In the program, Colmes and Glenn play tag-team accusing Gaffney of 1) lobbying to have senators hung for dissention and excoriating him for it, 2) intentionally using a fabricated Lincoln quote, 3) championing the abolishment of democratic debate, and 4) believing oft-referred to WMD intelligence was not manipulated. The crux of their disagreement, from which everything else follows in my view, is the manipulated intelligence.
Having read the article, and in the absence of other information, Gaffney is not exactly guilty of what Colmes and Glenn accuse. To the thoroughly uninitiated (me), Gaffney had two items on the agenda: solicit public consideration of senatorial self-interest versus “national interest” – whatever that ill-defined term may mean – and point out the dangers of not challenging assumptions of bureaucrats who play a role in the policy process. Sure, it’s reprehensible that he ignorantly used an invented quote attributed to Abe (originally by someone other than himself). But it’s not quite accurate to say he’s campaigning for the noose. Writes Gaffney, “It is, of course, unimaginable that the penalties proposed … for the crime of dividing America in the face of the enemy would be contemplated let alone applied today.” The bottom line isn’t as atrocious as made out to be; suggesting that the myopically self-interested electoral ambitions of senators blinds them is almost commonsensical. That assumptions should be challenged is, again, not especially repulsive.
A brief synopsis of the article: The Defense Department’s inspector general last week found that the Defense Department policy organization’s critique of CIA information was inappropriate (ie: politically motivated), albeit legal. The politically motivated portion of the finding, claims Gaffney, is inconsistent with a couple of other reports published prior to this one. Regardless, this tidbit of information is allowing senators (most prominent among them Levine and Rockefeller) to jump on the bandwagon and once again boast of their robust anti-war credentials. Not only that, but as Gaffney sees it, this behavior could indirectly affect the willingness of policymakers to question each other. Okay.
Glenn paints Gaffney’s scolding senators for pandering to constituents as championing the cessation of democratic debate. Sure, an argument could be made for this. But that surely wasn’t the point of the article. Nonetheless, Glenn and Colmes absolutely cleave to this apparently crucial point. Why? It’s all about whether or not the senators’ statements are justified. And THAT all hinges upon the manipulation of intelligence. Their beliefs on the intelligence issue run fundamentally counter to that of Gaffney’s. Whereas Gaffney believes that evidence positing a relationship between Iraqi agents and Al Qaida was empirically grounded, Glenn and Colmes believe the opposite. Are we STILL talking about this? Jesus. The Tiny Revolution people do a great job of debunking this and I haven’t the patience to look into every detail for myself, so lacking any other option, I’ll trust-with-reservations that what they write is accurate. Is this not widely recognized already? Again, we are STILL talking about this?
To the extent that Gaffney is making the argument that shutting down debate is necessary and right, and that dissent is unpatriotic, Glenn and Colmes are totally justified in their disgust. But is this what is happening?
To me, this entire interchange represents how crippling it is to subscribe wholesale to one particular political view. Liberal minded media commentators, like their conservative counterparts, have distinctive worldviews that dictate the way information is perceived. Sadly, these worldviews prevent any real communication from taking place. And mutual unintelligibleness is bad.
Whew. As for all that other stuff about evil-conservative think tanks... Another day.