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Caveat lector

RON KLAIN’S NO-NAME OFFENSE! Ron Klain slimed unnamed Dems. We hope that he watched Sixty Minutes:

MONDAY, APRIL 19, 2004

MORE FROM THE GOOD SHIPWRECK TIMES: At the start of yesterday’s Meet the Press, Russert asked Kerry a semi-dumb question:

RUSSERT: In the interest of candor and clarity, I want to give you a chance to answer a question right up top, and I promise we’ll talk about the nuance later on. But the American people, I think, would like a yes or no answer: Do you believe the war in Iraq was a mistake?
Do the American people want “a yes or no answer?” We don’t know, and neither does Russert. But most important policy questions don’t lend themselves to one-word answers, as everyone except Russert surely knows. At any rate, asked for brevity, Kerry delivered. Here was his complete answer:
KERRY: I think the way the president went to war is a mistake.
Russert wanted it short and sweet, and he got it. But Kerry’s answer took all of twelve words—and that was too much for the great New York Times. In today’s paper, Jodi Wilgoren pens a hopeless account of Kerry’s encounter with Russert:
WILGOREN: The interview did provide new fodder for Republican attacks on Mr. Kerry for avoiding direct questions. Three times, on questions about troop deployment, troop financing and whether he would pledge not to run for re-election if he failed to fulfill promises to create 10 million jobs and cut the deficit in half, Mr. Kerry said “it depends” on the circumstances or the situation.

Asked at the beginning of the show for a yes or no answer on whether the war in Iraq was a mistake, Mr. Kerry responded, “I think the way the president went to war was a mistake.”

Tomorrow, we’ll take a full look at those troubling instances where Kerry dared say that his future approach would “depend” on future circumstances. But only at the New York Times can writing this stupid appear in our press—writing in which a “reporter” simply announces that Kerry “provided fodder” for RNC spin. And only the Times could be so dumb at to say that twelve words are too many. But then, no one else—no one else—is as dumb as the great New York Times.

We’ve tried to tell you, again and again—the Times is our most dysfunctional paper. At no other paper are writers so fatuous. And no other paper has spun so hard against Democratic White House hopefuls in our last two elections. As we said about Elisabeth Bumiller, so we say about Wilgoren—if the Washington Times penned work this bald, they would quickly be laughed off the stage for their political bias.

Indeed, how inane is the Times—and how eager to spin? Just compare Wilgoren’s piece to Stephen Dinan’s report in the Washington Times. Is the Washington Times the “Moonie” rag? You’d hardly know from comparing these scribes. Dinan isn’t dumb enough to complain when Kerry gives a 12-word answer. Nor is he dumb enough to assert that Kerry supported Republican spin. Today, our dumbest newspaper is Gotham’s Times, and the hapless Wilgoren has shown it again. Tomorrow, we’ll take a look at the hideous way John Kerry provided that fodder.

RON KLAIN’S NO-NAME OFFENSE: In last Friday’s Los Angeles Times, Ron Klain did what he seems to do best—he dumbly slimed his own Dem party. Ron was troubled—deeply concerned—by the way Dems were mocking George Bush. “Beware the temptation to snicker,” he said. Then he laid out his complaint:

KLAIN: That is an important warning for those Democrats who have spent the days since President Bush’s press conference making light of his invocation of “the Almighty” in the defense of his Iraq policy. Specifically, they’ve been snickering over the president’s contention that “freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world.”

Some critics have called the president’s message “missionary.” Some have said that it suggests a case for “religious war” by U.S. armed forces. Others have simply waved it about as evidence of a president who is intellectually or strategically shallow.

There they went again, Klain said. Dems were “snickering” at Bush’s religion, mocking him with such terms as “missionary” and “religious war.” And yes, they’d simply been laughing at Bush. He said this again and again:
KLAIN: [P]rogressives should not belittle the notion that American foreign policy will support the objective of promoting God-given freedoms around the world.

KLAIN: Rather than laughing at the president's invocation of the notion of natural rights to justify his policies in Iraq, Democrats should make it abundantly clear that they share the president's view that all humans are created free and are entitled to enjoy the benefit of that innate freedom.

KLAIN: Instead of belittling the president's reliance on the Almighty, Democrats should make clear that we share the president’s goals but think that his methods have been deeply flawed.

There they went again, dear readers! Democrats have been “laughing at” and “belittling” Bush’s religion. This, of course, is standard-issue RNC cant, endlessly aimed against “secularist” Dems. But here’s the problem: We can only find one Democrat who has used the terms Klain put into quotes. And that Dem wasn’t “belittling” Bush. He was asking a quite valid question.

