Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen claims:
The health-care bill has almost no near-term benefit for anyone who votes. Its immediate beneficiaries are the uninsured, consisting of the poor and vulnerable, and the young and delusionally invincible. As a voting bloc, they largely don't.
And remember, Cohen is what passes for a liberal at Fred Hiatt's Washington Post, home of the nation's worst opinion pages.
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.
Why? Because on his show yesterday, Rush Limbaugh suggested former CBS anchor Dan Rather was a racist. And according to Andrew Breitbart's latest right-wing talking points, calling somebody a racist is the worst possible allegations unfurled in America. It's an unforgivable act and Breitbart is not going to stand idly by while people do it.
So yes, given those glaringly clear guidelines for today's public discourse, I can't wait to see Breitbart take Limbaugh to task for implying Rather is a racist. Do you think Breitbart will try to call into Limbaugh's show and give him a good verbal lashing? Or maybe Breitbart will just write a blog post for Big Journalism and detail once again, so the entire right-wing movement can see and hear, how lobbing the charge of "racism" is now unequivocally out of bounds.
It's never easy for any fellow conservative to criticize a high-profile talker like Limbaugh. But Breitbart doesn't really have a choice, right? If he meekly stands by and doesn't stand up to the AM talker, who will ever take Breitbart's anti-"racism" crusade seriously?
As Dan Rather himself might say, courage Andrew Breitbart. Courage.
UPDATED: Yes, it's true that Glenn Beck last summer called the president a "racist," and that Breitbart never said boo. But to be fair, that was before the conservative propagandist made his definitive claim about using the "racist" tag. He's clearly on the record today, which is why I'm positive he'll now call out Limbaugh for flippantly using that vile phrase.
As Media Matters noted in its fact-checking of Karl Rove's new book, the former Bush aide hit the motherload of misinformation with a paragraph that revived the 2000-era greatest hits about the Al Gore, the alleged exaggerator.
Just try to count the Gore lies found in this one single paragraph:
Over the past few decades, Gore had said that he had created the Internet, been the model for Love Story, led a crusade against tobacco, discovered the Love Canal chemical disaster, lived on a farm while vice president, never grew tobacco on his farm, didn't know that his visit to a Buddhist temple was a fund-raiser, faced enemy fire in Vietnam, and sent people to jail as a reporter. It was a compelling life story; unfortunately, none of it was true.
What's astonishing is that all these Gore lies have been thoroughly debunked. Like many, many years ago. It's common knowledge that this stuff is garbage. Yet here's Rove, ten years later, casually lying about Gore, secure in his knowledge that conservative readers of the book won't care that the claims are false, and apparently also secure in the knowledge that his publisher, Simon & Schuster's Threshold Editions, doesn't really care about fact checking and will publish whatever partisan tripe he types up.
Media Matters set the record straight yesterday. But Bob Somerby at The Daily Howler has been doing the Lord's work regarding the War on Gore for the last decade, teasing out what the lasting significance has been in terms of our politics and our press. Maybe he could weigh in on just how astounding that single Rove paragraph is and what it represents about our public discourse.
UPDATED: It will be interesting is to see how members of the chattering class deal with Rove's book, especially if they take the time to read it and see paragraphs like the one noted above; paragraphs that are literally built upon layers and layers of obvious falsehoods. Will the chattering class call Rove out, or play along?
From the March 9 broadcast of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
After fifty-four minutes of On the Record, I was pretty excited to see what scoop Greta van Susteren had dug up on the ill treatment of Rush Limbaugh. No less than four times throughout the show, Van Susteren hinted at a "new story" that might make us "wonder if Rush Limbaugh was railroaded" with teases like the following:
VAN SUSTEREN: Remember when Rush Limbaugh was blocked from buying an NFL team? Well we have a new story that will make you say, "Are you kidding?"
She described "a report Rush Limbaugh will be very, very interested in" and promised an "On the Record hypocrisy alert."
