Playing Dirty Politics

A little context. Adam had this to say in light of Tuesday’s Democratic Senate Primary in Connecticut:

Just Stay Out of It

“Joe Lieberman believed in a strong national defense, and for that, he was purged from his party. It is a sobering moment.” — Ken Mehlman, Republican Party Chair. Whether you agree or disagree with Melhman’s assumption that supporting the war in Iraq equals favoring a strong national defense, he does a disservice to himself and to his party when he takes immature, gratuitous potshots at the outcome of an internal Democratic election. Does Mehlman not realize that anything he says is immediately dismissed by the public as pure partisan rhetoric? If nobody is going to be convinced by the arguments of a man whose job it is to be a spin-doctor, and merely uttering them will put partisan-fighting distaste in the mouths of voters (which they will attribute to Republicans), wouldn’t it behoove Mehlman to keep his mouth shut?

What Adam didn’t talk about was similar “if you’re against the war your for the terrorists” partisan hack, rhetorical BS that came from another wingnut nobody should listen to:

To “purge a man like Joe Lieberman” was “of concern, especially over the issue of Joe’s support with respect to national efforts in the global war on terror. The thing that’s partly disturbing about it is the fact that, the standpoint of our adversaries, if you will, in this conflict, and the al Qaeda types, they clearly are betting on the proposition that ultimately they can break the will of the American people in terms of our ability to stay in the fight and complete the task.”

Oh, right, that’s Vice President Cheney. A member of the Bush Administration and the second most powerful man in the world (First when he has his hands on the marionette strings). And what’s he doing? He’s essentially calling the Democratic voters of Connecticut traitors, those who would allow Al Qaeda to win. That’s one step farther than making the primary a one-issue race (which may have been partly true, but is generally unfair to do. I’m sure there are many voters turned off by Leiberman’s attention to national politics – running for VP in 2000 – instead of representing their interests). Does it behoove him to keep his mouth shut as well? Should the Vice President get away with being a partisan hack, and playing politics with results that are ultimately none of his business? Does statements like this, that are downplayed when made by Mehlman because he’s a partisan, damage the Veep’s credibility as a national leader?

What I find even more disturbing is that he made this statement Wednesday, probably with full knowledge of the ongoing and soon to culminate operation in Britain to apprehend and expose the terror cell plotting to blow up a bunch of Trans-Atlantic flights. So he had top secret knowledge, and he was using it to play the Democratic primary into what he knew would be a bump in the terror scale. That’s just plain dirty.


9 responses to “Playing Dirty Politics

  1. I can’t say I agree with you. I mean, I agree that the VP shouldn’t have said anything at all. But I agree with his substance. I’ve said this before in the comment section on this blog: The war against terrorism is a war of wills. When Americans become battle-weary, terrorists are emboldened because it shows they are being effective. That’s how it’s always been in Israel, and that’s how it will be here, as well.

    I agree that Ned Lamont being in the Senate makes our country less strong than if Joe Lieberman were in the Senate, and I think it’s because we need someone who is steadfast in his hawkish approach (an approach that, as you know, I agree with). So to say that Connecticut Dems voting for Lamont signals that they have become battle-weary, which in turn is a dangerous signal to send in the war on terror, is accurate in my opinion.

  2. Or maybe he truly believes what he said. I don’t know how Chaney feels in his heart of hearts but I personally agree with his statement. If he feels that way, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with expressing it. He also said he called Lieberman (a personal friend of his) to wish him the best. That doesn’t bother me either.


  3. I agree that the VP shouldn’t have said anything at all.

    OK, so we have that down.

    Now, using that as a baseline, and of course the fact that he did say something, you didn’t address my point:

    He was playing dirty. He wasn’t speaking from his “heart of hearts” about what it’s going to take to win a battle of wills. Whether you or I agree with the out of context substance of his remarks isn’t relevant. He was using the impending terror attack, that only he knew about (and not the general public) as a political tool, speaking out against the Dovish Connecticutters when he, and not the public, knew there would be an alert spike and a huge terror plot (either thwarted or successful). This was clearly using the impending terror attack to take political pot-shots. This was a dirty political ploy.

  4. No Noyam, that’s ridiculous. The threat of terrorism is real whether big news is made or not. the VP didn’t change his position with the advance knowledge that something was coming out. He’s been outspoken in this manner all along. The reason I think he shouldn’t have said anything is that it’s not his place (as a Republican) to comment on a Democratic primary. I agree completely with his line of thinking, and I agreed with it before the news yesterday, just as he articulated it well before he knew about the events that would unfold yesterday.

    What else would you want him to do? The election was this week. He made a statement that was consistent with his position for years. The fact that it coincided with this breaking news might underscore his arguments, but should he gag himself just because it might look like he’s playing dirty? (I think he should have gagged himself on this primary for other reasons, but not this.)

