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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Obama must rely on minions to rewrite history to dilute the effect of his worst gaffes

Here's the concluding paragraph of a New York Times report announcing that Sen. & Mrs. Obama have resigned their membership in Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ:

Now that Mr. Obama has addressed his ties to the church and pastor in a long speech and fully broken with both, it is not clear what else he can say or do to ameliorate the continued concerns of some voters about those associations.

The answer is: There's nothing he can do to overcome the concerns of some voters. His resignation from Trinity now, coupled with his reluctant denouncement of Rev. Wright's historical and current remarks, amounts to a clear admission that what Trinity condones is toxic for a presidential candidate. But those particular voters — the ones who are paying attention — have already noted that Obama's relationship with this church has been longer than any other adult relationship except for his marriage. He's been a member of that church for many times longer than he's been either a U.S. senator or state legislator, for example.

Thus, there's nothing else he can say or do to fix this. Everything he says about it is likely to make things worse, in fact, for prospective voters who've been paying attention.

So he has to rely on proxies. Fortunately for him, he has lots, in institutions like the New York Times. And they will be his willing accomplices in rewriting history, at least to knock off the roughest edges. Even to the point of telling enormous whoppers. For example, from the same NYT story:

Mr. Wright, however, emerged from retirement in April and spoke at the National Press Club, offering deeper and broader criticism of the United States and using mocking language. Among other things, he opined that the United States government may have had a hand in creating the AIDS epidemic.

This paragraph is one of the most egregious examples I've ever seen of lying by omission.

What made Wright's comment so outrageous was not his suggestion that the government "had a hand in creating the AIDS epidemic," but rather that the government — the white U.S. of KKK A. government — had done so specifically to afflict blacks. The NYT's sanitized version suggests that Obama's multi-decade pastor accused the United States government of being inept; but Obama's multi-decade pastor actually accused the United States government of engaging in deliberate and covert genocide against its own black citizenry:

MODERATOR: In your sermon, you said the government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. So I ask you: Do you honestly believe your statement and those words?

WRIGHT: Have you read Horowitz's book, "Emerging Viruses: AIDS and Ebola," whoever wrote that question? Have you read "Medical Apartheid"? You've read it?

(UNKNOWN): Do you honestly believe that (OFF-MIKE)

WRIGHT: Oh, are you — is that one of the reporters?

MODERATOR: No questions...


WRIGHT: No questions from the floor. I read different things. As I said to my members, if you haven't read things, then you can't — based on this Tuskegee experiment and based on what has happened to Africans in this country, I believe our government is capable of doing anything.

In fact, in fact, in fact, one of the — one of the responses to what Saddam Hussein had in terms of biological warfare was a non-question, because all we had to do was check the sales records. We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people.

So any time a government can put together biological warfare to kill people, and then get angry when those people use what we sold them, yes, I believe we are capable.

Describing Wright as suggesting only that the U.S. government created the AIDS virus, friends and neighbors, is a lie told by the writers (supposedly news writers, mind you) and editors and publishers of the NYT to rewrite recent history for the benefit of Obama's reputation among people who weren't paying close attention earlier in this election year. It's the kind of lie that ought to get several people fired, and indeed, drummed out of "professional journalism."

I shan't hold my breath waiting for that, though.

This entire episode involving Trinity and Wright would have ended the candidacy of any presidential front-runner, Democratic or Republican, in decades past. It's vastly more consequential, for example, than Edmund Muskie's perhaps-teary cheeks. In terms of actual fitness to be president, it's probably more meaningful than Gary Hart bouncing Donna Rice on his lap aboard the Monkey Business.

But what Obama learned from Clinton — Bill, not Hillary — is that if you're sufficiently messianic, you can brazen out almost anything. Being utterly shameless means there must not have been anything really very shameful after all — at least so long as your friends can be counted upon to sand off the roughest edges (i.e., to lie for you), and then to quickly change the subject.

Posted by Beldar at 05:42 AM in 2008 Election, Mainstream Media, Obama, Politics (2008) | Permalink


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(1) hunter made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 8:32:19 AM | Permalink

Remember: The lefties are happy to see him disassociated from a church. To them all Christians are suspect. That Revs. Wright and Pfluger are long term friends, founding supporters, and just part of OBama's extremist background, is irrelevant. Now they can continue to fabricate a vision of BHO as a secular leftist.
But that is much better for the kind of politics the NYT, etc. likes any way.

