What Fresh Hell Is This?

March 14, 2010

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week's column by the Post-Gazette's Jack Kelly is his usual weaving together of snippets of wisps of notions and calling it all factual. As you read, note the occurrences of the "seems to" wiggle words.

He begins with some hard and fast numbers:
President Barack Obama's national security policies are much more popular than his domestic policies, according to a poll released Monday by Democratic pollsters James Carville and Stanley Greenburg.

Fifty-seven percent of Americans approve Mr. Obama's policies on national security; 54 percent approve his policies on fighting terrorism and 52 percent approve his conduct of foreign policy, the Democracy Corps said. This compares to an overall approval rating for the president of 47 percent and just 42 percent approval on his handling of the economy.

A datum which must be galling to left-wingers is that the president's most popular policy is his prosecution of the war in Afghanistan, of which 58 percent approve.
Note the "must be galling" part. What part of the 58%, do you think, are "galled" left-wingers?

The next part is where he enters fantasy-land:
But the president's higher marks on foreign and national security policy seem to be mostly because Americans haven't been paying attention. On the two issues which have received much coverage in the news media, Mr. Obama scores poorly. Only 44 percent of Americans approve of his policies with regard to the interrogation and prosecution of terror suspects and only 42 percent approve of his handling of Iran. Fifty-one percent of Americans think our standing in the world has declined on Mr. Obama's watch.

"This is surprising, given the global acclaim -- and Nobel Peace Prize -- that flowed to the new president after he took office," Mr. Carville and Mr. Greenburg wrote.
Is Jack saying that there hasn't been much media coverage on foreign and national security policy? That's the clear implication here. Where there's "much coverage in the news media," he says, Obama scores poorly. So if Obama scores well, it must mean there hasn't been much coverage on national security.

See what I mean by fantasy land?

The big spin happens next:
"I recently asked several senior administration officials, separately, to name a foreign leader with whom Barack Obama has forged a strong personal relationship during his first year in office," wrote Jackson Diehl, deputy editorial page editor of The Washington Post, Monday. "A lot of hemming and hawing ensued."
Jack leaves it up to his audience to think that Diehl is some sort of neutral player in all this.

But he's not:
Fred Hiatt directs the Post’s editorial page and is commonly blamed for its right-wing tilt on Iraq (and other matters), but a recent story in the Washington City Paper identified Jackson Diehl as even more important in shaping the paper’s positions. The story calls Diehl, a Yale-educated columnist and the editorial page’s deputy editor, “the panel’s specialist on foreign policy” and cites a memo from retiring columnist Colbert King that says Diehl’s “dogmatic” views have intimidated those with less hawkish opinions.

I went back and examined Diehl’s columns on Iraq and, as expected, the Post’s resident foreign affairs guru has been wrong on just about every key issue surrounding the Iraq war. Make an inventory of every cliché ever uttered about Iraq by war advocates, every hysterical charge of the global threat posed by Saddam Hussein—you’ll find them all in Diehl’s writings. You’ll also find that Diehl didn’t seem to consider that serious problems might arise in the aftermath of an invasion. When they did, he didn’t acknowledge that his own analysis might have been flawed, but instead blamed poor execution by the Bush Administration for everything he failed to foresee. Apparently, if Diehl had been deputized to run the war things would have turned out differently.
Any doubt Diehl's position on the Post's editorial board swayed the people he chose to talk to about Obama's foreign policy?

Then there's this obvious (even for Jack!) spin-away-from reality:
The most recent blow to the special relationship came March 1 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, meeting with unpopular Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, a Hugo Chavez ally, offered to mediate Argentina's specious claim to the Falkland Islands.

The Falklands have been a British possession since 1833. The people who live there, all of whom speak English, want nothing to do with Argentina. When an earlier Argentine regime invaded the Falklands in 1982, the British -- with crucial support from President Ronald Reagan -- threw them out.
Really? Hillary Clinton "offered to mediate" Argentina's claim on the Falklands?

Um, no. (And this, my friends, should have been caught by the P-G's fact-checkers). Here's what actually took place. From the Buenos Aires Herald:
President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday said Latin American leaders backed her objections to British oil exploration in the Malvinas islands at the Rio Group summit taking place in Mexico, as drilling began on the first well.
Since Fernández de Kirchner took office, she has been calling on Britain to resume talks regarding sovereignty over the islands, over which both countries fought a war in 1982. The dispute over the archipelago escalated in recent days, as Argentina formally objected to British-led drilling plans near the islands, and decreed that any ship travelling to or from the islands must obtain a prior permit from the government. They claim the oil drilling by British firm Desire Petroleum is a breach of sovereignty.

As part of the government’s diplomatic offensive, Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana is scheduled to meet tomorrow with United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, seeking help to pressure Britain to followUN resolutions urging both countries to negotiate their competing claims.
Secretary of State Clinton was asked in Argentina this past March 1 about this issue (i.e. the "Malvinas issue"):
INTERPRETER: The journalist was just asking how the U.S. intends to negotiate to get the United Kingdom to sit at the table and address the Malvinas issue. And he was then asking about this setting up of the fund. So, what’s the reserves of the country?
SECRETARY CLINTON: As to the first point, we want very much to encourage both countries to sit down. Now, we cannot make either one do so, but we think it is the right way to proceed. So we will be saying this publicly, as I have been, and we will continue to encourage exactly the kind of discussion across the table that needs to take place.
I’m sorry, I don’t know what fund we’re referring to.
This, to Jack and all his fellow wingnuts, means she "offered to mediate" the Malvinas' return to Argentina. In reality she was encouraging diplomatic discussions regarding British oil drilling off the coast of the Falklands. Exactly not the same thing. But why let reality get in the way of a good political point?

My friends at the P-G who look over Jack's shoulders to check on whether he's using facts as facts or "facts" as facts should have caught this.

The fact that Jack used it (either he knew it was bogus and used it anyway or should have checked before using it) invalidates the rest of the column.

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