Saturday, September 20, 2008

Deroy Murdock Dishonestly Demagogues NOLA

Like the alliteration in the title? If so, and if you care about New Orleans, that's about all you're probably going to like in the story I'm about to tell you. It's been some three years since Katrina and the rightwing still shamelessly uses the tragedy of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans to try to score cheap political points in the current Presidential campaign.

Here's what Deroy Murdock had to say in a posting up on the conservative magazine National Review's online blog, "The Corner":

Obama and Biden: Wrong on the Bridge to Nowhere [Deroy Murdock]

Alaska’s Bridge to Nowhere remains a hot topic in the presidential campaign. Fans and foes of Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin continue to debate whether or not she supported the much-lampooned proposal for a link between Ketchikan and Gravina Island — population 50. This PowerPoint presentation offers relevant facts on this issue.

I also highlight the stance of senators Barack Obama and Joe Biden. While the Democratic standard bearers have denounced Palin’s position on the Bridge to Nowhere, their posture is utterly shameful. They specifically voted in favor of the bridge, even when given the opportunity to shift part of its budget to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Their criticism of Palin on this issue constitutes Iditarod-class hypocrisy.

The McCain-Palin campaign should educate the American public on Obama and Biden’s disgraceful votes on this matter. Until then, you can read all about it here, simply by clicking through this PowerPoint slide show. Start spreading the news!

09/19 12:10 PM
First off, take a look at that PowerPoint presentation. See if it doesn't make your stomach turn. What Murdock does with tragic images of the immediate post-Katrina situation in New Orleans is disgusting. Some of those images he shows have absolutely nothing at all to do with the supposed point he is trying to make about Obama and Biden's vote on funding Tom Coburn's Amendment to HR 3058 legislation that sought to shift earmarks for the Bridge to Nowhere to reconstruction of the New Orleans Twin Spans.

He calls Obama and Biden's vote on this particular piece of legislation "Iditarod-class hypocrisy." Well, I have just a few points to make on Deroy Murdock's gross mischaracterizations and shameless false equivalencies between Palin's outright mendacity regarding her position on the Bridge to Nowhere earmark and Obama and Biden's votes on the legislation he brings up.

1. Murdock is purposefully deceptive when he says that Obama and Biden "specifically voted in favor of the bridge [to nowhere], even when given the opportunity to shift part of its budget to aid the victims of Hurricane Katrina." Notice that he makes it appear that the vote cast by Obama and Biden was against some direct benefit to the victims of Katrina. The reality is that the Coburn Amendment that Obama and Biden opposed, along with 80 other Senators from both parties [Aside: For his part, McCain didn't even bother to vote on the Amendment, which I guess shows how much McCain cared about supporting efforts "to aid the victims" of Hurricane Katrina!], was to shift funds from building the "Bridge to Nowhere" to reconstructing the Twin Span Bridges connecting New Orleans to Slidell. Sure this helps Hurricane victims in the sense that it repairs a major road that many residents of the area use, but that's a far, far cry from the kind of direct assistance with regard to the more immediate survival needs of victims at that time. It would have beem much better had the resources been sent to help people eat, drink, find shelter, and bury loved ones taken by the storm, than it would to build a bridge. Murdock makes it seem as if Obama and Biden were voting to take emergency food and money out of the mouths and pockets of starving and homeless Hurricane victims, and that couldn't be further from the truth. Murdock is simply dishonest in how he characterizes the impact of Obama's and Biden's votes against the Coburn Amendment.

2. That said, I have to say that I'm not fond of either Obama or Biden's "No" votes on the Coburn Amendment. Nevertheless, Murdock conveniently does not discuss the larger context of this Amendment in the broader funding legislation of HR 3085 under consideration. That doesn't justify Obama or Biden's "No" votes; but it does recognize that there's more context to this than Murdock admits or recognizes. And Murdock conveniently ignores Obama's otherwise impressive record in support of Katrina recovery resources for New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. So, say what you will about Obama's vote on the Coburn Amendment, it is clear that Obama's larger record on the Gulf Coast recovery is good -- much better than Palin's record on earmarks.

3. Even still, the point of criticizing Palin on this issue is not because she either supported the Bridge to Nowhere or she didn't, but that she keeps perpetuating a lie about it. Regardless of how Obama or Biden voted on the Coburn Amendment, I don't see either of them lying about their votes or pretending that their votes were anything other than what they were. So there is no hypocrisy there. Obama and Biden are challenging (1) Palin's claim to be a pork-buster and (2) her claim that she said "thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere. Both of these claims made by the McCain/Palin campaign about Palin are abject lies. That's where the problem comes in.

4. I take it that Murdock thinks shifting earmarks from one project to another are just fine and dandy. He paints Obama's vote against the Coburn Amendment as somehow a bad thing in itself. But one has to wonder that if the whole point about critizing Palin's credentials as an earmark opponent is to show courage in saying "NO" to earmark spending, why would Murdock think that shifting funds around from one project to another is fine and dandy? After all, he's supposed to be a small government conservative who should be calling for trimming the fat from federal spending. I wonder if Murdock holds with conventional conservative "wisdom" that the federal government's allocations for Hurricane recovery are questionable allocations of federal resources to begin with. The fact is that we don't hear anything of the sort.

5. The irony is that Obama and Biden, by joining 80 of their fellow Senate colleagues in opposing the Coburn Amendment, made it possible for the monies originally allocated for the Bridge to Nowhere to still go to Alaska for other transportation and infrastructure needs, an allocation which Sarah Palin was only too happy to say: "Thanks, we'll take it." So where's Murdock's criticism of Palin on that front? If Murdock really wanted to criticize "hypocrisy" here, one would think that he'd go after Palin's claim to have said "thanks, but no thanks" for earmarked funds for building the Bridge to Nowhere, all the while saying "thanks, we'll take it" for the same exact money to build a dead end road to the non-existent Bridge to Nowhere.

Regardless of whether one is disappointed in Obama's (or Biden's) vote on the Coburn Amendment, Deroy Murdock has grossly misappropriated the tragedy of Katrina to try to make a dubious claim about Obama and Biden as a means of deflecting from the uncontestable fact of Sarah Palin's continued lies about her attitudes towards the Bridge to Nowhere earmark. As a New Orleans citizen who suffered through Katrina, Murdock's demagoguery of this tragedy as a defense of the indefensible is deplorable. But it's what I've come to expect from the dishonest elements of the right wing. It's all one of a piece with the descent into the muck that characterizes the McCain campaign these days. And it's sad that they'll stoop to that level.

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