What Fresh Hell Is This?

September 14, 2014

Jack Kelly Sunday

In this week's Post-Gazette, there's another column by Jack Kelly that clearly shows, yet again, that no one over there on the Boulevard of the Allies adequately fact-checks Jack Kelly.

But then again, we've known this for years.

It's made all the more delicious when the smaller headline below the main headline (I'd love to thus call it a "neckline" but I've been told it's called a subhead) reads:
They’re lying about GOP foreign policy
Yea but Jack's got some credulity issues of his own in this column.  For example, his first paragraph:
Rand Paul, who will likely run for president as a stay-at-home Republican, went to Guatemala recently and performed eye surgeries as a means of displaying his foreign-policy bona fides,” wrote New Yorker editor and Barack Obama hagiographer David Remnick. “Was Bashar al-Assad, Syria’s ophthalmologist-in-chief, impressed?”
Now about that term, "hagiographer" - what does Jack mean by saying that David Remnick is an "Obama hagiographer"?  Merriam Webster defines hagiography as:
a book about someone's life that makes it seem better than it really is or was : a biography that praises someone too much
If that's the case, then I suppose Jack hasn't actually read the Remnick piece he so dutifully quotes. It begins with this:
Even the most forgiving judge of Barack Obama, one willing to overlook his preference for chipping onto the sunlit greens of Martha’s Vineyard rather than brooding in the fluorescent glare of the Situation Room, must admit that the President has sometimes been a thick-tongued steward of his own foreign policy.
Yea, that's hagiography, alright.

But once you dig deeper into Jack's main complaint in this section of his column, you'll see the extent of his awkward relationship with the truth.  Jack's complaint:
It’s kosher to criticize Sen. Paul’s foreign policy views, to suspect expediency motivated the recent shift in them and to consider his inexperience in foreign affairs a handicap. (I have, I do and I do.) But to attack him for his charitable work is vile.
I'm not exactly sure that Remnick is attacking Paul simply for his charitable work.  Looks more like he's pointing out Paul's use of the charitable eye-surgeries as some sort of political photo-op (in this case, to bolster some sort of foreign policy credibility).  And that is something to at the very least be cynical about.

But if the trip wasn't about politics then why did Senator Paul travel to Guatemala with a political entourage?  From the Washington Post:
The doctor and his patients greeted each other beneath the gaze of three television cameras, three photographers, six reporters, a political aide, two press secretaries, conservative activist David Bossie...
...Bossie’s presence cast aside any doubt that the trip was merely an opportunity for the senator to reconnect with his medical roots. Bossie is the founder of Citizens United, the group whose lawsuit led the U.S. Supreme Court to rule that corporations and labor unions can spend unlimited funds on direct advocacy for or against political candidates. A documentary filmmaker who has shadowed Paul before, he traveled here with his daughter and a film crew equipped with lights, cameras and an unmanned aerial drone for overhead shots. Bossie said little about his plans, other than that his footage would appear in a film either about Paul or an issue of importance to him.

Paul’s entourage included family members and friends; his top political aide, Doug Stafford; and political ad makers Rex Elsass and Rick Tyler, the latter a former close aide to Newt Gingrich. The ad team was joined by a Spanish-speaking colleague who was responsible for trailing behind another film crew with legal release forms that needed to be signed by anyone interviewed or appearing in their footage. It wasn't clear whether Guatemalans presented with the release forms understood what they were signing.
So it wasn't a purely charitable trip then, was it?  Now go back and look at how Jack Kelly characterized Remnick's description of the trip.  Wouldn't it have been much better to know more of the details before reading that it was "vile"?  That's the set of facts that Jack left out - the stuff he doesn't think you need to know about before reading his opinion.

Then there's this:
Mr. Remnick also mocked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for saying Russian President Vladimir Putin wouldn’t push him around the way he has President Obama and snarked at former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s prediction that the invasion of Iraq would be a “cakewalk.” [Emphasis added.]

Mr. Remnick’s snark is sustained only by his ignorance of or disregard for facts.
The invasion of Iraq was a cakewalk. Saddam Hussein’s regime was ousted 21 days after the U.S. coalition attacked. Just 172 coalition soldiers were killed. The Six Day War between Israel and Arab states in 1967 probably was the only victory in the history of warfare won more swiftly or easily.

The troubles came during the occupation afterward, which Mr. Rumsfeld — who wanted the United States to set up a coalition government and then leave — had opposed.
So Jack is saying that Rumsfeld wasn't wrong to say that the invasion would be "a cakewalk" right? Jack then foils that with Rumsfeld's opposition to the Iraq occupation.  So Remnick must be wrong, right?

But this is what Remnick actually wrote:
Chris Christie insists on the efficacy of big men and tough talk—the Great Jersey Guy theory of history. Recently, he suggested that Vladimir Putin would not dare sponsor the bloody destabilization of Ukraine were Christie in charge. “I don’t believe, given who I am, that he would make the same judgment,” Christie said at a meeting of Republican activists. “Let’s leave it at that.” Christie is trying to bone up on world affairs by reading Kenneth Adelman’s book on Ronald Reagan. Adelman was the cheerful adviser to Donald Rumsfeld who insisted that the U.S. invasion of Iraq, in 2003, would be a “cakewalk.” [Emphasis added.]
But let's be sure.  Was it Rumsfeld or Adelman who said the invasion would be "a cakewalk"?

Guess.  From The New Yorker:
More than a year ago, Kenneth Adelman, a prominent national-security official in the Reagan Administration who now serves part time, with Richard Perle, on the Pentagon’s Defense Policy Board, wrote a piece for the Washington Post. Its title was “Cakewalk in Iraq,” and its payoff went like this: “I believe demolishing Hussein’s military power and liberating Iraq would be a cakewalk. Let me give simple, responsible reasons: (1) It was a cakewalk last time; (2) they’ve become much weaker; (3) we’ve become much stronger; and (4) now we’re playing for keeps.” [Emphasis added.]
So whose "ignorance of or disregard for facts" are we talking about when Jack said (incorrectly) that Rumsfeld said the invasion of Iraq was (and Jack even used the quotation marks) "a cakewalk"?

Doesn't anyone at the Post-Gazette fact-check Jack Kelly? Evidently not.

1 comment:

EdHeath said...

You know, just a hair past what you wrote (which was quite well researched and written as always), even if one concedes that Rumsfeld was correct about how easy victory was in Iraq, and even if one concedes that Rumsfeld wanted to get out of Iraq quickly, which administration was in office when the decision was made not to leave immediately? Did we stay because we had not captured Saddam? Does it even matter, it was Republicans who "managed" the occupation.