Monday, December 23, 2002

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash) shows how to respond to a smear campaign from the GOP. She recently made some comments about how bin Laden was popular in the middle-east, in part, because he provided money to build schools and help the impoverished. She said that there was a lesson to be learned here about how America should go about winning the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. It will require more then just a PR effort (especially one tainted with deliberate lies). The GOP's response was to suggest, in their typical, underhanded way, that Murray was saying we should become more like a man who murdered 3000 Americans. Here was Murray's response (in full):
Sen. Murray Statement on America's Role in the World Having a challenging and thoughtful discussion about America's future reflects the best values of a free democracy; To sensationalize and distort in an attempt to divide does not
For Immediate Release: December 20, 2002 Osama Bin Laden is an evil terrorist who is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans. Bringing him to justice, dismantling his terrorist network, and protecting our nation from further attacks must continue to be our government's highest priorities, and I continue to vigorously support those efforts in the Senate. While we continue to search every corner of the globe to destroy Osama bin Laden and his al Quaeda network, should we also consider the longer-term issue of what else can be done to improve relations with all nations including the Arab world? How else can we bring America's values to those who do not understand us? And while there are some whose hearts and minds may never be won, should we try to reach those who can? The White House believes that we can do more, and has devoted an entire department to improving America's image in the Arab world. Having a challenging and thoughtful discussion about America's future reflects the best values of a free democracy; to sensationalize and distort in an attempt to divide does not. While there are some on the extreme fringes of society who try to exploit fear and uncertainty for political gain, there are many more who understand that the best value of our democracy is the freedom to think and to secure a better future.
The only quibble I might have with this is that those who want to "exploit fear and uncertainty for political gain" are not on the extreme but are, today, working in the West Wing of the White House. Perhaps Murray knows this and is going for the shame angle, "This is an extreme attitude Mr. President. If you don't want to be associated with extremism, don't do it." I don't hold out much hope for shame getting through to Dubya. I'm not even sure he knows what the word means. Liberal Oasis points out a prime example of how Democrats typically respond to smear campaigns like this:
By not giving the charges any credence, she minimized the amount of coverage and helped shape the quality of coverage. As a result, none of the Sunday shows mentioned the flap, except for Fox. Though the big disappointment was not that Fox made a big deal about it. It was Sen. Joe Biden’s (D-DE) weak defense of her. Well, knowing Patty, I know she didn't mean it the way that came out. I assume what she was trying to say to those high school students was that the reason he's popular in various parts of the world is, along with the Saudis, they built 70,000 madrassas and they did go in there -- he did go in there, with our help and millions of dollars, to, you know, kick out the Russians, et cetera. But I think it was -- I would hope if she had a chance to rephrase it, she would change that. The idea that Patty Murray thinks we should pattern ourselves after bin Laden is not -- I don't believe she thinks that at all. I think it's a very bad choice of words. Except that it wasn’t a bad choice of words. It was an intelligent choice of words, and Murray ain't apologizing.
Amen to that. Biden's comment is full of truly ridiculous qualifying words that just legitimize the smear tactics. Biden says, "I don't believe she thinks that at all". It's not a matter of belief Joe. Of course she doesn't believe that, and you should say so clearly and call on the carpet those who make the ridiculous suggestion that she does. Instead, he concedes the smear's main thesis by saying that Murray would say it differently if she had another chance. Biden needs to learn that it doesn't matter how carefully you phrase your words, the GOP smear machine will find some way to distort it in order to make you sound like you are bin Laden's biggest buddy and that you hate all things American. This is the way they operate Joe. Wake Up!

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