The Corner

Casting Stones

Too often, those who are most outraged over a supposed “climate of hate” and its purported incendiary effects have been quiet about their own role in, or tolerance of, personal vilification. 

So we get Paul Krugman warning about the dangers of Sarah Palin’s martial metaphors, never remorseful for his own comments calling for the hanging of Senator Lieberman in effigy (“by all means, hang Senator Joe Lieberman in effigy”), or Andrew Sullivan arguing for maturity after years of serial, quite sick invectives about the last pregnancy of “the Wasilla nutcase” (e.g., Trig Palin as “the child of miraculous provenance”). The next thing we know, Al Gore will be warning against the use of brownshirt metaphors or Gabriel Range will advise us against the dangers of over-the-top filmmaking. Perhaps Nicholson Baker can offer a call to fellow novelists not to engage in warped allusions to their president, or Charles Brooker can warn humorists of the dangers of sick, “where is John Wilkes Booth when we need him” humor.

Now Joe Scarborough warns us in Politico that “No one should give a free pass to talk show hosts and their political guests who have spent the past several years spreading hate speech in search of big ratings, political contributions and book sales.” 

That’s odd. Scarborough just had on his show a “political guest,” Jeffrey Sachs, who — without any evidence adduced — engaged in character assassination as host Scarborough either remained silent or joked about Sachs’s wild libel.

Here is Sach’s fury against a column I wrote — which Scarborough himself brought up and read portions of on the air, in apparent agreement — suggesting that Barack Obama has, in fact, changed positions on a number of issues to adopt many of Bush’s views on domestic security, Iraq, and taxation: 

JOE SCARBOROUGH: I’m trying to figure out though, and Dr. Sachs asked this of you Charles [Blow], who is Barack Obama at this point? What does he stand for? And Victor Davis Hanson, at the National Review, writes this about The Obamaites About-Face:

“For his political survival, Obama now accepts that his faith-based ideas about the environment, radical Islam, taxes, stimulus, the economy, national security, and foreign policy are not supported by any evidence in the real world . . . The wonder is not that politicians change as politics dictate, but that the most vehement leftism now accepts nonchalantly what it not long ago so ardently demonized.”

And Hanson goes through all of the things: the Bush tax cuts, the estate tax cuts, the stimulative wonders of tax cuts in general, Gitmo, NSA, tripling the number of troops in Afghanistan. We talked about [Obama saying] “we celebrate wealth,” Eric Holder quoted in ABC saying “some religions produce more terrorists than others.” These people are sounding an awful lot like George W. Bush these days . . . [Obama] has shifted dramatically on issues of terror, on Gitmo, on taxes, on celebrating wealth: I think that’s undeniable.

JEFFREY SACHS: Anything that Hanson says I’m likely to disagree with, cause no commentator has done more harm to the American people actually than that guy who led us into all these disastrous wars. But aside from that —

SCARBOROUGH: My God! That is serious.


SACHS: No, that is real. Because this is an extremist. So quoting him doesn’t really make the point.

. . .

SCARBOROUGH: And I will put Victor Hanson —

SACHS: Sorry, that’s a side point, but that man — that guy’s done a lot of damage.

SCARBOROUGH: I will put Victor Davis Hanson to the side, you obviously, you guys aren’t on each other’s mailing lists, Christmas card lists.

SACHS: That guy got us into more wars, and more militarism, than anybody.

Note that Sachs does not reply to Scarborough’s initial request to comment on the column, much less supply evidence for his charges, but simply slanders the writer as an “extremist” on the logic that supporting the removal of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein equates to “That guy got us into more wars, and more militarism, than anybody.”

And the response to all this from Scarborough, who eloquently has just warned us about giving a “free pass” to over-the-top “political guests”? 

He jokes about Christmas-card lists.


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