Re: Steyn and AttackWatch

by Patrick Brennan

Earlier on the Corner, Mark Steyn lamented the fact that he has yet to be cited on Obama’s new campaign site, AttackWatch. He will perhaps be disappointed to find out he has now been cited on the “Immigration Reform Inaccuracies” page. The page demonstrates quite clearly all the absurdities of the website: its paranoid aura, attacks on straw men, and questionable arguments cited as incontrovertible fact.

Most bizarrely, the site is supposed to report and “fight the smears” and “get the facts.” Here, the “attacks” are uncited “broadcast remarks” by Steyn and Limbaugh that “the President has [an] amnesty policy,” and the “facts,” irrelevant statistics and liberal opinions to the contrary.

Three sources are cited to refute this “attack,” none of which actually demonstrates it to be untrue, let alone the kind of pernicious lie against which the site claims to be a defense. Only one is objective: Politifact is cited as proving that deportations of illegal immigrants have in fact, as Obama has claimed, increased 70 percent during his term. Here is the straw man: There is no evidence that either Mark Steyn or Rush Limbaugh, in their nebulously defined “broadcast remarks,” has claimed that Obama has in fact not deported 70 percent more criminals, though even that would be merely a factual error, and hardly a “smear” or “attack.”

The criticism of Obama’s immigration which may fairly be attributed to Steyn and Limbaugh is the one vaguely alluded to earlier, that “the President had [an] amnesty policy.” Following is the evidence marshaled to refute this perfectly legitimate argument as if it is a smear:

  • DHS papers indicate “record-breaking immigration statistics” under Obama
  • DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano’s statement that Obama’s policies “will not provide categorical relief to any group” (from a New York Times piece in which it is admitted that “people in deportation proceedings stand to benefit most from the new policy”)
  • An editorial by Adam Serwer, a writer for The American Prospect, in which he advances the argument that Obama’s policy “is not amnesty”

Finally, the site does admit that the Obama administration will “suspend certain cases for immigrants who pose no threat to the nation,” which sounds like a kind of implicit, if not explicit, amnesty. More importantly, the facts cited above certainly do not prove that the new policy does not constitute amnesty, as Steyn and Limbaugh can legitimately argue.

Obama’s site, which claims to “get the facts” and “fight the smears,” apparently defines fact as an editorial argument from the left and the statements of his own cabinet members — and smears as editorial arguments from the right.

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