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Pay no attention to the people behind the curtain

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Let's play . . . Debunk the Myth!

In comments to this post of mine, where I lay out just two of the differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to scandal, Clint (of Milwaukee Id10t fame) repeats some myths that I feel need front-page debunking:
Harry Reid is still in a leadership position (Abrahmof scandal) Hillary Clinton still hasn't 'found' any Rose Law Firm records... Gwen gets arrested by a foreign gov't, prohibits jobs creation and still has a job.

Doyle still has the gaming $$ and travel $$.

Delay stepped down on his own accord, no one HAD to vote him out of his position. Are you sure about this post? I think that you may have this backwards.
One at a time . . .
  • Reid and Abramoff: The meida--and one Associated Press reporter, in particular--have consistently misrepresented Reid's connections to Jack Abramoff, usually leaving out the fact that Reid voted consistently against Abramoff's interests. It's worth noting that "[a] search of Reid's donations over the last 15 years shows that the Gambling/Casino industry/sector have been his largest donors in most every cycle." It's natural, then, that tribes represented by Abramoff might continue to contribute to Reid. What's more, many of the contributions Abramoff directed were done to increase his own clout with the tribes, not to win influence with politicians. But the most important thing to remember about Abramoff's clients is this:
    A new and extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients, done by a nonpartisan research firm, shows that a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. The analysis undercuts the claim that Abramoff directed sums to Democrats at anywhere near the same rate. [. . . T]he Morris and Associates analysis, which was done exclusively for The Prospect, clearly shows that it’s highly misleading to suggest that the tribes's giving to Dems was in any way comparable to their giving to the GOP. The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway.
  • Hillary and the Rose Law Firm: Here's a long quote, but worth the full read:
    Even more damning was a "Nightline" report broadcast that same evening. The segment came very close to branding Hillary Clinton a perjurer. In his introduction, host Ted Koppel spoke pointedly about "the reluctance of the Clinton White House to be as forthcoming with documents as it promised to be." He then turned to correspondent Jeff Greenfield, who posed a rhetorical question: "Hillary Clinton did some legal work for Madison Guaranty at the Rose Law Firm, at a time when her husband was governor of Arkansas. How much work? Not much at all, she has said."

    Up came a video clip from Hillary's April 22, 1994, Whitewater press conference. "The young attorney, the young bank officer, did all the work," she said. "It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about." Next the screen filled with handwritten notes taken by White House aide Susan Thomases during the 1992 campaign. "She [Hillary] did all the billing," the notes said. Greenfield quipped that it was no wonder "the White House was so worried about what was in Vince Foster's office when he killed himself."

    What the audience didn't know was that the ABC videotape had been edited so as to create an inaccurate impression. At that press conference, Mrs. Clinton had been asked not how much work she had done for Madison Guaranty, but how her signature came to be on a letter dealing with Madison Guaranty's 1985 proposal to issue preferred stock. ABC News had seamlessly omitted thirty-nine words from her actual answer, as well as the cut, by interposing a cutaway shot of reporters taking notes. The press conference transcript shows that she actually answered as follows: "The young attorney [and] the young bank officer did all the work and the letter was sent. But because I was what we called the billing attorney -- in other words, I had to send the bill to get the payment sent -- my name was put on the bottom of the letter. It was not an area that I practiced in. It was not an area that I know anything, to speak of, about."

    ABC News had taken a video clip out of context, and then accused the first lady of prevaricating about the very material it had removed. Within days, the doctored quotation popped up elsewhere. ABC used the identical clip on its evening news broadcast; so did CNN. The New York Times editorial page used it to scold Mrs. Clinton, as did columnist Maureen Dowd. Her colleague William Safire weighed in with an accusatory column of his own: "When you're a lawyer who needs a cover story to conceal close connections to a crooked client," he began, "you find some kid in your office willing to say he brought in the business and handled the client all by himself." Safire predicted the first lady's imminent indictment.

    What really made the story take off, however, was White House aide Carolyn Huber's belated discovery of missing Rose Law Firm billing records that had been under subpoena by the OIC. [. . .] The records' contents also supported Hillary's testimony and public statements in detail. [. . .]

    Starr's investigators would spend years seeking evidence to the contrary, with no success.
    As you can see, not only did the law firm records turn up, they exonerated Clinton of any wrongdoing--despite the attempts of your liberal media to make her look guilty.

  • Gwen Moore: Clint thinks Moore should resign because she was arrested protesting the genocide in Darfur. And he thinks she should resign because she--along with many others--thought that millions of tax dollars' worth of investment in the Menominee Valley deserved better employers than one that is primarily seasonal. It's a subject on which reasonable people might disagree; I personally thought BuySeasons should have been in, but they pulled out anyway for reasons unrelated to Moore's protests.

  • Doyle: It is true that Doyle, perhaps in the spirit of good will or something, could return the donations, though no one has proven he did anything wrong--or that contributions influenced him. To be fair, Democrats have called for Doyle to make those returns. I myself have called for Doyle to fire anyone even remotely linked to scandals in his administration and run on a responsibility platform against Green, who hasn't given back his DeLay money (how many Republicans have suggested he do that?). But in digging around to make sure I had my facts straight on Abramoff, I found an editorial from the libertarian Cato Institute:
    Here's the troubling thing about this little ritual of returning donations. The standard of proof in public debates seems to be guilt-by-association. If Mr. Abramoff was a crook, everyone associated with him, including people who received legal contributions from him or his clients, is also guilty of wrongdoing. If Enron executives bilked investors, politicians share the blame. Given that reasoning, only a very public renunciation of the (monetary) tie to the wrongdoer holds out hope of acquittal.

    My generation grew up in the shadow of McCarthyism. Our teachers warned us that guilt-by-association drove the hysteria that did so much damage to our First Amendment freedoms. Now it appears that guilt-by-association is an unquestioned standard in the court of public opinion. Certainly the politicians giving back donations believe so. The media and everyone else simply assume the validity of the new standard.

    To be sure, guilt-by-association is a great weapon for demonizing and destroying one's opponents. It does less well at fostering civility, the rule of law, fairness or a respect for fundamental political rights. Perhaps those shortcomings should be kept in mind as official Washington readies itself to indulge once again in the pleasures of populist fury.
    Something to think about.

  • Tom DeLay: While DeLay didn't have to be convicted before he resigned from Congress (a la Duke Cunningham), his resignation was timed just right. Consider: DeLay had been indicted already; one in four primary voters told him they wanted him out; his internal poll numbers showed the race to be "too close for comfort"; and the Texas Republican Party believed that if DeLay moved out of his Texas District, they could replace him on the ballot, giving them a chance to keep the seat. That last bit is what makes it suspicious . . .

    But there is a more important point in the DeLay mess that directly relates to the point of the post Clint was responding to in the first place. When William Jefferson was implicated--though not even indicted yet--Democrats pulled him from his committee position very quickly. When Tom DeLay was implicated in wrongdoing, Republicans specifically changed their caucus rules to protect him! That is the difference between Democrats and Republicans.
The Clinton and Reid myths Clint perpetuates make me most angry, since they are outright lies. The DeLay thing I think most clearly demonstartes how Republicans and Democrats deal with corruption among their own different. The Moore and Doyle things are a bit squishier, but both sides need airing here. I'm happy to do it, hopefully setting Clint straight.

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