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Lindsey Graham was judged by one set of rules. Richard Blumenthal must play by another
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THE GRAHAM RULES! Lindsey Graham was judged by one set of rules. Richard Blumenthal must play by another: // link // print // previous // next //
WEDNESDAY, MAY 19, 2010

Are we all ditto-heads now: Yesterday, we reviewed Ed Schultz’s groaning conduct concerning Mary Landrieu (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 5/18/10). To help us see our “liberal” world becoming a mirror image of Fox, let’s review a second presentation, this time from Monday’s Countdown.

Is KO’s staff really this dumb—or are they simply dishonest? Whichever it is, they get more like Fox every night. In the process, they’re treating us like ditto-heads.

At issue is Olbermann’s choice of Newt Gingrich as “worst person in the world.” Gingrich won the prize on the basis of his groaning appearance on last weekend’s Fox News Sunday. What follows is the actual transcript of the part of the interview which won Newt the prize. In this, the actual transcript, Chris Wallace challenges a ludicrous claim from Newt’s new book—and Newt lays out some gripes:

WALLACE (5/16/10): You also write this, and let's put it up on the screen: "The secular, socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn't that wildly over the top?

GINGRICH: No. Not if, by America, you mean the historic contract we've had, which says your rights come from your creator, they're unalienable, you're allowed to pursue happiness. I mean, just listen to President Obama’s language. He gets to decide who earns how much. He gets to decide what is too much.

WALLACE: But in fairness, we're talking not just about any company. We're talking about companies that the government has put billions of dollars in with this pay czar—

GINGRICH: No, no. No, no. But he has said publicly, generically, you know, some Americans earn too much. So he’s now going to decide that?

WALLACE: No, he—well, he's not. He has said that, I agree, that some Americans earn too much.

The discussion proceeded from there, with massive dumbness from Gingrich.

In our view, Gingrich’s ludicrous claim is “wildly over the top.” It’s profoundly dumb, and deeply unfortunate. But Gingrich and Wallace had at least discussed an actual issue—the policy by which (in Wallace’s words) the administration sets salary standards for “companies that the government has put billions of dollars in.” For ourselves, we have no problem with that policy. Since the policy gets criticized a fair amount, we think liberals should learn how to defend and discuss it.

But that ain’t the way Olbermann plays the game his show’s standards continues to sink. Rather than present the discussion as it really occurred, Olbermann’s team of fools doctored the discussion until it was barely recognizable. For obvious reasons, Olbermann didn’t play the actual tape of what Gingrich said. He merely read the transcript in the way which follows, making it sound like Gingrich (and Wallace) said nothing which made any sense at all.

Sub-text to this clowning performance: Hey, you dumb fucking rubes!

OLBERMANN (5/17/10): But our winner, Newt Gingrich, who has another book coming out. Might be a coloring book, we’re not sure. Who got raked over the coals for it on Fox? New Gingrich did!

[Olbermann, reading from transcript]

Chris Wallace: You also write this, and let’s put it up on the screen: Quote, The secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did. Mr. Speaker, respectfully, isn’t that wildly over the top?

Newt: No, not if by America you mean just listen to President Obama’s language. He gets to decide who earns how much. He gets to decide when it’s too much.

Wallace, No, he’s not. He’s said that some Americans earn too much.

Huh?

That’s the way Olbermann presented the exchange. You can review the dueling transcripts yourself to see the way KO doctored the original. Or you can watch KO’s performance (click here) to see how dumb this program now gets.

We’ve seen a lot of doctored transcripts. The only one we can recall which was as clownishly doctored would be a “transcript” Cal Thomas doctored and ran in a column—eleven years ago.

Can we tell you what happened here? Olbermann wanted to make Gingrich look like “an over-heated carnival clown.” You’d think a mildly intelligent person could accomplish that task without much effort. But rather than deal with what Gingrich actually said, Dr. Olbermann fixed the transcript in such a way that Gingrich’s statement (and Wallace’s rejoinder) simply made no sense at all.

The disrespect for you, the viewer, just drips from this doctored presentation. Question: Does KO’s staff spend more than ten minutes preparing this program each night? (It’s fairly clear that KO himself rolls in at 7:45.)

At some point, liberals have to make a decision. It’s a moral decision—but it’s an intellectual decision too. Are we willing to be this dumb, this dishonest? Do we really want to get handed data which are off by a factor of seventy? Do we really want to get handed “transcripts” which have been chopped up like that?

Trust us: When it comes to dumb and dishonest, KO will take you as far as you’ll go. That said, here’s the question which pops in our heads:

Are we all ditto-heads now?

THE GRAHAM RULES (permalink): Paul Sullivan isn’t real sharp, which may explain why the New York Times published his letter this morning. The Times is on one of its low-IQ jihads—the kind they ran against Clinton, then Gore. The kind they launched in 2008 with that inexcusable front-page report about John McCain’s hot love affair.

