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Narrator: Who is Barack Obama? He says our troops in Afghanistan are…
Obama: …just air-raiding villages and killing civilians.
Narrator: How dishonorable. Congressional liberals voted repeatedly to cut off funding to our active troops, increasing the risk on their lives. How dangerous. Obama and congressional liberals: too risky for America.
The USA Today headline read “Quote From Obama Taken Out of Context.” The paper gave a longer version of the Obama quote: “We’ve got to get the job done there, and that requires us to have enough troops so that we’re not just air-raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous pressure over there.”
Was McCain’s quote fair? It’s a close call. On the one hand, Obama was making a broader argument, which the McCain ad ignored: that America should send more troops to Afghanistan. On the other hand, Obama clearly did assert that America is “air-raiding villages and killing civilians,” though one could argue about whether he was asserting or merely worrying that we are “just” doing so.
But again, why is it necessary for USA Today to have an opinion on the matter at all? Why not just report what the McCain ad said, report what Obama said, and let the reader make up his own mind as to whether McCain was lying, telling the truth, or engaging in ordinary political hyperbole?
“Ordinary political hyperbole” is a concept with which reporters ought to refamiliarize themselves. In their zeal to uncover political “lies,” journalists have increasingly adopted a prissy and ridiculous literalism, exemplified in this October 6 report from the New York Times:
There is no way, of course, that Senator Barack Obama would ever nominate three controversial figures from his past to serve on the United States Supreme Court: the convicted felon Antoin Rezko; the former Weather Underground radical Bill Ayers; or Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
Yet the names and faces of the three men appear in a new television advertisement—running in Michigan and Ohio this week and nationally on Fox News on Monday, at a total cost of $500,000—arguing that Mr. Obama’s judgment about his associates shows that he cannot be trusted to pick justices for the Supreme Court.
In September 1984, Walter Mondale asked, “Do you really want Jerry Falwell to pick the next two judges to the Supreme Court?” The Times quoted him and did not think it necessary to point out that only the president has the power to make nominations to the federal bench, that Falwell was not running for president, and that therefore the premise of Mondale’s question was false.
Back then, the Times took for granted that its readers were smart enough to make sense of Mondale’s statement on their own. Today, journalists seem to assume that their readers and viewers need to be told what to think of everything the politicians say. It just may be, however, that people are as smart today as the Times gave them credit for being 24 years ago.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?