Monday, August 14, 2006

# Posted 12:02 AM by Ariel David Adesnik  

LIEBERMAN: VICIOUS OR MISQUOTED? I was taken aback when I heard the following exchange on PBS NewsHour:
MARGARET WARNER: Now, also trying to take political advantage of this was none other than Joe Lieberman.

MARK SHIELDS: Civil, gentlemanly Joe Lieberman. And I have to quote.

MARGARET WARNER: Remind us what he said.

MARK SHIELDS: He said, "The anti-war views of Ned Lamont," who defeated Joe Lieberman...

MARGARET WARNER: In the Connecticut Senate primary.

MARK SHIELDS: ... Tuesday in the primary said would be, quote, "taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these airplanes."
I mean, that is -- that isn't beyond the pale. I mean, that's just unacceptable.

That is objectionable and unacceptable language, and it is totally alien to the Joe Lieberman that most of us have known and liked. I mean, it was -- it sounded like the desperate words of a desperate man who was really, you know, at the end of his rope.
The way Shields quotes Lieberman it sounds like the senator isequating dissent with treason. But here's a fuller version of the quote from the AP:
"If we just pick up like Ned Lamont wants us to do, get out [of Iraq] by a date certain, it will be taken as a tremendous victory by the same people who wanted to blow up these planes in this plot hatched in England. It will strengthen them and they will strike again."
Now that's not a nice, cuddly argument, but it's not unfair. Lieberman is attacking Lamont's policy as bad for American security, not suggesting that Lamont's words are dangerous. Even if one believes that an immediate withdrawal from Iraq is prudent, one ought to accept that it is an acknowledgement of failure and therefore will be celebrated by our enemies.

Lamont would presumably insist that there was no (or very few) Al Qaeda operatives in Iraq before we invaded, but I'm not saying here that Lieberman's stance on the war is air tight. What I'm saying is that Mark Shields really needs to do his homework.
(18) opinions -- Add your opinion

Actually, David, you need to do your homework. Lieberman first said, "we undermine the President's credibility at our peril." This does equate dissent with treason, though he later tried to squeeze out of it, saying "I did not suggest that the President or anyone else -- including me -- should be immune from criticism..."

But the quote that Shields is referring to was the more recent AP quote. No, it isn't a nice cuddly argument. But then you aren't summarizing it accurately, either.

Lieberman, by using Lamont's name, is not making an argument about the efficacy of withdrawing from Iraq; he's making an argument about Lamont. And then he throws in the 'aid and comfort to the enemy' trope, a red meat kind of line. At this point, as Shields correctly points out, Lieberman has gone way beyond the pale.

All of this should to be contrasted with what the great Teddy Roosevelt said, "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."
No, anon, you are wrong. Undermining credibility is not the same as dissent. Dissent is saying that a position or strategy is wrongheaded. Reasonable people can and do disagree about almost all of any president's positions. But undermining his credibility - saying he is a liar and can't be trusted - destroys a president's diplomatic efforts, for where is diplomacy without trust? And leaving a president without the ability to negotiate is bad for the country; we do it at our peril.

As the the absurd notion that there's anything wrong with naming one's opponent, if Lieberman - who's been seared by people close to the Lamont campaign as 'rape gurney Joe' - can't criticize the policy positions of his opponents, what's he supposed to say - "a hypothetical person who might oppose me in this campaign may not be the best choice, for reasons I'm too much of a gentleman to explain"?
I think Lieberman has every right to attack Lamont on the issues, and thats just what he did.

I cant recall Mark Shields being particularly civil or gentlemanly, so perhaps its no surprise he misquotes Joe.

But undermining his credibility - saying he is a liar and can't be trusted - destroys a president's diplomatic efforts, for where is diplomacy without trust?

I see. So accodring you the rest of the world believes anything Bush and the US says, but they may cease to do because a Democrat may challenge it.

Give me a break. George Bush has hurt US credibility abroad over the WMD fiasco more than 10 thousand Democrats could have done.
Interesting how the reverse situation is emerging in the UK. If anybody dares to suggest there might be a negative (unintended) consequence to interventionist foreign policy and western miltary occupation of Muslim countries, the government get very upset (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/4788133.stm). It is becoming increasingly difficult to engage politicians in a sensible debate about such foregn policy decisions through fear of boosting jihadists or handing a kind of 'victory' to extremism. Ironically it is often the politicians so sensitive to anti-war rhetoric as fanning the flames of terrorism, who are also unable or unwilling to engage with the debate around the negative effects of US/UK foreign policy on the 'war' on terrorism, which may in turn be fanning these very same flames. If dissenters speak up against the war their silence is called for from fear of 'undermining' the effort against terror, or worse endangering the nation, yet when dissenters suggest government actions might be having the exact same impact, their view is disregarded as "misjudged" or worse "a form of blackmail".
What Roosevelt got right is that the citizen's task in a democracy is a tough, loud one. The task of a subject in a kingdom is comfortable, silent, obedient servility.
Lamont has benefitted from an a full on media swoon. I haven't seen this since the Dean campaign in 2003.

Then, in Iowa, there was a total disconnect between the local and the national coverage of Dean. The local papers painted a partrait of a stiff, not ready for prime time candidate - one that wasn't connecting with audiences of regular folks, who garnered lower turnout at repeat events as the campaign went on, who often repsonded to question with cant and annoyed flippancy.

The national press covered exactly the same events - but you wouldn't know it from their reporting. They painted exactly the opposite portrait = Dean was a smooth success who never made a misstep or failed to wow an ever-growing and adoring crowd.

The disconnect was astonishing. And the locals, as it turns out, were getting the story right.