Today, their jihad is aimed at Richard Blumenthal. This is the one lonely letter they published in today’s paper:

He Didn’t Serve in Vietnam, but Said He Did

The article about Mr. Blumenthal’s fabrications concerning his nonexistent Vietnam service angers me. I am a former Marine captain who did serve in Vietnam. People like Mr. Blumenthal who managed artfully to avoid Vietnam are despicable when they lie about their service to seek public office.

These people insult veterans who actually served in Vietnam. The question asked of Senator Joseph McCarthy is appropriate to them: “Have you no sense of decency?” The answer, sadly, is that they do not. Nor, apparently, are they courageous enough to apologize for their untruths without weasel words.

I trust that the voters of Connecticut will take Mr. Blumenthal’s lack of integrity into consideration. We do not need any more of these people in public office. They reflect dishonor on the country.

Paul Sullivan
Mount Vernon, N.Y., May 18, 2010

Sullivan is very angry—and he isn’t especially bright. How exactly does Sullivan know that Blumenthal “lied”—misspoke deliberately? Public figures misspeak all the time, after all, and we don’t simply assume that they’re lying. (In most cases, they aren’t.) Meanwhile, the New York Times’ current case against Blumenthal is remarkably thin. (It’s how the Times tends to roll in such matters.) After performing oodles of research—they even researched the Shelton Weekly!—these are the three examples of “misstatements” by Blumenthal the Times was able to harvest. Raymond Hernandez, who misstated facts all through his report, did the honors:

HERNANDEZ (5/18/10): At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it—Afghanistan or Iraq—we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

[...]

In 2003, he addressed a rally in Bridgeport, where about 100 military families gathered to express support for American troops overseas. “When we returned, we saw nothing like this,” Mr. Blumenthal said. “Let us do better by this generation of men and women.”

At a 2008 ceremony in front of the Veterans War Memorial Building in Shelton, he praised the audience for paying tribute to troops fighting abroad, noting that America had not always done so.

“I served during the Vietnam era,” he said. “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse.”

Three statements, from a long public career—and one of the statements, the one made in Shelton, is just flat-out accurate. (More on that below.) By way of contrast, Blumenthal’s March 2008 statement is plainly inaccurate, if taken at face value; Blumenthal didn’t serve “in Vietnam.” The statement from 2003? Sorry, but here we go again: You really need a larger chunk of the statement to judge what Blumenthal said that day. That said, the Times had to go all the way back to 2003 just to harvest this second shaky example of Blumenthal’s dastardly “lies.”

Let’s review the record:

2003/Bridgeport: The statement seems shaky, but it’s hard to say.
March 2008/Norwalk: The statement is inaccurate.
2008/Shelton: The statement is actually accurate.

Three statements from a long public career—and one of the three is accurate! On the basis of this remarkably meager record, the Times is willing to print an outraged letter about Blumenthal’s “lies” and “lack of integrity” (along with all the other crap they print on this matter today). Meanwhile, your “liberal leaders” are doing what they always do at moments like this. Some of the children are on TV, loudly calling for Blumenthal’s head. Some are merely showing how weak and inane they are when it comes to fighting these jihads.

Is something at stake in this small, stupid matter? Last night, A. B. Stoddard, fingering mommy’s pearls, explained the stakes for Bill O’Reilly, appearing on the cable channel she has increasingly come to accept as her own:

STODDARD (5/18/10): I think a few occasions of misspeaking about whether or not you were really indeed a veteran of the Vietnam War actually does impugn your standing and your credibility and your legitimacy as an office-holder and a leader and a candidate. And it probably ends up impugning your record. All the good service that he's put in now is not helping him because he has presented himself as somebody who was happy, upon occasion, maybe not every single time, to misrepresent himself.

O'REILLY: It doesn't matter. It's big, it's big. Right. It goes to honesty. Look, he may be the most efficient public servant in the world, I don't know. All right? But it goes to honesty. And that's big. You know, Vietnam was tough. You don't say you were there if you weren't. So, I think that it's going to hurt him a lot. You think?

STODDARD: I think it actually opens up a possible running of the table for the Republicans who are now ahead in eight seats. And actually can end up taking 10 and flipping control of the Senate.

“Maybe not every single time!” This is the way a hack like Stoddard says “once or twice, in his whole career.”

At any rate, the plummy-toned darling explained the stakes: This may allow the GOP to regain control of the Senate! Those are the actual stakes—not that any such problem is likely to rouse today’s “career liberal” to fight. In 1999 and 2000, this sort of thing was done for two solid years, to flip control of the White House itself. But you couldn’t get “liberal leaders” to speak up then. And since that time, they’ve all agreed that we simply mustn’t discuss that unpleasant era, which leaves us open to the new gang-bang our “leaders” enabled last night.

