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November 22, 2005

Dana Milbank, Vicious Partisan Liar

One of the most biased pieces I've read in my life.

First of all, the headline:

Opening the Door to Debate, and Then Shutting It

He goes on to snarkily suggest that Dick Cheney was lying when he said that debate was to be respected. Wow! Partisan snark! I appreciate that... in a blogger.

I think a lot of the MSM partisans are pretty envious of the gig we bloggers have going -- at least as far as a more honest expression of opinion, rather than relying on dishonest tactics like only quoting one side, giving one side the last (and most) words, etc.

But I'm confounded if I can tell the difference between our neutral and objective press corps and "internet political partisans" anymore.

Vice President Cheney protested yesterday that he had been misunderstood when he said last week that critics of the White House over Iraq were "dishonest and reprehensible."

What he meant to say, he explained to his former colleagues at the American Enterprise Institute, was that those who question the White House's use of prewar intelligence were not only "dishonest and reprehensible" but also "corrupt and shameless."

It was about as close as the vice president gets to a retraction.

I admit, it's a good, cheap line, and I'd have been proud to write it myself, about a liberal. But again-- what makes this particular nasty, somewhat childish form of writing different than (as of yet) unpaid bloggers?

Cheney tried to follow his boss's edict. "I do not believe it is wrong to criticize the war on terror or any aspect thereof," he said.

But exactly three minutes later, the vice president added this caveat: "What is not legitimate, and what I will again say is dishonest and reprehensible, is the suggestion by some U.S. senators that the president . . . misled the American people on prewar intelligence." This, he said, "is revisionism of the most corrupt and shameless variety."

He floated the notion that "one might also argue that untruthful charges against the commander in chief have an insidious effect on the war effort itself" -- before adding: "I'm unwilling to say that."

It was a delicate act: Celebrating debate and criticism while declaring that a key element of that debate -- whether the administration exaggerated prewar intelligence about Iraq -- is off-limits.

Let me suggest to you that what is off limits in debate is largely in the eye of the partisan beholder, Hack. You think it's quite reasonable to claim that Bush knowingly lied about the presence of WMD's in Iraq, despite the fact that he knew he'd win the war within months at most and his lie would be exposed to the world. This strikes you and your unhinged partisan leftist buddies as quite reasonable; conservatives, after all, are not only evil, they're also mind-bogglingly stupid, and do things like claim that a dictator has WMD's as a pretext for war knowing that within 90 days at most their lies will be shown as such and they'll be facing (as you guys are all trying to drive us towards) impeachment.

What, we're that evil, Dana, and we didn't think of smuggling a few gallons of VX into Iraq? Oh, right: that's where the mind-bogglingly stupid part comes in.

Here's a part of the debate that YOU might consider off-limits, but I consider quite reasonable myself:

RESOLVED: Partisan leftists like Dana Milbank hate Republicans so much that they'd rather see America lose a war than Republcians win a midterm election.

See how what you consider reasonable might not be so reasonable to me? Or to Dick Cheney, whom you and your lefty friends are accusing, essentially, of full capital-punishment-eligible treason? It's amazing, isn't it Dana, that when one accuses a man of essentially MURDERING 2000 people on the basis of a deliberate lie, that man might tend to get snippy about it, huh?

At least my little theory-- that about lefties wanting us to lose this war because they fear the political consequences of an American victory -- has some good support for it. Such as Gary Kamiya, a writer for Salon, stating after we'd captured Baghdad that he'd been praying we'd taken more casualties:

I have a confession: I have at times, as the war has unfolded, secretly wished for things to go wrong. Wished for the Iraqis to be more nationalistic, to resist longer. Wished for the Arab world to rise up in rage. Wished for all the things we feared would happen. I'm not alone: A number of serious, intelligent, morally sensitive people who oppose the war have told me they have had identical feelings.

Some of this is merely the result of pettiness--ignoble resentment, partisan hackdom, the desire to be proved right and to prove the likes of Rumsfeld wrong, irritation with the sanitizing, myth-making American media. That part of it I feel guilty about, and disavow. But some of it is something trickier: It's a kind of moral bet-hedging, based on a pessimism not easy to discount, in which one's head and one's heart are at odds.

Many antiwar commentators have argued that once the war started, even those who oppose it must now wish for the quickest, least-bloody victory followed by the maximum possible liberation of the Iraqi people. But there is one argument against this: What if you are convinced that an easy victory will ultimately result in a larger moral negative--four more years of Bush, for example, with attendant disastrous policies, or the betrayal of the Palestinians to eternal occupation, or more imperialist meddling in the Middle East or elsewhere?

Wishing for things to go wrong is the logical corollary of the postulate that the better things go for Bush, the worse they will go for America and the rest of the world.

If we're going to have a full and open debate, do we get to level the most vicious sort of charges at your side as part of the debate? Or does only your side get to have the fun of accusing people of mass-murder and treason?

Oddly enough, I think you'll welcome a debate on the subject of Gary Kamiya's -- and your, and other lefties' -- actual level of patriotism about as warmly as Dick Cheney welcomes a debate on whether or not he's an actual traitor to the country.

But there's more. Because Milbank then trots out the old leftist chestnut that Cheney claimed Saddam had "reconstituted nuclear weapons." Does that phrase make no sense? Well, it shouldn't. It's a nonsense phrase, an error in speaking, and yet the left has seized on this to "prove" Cheney claimed Saddam had nukes. Not was seeking them. HAD them already.

As vice president, Cheney has always played the hard-line Cardinal Ratzinger to Bush's sunny John Paul II. Before the war, Cheney asserted that Iraq had "reconstituted nuclear weapons."

Sorry, dear. The entire interview (on Meet the Press) was about Saddam's DESIRE for nuclear weapons, his PURSUIT of them, his eagerness to reconstitute his nuclear weapons program. What Cheney had said, dozens of times before, was that Saddam had "reconstituted his nuclear weapons program," not the actual nuclear weapons, whiich he could not "REconstitute," as he had never constituted them before. No one ever believed or claimed that Saddam Hussein had a nuclear weapon; yet based on one errant slip of the tongue on Meet the Press Milbank would have you believe that Dick Cheney actually informed the country that Saddam Hussein already was a member of the nuclear club.

Eugene Volokh dispensed with this preposterous lie in an old issue of National Review. But for a neutral and objective "media professional," any nonsense they see on a left-wing blog (or, of course, a DNC talking points memo) is a "fact."

Hmmm... childish snark, vicious partisanship, using dubious factoids culled from The Daily Kos...

...apart from the salary, what separates Dana Milbank from me, again?

Oh right: The man's prodigious talent.

Because Lord knows it's hard to do sarcasm. I mean, writing up a sarcastic and partisan rejoinder to someone's remarks, using a tiny bit of Internet research takes (checks watch) about twenty minutes, it seems to me.

Well played, Mr. Milbank. Very well played. Blogging from a cushy office at the Washington Post.

One must applaud Dana Milbank. Rarely has any man shown such ingenuity at reaching such lofty heights on the basis of such meager talent.


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posted by Ace at 12:09 AM

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