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Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Team Sarah Points to Even More Recent Uses of ‘Blood Libel’



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As a follow up to yesterday’s post, Rebecca Mansour, communications director for SarahPAC, sends along even more uses of the term “blood libel” in a non-traditional context:

MSNBC’s Mike Barnicle: John Kerry Underwent A “Blood Libel By The Swift Boat People.” “The problem for Kerry here is that two years ago, Joe, he did not talk like that when he was undergoing a blood libel by the Swift Boat people. If he had stood up two years ago, in July of 2004, and looked into the cameras with the same intensity he showed today on this issue and said, Hey, I didn`t see Dick Cheney on the bow of my boat in the Mekong Delta, we might have a different president today. That didn`t happen then, and so he`s playing catch-up in terms of his reputation now.” (“Scarborough Country,” MSNBC, 10/31/06)

Democratic Congresswoman On Accusations Against Al Gore: “I Would Put Them In A Category, Literally, Of Blood Libel.”“Rep. DEUTSCH: Well, again, it–it is ve–a–an incredibly fair and well-run process. But let me respond to the two things you said. First is the Republicans’ allegations over the last 24 or 48 hours, which I consider the most scandalous statements that I probably have heard in my entire life. And I would put them in a category, literally, of blood libel, that Al Gore has conspired to prevent servicemen and women from their votes being counted, which is absolutely not true.” (“Rivera Live,” CNBC, 11/20/00)

Christie Todd Whitman & “Blood Libel” “Think McCain-Palin and Obama-Biden have it tough? During Whitman’s re-election campaign, baseball cards bearing her photo with a daily ‘baby murder count’ were mass-mailed to the ‘base’ by the so-called ‘Christian’ right. The left wing, moreover, has smeared her record relentlessly, blaming her for everything from summertime droughts to the current fiscal crisis. Most egregious has been the blood libel that as EPA administrator she deliberately misled responders at Ground Zero about the air quality, putting their health and even their lives at risk. The fact that she repeatedly advised responders to wear protection goes unmentioned.” (John Farmer Jr., “Why The True Mavericks Can’t Win,” The Star-Ledger, 10/19/08)

Some Democrats View Attacks On Their Patriotism “A Blood Libel.” “What about Bush’s cheap shot attack on Democrats implying they support terrorists? Unfortunately, it’s just the kind of wedge issue many people, maybe most, in whole sections of the country, primarily the South and the West, are all too ready to accept on faith. Democrats, as they see it, are embarrassed by expressions of patriotism or, worse yet, ashamed of them. For a minority of left-wing Democrats that’s all too true; but for most Democrats that’s a blood libel that Republicans have been spreading since the McCarthy era — alas, with some success.” (John Farmer, “Presidential Campaign To Run From The Sewers,” Star-Ledger, 11/24/03)

Salon: Blair Trumpeted “Blood Libel” Against Iran. “You can’t teach an old lapdog new tricks. And Tony Blair was barking up the wrong tree yet again last week in his first major appearance since he skulked ingloriously away from office back in June. Blair seized the opportunity of a New York speech to trumpet the blood libel that Iran is now the embodiment of the entire ‘global ideology’ of Islamic extremism, explicitly conflating the Tehran regime not only with al-Qaida but also with Nazi Germany.” (Chris Floyd, “Blair And Bush Team Up To Sell New War,” Salon.com, 10/24/07)

Washington Monthly Book Reviews Labels Anti-Clinton Book “Awfully Close To A Blood Libel.”  “Losing bin Laden might be thought of as the pilot for a series to be called CSI: Right ‘Wing Conspiracy.’ In the book, British journalist Richard Miniter sifts through eight years’ worth of the Clinton administration’s approach to Osama bin Laden’s terrorism, and lays the blame for failing to prevent the 9/11 attacks squarely on — altogethernow, Regnery Publishing buffs! — Bill Clinton. Armed with 20/20 hindsight, Miniter finds a long series of missed opportunities to capture or kill the terrorist. The result is an odd book that manages to raise serious questions and make serious points about the competing pressures and interests that go into creating a foreign policy, but that still overreaches in manipulative and mendacious ways. . . . However, if Miniter had been less interested in leveling what seems awfully close to a blood libel, it would be easier to congratulate him for producing a clear account of the competing policy questions, institutional inertia, bureaucratic competition, and the personality conflicts that thwarted the formulation and execution of a policy to stop bin Laden.” (Jamie Malanowski, “Kill Bill: The Relentless Effort To Blame 9/11 On President Clinton,” Washington Monthly, 11/1/03)

CQ Weekly: “Not Just A Fiction, It Was Very Nearly A Blood Libel.” “In his Oct. 17, 2002, testimony for the joint House and Senate inquiry, CIA Director George J. Tenet conceded no error, acknowledged no miscalculation. Beyond removing ‘the wall’ of legal restrictions on intelligence sharing and increasing his budget, he saw no need for fundamental change. In his view, any suggestion that the CIA was not joined at the hip with the FBI in pursuit of al Qaeda was not just a fiction, it was very nearly a blood libel. ‘One of the most critical alliances in the war against terrorism is that between CIA and FBI,’ Tenet testified.” (“CQ Outlook: Is Homeland Security Keeping America Safe?,” CQ Weekly, 6/13/03)

Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist & Author David Halberstam Describes The Movie Pearl Harbor As A “Blood Libel.” “Look at ‘Pearl Harbor.’ ‘Pearl Harbor’ is nearly a blood libel against the event. The people who made that movie should be ashamed of themselves. Then you see ‘Apocalypse’ and you see what real filmmaking really is.” (Jeff Stark, “David Halberstam on ‘Apocalypse Now’,” Salon.com, 8/3/01)

Baltimore Sun: Ellen Sauerbrey Issued “A Political Blood Libel” In 1998. “Post: ‘Take us back to the last election. Do you still think you won that?’ Sauerbrey: ‘I think it’s irrelevant.’ Excuse me? Sauerbrey then vaguely blamed Baltimore City for ‘problems,’ which she said have been addressed by ‘new equipment.’ And then the subject was changed. Well, all denials to the contrary, the last election is not ‘irrelevant.’ What Sauerbrey issued, in its aftermath, was a political blood libel, accusing her opponents of stealing the democratic process. She had all sorts of time to prove her allegations, or drop them, or apologize for them and blame them on the emotions of the moment. Instead, she took them all the way to court — where they were thrown in her face.” (Michael Olesker, “Accusations Hurt Credibility Of Candidate Sauerbrey,” The Baltimore Sun, 7/21/98)

What is the point of all this? For starters, there is little indication that any of these previous uses of the term kicked up much controversy. If someone is bothered by the term stretching beyond its historical context, that’s a legitimate gripe, but that train left the station a long time ago. Even the Anti-Defamation League’s statement was mild in its criticism:

Still, we wish that Palin had not invoked the phrase “blood-libel” in reference to the actions of journalists and pundits in placing blame for the shooting in Tucson on others. While the term “blood-libel” has become part of the English parlance to refer to someone being falsely accused, we wish that Palin had used another phrase, instead of one so fraught with pain in Jewish history.

Because of the numerous earlier uses of the phrase on both sides of the aisle, with no discernible objection or controversy, it is easy to conclude that voices driven to great outrage by Palin’s use of the term are just looking for any old excuse to be outraged.


Tags: Arizona Shooting , Sarah Palin


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