Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Back at the start of July, 2009, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney decided: Hey! Why don't I make a speech to the NAACP, not to try to get African-American votes, but rather to get some video of me being booed by Blacks so that Fox News can show it and fire up my base!
Michael Tomasky in "Mitt Romney the Race Baiter at the NAACP" called Romney out on this:
With his incendiary speech to the NAACP, Mitt crossed an ugly line. No longer simply spineless and disingenuous, he’s now become a race-mongering pyromaniac…. He wasn’t a race-baiter until yesterday. That speech wasn’t to the NAACP. It was to Rush Limbaugh. It was to Tea Party Nation. It was to Fox News…. You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word “Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos…. He and his team had to know those boos were coming, and Romney acknowledged as much a few hours later in an interview with… guess which channel (hint: it’s the one whose web site often has to close articles about race to commenters because of the blatant racism). Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story “Romney Booed at NAACP” would jazz up their (very white) base.
Blame the media for making such a big deal of it? Come on. When a candidate’s staffers are preparing a speech, they know very well exactly what line the press is going to lead with. Speeches are written with precisely that intent (or if they’re not, someone is sleeping on the job)…
Now comes T.P Carney of the American Enterprise Institute in "Finding racism where it’s not as blatant, and inventing it where it’s not present" to say that people like Michael Tomasky is the real malefactor, and people like Mitt Romney are the real victims:
The liberal is just harping on race out of habit, out of dishonesty, out of honest mistake, or out of the first principle that white conservatives are per se racist. There’s an entire genre of journalism dedicated to finding racism in every criticism of Obama. Is there racism in some criticism of Obama? Sure. But consider these, just a few off the top of my head: Michael Tomasky at Daily Beast said Romney’s use of the word “Obamacare” before the NAACP made him a “race-mongering pyromaniac,” and a “race-baiter.” Yes, for using the word “Obamacare.”
Anybody want to argue that Tomasky said what Carney says Tomasky said? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?
And so along comes Noah Smith on Twitter to give Carney some advice:
When you see people take a different view of society (e.g. racism) than you do, don't assume they have dishonest motives.
To which Carney on Twitter fires back:
I never said dishonest. I said "falsely." As in, being wrong. But I agree with your advice. Hope you tell @delong & Krugman.
Ah, but Carney did say dishonest: he said:
The liberal harping on race
- out of habit,
- out of dishonesty,
- out of honest mistake, or
- out of the first principle that white conservatives are per se racist
And how did I get dragged into this discussion? What did I do? What did I say? So I asked.
And I got a reply from T.P. Carney on Twitter:
@delong @Noahpinion Because I know you're Noah's friend, and I think your writing sometimes suffers from a lack of empathy w/opponents.
Carney's inclusion of me struck me of reminiscent of a standard Soviet-era Russian propaganda move: reply to all criticisms of Really Existing Socialism by saying "But what about the state of the Negroes in the American South!?"
Given the topic of the discussion, Carney's resort to this particular piece of rhetoric from TASS struck me as somewhat ironic. So I decided to continue, and sought details by asking ".@TPCarney: 'I think your writing sometimes suffers from a lack of empathy w/opponents' & your favorite example is?…"
And T.P. Carney responded:
Sorry, dude, I just wrote 1000 words on racism. Anyway, I pick about half of these: https://t.co/r9J7uH3oQV
I picked one at random, and display it below.
Now tell me: who do you think T.P. Carney thinks I suffer from a lack of empathy with? George W. Bush? L. Paul Bremer? The Iraqis killed and maimed over the past decade? The American soldiers killed and maimed in the course of trying to carry out an impossible and ill-thought-out mission?
Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach him now:
Envoy’s Letter Counters Bush on Iraq Army: EDMUND L. ANDREWS WASHINGTON: President Bush was told in advance by his top Iraq envoy in May 2003 of a plan to “dissolve Saddam’s military and intelligence structures,” a plan that the envoy, L. Paul Bremer, said referred to dismantling the Iraqi Army. Mr. Bremer provided the letters to The New York Times on Monday after reading that Mr. Bush was quoted in a new book as saying that American policy had been “to keep the army intact” but that it “didn’t happen.”
The dismantling of the Iraqi Army in the aftermath of the American invasion is now widely regarded as a mistake that stoked rebellion among hundreds of thousands of former Iraqi soldiers and made it more difficult to reduce sectarian bloodshed and attacks by insurgents. In releasing the letters, Mr. Bremer said he wanted to refute the suggestion in Mr. Bush’s comment that Mr. Bremer had acted to disband the army without the knowledge and concurrence of the White House. “We must make it clear to everyone that we mean business: that Saddam and the Baathists are finished,” Mr. Bremer wrote in a letter that was drafted on May 20, 2003, and sent to the president on May 22 through Donald H. Rumsfeld, then secretary of defense. After recounting American efforts to remove members of the Baath Party of Saddam Hussein from civilian agencies, Mr. Bremer told Mr. Bush that he would “parallel this step with an even more robust measure” to dismantle the Iraq military. One day later, Mr. Bush wrote back a short thank you letter. “Your leadership is apparent,” the president wrote. “You have quickly made a positive and significant impact. You have my full support and confidence.” On the same day, Mr. Bremer, in Baghdad, had issued the order disbanding the Iraqi military....
In an interview with Robert Draper, author of the new book, “Dead Certain,” Mr. Bush sounded as if he had been taken aback by the decision, or at least by the need to abandon the original plan to keep the army together. “The policy had been to keep the army intact; didn’t happen,” Mr. Bush told the interviewer. When Mr. Draper asked the president how he had reacted when he learned that the policy was being reversed, Mr. Bush replied, “Yeah, I can’t remember, I’m sure I said, “This is the policy, what happened?’”
Mr. Bremer indicated that he had been smoldering for months as other administration officials had distanced themselves from his order. “This didn’t just pop out of my head,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday, adding that he had sent a draft of the order to top Pentagon officials and discussed it “several times” with Mr. Rumsfeld. A White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the White House is not commenting on Mr. Draper’s book, said Mr. Bush indeed understood the order and was acknowledging in the interview with Mr. Draper that the original plan had proved unworkable. “The plan was to keep the Iraqi Army intact, and that’s accurate,” the official said. “But by the time Jerry Bremer announced the order, it was fairly clear that the Iraqi Army could not be reconstituted, and the president understood that. He was acknowledging that that was something that did not go as planned.”...
On Monday, Mr. Bremer made it clear that he was unhappy about being portrayed as a renegade of sorts by a variety of former administration officials. Mr. Bremer said he sent a draft of the proposed order on May 9, shortly before he departed for his new post in Baghdad, to Mr. Rumsfeld and other top Pentagon officials. Among others who received the draft order, he said, were Paul D. Wolfowitz, then the deputy secretary of defense; Douglas J. Feith, then under secretary of defense for policy; Lt. Gen. David D. McKiernan, then head of the American-led coalition forces in Iraq; and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Mr. Bremer said that he had briefed Mr. Rumsfeld on the plan “several times,” and that his top security adviser in Baghdad, Walter B. Slocombe, had discussed it in detail with senior Pentagon officials as well as with senior British military officials. He said he received detailed comments back from the joint chiefs, leaving no doubt in his mind that they understood the plan...