The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Thursday, June 29, 2006

Deconstructing Murtha (and TNR marches on)

There's been a new wave of scrutiny this week focused on Jack Murtha. He's become popular among progressives-- and a scourge of the right-- for promoting the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Early on, Ohio Congresswoman Jean Schmidt accused him of cowardice by proxy, and it's been continuing through today.

Two issues have emerged this week on Murtha. The first is that of contradictory claims in his reaction to newspapers breaking the story of administration tracking of financial records. Right-wing blogs initiallyare claimed he supported the papers, while others are claiming that he was against publishing it. Conservative pundits then argued that Murtha had, in fact, come out against the paper. The trouble is, there's no evidence for either argument. As Media Matters notes, Murtha has simply "been in contact" with The New York Times. Which proves nothing, although it's now become a nation-wide GOP talking point in support of the administration.

The other issue is a focus on Murtha's record as a Democrat. The New Republic got the ball rolling by suggesting progressive are suckers to embrace Murtha, because his overall record is pretty conservative for a Democrat. Unfortunately, I can't find the piece now for the life of me. But it's a strange criticism coming from a magazine that routinely excoriates the blogs for being exclusionary and only supporting politicians who agree with their narrow agenda. Go figure.

Speaking of the New Republic, they continue to dig themselves in deeper in the whole dust-up over credibility and journalistic integrity:

A couple days ago, Tapped contributor Ben Adler noticedthe contrast of a Marty Peretz post proclaiming his paper's strong, if occasionally heterodox, liberalism sitting atop a Lawrence Kaplan post sighing over "how deeply unserious" Democrats are about Iraq. As Adler noted, this is what liberals bristle against in TNR: not their willingness to "grapple" with conservative ideas, but their penchant for publishing ideological conservatives and other travelers -- Kaplan is some species of neo-conny quasi-liberal who voted for Bush and blasted liberals for, literally, hating America -- who evince a robust contempt of the left. Today, Kaplan struck back at Ben with a contemptuous post asserting his dislike for Bill Frist. Fair enough. Unfortunately, it sits atop another Kaplan post explaining that Kerry -- and those who support his withdrawal resolution -- are even less moderate on Iraq than, yes, the Iraqi insurgency.

The tone of most blogs I've seen is now utter weariness with TNR's outraged assertions of superiority and balance. I couldn't agree more.