Leaving aside that Limbaugh was not, as she put it, "railroaded" or "body-blocked from buying an NFL team," but rather dropped by the ownership group of which he sought to be an investor because of the controversy surrounding his racially charged comments, I was still pretty sure that Van Susteren had something juicy to share about Limbaugh's failed bid to buy the St. Louis Rams. At the very least, I expected her story to be related to Rush Limbaugh. Instead, this is what Van Susteren had to say:
VAN SUSTEREN: Finally, with seven children by six different mothers in five different states, it's no surprise that New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie has some expenses. Well, listen to this. According to the New York Post, the Jets advanced Cromartie 500,000 of his 1.7 million dollar 2010 salary. Why? Multi-million dollar player Cromartie has run out on his children's support. Classy, yep. Remember, critics said Rush Limbaugh was too controversial to own an NFL team. Double standard or fair? We report, you decide.
I'm not sure how Limbaugh trying to buy the Rams is comparable to the Jets advancing their cornerback his salary for child support. That's some defense. It's as though Van Susteren threw a hail mary pass to the goalkeeper who struck out at the plate. Or something.
CPAC is dead to WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah -- and he spends his entire March 8 column explaining why.
Most of the reason is that CPAC wouldn't let Farah speak about President Obama's birth certificate, which he blames on conservative blogger Jon Henke, who raised the idea last year of getting conservatives to not advertise on WND because of its embrace of conspiracy theories (like birtherism). Farah even gives a shout-out to Media Matters for noting Henke's boycott idea:
It began when Republican blogger Jon Henke declared an ill-fated boycott of WND. I say ill-fated because WND had a banner year for revenues and traffic. That should tell you something about his level of influence in the world of politics and news. Henke did his best to get the Republican Party to withhold advertising from WND, never thinking, of course, to suggest the same to the Democrats, who outspent Republicans nationally and in WND in the election year 2008.
Nevertheless, Henke was rewarded with multiple appearances on MSNBC and became a darling of the George Soros-backed slime machine Media Matters as a result of his attack on WND.
His next step was calling CPAC to ensure that I would be banned from speaking there in 2010.
Meanwhile, Henke tells the Washington Independent's Dave Weigel that he appeared on MSNBC only once. Further, regarding Farah's claim about Democrats advertising at WND, it's misleading at best. What Farah has usually offered to back up this claim is contextual advertising through Google AdWords -- in which the ads that appear in the Google ad space are driven by the content of the page they appear on -- which is not the same as directly purchasing ad space from WND. (It's ironic that Farah would defend hosting Google-generated ads on WND, given that he devoted an entire chapter of his 2007 book Stop the Presses! to bashing Google as an "immoral" company that "may not be able to discern right from wrong.")
Farah goes on to trash CPAC director Lisa De Pasquale for blocking his birtherism, calling her an "arrogant, know-it-all wannabe" who exhibits "ill manners, unprofessionalism and condescension."
But being denied a forum to spread his birtherism is not the only reason Farah is shunning CPAC. He's also annoyed that CPAC "made the conscious decision to include in its sponsors for 2010 a group promoting same-sex marriage. How stupid is that?"
There's a third reason as well: WND is creating its own activism conference. The first Taking America Back National Convention (named after Farah's 2003 manifesto) gathers in September in Miami. The list of speakers is mostly the usual WND suspects -- Farah, Jerome Corsi, Alan Keyes -- as well as one CPAC holdover, WND columnist Tom Tancredo, whose CPAC appearance was notable for his insulting the intelligence of Obama voters and calling for a "civics literacy test" as a requirement for voting.
Farah makes clear how his shindig will be different from CPAC:
This one is about the ultimate issues of God, the Constitution, the tea-party uprising, freedom and justice.
There will be no two-headed monkeys.
There will be no same-sex marriage sponsors.
But there will be free and open discussion of issues like the constitutional eligibility of the man occupying the White House.
Of course, when you're paying for the venue, you can talk about any goofy thing you want.
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his March 8 sponsors, in the order they appeared: