “fascist”, “rationing“, and plenty of others. Their post-modernist, Red Queen, multiple truths, “I knew what I meant when I said it” worldview makes that a perfectly legitimate tactic as far as they are concerned. The word “smear” now means “saying something that makes a leftist look bad” regardless of whether that something is true.
*** Update 12:38 PM CST ***
Commenter Ernest Brown notes that the NYT finally says something about Van Jones. They delicately manage to avoid Jones’ “smear” allegations, but they do include this:
Mr. Jones apologized on Wednesday for derogatory words he directed at Republican opponents of Mr. Obama’s Congressional agenda during a lecture in February, calling his remarks “inappropriate” and noting that they were made before he joined the administration.
If all you read is the NYT, then you’ll have no clue what the heck they are talking about here. You won’t hear about the extent of Jones’ vulgarity or the cheering he got from the crowd for calling Republicans a$$holes. This is some beautifully done obfuscation for the benefit of the Obama administration.
But note that his vulgar depiction of Republicans was done before he was tapped by Obama. Well, I guess that makes it all right then!
Perhaps indicating why he has never been a politician, Van Jones lays a whopper on the American public (my emphasis):
A top environmental official of the Obama administration issued a statement Thursday apologizing for past incendiary statement and denying that he ever agreed with a 2004 petition on which his name appears, a petition calling for congressional hearings and an investigation by the New York Attorney General into “evidence that suggests high-level government officials may have deliberately allowed the September 11th attacks to occur.”
Van Jones, the Special Advisor for Green Jobs at the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is Number 46 of the petitioners from the so-called “Truther” movement which suggests that people in the administration of President George W. Bush “may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war.”
In a statement issued Thursday evening Jones said of “the petition that was circulated today, I do not agree with this statement and it certainly does not reflect my views now or ever.”
He did not explain how his name came to be on the petition. A source said Jones did not carefully review the language in the petition before agreeing to add his name.
Jones’ statements are so laughable that one could be forgiven for thinking that this is a parody from The Onion (it’s not; I checked the URL … twice).
He and the Obama administration are really expecting us to believe that Jones didn’t know what he was signing? That just begs the question, what did he think it was? Why did Truther group come to him for a signature in the first place? What made them think he would sign it? Did they know of Jones’ apparent disdain for reading what he puts his name on and figure he would offer up his John Hancock without any issue? Or did they, being composed of several other statist weirdos (Cynthia McKinney, Howard Zinn), activists (Medea Benjamin and Jodie Evans of Code Pink), and radicals (Ed Asner, Ralph Nader), know full well that Jones would happily sign the petition because it fits in with his own radical views?
Don’t expect any answers to these questions to be forthcoming.
At this point, the White House isn’t answering any of these questions, but they will have a difficult time sticking with the “I didn’t read it” defense for very long. To be sure, lots of excuses will be offered up by the media in an attempt to provide cover for Obama’s administration, but this isn’t a story that can just go quietly away. They tried to do that with Rev. Wright, but the buzz from non-MSM sources kept it alive until Obama was forced to throw Wright under the bus (with his own grandma!). Expect the same here.
Is anyone else even slightly creeped out by this upcoming presidential address to our kids and grandkids?
Maybe its just me but there’s something just not quite right about it all. Oh, I suspect he’ll be very careful about what he has to say and probably keep it pretty general in tone and nature. But there’s just something about a politician addressing young children without an alternate or dissenting voice that smacks of, oh I don’t know, some novel I read years and years ago.
In fact, I’m pretty sure they made a movie of that book.
You know, it’s one thing for a teacher to use a politician’s words or deeds in class as an example of some point they’re trying to make in a lesson. But it is quite another to have a captive audience with no choice as to whether they listen or watch sitting in front of TVs because a politician decided that would be a good idea.
Maybe it’s my cynical nature that’s coming to the fore. Who knows, this may be nothing but a “hey youngsters, good luck in school and try to do your best” speech. But then I wonder why, if that’s so, he assumes the right to make such a speech best left to moms and dads. Of course he did tell us this week to make sure we wash our hands, sneeze in our sleeve and stay home if we’re sick. So addressing real children after treating us all like children isn’t a real stretch.
The real reason there’s a growing creep factor to all of this is that not only does he presume to have the right to address our kids, his speech has a lesson plan. It’s one thing to have a politician give a speech and everyone go, “ok, that’s nice” and get back to work. But it is entirely creepy when that politician has a lesson plan sent out to accompany the speech. For the pre-K to 6th grade group the plan suggests pre-speech questions like: “Why is it important that we listen to the President and other elected officials, like the mayor, senators, members of congress, or the governor? Why is what they say important?”
Now that doesn’t tend to border on indoctrination or anything does it? “Obey you young skulls full of mush. Elected officials are good. Listen to them. Question authority? Not till you get to the 7th grade.”
7th – 12th graders get a little more sophisticated lesson plan than do the little guys. And guess who it is all about?
Short readings. Notable quotes excerpted (and posted in large print on board) from President Obama’s speeches about education. Teacher might ask students to think alone, compare ideas with a partner, and share their collaborations with the class (Think/Pair/Share) about the following: What are our interpretations of these excerpts? Based on these excerpts, what can we infer the President believes is important to be successful educationally?
Yeah, you see, this seems to be more than “hey youngsters, good luck in school and try to do your best”, doesn’t it?
After the speech, the 7-12 crew will have a “guided discussion” in which questions like, “What is President Obama inspiring you to do? What is he challenging you to do?”, will be pondered.
And the poor little tykes in preK to 6 (preK?)? Well they get the full cult of personality treatment:
Students could discuss their responses to the following questions:
What do you think the President wants us to do?
Does the speech make you want to do anything?
Are we able to do what President Obama is asking of us?
What would you like to tell the President?
Boy, you know what I’d like to tell the President if I was in one of those classes?
Leave our freakin’ kids alone. And don’t ever assume you have either the right or privilege of addressing them about anything ever again without our permission.
But, you know, that’d probably be some sort of overreaction or something. After all, I’m sure his intentions are sweet and pure and good and he only want’s to be our national daddy. And anyway, I don’t even have a lesson plan.