(2) stan made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 8:41:47 AM | Permalink

You can brazen it out only if you are a Democrat and the MSM wants you to. I've said before, THE political story of the last 40 years is the news media. You can't account for Reagan's greatness (accomplishment while being sabotaged daily by the media) or Clinton's re-election without reference to the power, partisanship and propaganda of the MSM.

And until conservatives decide to take them on and defeat them, the editors of the NY Times and their like-minded friends in the news media will continue to make the critical difference in deciding the nation's course.

(3) hunter made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 10:39:51 AM | Permalink

Great point.
Beldar has nailed this issue. That BHO is politically viable at all after being associated with the equivalent of a black supremacist group speaks volumes about the corruption of our public square.
There is no reason for Americans to tolerate blatant racism and extremism of the type they seem so desperate to impose on us by way of Obama.

(4) vnjagvet made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 3:14:47 PM | Permalink

In the last presidential election, John Kerry benefited enormously from the MSM hagiography.

There was little or no critical analysis of his Vietnam service or his anti-war activism while still a Naval Reserve officer, little made of his gigolo tendencies, and not much coverage on his mediocre Senatorial record.

Then there was the active trumpeting of planted and bogus anti-Bush stories like the TANG brouhaha.

Fortunately, the blogosphere was (barely) adequate to the task of assuring counter-coverage to the MSM's delinqent reportage.

I hope we can be even more successful in this election in assuring opinion leaders are well informed.

There is much to be informed about.

(5) stan made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 6:29:12 PM | Permalink

"Fortunately, the blogosphere was (barely) adequate to the task of assuring counter-coverage to the MSM's delinqent reportage."

True. But the heavy lifting was done by the Swiftboat vets who figured out how to end run the MSM. And the power of the blogs took a mortal hit after CNN news head Eason Jordan was forced to resign. MSM journalists openly vowed to provide the blogs with no more oxygen and have successfully stonewalled conservative blogs ever since. MSM scandals no longer see the light of day.

Now, blogs and talk radio only preach to the conservative choir. We have no way to reach the mushy middle -- those voters who decide elections and get their "news" from the MSM.

The MSM is kicking the crap out of conservatives and has been for 8 years. Conservatives blame Bush and GOP politicians in DC, but that is just passing the buck. No one should expect politicians to step in front of the train driven by the MSM. Politicians will follow the wind. Conservatives need to focus on getting the truth out in the mainstream. When voters know the truth, conservatism will regain popularity and the pols in DC will follow.

Nothing is going to change until the mushy middle are informed of the truth about Iraq, the economy, the environment, etc. And right now, conservatives are making no effort to get the message to those people. Too bad we don't have anyone as smart and as tough as the Swiftvets to tackle the job.

(6) seePea made the following comment | Jun 1, 2008 8:03:04 PM | Permalink

To me, this election is going to be the test of strength of the MSM. I thought that so soon after Pres Clinton , the populace would not get caught up in the sex appeal of a candidate. But the only thing Obama has is sex appeal. His politics is Chicago Dirty and radically left, yet he is about to be the Dem nominee - due entirely to the MSM.

Ironically (and I do think the term is the correct one to use) the hope for Conservatives lies in the unrest among Sen Clinton's supporters.

(7) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 2, 2008 2:20:24 AM | Permalink

Dear Stan: I think you greatly overstate the power of the press. It is there, it is substantial, and is in a perpetual state of malevolence toward the GOP. But it does not have the magnitude you suggest. The best example is this:

1968-2008 = 28 years GOP in the White House +12 years Democrats in the White House

Richard Nixon himself is a splendid counterexample. After he lost the 1962 California governor's race, ABC broadcast their notorious show "The Political Obituary of RN," complete with Alger Hiss's take on RN's defects. Five years later, he was Prez. It's also true that no Prez has ever been so obsessed with the press as RN. What good did it do him? Nor were the mainstream press as liberal as they are today. Say what you will about Walter Cronkite and Tet, it's impossible to imagine him going with the phony Texas Air National Guard memos as Dan Rather did. But this overreaching has had its effect: newspaper circulations and television viewing have declined in the last decade, and show no signs of stopping. There's a lot of reasons, but the overreaching is one of them. Nor will it reverse itself. The New York TIMES is a good example: while it is a "national" newspaper, it is focusing more and more on New York City, trying to appeal to its own readership niche. This niche is liberaliberaliberaliberal. Chasing that group is going to ensure hostility to the GOP and coverups for the liberals.

