Friday, May 12, 2006

Let It Be Said that Hyman Loves Propaganda



We get more shilling for unsourced, right-wing published diatribes from Mark Hyman in his latest “Point.”

This time around, it’s a book by Tom Kuiper that purports to assemble a bunch of embarrassing quotations from Hillary Clinton.

Media Matters for America has already pointed out a myriad of problems with Kuiper’s book, including the fact that Kuiper himself has admitted he can’t verify the complete truthfulness of his book.

I haven’t read the book, but from the examples I’ve seen posted in various places, it appears that Kuiper’s book is yet another example of masturbatory Clinton bashing. In this particular case, Kuiper collates quotations he’s found in previously published books and articles and parses them in ways to make it look like some sort of duplicity is going on.

For those who get their jollies from this sort of thing, I’m sure it will provide fine bathroom reading. The rest of us can chuckle at the fact that people would actually spend time and money writing and reading such stuff.

One particularly ugly aspect of the book, amplified by Hyman’s commentary, is the charge that Clinton is anti-Semitic. Hyman says,


Let it be said that anti-Semitism creeps into her
vocabulary too-frequently
[sic].


Above and beyond the dopey phrasing here (“Let it be said . . .”? I think “Suffice it to say” is what you were going for, Mark), the charge is unsupported. Hyman doesn’t give a single example of Clinton’s “frequent” anti-Semitism.

Thanks to Amazon.com’s service allowing browsers to dip into books for free, I was able to look into Kuiper’s book and see what I could find. Apparently, the only two charges of anti-Semitism involve a remark Clinton allegedly made in 1974 to a campaign worker and allegations that the Clintons jokingly used anti-Semitic rhetoric when speaking to each other privately.

Before looking at the sources of these charges, it’s worth noting what these allegations mean if they were true. Dennis Prager, a Jewish Republican who actually believes Hillary made the 1974 comment, notes that it’s “moral idiocy” to call someone anti-Semitic for a single comment they made when angry more than 30 years ago. As for the charge that the Clintons jokingly referred to each other as “Jew bastards,” context means everything. I cringe to think what some of the things I’ve said playfully or sarcastically to friends and family might look like out of context. Heck, I’ve mouthed plenty of unpleasant things just in my imitations of stereotypical “Hymanisms.” But the point was to ridicule the rhetoric being used, not to make the point I was actually mouthing.

But on top of that, the sources for these attacks are dubious, to say the very least. ConWebWatch has done a nice job of collecting information on the “Hillary-as-Anti-Semite” urban legend and its sources, and I’d refer all to their treatment of it. To paraphrase Hyman, let it be said that the sources fall apart. They guy who claimed Clinton used an anti-Semtic slur against him in 1974 has failed to mention this explosive charge in many interviews with journalists, has a history of memory problems, and has apparently written to Hillary Clinton to ask forgiveness for saying unsupportable things about her.

As for the anti-Semitic banter, that’s apparently one of the tall tales told by a thoroughly discredited former Clinton bodyguard Larry Patterson, a guy who’s in cahoots with right-wing website NewsMax.

Perhaps the most interesting thing about the Hillary bashing by Kuiper, Hyman, and many others on the radical right is the utter lack of substance involved. It rarely has anything to do with the actual issues of the day. Rather than construct a critique of Hillary Clinton’s ideas on Mideast policy (and one could certainly do this), they dig up apocryphal stories about an anti-Semitic remark made in private 30 years ago. Rather than attacking Clinton’s rhetoric about the war in Iraq (a critique that could as likely come from the left as the right), we get allegations that she said Chelsea was near the Twin Towers on 9/11 when she was in fact a whole 12 blocks away from them.

If this is the best the right wing can do, it says more about their own poverty of ideas than it does about Hillary Clinton.

Not that past acts shouldn’t be looked at when evaluating a candidate. Sure, it’s probably worth knowing that George W. Bush is a “dry drunk” who was a practicing alcoholic for years and has never received treatment, and that he did drugs when he was younger, and that he had his dad pull strings to avoid service in Vietnam but still couldn’t be bothered to show up for his minimal national guard duties. Those things might say something about the man, but do they really have much to do directly with his administration’s policies?

If voters want to cast their ballot for or against a politician for what they said and/or snorted 30 years ago, that’s certainly their right. And perhaps it’s the media’s duty to reveal these things. But I’d like to think that most American’s would vote for the person based on the substance of their ideas.

I wonder why the right wing seems so afraid of that.

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 7.30

[Note the name-calling flourish at the end of Hyman's diatribe that gives the ol' Hyman Index a major jolt this time around!]

2 Comments:

At 7:39 PM, Blogger Whiskers said...

I can't say I disagree. I'll check to see the consensus. Happy mother's day!

 
At 11:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ted:

I thought your new font choice was an attempt to keep up with NYTimes.com (?)

 

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