Random commentary and senseless acts of blogging.
The first Republican president once said, "While the people retain their virtue and their vigilance, no administration by any extreme of wickedness or folly can seriously injure the government in the short space of four years." If Mr. Lincoln could see what's happened in these last three-and-a-half years, he might hedge a little on that statement.
Prisoners of Azkaban
Wednesday, November 30, 2005
Jeff Birnbaum's article yesterday on corruption came in for some justified criticism, but found an unlikely defender in Kevin Drum.
The article pretty clearly deserves the attack. For instance, look at the statement that "No fewer than seven lawmakers, including a Democrat, have been indicted, have pleaded guilty or are under investigation for improper conduct such as conspiracy, securities fraud and improper campaign donations." Sounds so much nicer than "Six Republicans and one Democrat", doesn't it.
Birnbaum necessarily mentions the Abramoff/Scanlon investigation, but they are referred to as a "public relations executive" and a "lobbyist"; the considerable history each has of Republican activism is ignored, as is the fact that Scanlon once worked for Delay, who is, of course, mentioned.
This isn't "pathologically balanced" as Kevin would have it, it's just an RNC press release. And that should hardly be surprising from Birnbaum, who has been an RNC hack disguised as a reporter for years. In 2000, Birnbaum was also writing about money and politics but, since he was writing about Al Gore, he took no similar precautions to emphasize the bipartisan nature of the problem. The theme of the article, patently absurd but good enough to pass muster in 2000, was that since Gore had in the past written thank you notes to Maria Shia, who illegally solicited donations after his speech in 1996, he must have known about and approved her illegal activities. That barely even qualifies as an argument, and it's weaker still if you bring up the contrary evidence, which Birnbaum of course ignored. This article seems to be no longer available on a free page, but it was taken apart at the time by (of course) Bob Somerby.
The fact that clowns like Brinbaum are still getting their RNC talking points published as news is a problem that Josh Marshall is right to emphasize and Kevin is wrong to dismiss. But then Kevin, like the New York Times, is hardly "the current state of the art in human perfectibility". (I'm starting to suspect, however, that Josh Marshall just might be.)