Thursday, April 07, 2005

Memogate 2 Amended...

Well, it comes out in the news today that contrary to claims from several conservative sites and papers, that repellent and non-shocking Schiavo memo was indeed belched forth from the Republican side. There are still some questions about the story itself, but the faked document claims are now shown to be tissue thin. Don't hold your breath waiting for an en masse retraction - I've only seen issue anything close to a real apology. The usual response is more akin to Power Line's "Yeah, but..." view. (Note to anyone interested - those are my first hyperlinks in a blog! Pop the champagne, if they work.)

Some thoughts on this whole deal:

Yes, it was a political maneuver equivalent of a $10 hooker, but why was it so shocking? I abhor it, but I'm not surprised. Politicians are almost by definition looking at any event and seeing how it can help a.)themselves and b.)their party, usually in this order. Someone just took what several people thought and wrote it down and let it get out. So be appalled, but don't be taken aback - which is another way of saying, hey, you elected these guys knowing them to be bastards, so don't come crying to me when they overachieve in that area. And any Democrats feeling smug should watch out - there's probably a "How Schiavo's death helps Ward 3 incumbent" guide out there.

As I said above, the responses I've seen from many people who had been pushing conspiracy theories with all the zeal of Kennedy assassination revisionists seem to focus on the current problems of the reporting of the memo, and not the fact that they were wrong in their accusations. Now, there are some problems with the reporting still - Power Line lists them, and they have a case in some areas. But pointing out the problems NOW doesn't exempt you from being wrong about other facts THEN. A simple, "We blew it, but here's some issues we have" would have been nice - a mature apology and some information as well. But when people swear eternal allegiance to one side and eternal enmity to the other, apologies are hard to come by. On a related note, if the autopsy of Terri Schiavo shows her brain to be mostly liquefied, should I sit by the TV, waiting for all the people who said she was fine - and even speaking - to offer their sincere regrets? While I'd love to see Randall Terry choke out a mea culpa, I don't plan on dying (without life support, Mr. DeLay and Frist) by the TV while waiting.

The press certainly isn't clean in all this either. Some of the original facts were either misstated grossly or wrong - for example, it wasn't a Talking Points Memo distributed to the leaders. And it was all the missteps from before - Rathergate, Gore's "I invented the Internet" urban legend, Tailwind, etc. etc. ad infinitum - that allows doubt to creep in and solidify. Before, claims of the press being taken in by faked memos may have been believed in the extreme edges of both parties (where MY side is always right and YOUR side is always wrong, forever and ever amen) and shrugged at by the rest. But now, even people who aren't so welded to a viewpoint can have doubts. It's not going to be easy to recover all the lost trust, and more incidents like this will surely happen.

(Since I started this blog after Mrs. Schiavo had died, I'll state my views on her case. While Michael Schiavo is not the most sympathetic person, I do feel the case was handled rightly. It had been through the courts several times for several reasons, and no one has ever found a legal reason to overturn it. You can hate the way she died - I do - and think the law needs correcting, but Judge Greer and the many people above him followed the law.)

No comments: