Friday, August 18, 2006

One Giant Leap for Hyman-kind

Mark Hyman starts his latest editorial with the observation that the Washington Post editorialized in support of a federal court ruling that keeps Tom DeLay on the ballot in Texas, but that the paper also supported a ruling that allowed Frank Lautenberg to replace Robert Torricelli on the New Jersey gubernatorial ballot in 2002.

He ends with the statement: Liberal newspapers are incapable of ever taking a principled stand.
In the rhetoric biz, we call that an “Inferential leap” – in this case, one that would make Evel Knievel proud.

It would be one thing if there was a series of claims and supporting statements that led the viewer logically from the first observation to the universal claim he makes at the end, but there’s not.

In other words, even if one granted Hyman’s premise that the Washington Post based its apparently contradictory positions on nothing more than the party affiliation of the players involved in each case, it would take a well-supplied mule train several days to traverse the chasm between that fact and the conclusion that “liberal” newspapers are “incapable” of “ever” taking a principled stand. (By the way, the Washington Post’s editorial page was infamously pro-war in the lead up to the invasion of Iraq; was that also an unprincipled stand by a supposedly liberal newspaper, Mark?)

But the difference in editorials might go beyond simple political fickleness and instead have something to do with the law. In each case, state laws were the issue, and they are quite different in Texas than they are in New Jersey. New Jersey’s law is written with the intention of allowing maximum flexibility in candidate selection/replacement, while Texas’s laws are much stricter.

Beyond that, although Torricelli and DeLay both left their respective races due to charges of corruption (something Hyman explicitly states about Torricelli, but doesn’t mention in connection with DeLay), Torricelli wasn’t attempting to “game the system” the way DeLay clearly was.

DeLay chose to stay in the race and allow his fellow GOP’ers to nominate him so that he could collect campaign contributions that he could use for his legal defense fund. To allow his name to then be stricken from the ballot would in essence give Texas politicians a green light to rake in money through “campaign contributions” to take care of personal legal trouble, despite having no intention of running. The ruling in Texas (upheld on appeal by none other than Antonin Scalia) makes politicians accountable: their constituents now know that a politician is obliged to actually run once they’ve profited from campaigning.

And the political party machines must now ensure that their primaries are now contests among viable candidates rather than allowing a favorite son to take advantage of the system for his personal gain, then swap him for someone else after the fact.

So the Republicans are stuck with DeLay, who is using his political contributions to save his own hide and has little chance of winning.

It *is* poetic justice that the GOP in Texas has finally experienced what the rest of the country has: being swindled by “The Hammer .“

And that’s The Counterpoint.

Hyman Index: 2.71


At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Ted,

Thanks for the commentary. Aside from once again reading how slimely our Mr. Hyman is, I learned a couple of new things about the Delay Debacle. Perhaps the Republicans will "adapt to win" in Texas.

At 5:19 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I just heard that President Bush has finally admitted that there was no connection between 9-11 and Saddam Hussein.

I'm just wonderin': Do you recall Hyman's spin on this topic?

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Ted Remington said...

I didn't start keeping tabs on Hyman until mid 2004, so I missed much of the run-up to the war. (I'd give a king's ransom to get my hands on transcripts of some of those early "Points").

Since I've been following him, Hyman (to my knowledge) hasn't explicitly said "Saddam Hussein ordered the 9/11 attacks." Rather, he's done what many on the right have done: rhetorically juxtaposed "9/11" and "terrorism" with "Iraq" and "Hussein." He's often invoked the phrase "global war on terror" in his discussions of Iraq. He's also attacked Democratic members of Congress for not voting on resolutions that announce "support for our troops," but do so in the context of claiming the war in Iraq is somehow part of the ongoing conflict witht he forces that were responsible for 9/11.

The clearest example of the 9/11-Iraq connection from Sinclair wasn't a Hyman "Point," but rather the response to criticism when Sinclair pre-empted Ted Koppel's airing of "The Fallen" in 2004. In response, Sinclair released a statement that said in part:

"We understand that our decision in this matter may be questioned by some. Before you judge our decision, however, we would ask that you first question Mr. Koppel as to why he chose to read the names of the 523 troops killed in combat in Iraq, rather than the names of the thousands of private citizens killed in terrorists attacks since and including the events of September 11, 2001. In his answer, you will find the real motivation behind his action scheduled for this Friday."

As "The Nation" pointed out at the time, the Sinclair statement basically followed the Administration's tactic of juxtaposing the two events, suggesting a false connection when none existed. []


At 10:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


There certainly are a lot of different propaganda techniques, such as the juxtaposition one that you mentioned.

Do you think the public is actually hoodwinked by all this, or just not paying attention?


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