Tuesday, November 11, 2008

In charge of the asylum

So you figured the foil-helmet nature of news from the Fair 'n' Balanced Network was going to die down a little after the election? Well ... sorry. It looks like we could be in for a long couple of years.

Our topic of interest* is the second item here, "GOP Rep. claims Obama wants 'Nazi'-like security force." It's from the AP, which unfortunately has sort of a professional obligation to report on the doings of our elected officials with more or less a straight face. The embellishments are Fox's, though:

Republican Congressman Warns of Obama Dictatorship
A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

WASHINGTON -- A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist or fascist dictatorship.

"It may sound a bit crazy and off base, but the thing is, he's the one who proposed this national security force," Rep. Paul Broun said of Obama in an interview Monday with The Associated Press. "I'm just trying to bring attention to the fact that we may -- may not, I hope not -- but we may have a problem with that type of philosophy of radical socialism or Marxism."

Here's where the AP needs to step in and contextualize a bit. Alas, it fails:

Broun cited a July speech by Obama that has circulated on the Internet in which the then-Democratic presidential candidate called for a civilian force to take some of the national security burden off the military.

Partly true: There is a July speech (July 2), and it has "circulated on the Internet" -- at least, a 16-second clip has. People like Joseph Farah, the bull goose loony over at the generally hilarious WorldNetDaily, have been sounding the tocsin for months now about this "rather shocking (and chilling) pledge." The usual suspects have taken up the call, and it got another push right before the election. AP doesn't help matters by taking Rep. Broun's summary at face value, rather than bothering to figure out what the Obama speech might actually have meant. (Memo to Ron Fournier and the gang at AP Washn: If you still want to "reward the truth-tellers" and "expose the liars," this would have been a really, really good place to start.)

It probably helps to know that, among grownups who study security issues, there's been a debate for quite some time about how to extend "security" beyond the traditional state-border-military domain without -- to borrow Stephen Walt's pointed image -- turning day care into a national security matter. Thus, when a candidate suggests that public education, energy policy, and an active foreign service ought to be considered along with armed force as components of security, you can be forgiven for guessing that the candidate actually knows what he's talking about -- quite a pleasant change from the hacks and neocons who have had the run of "national security" of late.

If you watch the whole speech (it's almost half an hour, but start around the 16:00 mark and you'll have enough context to make sense of the scare quote when it shows up a minute later), that's sort of the idea you get: a broad conception of what constitutes service and "security" and how those ends can be served without necessarily blowing people up. You could say the guy's trying to start a personal Gestapo,** and you might be able to slip it past a couple of especially stupid fifth-graders, but don't push your luck. Sometime they're smarter than they let on.

I guess we shouldn't be too surprised that word of the armistice hasn't reached the Fox trenches, and WorldNetDaily readers will probably be turning up in caves on desert islands 40 years from now no matter what the rest of the world does. But it'd be nice if AP stopped enabling this sort of openly mendacious nonsense -- and if newspapers running wire stories just as they appear would turn off the autopilot and add a line indicating that Rep. Paul Broun, R-Ga., probably shouldn't be allowed to dress himself alone, let alone vote or play with scissors or drive in Washington traffic.

Working journalists who field calls from the bottom-feeders demanding the head of whatever Kremlin*** plant suppressed that story are justified in responding:
1) Nope. Not a story. Go watch the video.
2) Please don't be seen in public reading our newspaper, all right?

* Gov. Palin's speculations about the almighty are only of interest when He speculates back.
** The rhetor might mean something more like Sturmabteilung, but -- hey, whatever.
*** Or OkH. Apparently commies and Nazis are interchangeable again.

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Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Yes, Obama certainly manages to be all things to all people, doesn't he? Sometimes many things to the same people, or else perhaps they honestly don't know what the words they're using mean. Or care. Yes, that's probably it.

10:34 AM, November 12, 2008  

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