You write: "The MSM is kicking the crap out of conservatives and has been for 8 years."

Then how is it that the GOP won elections in 2000, 2002, 2004? Continuing:

"Conservatives blame Bush and GOP politicians in DC, but that is just passing the buck. No one should expect politicians to step in front of the train driven by the MSM. Politicians will follow the wind. "

It wasn't the press that forced GWB to create "No Child Left Behind," the Medicare prescription drug benefit, and try to replay the amnesty for illegal immigrants. Especially with the amnesty, the press did not hit GWB particularly hard on these issues. Oh, did I mention the spending that roared forth full throttle all these years? If the above program is conservatism, then conservatism has changed a wee bit since Reagan's time.

So far as a "mushy middle" I don't see many undecideds at the moment. That may change if Obama gets the nomination and many of Hillary's supporters are nursing sore heads (this group will be even larger if Hillary pulls out a win and Obama supporters are nurisng sore heads.) To win this Presidential election, the GOP is going to have to turn out its base and court conservative Democrats. McC can do the second part, but has trouble with the first. This is where the blogs can help. Our own host has done a fine bit with his McC endorsement, "Vote for the Grumpy Old Man," in the column to the right of this.

For Hunter: I think you are dead wrong in your first comment about lefties "being happy to see Obama dissociated from a church." Trinity United runs on Black Liberation Theology, a sort of watered down Marxism with skin color added. Not many lefties are going to disapprove of that. Their objections now are purely tactical, i.e. the ignorant, gun-owning, "clingy" hicks are getting riled up, so ditch Trinity and rejoin it once they've been conned and Obama has been elected.

For vnjagvet: Kerry did benefit from the press's coverage of him, but what good did it do him? All the Swiftboat stuff would have been forgotten if Kerry hadn't been so vain as to insist that he was too a war hero, and make a big play for the role. Had he said, Vietnam was a long time ago, let's talk about the future, he would have been far better off.

Without wanting to sound Pollyannaish, I think McC has a fair chance this year (the GOP in Congress will be killed, as it should be. See: Don Young and the other porkers for details.) The press will try to stop him, but they don't have a big third party draw like Perot in 1992. The big concern I have is a huge terrorist strike anywhere in Iraq or the US in the fall. That is something that the press could work with. Conversely, there is little we citizens can do about it. What we can do is lay out the conservative case, particularly on the foreign side. If this election is about foreign affairs, McC will win as big as GWB did in 2004.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(8) stan made the following comment | Jun 2, 2008 9:58:05 AM | Permalink


You seriously miss the point. First, presidential elections are the ones that voters are most likely to focus upon. They are the ones that the press is least able to influence. Even then, commentators from Evan Thomas to Michael Barone have acknowledged the impact the press has. The GOP's razor thin margins in 2000 and 2004 against complete fools is not evidence that the MSM had no influence; merely that they didn't move enough voters to be decisive. Second, no undecideds? No voters whose politics can't be influenced by years of propaganda? You can't possibly be serious.

The White House has been severely hamstrung in efforts to defend Iraq or the economy. The moment it does, the MSM trots out the latest bomb victim or unemployed and paints the pres as out of touch and uncaring. W learned by watching them do it to his dad.

On all the serious issues of the day -- environment, Iraq, economy, taxes -- the MSM has had the decisive influence. Without the dominance of the MSM, we'd be drilling for oil in ANWR. We'd be celebrating the Bush middle class tax cuts and the incredibly low unemployment rates. We'd be excited about the progress in Iraq. And we'd have honored the men and women who pulled off the greatest rescue effort in history in New Orleans after Katrina.

