The first casualty of political rhetoric always is the truth.Two things to note here. The first is the use of quotation marks and second is the italicized text.
Witness President Barack Obama's contention in last week's State of the Union Address that the recent Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance -- allowing corporations and unions to underwrite political ads -- "reversed a century of law."
And that it "opened the floodgates ... (for) foreign companies to spend without limit in our elections."
But the ruling did no such thing. And, worse, the error was so blatant that it cannot be dismissed as some kind of "inadvertent mischaracterization" spoken off the cuff; it was part of the president's prepared text. [emphasis in original]
Let's start with the quoted material (that's the stuff in the quotation marks). Is that actually from the President's prepared text?
Um, not quite. Here's the section from the State of the Union addresss:I note two changes here from the original to the braintrusts' criticisms. First is the verb tense. It's shifted from the future "will open" to the past "opened."
With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. (Applause.) I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. (Applause.) They should be decided by the American people. And I'd urge Democrats and Republicans to pass a bill that helps to correct some of these problems.
But that's not what the Trib went with. By shifting it to the past tense they change what the President said. That, in turn, changes the entire meaning of the criticism - and it also points to The Trib's Big Lie. The President is obviously making a prediction here and was not describing what's already happened (he even attached an "I believe" to the "will").
The second thing is that what they said was in the president's text wasn't in the president's text.
By putting words into the President's mouth, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review was lying.
So where did this all come from?
They were quoting this blog post by Shannen Coffin which then leads to this post by Bradley Smith (who also gets the verb tense wrong):
It's interesting to note, of course, that while Obama was talking about "special interests" and placing "foreign governments" within that larger group, the reaction has been only about "foreign governments."
Tonight the president engaged in demogoguery of the worst kind, when he claimed that last week's Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC, "open[ed] the floodgates for special interests — including foreign corporations — to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don't think American elections should be bankrolled by America's most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities."
Presumably that means the NRO bloggers and the Trib editorial writers are OK with special interests buying our elections.
Interesting way to hide that, huh?
One thing Richard Mellon Scaife's braintrust did get right - the first sentence of the editorial:
Though I don't think they know that they mean themselves.
The first casualty of political rhetoric always is the truth.