In a follow-up to The Daily Caller's non-scoop about liberal journalists coordinating on an open letter (how does the Caller expect joint open letters to come about? Spontaneously, by magic?) The Weekly Standard's Mary Katharine Ham claims the article proves that "the left's incessant cries of 'racism' have become largely a cynical political ploy." But Ham's argument is spectacularly dishonest.
Ham quotes the Daily Caller revealing that "In one instance, Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama's relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama's conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, 'Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.'"
Ham then writes:
What better to paper over the cynicism and contradictions of the Democrats' candidate than some good, old-fashioned, crude shouts of "racist"?
Liberals do it because it works. In a standard that works rather conveniently for liberals, and has been embraced by much of the media during the post-Obama Tea Party era, white conservatives and their allies are considered racists for merely being white conservatives. No video evidence is necessary to condemn, and no number of repuditations is sufficient to clear conservatives of this taint.
Ham, in other words, portrays Ackerman as having argued for baseless allegations of racism against conservatives he knows aren't racist. But in order to do so, she had to omit a key part of the Daily Caller article, which acknowledged: "Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. 'We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it.'"
So, according to the Daily Caller article Ham cites, Ackerman explicitly said that conservatives who don't deserve to be called racists shouldn't be called racists. But Ham omitted that fact from her post, and instead portrayed Ackerman as having advocated the "cynical political ploy" of baselessly accusing non-racists of racism.
Again: Spectacularly dishonest.
UPDATE: Josh Trevino defends Ham, claiming: "Douthat wasn't exempted for non-racism, but for irrelevance." Nice try, Josh, but that's completely false according to The Daily Caller report Ham cited. Here's The Daily Caller:
Ackerman did allow there were some Republicans who weren't racists. "We'll know who doesn't deserve this treatment — Ross Douthat, for instance — but the others need to get it."
That absolutely does not say Douthat was exempted for "irrelevance." It quite clearly says Douthat was exempted for "non-racism." Like I said: Nice try, Josh.
UPDATE 2: Trevino further argues that the "lack of hard evidence" that Fred Barnes is a racist proves Ham's point, and disproves mine. This displays a stunning lack of reading comprehension, or stunning lack of honesty. I'm not sure which.
Anyway, here's why the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist is totally irrelevant to Ham's point and my refutation of it: Ham didn't accuse Ackerman of being wrong about whether people were racists. If she had done so, the question of whether Fred Barnes is racist might be relevant. But what Ham actually accused Ackerman of was wanting to label as racist people Ackerman knows are not racist. (That's presumably why Ham used the word "cynical" rather than "false" to describe Ackerman's proposed tactics.) So Ham's point is not proven by showing that Ackerman called a non-racist racist; one must show that he argued for so labeling someone who he stipulated is not a racist.
And the record -- which consists solely of the Daily Caller article upon which Ham based her entire post -- shows quite the opposite. it shows that Ackerman specifically excluded Douthat from such labeling. And Ham left that fact out of her post.
And, because I don't want to have to write a third update, I'll point out right now that no information that may or may not exist in the future has anything to do with this discussion. Ham's claim was based on the Daily Caller article.
UPDATE 3: Oh, all right: one more. Trevino hilariously suggests the Daily Caller's description of Ackerman's reference to Douthat is unreliable. I certainly don't blame Trevino if he finds the Daily Caller's assessment of anything unreliable. But if Trevino finds the Daily Caller's account of Spencer Ackerman's emails unreliable, I wonder why he isn't criticizing Ham for basing a blog post on it?
The Weekly Standard's Stephen Hayes writes:
There is no question about the fact that voter intimidation took place. Not only are there numerous eyewitness accounts, one of the NBP members was videotaped at the front of the polling station wielding a baton. That "no voters attested to being turned away" is meaningless. Voter intimidation, as Smith allows, is against the law. Period. And it's certainly possible that some voters, upon seeing a NBP member with a nightstick, simply turned and left without saying anything.
Not one voter has said he or she was intimidated! Not one person. How can voter intimidation have occurred without intimidated voters? And yet Stephen Hayes is certain: "There is no question about the fact that voter intimidation took place."
Then again, Stephen Hayes is best-known for his dubious claims about "The Connection" between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Al Qaeda, so he's never been one to let a lack of evidence stand in the way of his certainty.
Kagan Defends Discriminating Against Military at Harvard
In fact, Kagan didn't discriminate against the military, she ended the military's exemption from Harvard's anti-discrimination policy.
It says a lot about McCormack that he thinks ending an entity's exemption from an anti-discrimination policy constitutes discriminating against that entity.
Though, in fairness (I guess?) to McCormack, there's ample evidence that he doesn't actually believe the nonsense he writes.
