Smear Tactics, Left and Right

This one is so inane I wouldn’t even bother to comment if Memeorandum didn’t show that so many right wing blogs are drooling all over this one. This one is about on the same level as the repeated posts in conservative blogs where they link to one absurd diary at Daily Kos and claim it represents the views of Daily Kos and the entire liberal blogosphere. Today’s example of this form of right wing idiocy can get starts with a post from Ed Morrissey.

Captain Ed exposes a rather lame attempt to smear Fred Thompson with a blog promoting the KKK under a url similar to his actual blog site. With a little detective work, Ed shows that the blog is actually owned by an attorney who has contributed to liberal causes.

If Ed had patted himself on the back for exposing this I wouldn’t blame him at all. I really doubt that anyone would be fooled by this smear on Thompson, but the person who put it up certainly deserved to be exposed. Ed’s updates actually are rather amusing after the guy realized people were on to him. Unfortunately this is quickly taken by the conservative blogosphere to be not the act of one individual but something representative of progressives. For example, Blue Crab Boulevard calls this “the latest in progressive progress.” (Gaius also is apparently unaware that not all of us consider ourselves to be progressives as opposed to liberals.) Iowa Voice claims that “This is what the left does. Routinely.”

What is especially hypocritical about this is that, while there are certainly individual cases of such behavior on both sides, it is the right wing which has institutionalized smear tactics as its major strategy. From the Swift Boat Liars to Plamegate to the right wing commentator of your choice, this is business as usual for the right wing.

Hillary Clinton and the Swift Boating of Barack Obama

Josh Marshall had an excellent post earlier today while the blog was out of commission regarding the dispute between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama over foreign policy. He takes pretty much the same approach I have in discussion of this issue earlier. What ultimately matters is how this is perceived. The differences between Clinton and Obama on the actual issue is trivial. If the question on Pakistan was put the other way, would Hillary Clinton really say that if she had reliable intelligence about an important terrorist target in Pakistan, and that Pakistan refused to cooperate, she wouldn’t take action? Doesn’t she realize that this is current US policy? As I mentioned earlier, Obama raising this issue as a candidate might even make it less likely that Pakistan would refuse to cooperate with him should he be elected.

The potential problem for Obama is that he can make all the correct arguments and still lose. Josh Marshall compares Clinton’s strategy to that of the Swift Boat Liars in which a false impression of the opponent is created regardless of the facts or validity of the argument. The goal is to make Obama appear inexperienced on foreign policy and hope that the media picks up this meme, similar to how they perpetuated inaccurate impressions of Al Gore and John Kerry. Marshall wrote:

What this has boiled down to — and this became even more clear after Tuesday night’s labor-hosted debate, when Biden and Dodd acted as Hillary’s proxies — is Hillary, in league with the party’s foreign policy establishment, trying to make Obama, implicitly or explicitly, concede an error, that he misspoke.

Precisely what he misspoke about is largely beside the point. The key is that they get him to concede that in the complex and serious world of foreign policy big-think, where words have consequences, he made an error. Of course, it’s almost good enough if most observers decide that Obama screwed up. But once he concedes it himself, if he does, he stipulates from now through the end of the Democratic primary campaign that his inexperience in foreign policy is a basic premise of the campaign upon which the battle between him and Hillary will be waged. He can learn, improve, make progress, whatever, but his inexperience compared to Hillary will continue to be the reference point throughout.

But I think he’s done a pretty good job so far refusing to get put in that box. And the truth is that I think Obama’s actual words are so clearly unobjectionable that this is all Kabuki theater of a particularly strained and disingenuous sort. All Obama said was that if we have actionable intelligence about the whereabouts of high-value al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, and Pakistan won’t

If Hillary Clinton gets away with creating this impression of Obama as too experienced, her campaign will receive a tremendous boost. However, there are also potential risks. There is the risk that more people will argue that Obama was right and showed more insight into foreign policy than Clinton. As Josh Marshall concluded:

The unspoken truth here, I suspect, is that Obama has struck on the central folly of our post-9/11 counter-terrorism defense policy — strike hard where they aren’t and go easy where they are. I think everyone can see this. But Obama got there first. So they need to attack him for saying it.

Not only has Obama struck on the central folly of our counter-terrorism defense policy, he can currently strike at Hillary Clinton at any time regarding her folly in supporting the war. This might place extra pressure on Clinton to attempt to discredit Obama first. The other risk for Hillary Clinton is that if more people such as Josh Marshall write about what she is doing, more will question why the candidate who has attacked the vast right wing conspiracy has now adopted their tactics.

We’re Back Up Again After All Those Birthday Bash Appletini’s

Wow, that must have been some first blogiversary bash as we’ve been unconscious the last several hours. Actually the host “experienced complete connectivity loss with our upstream providers.” Whatever that means. Maybe it’s just better to imagine that we had too many appletini’s at the birthday bash.

For those who rely on Liberal Values for important information, such as the best way to make an appletini, I should issue an update after our experience last Saturday. We’ve made a change from the original Liberal Values recipe (which actually started in a more lively discussion of cocktails at the previous blog):

Grey Goose Vodka 1 shot
Apple Pucker Schnapps 1 shot
Splash of Midori
Splash of lime juice
Place in shaker and shake well with crushed ice

This year’s revision was to substitute a splash of sour mix for the lime juice, which made it taste slightly more sour (no surprise). It might have helped that they were preceded by Sangria a little earlier in the afternoon.

Religious Persecution in Iraq

Ed Brayton reports of religious persecution in Iraq. “No, not by radical Muslims but by our own military. This email was forwarded to me from a soldier in Iraq whose friend is being harassed at another base for organizing a meeting of atheists on the base.”

So much for the claim that there are no athiests in fox holes.

Creationist Wheel of Fortune


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