The election in November won't hinge on education, immigration, drug benefits or spending. It will hinge on foreign policy and Iraq, the economy and taxes, and the environment (particularly oil and food prices). And the MSM has been totally dominant in filtering the facts and framing the debate on those issues.

(9) Scott Jacobs made the following comment | Jun 2, 2008 6:26:38 PM | Permalink

"We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people."

Well yes, but to be fair, it's because at the time Iraq was quared off against Iran, who had taken some of our people hostage...

(10) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 2, 2008 7:14:09 PM | Permalink

Dear Stan: Thanks for our interesting reply. Let's discuss it:

1. "The White House has been severely hamstrung in efforts to defend Iraq or the economy." Interesting point. Can you show us examples? Every time the Executive has come to Congress for money to run the war, it has gotten what it asked for. Recall in 2007 when Reid/Pelosi blustered that they were going to shut off spending without a timetable for withdrawal. Certainly the bulk of the press lined up behind that proposition. GWB stared them down and got what he wanted. He decided that a "surge" was the way to go. The press roared; the surge went in anyway. The press roared against tax cuts; GWB got them through. The press roared against the economic stimulus checks that have just gone out, correctly in my view. They went out anyway. Where's this power of the press?

2. "First, presidential elections are the ones that voters are most likely to focus upon. They are the ones that the press is least able to influence." I think there's a lot in that idea. So let's look at Congressional elections. The two most interesting in 1968-2006 are 1994 and 2006, where control of Congress flipped. How do you explain 1994, when the press was mocking the "Contract With America" but the GOP won in a landslide? You might countercite 2006, and I won't doubt that the press chortled with glee on election night. But the big issue was GOP corruption, whether by Mark Foley, Duke Cunningham, or Jack Abramoff. Further, the GOP had been in command of Congress for twelve years (with an 18 month exception in the Senate 2001-02, when a Senator flipped parties.) Such long runs leave a governing party vulnerable, voters can tire of the ruling party and send them packing out of sheer orneriness. And in 2006, GOP corruption gave free expression to orneriness, and the huge spending depressed turnout among the base.

3. "The election in November won't hinge on education, immigration, drug benefits or spending." I could not disagree with you more on spending. Substitute "nationalized health care" for "spending" and you will see what I mean. GWB has taken much of the wind out of the conservative case for restraint with his idiotic profligacy. Nor do I think any Democratic president will be parsimonious with education spending. Only on immigration might you be right, and then only as a campaign issue. Immigration is an example of GWB failing---but the press was behind him on that one. It was the blogs and the base who stopped that horror from happening.

4. "It will hinge on foreign policy and Iraq, the economy and taxes, and the environment (particularly oil and food prices)." Pardon me Stan, but "the economy and taxes, and the environment (particularly oil and food prices)" are all tied to spending. Taxes are the flip side to spending. The economy is greatly affected by spending. Food prices have a less strong tie to spending, but the tie is still there. See: high corn prices, tied directly to the idiotic notion of corn ethanol. Only with oil prices is the link to spending weak, and even there, if GWB had taken the money spent on the prescription drug benefit and put it toward weaning the country off oil, say by pushing for fission power, oil prices would be lower today.

5. Undecided voters. This is more a matter of perception, and I lef tout an important word in my first comment: gullible There are undecided gullible voters out there, but are there enough of them to make a difference? I don't see there being that many who will swallow what the press tells them. Shucks, poll people and ask them how much they trust the press. The numbers won't be large. This is one big reason why print circulation and viewership are steadily declining.

6. "It will hinge on foreign policy and Iraq..." There are two possibilities:

a) Iraq continues as before, with casualties diminishing, and the Iraqis taking on more and more of the fight. If this case is true, foreign affairs will not be part of the election if Obama has anything to say about it. Here, the press will be able to help him as you have described.

b) if a big, successful terrorist attack happens in this country, or if Iraq erupts as it did in 2006, then Obama will make foreign affairs front and center. He'll be right to do so, because the big claim of GWB's administration is foreign affairs. A prominent failure in an election year would be serious. But the press does not have complete control of this. Something has to happen for the press to report. Or are you saying that the press and the terrorists are in close contact? You might be able to find reporters who are, particularly since American media employers are increasingly staffed by foreign journalists who do not have a loyalty that might be expected from American citizens.