    A dirty trick is when Tim McCarver sees on his monitor that a left-hander is warming up, and then says that the Yankees should think about bringing in a lefty – and then the TV shows that the lefty is warming up, and McCarver looks like a genius. That’s dirty. Cheney didn’t do that. He’s been outspoken on how the war on terror is a war of wills for several years. He’s probably made that comment every single day in less publicized events.

  5. Noyam, I have to agree with Adam here, I think you are taking you’re dislike of the administration further than necessary.
    Besides, everyone knows the media is a left wing mouthpiece and Republicans have to speak up for themselves.

    (PS If you choose to take up that line of thought, I can’t say I have the time to respond.)

  6. Wait a second, do you realize how self-contradictory your comments are, and how irrelevant some of your red-herring comments are?

    On the one hand, you say he should have been quiet. Which means that his motives for speaking up have to be examined, but on the other you toss that aside with a “what else should he do?” Well, you answered that yourself, when you said he should have been quiet.

    So if he should have been quiet, but he spoke, then his motives are questionable. And given that he saw “the lefty on the monitor” before everyone else, to borrow your metaphor, he did exactly what McCarver does. He is exactly that dirty.

    And considering that this is national politics, and not the triviality of a baseball broadcast, the stakes are much higher and more important. I’m sure McCarver advocates bringing in a lefty to face a lefty all his broadcast career. Yet, given that he knows in this partocular instance better info than his audience, and he uses that to his advantage just like Cheney did is what makes it dirty from both of them. You practically make the argument for me, but just change the conclusion. Sorry, but your metaphor and your reasoning support me.

    The threat of terrorism is real whether big news is made or not. That’s irrelevant. The point is that he used his better information to make his statements look prescient and timely, when in fact, they were not. He knew in advance that there would be a threat from terrorists with possible links to Al Qaeda, so he played up the “Al Qaeda types” buzzwords.

    Don’t tell me I’ve gone too far, just because you can’t acknowledge dirty politics from the administration. This is Rovian tactics at their worst.

  7. That last line was directed at Gilad, the rest of whose comment I won’t touch with a 10-foot pole, other than to suggest it’s very absurdity leads me to believe that the entire comment is in jest.

  8. I wrote too quickly and didn’t check that my words were precise enough. Instead of “What else would you want him to do?” what I should have said was “what else would you want him to say?”

    As I’ve said repeatedly in various forms, I think that Cheney should have been quiet here because it’s not the place for a Republican to comment on a Democratic internal election. When he nevertheless commented, it does not axiomatically follow, as you suggested, that he had a sinister motive.

    What would suggest a sinister motive, or a dirty trick, would be if he said something new, or changed his position on security matters right before the news came out. He didn’t do that. What he did was apply the same arguments he’s been making for years – that in the war against terror, it’s important for the American people to show a willingness to fight the war – to a new question: the primary victory by Ned Lamont.

    Let me put it this way: In my example, McCarver forms his opinion on the basis of what he sees on the monitor, ahead of what the viewer sees. Cheney has had this opinion, and has been advocating it and speaking about it in public, for several years, continuously.

    That’s why I rhetorically asked (or meant to ask) what else you would have him say? Assuming he wants to voice his opinion, which I thought he should have abstained from doing, what else should he say? Would anyone suggest that he say something different from what he’s been saying for several years?

    I’m guessing that right now you’re saying to yourself: If Adam believes that it would have been smart for Cheney to keep quiet, and yet he spoke up (thus doing something not-smart), and we should assume that Cheney would not do something not-smart, therefore there must be some other factor that indeed made it a smart decision to speak up. And that factor must be that he had advance knowledge of the news that was about to come out, and putting the Republican party on the record in the Lieberman-Lamont race was a smart decision. (The bold and simple terminology is for clarity.)

    But there’s an “LSAT alert” to that logic, because it assumes there can be no other factors that led Cheney (or the other Republicans) to make the political calculation to comment on the record regarding the Lieberman race. For instance, they may simply disagree with me that staying silent is the best policy here, figuring that in a campaign season in which they are possibly losing they should do as much to distinguish themselves from the Democrats as possible. They may want to pounce here to paint the Democratic Party with a broad brush as being run by the far-left (or, to use rhetorically neutral terminology, the party is run by those with some very clear ideological differences from the Republicans), a conclusion that is not an invalid or indefensibly position given (a) the results of the election and (b) the response by the rest of the party. There are a multitude of possible reasons, with yours being only one (and, in my opinion, a reach) for why Cheney might have chosen to comment. I don’t see how it’s fair (or how it logically flows) to insist that it must have been a dirty trick, and dismiss any other alternative explanations for his decision to comment.

  9. Oh, and one more thing:

    Using the “he’s said it all the time” is a poor defense, too.

    Because at those times he was using it as dirty politics as well.

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