Last night, as always, the weak little hacks rolled over and died on TV. Chris Matthews, the most objectionable man of the age, loudly brayed for Blumenthal’s scalp. Lawrence O’Donnell, a skilled self-promoter, meekly refused to fight. On The Ed Show, Bill Press surrendered outright (while Ed himself weakly stared), saying that Blumenthal must be replaced.

On line, Josh and Steve’s treatments of this matter were so weak and so unhelpful, they really ought to ask A. B.’s mommy if she’s prepared to adopt.

Of course, this is the way your “leaders” behaved in 1999 and 2000. Since then, we have all agreed that we mustn’t discuss what happened then, or in the earlier years when the jihads at the Times were run against Clinton himself. (Jeff Gerth, come on down!) In the process, the liberal world has failed to build an historical memory. We have failed to develop the most basic frameworks of understanding, the most basic skills of rebuttal.

This explains why no one was talking about Lindsey Graham last night.

What happened in 1998 when Graham, then a Republican congressman, was caught up in a much more extensive version of this mess? Graham had endlessly told the world that he was a “Gulf War veteran,” although his service during that period hadn’t taken him off the east coast. (The east coast of the U.S.) By the way: In Graham’s case, we weren’t discussing a single misstatement from a single, two-year-old speech; Graham had endlessly presented himself as a “Gulf War veteran.” And do you recall the advice he received—the way he was told he should clean up his mess? Of course you don’t! This happened in 1998! Half your “liberal leaders” were at Little League games. The rest were asleep in the woods.

For ourselves, we don’t have a major problem with what Graham did. But Graham was allowed to play by one set of rules. Blumenthal has been handed another as “liberal leaders” refuse to complain.

The Graham rules

The flap about Graham began in February 1998, as the high-minded congressman was getting ready to lead the House in the impeachment of President Clinton. We can’t find active links to any reports from the period. But here are some basic chunks from the initial AP report:

ASSOCIATED PRESS (2/19/98): U.S. Rep. Lindsey Graham's military service record has been called into question because the Republican congressman, who never went overseas, calls himself as a Gulf War veteran.

Graham's Internet web site biography lists him as an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran, although he never got closer to the war than McEntire Air National Guard Base near Columbia [South Carolina] where he was a military lawyer.

Graham, who said Wednesday he never intended to mislead people, processed wills for soldiers deploying to the Gulf and helped their family members with legal issues.

[...]

In a statement released by his office Wednesday, Graham said, ''It makes me mad that some people would try to denigrate my military service record and that of thousands of others who served stateside during the war. I was called up and served on active duty ... I left my business, my home and friends to perform the duties I was trained for just as the veterans who served in past conflicts have done.''

The Hill quoted Angelo Perri, a retired Army colonel and Gulf War veteran, who said ''he's claiming to be somewhere he wasn't.''

Dickie Dickson of Belton served 22 years in the U.S. Navy, including time during the Gulf War when he taught firefighting to soldiers deploying overseas. He said he thinks Graham's claims can be misconstrued.

''I don't consider myself a Gulf War veteran because I wasn't over there,'' Dickson said.

Dave Autry, a Washington, D.C.-based spokesman for Disabled American Veterans, said Graham should refer to himself as a ''Gulf War-era veteran.”

Go ahead—enjoy a good laugh as you see the advice Graham got. Graham should refer to himself as a ''Gulf War era veteran,” we were told—and that’s pretty much the basis on which this flame was allowed to blow out. The flap about Graham blew over quickly, helped along by this sage advice. The fiery young fellow was allowed to proceed with the important business of impeaching the president.

And today, some twelve years later? Of course! On page one, the New York Times indicts a major Democrat, complaining that he once said, completely correctly, that he served “during the Vietnam era.” The use of “era” solved Graham’s problem. Twelve years later, the same construction is used, by the Times, to define Richard Blumenthal’s “lies.”

At the hapless Gotham paper, this construction turns Blumenthal into a liar. Somehow, Blumenthal’s accurate statement completes the rule of three!

Can we talk? The New York Times has been deranged when it comes to such matters for a very long time now. The paper is an intellectual/moral black hole; it features the work of some of the dumbest, most dishonest, people of the age. But then, the Times is enabled by the fiery liberals who played along with its jihad last night. Matthews, O’Donnell, Press and the rest? Their moral and intellectual squalor defines a moronic age.

Fingering her mommy’s pearls, Stoddard explained the stakes last night. Behaving as they did in the past, your big “liberal leaders” rolled over.

Pepperidge Farm remembered: In 2002, Joe Conason recalled the Graham flap. You know what to do—just click here.