This has been long winded as usual. What I object most to in your arguments, Stan, is the implication that it is the press that is responsible for all the GOP's troubles. Not so; Nixon thought that way and acted on it, and look what happened to him. There is plenty of rot in the GOP, particularly on the Congressional side, and assailing the press will not help these matters. You need only look at such porkers as Don Young and Ted Stevens of Alaska, who cling to their seats so as to retain the Congressional privilege against arrest, to see why the GOP is in trouble. The press is abetting these troubles, but I think you overstate their collective power, which in any case is diminishing as circulations and viewerships show. Better for the GOP to reform itself, preferably as the small-government party. GWB has been a successful president if you define success as getting what the Prez wants. Offhand, I can only think of Harriet Miers, the Dubai ports, confirming John Bolton, and immigration as complete defeats. Even on appellate level judges, he was able to get some of what he wanted. No, GWB's problems can't be blamed on the press, though they have tried to do their best to thwart him. Best for the GOP to own up to its faults, shoo GWB away, and get on with the business of creating a vision of where the nation should be.

Glad to read any notions you might have on this.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(11) stan made the following comment | Jun 3, 2008 3:31:34 AM | Permalink


If you don't remember when and how W's dad got abused as "out of touch" for trying to defend his economic record, we're just talking past each other.

And the fact that the GOP manages to overcomve opposition from the MSM in some elections is not a refutation of anything I wrote. If you can't overcome that error in logic, nothing else is going to matter.

(12) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Jun 3, 2008 12:09:28 PM | Permalink

Dear Stan: Sure I remember how the press assailed Bush41 for being out of touch, as the notorious grocery scanner incident shows. I also remember Bush41 saying in his 1988 campaign: "Read my lips, no new taxes," ---and then cooperating with a Democratic Congress to raise taxes. I remember that there was a mild slump in 1990-91, which was beginning to change in 1992, but not nearly soon enough to help Bush41. But that is a trade risk that all presidents must take. What happens in a president's term is on the president. Did the press force Bush41 to go along in raising taxes?

I don't deny that the press is a malign force against the GOP. You might want to read the new boys adventure series that discusses this topic. First in the series is:

Chris Matthews and His Tingling Leg

But your own words refute you: the GOP is successful against the press in "some" elections? 28 years out of 40 in Presidential elections. In Congress you have a stronger case: exactly the reverse ratio in the House and a 16.5-23.5 split in the Senate. But GOP success in Congressional elections has mostly been in the 1994-2006 period, which would indicate that the press's power is diminishing, just as the declining circulations and viewerships would indicate.

Come on Stan, don't abandon me and all the other sinners to darkness. If you can prove that the GOP is blameless in every way for its present predicament, do so. I will note that it is not in the GOP's power to change press attitudes toward it. Nothing the GOP does will alter Chris Matthews and His Tingling Leg. But the GOP can change its own behavior which will help it out of its predicaments. The day Ted Stevens and Don Young are photographed picking themselves up outside the Republican National Committee's headquarters, each with a size fifteen boot print on their rumps, is the day the GOP will start moving forward again.

Beyond that, Mr. Dyer is helping by noting the dishonesties and villainies of the press. The rest of us can help with that too. I think the TIMES is making a more or less conscious decision to write for its liberal niche readers, abandoning its former position as a newspaper of record, and relying on its past glories to fool the suckers. It may ruin the brand, but what the hell, it will last Pinch Sulzberger's lifetime and that's all that matters to Pinch.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(13) davod made the following comment | Jun 3, 2008 2:17:28 PM | Permalink

"We sold him those biological weapons that he was using against his own people."

No we didn't.

(14) stan made the following comment | Jun 3, 2008 8:18:31 PM | Permalink


You have completely missed the point. In a representative democracy, don't be surprised that politicians listen carefully to what they perceive to be the popular will. The MSM is the dominant influence on popular sentiment.

Any conservative who is upset that politicians in DC act in ways that further their electoral prospects is a fool. If you want to change the direction of federal policy, change the attitudes of the voters.

Conservatives have made no effort to reach the critical swing voter who gets his news from the MSM. That is a huge mistake. Your failure to acknowledge the existence of the swing voter does much to diminish your credibility.

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