I don't know what happened to the nationals - were they so entranced by a fire-breathing Bush denouncer that they simply could not see what was going on in front of them? Were their editors and readers so taken with Dean that they didn't dare burst the bubble? Was is something else? I don't know.

But I've seen it again in the Lamont campaign. If a guy who inhertied a qurter of billion $ and the family business can say "I'm just a simple self-made man" and not be laughed out of the room, then the nedia is in full swoon mode.

As long as the swoon lasts (and as the quoted piece shows, the press is willing do his rebuttals and attacks for him) Lamont will remain a serious candidate. If the swoon declines, or worse for him, collapses, then he's finsihed. The media doesn't handle disapointment well - when Dean came in 3rd in Iowa they punished him by replaying the "scream" footage till the tapes wore out.

It'll be fun watching for a similar inflection point for Lamont- if it does come.
Right. GWB hurt US credibility by telling the truth about Saddam's WMD programs. Because the rest of the world believed the media's lies. So he should have lied too?
Robert, the President did lie.

Quoting from the CIA report,
Comprehensive Report of the Special Advisor to the DCI on Iraq’s WMD 30 September 2004

"Sorting Out Whether Iraq Had WMD Before Operation Iraqi Freedom

ISG has not found evidence that Saddam Husayn possessed WMD stocks in 2003, but the available evidence from its investigation—including detainee interviews and document exploitation—leaves open the possibility that some weapons existed in Iraq although not of a militarily significant capability."

The reason we know that the President lied is that he said that he had proof in the State of the Union Address before Congress in front of the American People. The White House then retracted the claim and went to war anyways.

f a guy who inhertied a qurter of billion $ and the family business can say "I'm just a simple self-made man" and not be laughed out of the room, then the nedia is in full swoon mode.

Isn't that what they said about GWBush ?

GWB hurt US credibility by telling the truth about Saddam's WMD programs. Because the rest of the world believed the media's lies.

You are partly correct. The media lied or at least refused to challenge administration mis-statements, exaggerations and the like before the war. The NYTimes published Judith Miller, who hammered away the case for WMDs in 20 odd articles.

In any case, the fact is that Bush has close to zero credibility in the rest of the world. And its not because of democrats, its because of his own mouth

If W 'lied', then so did the intelligence services of the rest of the world, all of which were reporting that they believed Saddam had WMD at that point in time.

As to the 16 words that were retracted, they shouldn't have been. The statement was that British Intelligence had reported that Saddam had sought yellowcake from Niger. British Intelligence stands by its report.

Noting that the constant barrage of criticism from the Democrats undermines our efforts in Iraq & elsewhere is not beyond the pale. The rest of the world hears what they say; our enemies "know" they only have to wait until the Democrats regain power & the dogs will be called off.

Our enemies believe all they have to do is outlast W. and we'll withdraw from the Middle East, period.

They have that impression because of the words which come out of the mouths of elected Democrats & their supporters.

If you can't stand people pointing out that our enemies notice such things, then perhaps you ought to reconsider the wisdom of the policy you support.
Yes, it's true that US withdrawal from Iraq will be celebrated by 'terrorists' as a victory against 'America' - just as Hizbollah celebrates the withdrawal of Israel from Lebanon as a victory. But, just maybe, someone should have thought about this before they approved the respective invasions!

It is typical of neo-cons and militarists to think that you can simply achieve political ends by violence - I think Kofi Annan's rebuttal of Clausewitz was apt in that regard. Well, surprise surprise, violence had a host of 'unintended' consequences - ie. turning Iraq into a Jihadist paradise, and uniting Lebanon behind Hizbollah. Gosh, could it be the very thing peaceniks warned about?
Shields has been way out in left field for the past couple of years. (Maybe he always was, and has just stopped masking it.) He might as well be another Berigan brother.
bd: Our own CIA didn't believe the yellowcake claims. In October 2002, DCIA Tenet requested the removal of the reference to the Niger uranium from a speech Bush was to give in Cincinnati.

Bush knew the Niger information was wrong. Yeah, that means the 16 words were a lie. Evidently, you still believe them, even after the WH has disavowed them.

exguru: Mark Shields, a Marine Corps veteran, is a Liberal counterweight to the likes of David Brooks, Paul Gigot and David Gergen. If you are just noticing that now, perhaps you should be paying closer attention. And Berrigan is the correct spelling.
the comments suck ass.
No, Mark Shields is right. Anyone who says we should keep send people to die not because it accomplishes some objective but simply so that we can refuse to acknowledge a mistake on our part IS beyond the pale, and I would think that any honest supporter of the war in Iraq would acknowledge that. It's a cheap Rove/Bush technique to get people thinking with their emotions instead of rationally, and this at a time when rationality is so desperately needed. Forget about what makes you safer--think about how those people you hate will react to this! No candidate who plays that game deserves an ounce of respect.

THAT is the key detail that some might be missing here--Lieberman is running like Bush, seeking to obsfuscate and cloud issues rather than clarify them.

It's also probably not factually true. It would give them a propaganda win, but given that Al Qaeda memos claim that they LIKE the war in Iraq because it is to America as Afghanistan was to the Soviets, or the memos found after the Spanish bombing claiming that Bush's presidency was good for Al Qaeda, I tend to suspect that people capable of pulling off serious terrorism like this British plot actually want us to stay in Iraq, propagandic pronouncements to the contrary notwithstanding.
Be real, David: Your defense of Lieberman is strained, to put it mildly. Liberman didn't simply criticize the wisdom of his opponent's policies; he linked Lamont in the same sentence to people who want to blow up airplanes. Remember that Bush never actually said Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, but he repeatedly linked the two in statements in such a way as to induce people to make the connection.
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