David Broder Creates False Equivalence Between Gonzales and Reid

While some in the liberal blogosphere regularly attack newspaper columnists who criticize Democrats as well as Republicans, I do not go along with this “us versus them” mentality and feel it is expected and even desirable for columnists from major newspapers to criticize Democrats when wrong. While columnists such as Joe Klein and Maureen Dowd have come under attack in the blogosphere recently for criticism of the net roots and some Democrats, I have backed them when I have agreed with them. I have even found areas of agreement with David Brooks on those occasions when he can refrain from meaningless bashing of Democrats and stick to the issues. One columnist I can no longer have any respect for is David Broder following his comparison of Harry Reid to Alberto Gonzales in today’s column.

We have often seen attempts at developing a false equivalency by partisans on the right, as they try to excuse a major Republican crime by equating it to a far more trivial offense by a Democrat. The same logic (and repetition of Republican talking points) is at work in Broder’s column as he tries to equate Harry Reid to Alberto Gonzales.

Gonzales has supported torture and devised justifications for ignoring the Geneva Convention. He was an early proponent of restricting civil liberties under the Patriot Act. He argued that there is no right to Habeas Corpus, and supported the warrantless wiretaps. He has fought to increase secrecy in government, such as by working to prevent the release of the Dick Cheney’s energy task force documents. Most recently Gonzales has been caught changing his stories on the dismissals of the U.S. attorneys, making it very difficult to believe he did not conspire to fire them under the direction of the White House for political reasons. Numerous Republicans, as well as Democrats, have called for the removal of Gonzales.

In the face of all this, Broder argues that Harry Reid is as deserving of Gonzales to be removed. Even if we accept all of Broder’s claims against Reid, despite some inaccuracies, all we have is some cases where Reid misspoke, or could have expressed things a little better politically. Nothing Reid is accused of comes close to what Gonzales has done and to attempt to equate the two is totally absurd.

It will certainly be difficult to ever take David Broder seriously after this. Harpers summed up what is wrong with Broder recently:

The Washington Post‘s David Broder is called the “dean” of the Washington punditry. More recently, he seems to sum up everything that’s wrong with the class who brought you weapons of mass destruction, the Iraq war and the ever “resurgent” President Bush. He is the vessel of a received wisdom which keeps the war-president in place, cautioning against criticism and validating war- and fear-mongering at every turn. Rather than provide pearls of wisdom based on a lifetime in Washington politics, Broder dishes out naïve, uncritical appraisals of Bush which often have a sycophantic twist—by contrast, he strings administration critics with malicious attacks which reflect faulty reasoning and imaginary facts. True, every columnist makes a mistake or two under the pressure of an imminent deadline. But Broder’s recent streak is a growing embarrassment for the Washington Post.

They proceed to list a number of comments from Broder, leading up to a recent interview in which Broder expressed views on Reid similar to those in today’s column, criticizing him for saying the war is lost. Harpers’s responds:

This is a view Reid shares with Henry Kissinger and any number of generals, doubtless including some of the four who have turned down the albatross of being the White House’s “war czar.” It’s also the view of a clear majority of the American public according to recent polls (51% in a poll published on April 16 in a newspaper that Broder evidently doesn’t read, the Washington Post.) Of course as these comments reflect, Broder has a sense of public opinion that is consistently at odds with reality. He knows, for instance, that Americans love their “heroic” president Bush, and that the Democrats hate the military. Don’t bother him with the facts. David Broder is a creature of the alternate universe of inside-the-Beltway punditry.

Broder states that Reid would have to recant this position and suggests he has done so in the past. Greg Sargeant checked to see how many times Reid has been forced to recant his positions, as Broder implies. The answer: zero.

But the most offensive part of this Broder bumbling is its brainlessness. Broder is not exercising independent judgment. Indeed, he hasn’t even taken the time to get his basic facts straight. He is joining in with a series of White House talking points. Compare his comments with what was offered up on Sunday by Bill Kristol, for instance.

Clearly David Broder has earned retirement. It’s time for him to get to work on a rich set of recollections that will educate us all without doing more damage to the public debate over important issues that Broder is no longer intellectually capable of tracking.

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