UPDATE: McCormack also referred to Kagan's "anti-military policy," another bit of dishonest demagoguery. Applying the same rules to the military that are applied to other entities isn't "anti-military." It's "pro-consistency."
I'll say this for the crazy Birthers at WorldNetDaily: At least they seem to believe the nonsense they spew. See, WND traffics in the nutty conspiracy theory that President Obama is ineligible to be president because he wasn't born in the U.S. That's crazy -- but, if it were true, it would be a pretty big deal. And WND treats it like a big deal: At any given time, WND has anywhere from a handful to a dozen or two articles on its front page about the topic. That's how you'd behave if you believed this stuff to be true.
Contrast that to The Weekly Standard's behavior. Every few months, the magazine starts claiming some completely innocuous occurrence constitutes bribery or other inappropriate coercion by the White House. First it was Michael Goldfarb's laughable claim that the White House had threatened to close an Air Force base if Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson didn't do its bidding. Then John McCormack started peddling the absurd claim that Rep. Jim Matheson's brother was given a judgeship in order to win the Congressman's health care vote. Then McCormack started hyperventilating about the Joe Sestak job-offer non-story, in an effort to set off a bribery investigation.
All three of those examples have something in common: In each case, after a few days of attention, The Weekly Standard dropped the story and moved on.
If the Weekly Standard really believed the Obama administration was "selling judgeships," as McCormack described it, don't you think they'd still be writing about it? If they really believed the White House tried to "bribe" Joe Sestak, don't you think they'd still be writing about it? If they really believed the White House would shut down an Air Force base to force a Senator to vote for health care reform, don't you think they'd still be writing about it?
Instead, the Weekly Standard drops these absurd faux-scandals as quickly as it invents them. The most obvious explanation is that they never really believed them in the first place. If you were a professional conservative writer who sincerely believed that the White House was playing politics with national security and selling judgeships, you wouldn't just drop it, would you?
In a strange way, WorldNetDaily's conspiracy theorizing might actually more respectable than the Weekly Standard's. At least WND seems like they believe their smears. The Weekly Standard doesn't even bother to pretend to believe their nonsense -- they just throw allegations against the wall in hopes of something sticking and move on to the next bogus claim when it doesn't.
Keep that in mind the next time the Weekly Standard tries to gin up a scandal.
Today, William Kristol reported in the Weekly Standard that members of the Obama Administration "have been telling foreign governments that the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission... to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident."
Shortly after the Kristol's article was released, Politico's Ben Smith reported that Administration officials "sharply den[ied]" the claims. Smith quoted an administration official who expressed the White House's support for "an Israeli-led investigation into the flotilla incident that is prompt, credible, impartial, and transparent." From Politico:
The White House is sharply denying a claim by Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol that "the administration intends to support an effort next week at the United Nations to set up an independent commission, under UN auspices, to investigate Israel's behavior in the Gaza flotilla incident."
The White House official said the administration continues to support "an Israeli-led investigation into the flotilla incident that is prompt, credible, impartial, and transparent."
"We are open to different ways of ensuring the credibility of this Israeli-led investigation, including international participation, and have been in intensive talks with our Israeli partners in the past few days on how to move forward," said the official. "We know of no resolution that will be debated at the UN on the flotilla investigation next week."
This is merely the latest attempt by the Weekly Standard to smear the Obama Administration with unfounded and quickly denied accusations. In March, Weekly Standard writer John McCormack falsely reported that Obama was "selling judgeships" in exchange for votes on health care reform. Before that, Weekly Standard writer Michael Goldfarb falsely accused the Administration of threatening to close a Nebraska Air Force Base if Senator Ben Nelson didn't "fall into line" on health care. What will they come up with next?
Yesterday, the Weekly Standard ran a ridiculous hit piece on Alexi Giannoulias, the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, accusing him of misrepresenting his record. The attack follows Giannoulias' opponent Mark Kirk's false claim that he was awarded a top Navy award for service during NATO's conflict with Serbia. And his false claim that he served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. And his claim that he came under fire aboard an aircraft in Iraq, which he reportedly said may not be true.
Kirk eventually said, ""I want to be very contrite and say there is a casualness with which I sometimes describe military details. And if it gave the impression that my military record is larger than it was, I want to apologize." (The old non-apology apology.)
So it was only a matter of time before the conservative noise machine fired back at Giannoulias' résumé. In a post titled, "Giannoulias's Embellishment", The Weekly Standard's Daniel Halper pointed to an error on Giannoulias' official website. The website previously stated: "He [Giannoulias] founded and chairs the AG Foundation, a not-for-profit charity that donates money to treat child-related illnesses, curb poverty and assist disaster relief organizations."
Right-wing media have falsely claimed that the White House offered Andrew Romanoff a job in exchange for dropping out of Colorado's U.S. Senate election, and have falsely alleged or suggested that the White House committed a crime in doing so. In fact, both Romanoff and the White House have said no formal job offer was made, and legal experts have repudiated the claim that this practice would constitute a crime.
You might not expect a magazine that once ran a 3,229-word cover story decrying an investigation into the outing of a CIA agent as the "criminalization of politics" to be particularly upset over the possibility that a White House official offered a Senate candidate a job. But the Weekly Standard is nothing if not, uh, flexible in its outrage.
And so, having published Fred Barnes' 2006 apologia for the kind of leak that former President George H. W. Bush once declared the work of "the most insidious of traitors," the Weekly Standard is now home to John McCormack's hilarious efforts to drum up support for a bribery investigation predicated on an unnamed White House official's alleged offer of an unspecified job to Joe Sestak. Because, you know, outing a CIA agent is fine; that's merely politics -- just don't offer someone a job!
I say "hilarious" for two reasons. First, the alleged offer is a bit of a non-starter as political scandals go. White House officials have been known to try to "clear the field" for their preferred candidates in campaigns for as long as anyone can remember -- and when Karl Rove and Dick Cheney did it, it was portrayed as a sign of their effectiveness. I don't remember calls for bribery investigations when Team Rove convinced Richard Vinroot to drop out of the 2002 North Carolina Senate race -- or when the RNC sent Vinroot $200,000 to pay off his campaign debt a couple of weeks later. (A Nexis search for Vinroot's name in the Weekly Standard library yields no hits.)
But now John McCormack wants you to think that offering a candidate a job is the worst thing since Watergate. And that brings me to the other reason this is so funny: John McCormack.
See, McCormack sees -- or pretends to see -- illegal White House bribes every time he turns around. Just a few months ago, he was peddling the baseless allegation that the White House tried to buy Rep. Jim Matheson's vote on health care reform by nominating his brother to a federal judgeship. McCormack quickly walked back that ludicrous claim, just as his former Weekly Standard colleague Michael Goldfarb had to walk back his ludicrous claim that the White House threatened to close a Nebraska Air Force base to win Ben Nelson's support.
I can't wait for McCormack's next theory -- it'll probably be something about how Rahm Emanuel offering a visiting congressman a cup of coffee constitutes an offer of a bribe in exchange for a vote on financial reform.
Led by Bill Kristol, the Weekly Standard is waging an interesting little campaign aimed at convincing the public that the military has nothing to do with the military's ban on openly-gay service members. Here's Kristol on May 10:
[I]t is not the military's policy. It is the policy of the U.S. Government, based on legislation passed in 1993 by (a Democratic) Congress, signed into law and implemented by the Clinton administration, legislation and implementation that are currently continued by a Democratic administration and a Democratic Congress. It is intellectually wrong and morally cowardly to call this the "military's policy."
Weekly Standard writer John McCormack endorsed that argument in his own May 11 post. And Kristol was back at it today, criticizing Elena Kagan for "blaming of the military for a congressional/presidential policy choice."
The interesting thing about Kristol & Co. insisting that the military itself has nothing to do with the military's anti-gay policies is that they've been insisting for years that civilian policymakers should defer to the military when it comes to adjusting those policies.
Here's Kristol in February:
[T]he repeal is something that Obama campaigned on. He believes in it. But with all due respect to his sincerely held if abstractly formed views on this subject, it would be reckless to require the military to carry out a major sociological change, one contrary to the preferences of a large majority of its members, as it fights two wars.
John McCain's response to Obama's statement was that of a grown-up: "This successful policy has been in effect for over 15 years, and it is well understood and predominantly supported by our military at all levels. We have the best trained, best equipped, and most professional force in the history of our country, and the men and women in uniform are performing heroically in two wars. At a time when our Armed Forces are fighting and sacrificing on the battlefield, now is not the time to abandon the policy."
John McCormack, also in February:
A couple of interesting nuggets on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in that Quinnipiac poll noted earlier: Although 57% of registered voters say they favor repealing the law banning gays openly serving in the military, voters are evenly split when asked, "Do you think heterosexual military personnel should be required to share quarters with gay personnel or not?"
Perhaps more important is the poll's finding that "military households" are evenly split on the question of repealing DADT: 48% oppose repeal, 47% favor repeal. Presumably households include the responses of members of the military as well as their spouses. It would be interesting to poll just active members of the military.