Let’s start with Klain’s factual claim—the claim that Dems were using terms like “missionary’ and “religious war.” Sorry, Nexis just doesn’t support this. We can find no instance of any Democrat using the term “missionary” to discuss Bush’s speech. And the Nexis archives show only one Dem using the term “religious war” in reaction to Bush’s press conference. That’s former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, writing in Thursday’s Salon.

In short, if Dems are using these troubling phrases, they seem to be doing so on the sly. Dems are using these phrases, Klain says—but Nexis doesn’t seem to have heard! And Blumenthal wasn’t “snickering at” Bush—he was posing a quite valid question. Here’s what he wrote at the end of his piece, posing a question Ron Klain wants to snuff:

BLUMENTHAL: At his press conference, Bush was a confusion of absolute confidence and panic. He jumbled facts and conflated threats, redoubling the vehemence of his incoherence at every mildly skeptical question. Whenever he could, he drove himself back to the safety of 9/11—and then disclaimed responsibility…

The ultimate revelation was Bush’s vision of a divinely inspired apocalyptic struggle in which he is the leader of a crusade bringing the Lord’s “gift.” “I also have this belief, strong belief that freedom is not this country's gift to the world. Freedom is the Almighty’s gift to every man and woman in this world. And as the greatest power on the face of the earth we have an obligation to help the spread of freedom.” But religious war is not part of official U.S. military doctrine.

Was Blumenthal “snickering,” “belittling,” or “laughing at” Bush? Or was he making a valid point about Bush’s ongoing religious statements—statements in which the most powerful person on earth explains his recent military actions?

After watching last night’s Sixty Minutes, we think the answer is obvious. Bob Woodward was clearly flummoxed by the odd religious statements Bush made in his interviews (more on this topic tomorrow). It’s a citizen’s duty to ask about this—to see what we can learn about Bush’s thinking. But Klain is eager to slime his party—to pretend they’re doing what they are not. Meanwhile, Klain is doing what sophists always do. He’s trying to snuff out real questions.

Readers, Ron Klain played the no-name offense. He made a sweeping characterization of Dems—without naming one single person who had behaved in the manner described! For ourselves, we’ve thought poorly of Klain for years because of the way he just luvs bashing Dems. But there’s one bit of “good news” from Ron’s latest outing. Based on his latest well-scripted work, maybe Ron can get a good-paying job performing as the latest “Fox Democrat.”

MAYBE RON HEARD THIS: The New York Times’ David Sanger wrote this about Bush’s speech: “Facing a moment of political peril unlike any in the more than one thousand days of his presidency, George W. Bush made the case on Tuesday night for staying the course in Iraq with the language and zeal of a missionary and combined it with a stark warning that failure would embolden America’s enemies around the world.” That’s a journalist, not a Dem, and Sanger was, on balance, quite respectful. But maybe when Ron heard those troubling words, it led him to do the thing he loves. Maybe Sanger’s troubling word led Ron to tell tales on Democrats.

Annals of verbal contradiction

RICE V. BUSH: Thanks to an alert e-mailer, here’s one more highlight from Bush’s press conference. Our reader emitted those low, mordant chuckles when President Bush said the obvious:

BUSH (4/13/04): Now, in the, what’s called the PDB, there was a warning about bin Laden’s desires on America.
There was a warning! Why did our reader find that amusing? Because five days earlier, Condi Rice had hotly insisted that there wasn’t a warning in that same PDB! We all recall the heartfelt testimony she gave to her nation, under oath
RICE (4/8/04): Commissioner, this was not a warning. This was a historic memo.
Oh, what a difference five days makes! For the record, why did Bush say there was a warning, while Rice kept insisting “this wasn’t a warning?” Simple! Bush was speaking straightforward English. Rice was deceiving the American public and making a joke of her oath.

Remember the crucial context. When Rice made her Bush-contradictin’ claim, the August 6 PDB was still classified. No one could check on the truth of her statements. So she did what comes natural; she lied in your faces. And as we saw on yesterday’s shows, that is just fine with your press corps (more on this topic tomorrow).

For the record, Rice also made these odd statements as she spoke to the nation under oath:

RICE (4/8/04): You said, did it not warn of attacks? It did not warn of attacks inside the United States…It did not, in fact, warn of any coming attacks inside the United States.
She said these things to Richard Ben-Veniste, who had to keep re-phrasing his question as he tried to coax a true statement from Rice’s slick lips. Result? Ben-Veniste was trashed—and Condi was praised! Yep! Life is good when you’re Condi Rice. Tomorrow, we’ll let Chris Wallace prove it.