Saturday, October 30, 2004

Anatomy of a Brooks smear

David Brooks is one of the more repugnant op-ed guys in journalism, and today's op-ed in the NY Times is particularly repulsive, because of its lies and distortions come so close to what all acknowledge is a critical point in the campaign.

1. "Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated. He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance. "

True, but Kerry never said he wouldn't go after al Qaeda- in fact, just the opposite.

2. "Here was this villain traipsing through his own propaganda spiel with copycat Michael Moore rhetoric about George Bush in the schoolroom, and Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida election."

I read an extended transcript, and I suspect- I certainly have no memory- of "Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida eleciton" being in bin Laden's statement. But bin Laden did give references to Lebanon, (and implicitly Israel/Palestine) which Moore ignored in his film. Brooks is trying the "Moore=Kerry=bin Laden" smear, but the reality is, bin Laden was able to make this criticism because of Bush's incompetence. Let's see if Brooks addresses that...

3. "Last March, Americans preferred Bush over Kerry in fighting terrorism by 60 percent to 33 percent, according to the Gallup Poll. Now, after a furious campaign and months of criticism, that number is unchanged. Bush is untouched on this issue."

Even the Gallup folks take their polls with a grain of salt- as everyone who follows this stuff knows, the demographics for Gallup are severely whacked, and the Gallup folks themselves acknowlege this. Other polls have shown, in fact, that Kerry's pulled even with Bush on this issue.

4. "Bush's response yesterday to the video was exactly right. He said we would not be intimidated. He tried to take the video out of the realm of crass politics by mentioning Kerry by name and assuring the country that he was sure Kerry agreed with him.

Kerry did say that we are all united in the fight against bin Laden, but he just couldn't help himself. His first instinct was to get political. On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: "He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job." "

This is the big, baldfaced lie for 2 reasons:

i. Kerry's statement, posted below, was exactly what he said. There was no mention of Bush or Tora Bora. But, it was true as has been painstakingly reported.

ii. Brooks ignores Bush's attacks on Kerry- reported the same night- in which Bush repeats the lie that we didn't have the chance to get bin Laden at Tora Bora!

5. "But politics has shaped Kerry's approach to this whole issue. Back in December 2001, when bin Laden was apparently hiding in Tora Bora, Kerry supported the strategy of using Afghans to hunt him down. He told Larry King that our strategy "is having its impact, and it is the best way to protect our troops and sort of minimalize the proximity, if you will. I think we have been doing this pretty effectively, and we should continue to do it that way."

But then the political wind shifted, and Kerry recalculated. Now Kerry calls the strategy he supported "outsourcing." When we rely on allies everywhere else around the world, that's multilateral cooperation, but when Bush does it in Afghanistan, it's "outsourcing." In Iraq, Kerry supports using local troops to chase insurgents, but in Afghanistan he is in post hoc opposition."

This, too is false, as anybody who's read Kerry's statements - and reports of what really happened at Tora Bora know...Pakistan ISI let al Qaeda escape...

Anyhow, the upshot is: bin Laden is free and Bush bears command responsibility, and as Wes Clark said so eloquently last night: it's a "one strike and you're out" policy for the Commander.

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