Thursday, August 12, 2010

Half Truths and Distortions

Small wonder that Barack Obama does not listen to criticism from the “professional left” when a significant portion of that professional left consists of people who are using the same kind of half truths and distortions that the right uses, and are critical of the right for using half truths and distortions. I want the left to be better than this but, sadly, it appears that the left is increasingly becoming the liberal right.

Wait, the “liberal right” !? Well, you know what I mean; tactically speaking.

One of the more liberal blogs I read featured a political advertisement which had been highly touted by Rachel Maddow. It was an attack ad against John Boehner, and the highlight was that he played golf too frequently. I commented that his golfing was not a valid basis for attack, that it was a tactic more fitting to the right wing, and that liberals should be criticizing opponents based on policy rather than using ad hominem smear attacks.

It did not draw quite the vituperation I’ve come to expect, but every response was negative, along the lines of “you use the ammunition the opponent gives you.” Really? The best “ammunition” that John Boehner has provided for criticism is the frequency of his golf game? Is this really the caliber of liberal, or “progressive,” political thinking?

One of them called me a German. I’m not certain what that was, but I suspect it was what the writer thought of as a veiled reference to Hitler. I resisted the temptation to tell him his mother wears combat boots. I did not, happily, get accused of “spouting right wing talking points” this time.

I probably don’t need to say that in the long thread of comments on the advertisement, mine was the only one that was negative. Rachel Maddow has pronounced this advertisement to be “wonderful” so…

The left vilifies Newt Gingrich, while the right regards him as superbly intelligent. I don’t know how intelligent he is in actuality; anyone who uses proper grammar these days and speaks in complete sentences without injecting verbal pauses every other word sounds intelligent. People don’t know what he’s talking about much of the time and so they assume he’s intelligent. It may well be, however, that Gingrich is merely using excellent fluency to express his vast amount of mental incoherence.

And if you followed that then you probably think that I’m intelligent, which shows how thoroughly I have fooled you and neatly illustrates my point about Newt Gingrich.

At any rate, a couple of weeks ago Gingrich said something about Saudi Arabia in connection to the current “mosque issue” and the left took that and ran with it, accusing him of saying that he wants this country to be like Saudi Arabia. What he actually said was,

"I don't want to be lectured by them about religious liberty at a time where there is not a single church or a single synagogue in Saudi Arabia."

I really don’t want to defend Gingrich, ever, but there is not one word in that about what he wants this country, on anyone in this country, to do or not do. He is being harshly critical of Saudi Arabia, but not of this nation or anyone in it. It is really twisting his words completely out of shape to suggest that he is comparing the United States to that nation.

That does not, of course, keep the left from doing it. I have read a dozen or more articles and blog posts, and seen him quoted on news shows three times, and every time the discussion revolved around how he “compared this nation to Saudi Arabia” or how he “suggests that we should be like Saudi Arabia.” He simply did not. If anything, I would interpret what he said as a suggestion that they be more like us; that they should allow churches and synagouges.

On Countdown last night Keith Olbermann had a discussion with Keith Ellison on the subject and both of them tarred Gingrich with the same brush. Olbermann actually quoted him correctly, which made it all the more absurd when he asked if we should be using Saudi Arabia as a model for our conduct. (Emphasis mine)

Olbermann: Newt Gingrich said that he won‘t be lectured on religious liberty while there are no synagogues or churches in Saudi Arabia. Isn‘t Saudi Arabia an unusual place to bring up—to compare—or should we be changing our public relationship to the individual right to worship as you choose to make it more along the lines of Saudi Arabia?

Ellison: You know, Keith, when I read that Mr. Gingrich wrote that, I found it shocking, because although I disagree with almost everything that he says, I at least thought he was intellectually consistent and knew a little bit about what he was talking about. I now have been disabused of that erroneous belief.

Gingrich, if he wants to—Saudi Arabia to be the standard by which we judge America and determine our own liberties and freedoms, then that‘s something I can‘t go along with and I think a lot of Americans would agree with me.

Of course, there is absolutely nothing in what Gingrich said that would suggest that he “wants Saudi Arabia to be the standard by which we judge America” as Mr. Ellison accuses him of doing.

So, if the “professional left” consists of people like Maddow, Olbermann, Ellison and bloggers who believe that we should be attacking politicians based on how much golf they play, and who are twisting people’s words to criticize them for things that they did not actually say, then I’m with Robert Gibbs. They are idiots and should be ignored.

If, however, they are people like Glen Greenwald, who give matters serious thought and make valid objections to policies that are reasonably objectionable, then the administration needs to wake up and pay attention. That, not the buffoonery of the likes of Olbermann and Maddow, is what is needed to right this ship of state.

1 comment:

bruce said...

You need to provide aspirin with this post, because it was ... ok, I think I followed what you meant....

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