There have been many reports about the momentum behind DADT repeal, but there's no indication there are 60 votes in the Senate or 218 votes in the House to repeal the law. And the top Marine's stance against repeal should carry a lot of weight with those on the fence.
And another Weekly Standard writer, James Bowman, under the header "Don't Change 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'":
The left has nothing better to offer than riding roughshod over the opinions of the majority of servicemen--58 percent in the latest Military Times poll--and repealing the law.
Well, you get the point. According to Kristol and his Weekly Standard pals, we must all defer to (what they portray as) the military's preference when it comes to allowing gays to serve -- but, at the same time, we mustn't attribute that policy to the military.
And while they're at it, Kristol et al insist on accusing Kagan of "discriminating against the military." What they mean by that is that Kagan briefly ended the military's exemption from Harvard's anti-discrimination policy. It's an impressively audacious bit of spin to twist holding the military to the same policy as all other employers into discriminating against the military. Then again, Kristol is an impressively dishonest fellow.
Sean Hannity and Glenn Beck have falsely suggested Elena Kagan's college thesis shows she is a socialist or radical. In fact, Kagan's thesis did not express support for socialism or radicalism, and regardless, conservatives -- including Hannity -- previously said that nominees' political views are irrelevant to the confirmation process.
The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol reacts to the self-executing rule:
A memo from a top aide to Maryland Democrat Chris Van Hollen late last week counseled other Democratic staffers to tell their bosses not to worry, that "things like reconciliation and what the rules committee does is INSIDE BASEBALL." Yesterday House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer told reporters, "I don't think any American...is going to make the distinction" between the Slaughter procedure and a straightforward vote on the legislation. "Process is interesting, particularly to all of us around this room. But in the final analysis, what is interesting to the American public is what does this bill do for them and their families."
In other words: the American public doesn't care about how our representatives govern us--which is to say, about how we govern ourselves. Whether Congress follows its rules, whether there is democratic accountability, whether there is constitutional probity--none of this matters according to Hoyer. Rather, the self-centered and self-concerned American people only care about the (alleged) results of the legislation.
That second paragraph is about as dishonest as you can get. There's no reason to believe Congress won't "follow its rules" or maintain "constitutional probity" -- reconciliation and self-executing rules have been used in the past by Republicans. Kristol offers no explanation for why either procedure is undemocratic, inconsistent with Congressional rules, or unconstitutional -- he just pretends that's a given.
Kristol may as well have written "In other words: the American people doesn't care about whether our representatives beat puppies to death with hammers." Yes, it's true: If Democrats said anything like that, they'd be crazy! But they didn't.
From the March 16 edition of Fox News' Cavuto:
Loading the player reg...
When Weekly Standard blogger Michael Goldfarb was mocked last December for making a far-fetched claim about the White House threatening to close an Air Force base in order to secure Ben Nelson's support for health care reform, Goldfarb quickly began walking back his claim, then abruptly stopped talking about it altogether.
So when I saw Weekly Standard writer John McCormack's baseless suggestion that the White House nominated Rep. Jim Matheson's brother for a judgeship in order to win Matheson's support for health care reform, it looked like history was repeating itself.
And sure enough, McCormack promptly began walking back his claim, telling Fox News viewers the next day there "probably" wasn't an "explicit" quid pro quo. The day after that, McCormack wrote that the "most likely" scenario was that "White House officials simply hoped that if they scratched Matheson's back with the nomination, he would scratch theirs with a vote for the health care bill." Then McCormack went silent on the matter.
So, here's how this played out:
March 3: McCormack writes "Obama Now Selling Judgeships for Health Care Votes?" and "Scott Matheson appears to have the credentials to be a judge, but was his nomination used to buy off his brother's vote?"
March 4: McCormack admits there was "probably not" an "explicit quid pro quo."
March 5: McCormack writes that the most likely explanation is that the White House simply "hoped" Matheson would vote for health care reform.
March 6 - Present: Silence.
Now, ideally, the Weekly Standard wouldn't run around peddling baseless conspiracy theories in the first place. But since they do, it's good to know they've perfected The Weekly Standard Walk-back.
And I'm willing to meet them halfway, by acknowledging that they probably don't subsidize their magazine publishing by selling intravenous drugs to six-year-olds.
Right-wing media figures have continued to attack President Obama's appointment of Scott Matheson to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, suggesting that the appointment was made to influence his brother, Rep. Jim Matheson's (D-UT) vote on health care reform. Those pushing the smear have cited no evidence to support their claims and have acknowledged Matheson's qualifications for the job; indeed, his appointment enjoys broad support and, according to Republican Sen. Bob Bennett, "has been in the works for a long time" and was not made in exchange "for votes on health care."
From the March 4 edition of Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto:
Loading the player reg...