Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 4, 2010

DEMINT'S ERROR OF FACT AND JUDGMENT.... Sen. Jim DeMint (R) of South Carolina spent much of the last week making bizarre remarks about the White House and national security policy. As a reward, CNN invited DeMint to appear on "State of the Union" yesterday, because if there's one iron-clad rule in political journalism, it's that being loud is more important than being correct.

DeMint told guest-host Gloria Borger that U.S. officials "probably lost valuable information" by subjecting Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab to criminal charges -- he couldn't back the claim up, but he thinks he's "probably" right -- before once again blaming Obama. "[T]he president has downplayed the risk of terror since he took office," DeMint claimed.

It led to this exchange:

BORGER: How has he -- Senator DeMint, how -- how has [Obama] downplayed the risk of terror?

DEMINT: Well, it begins with not even being willing to use the word.

BORGER: Well, aside from the semantics, aside from that.

DEMINT: Aside from the semantics, he's been completely distracted by other things....

That's a lot of nonsense in a short period of time. First, being "distracted" is not the same thing as "downplaying," and if DeMint can't back up his claims, he shouldn't make them. Second, Obama hasn't been "distracted" at all; he's taken counter-terrorism far more seriously than Republicans have.

But Greg Sargent highlights one of the less-obvious points: DeMint's underlying claim -- that the president refuses to use the word "terror" -- is both foolish and wrong, a detail Borger ignored altogether.

[F]or those of you interested in reality, the claim is simply false. In his weekly address only 24 hours before DeMint made his claim, Obama used the term "terror," "terrorism," or "terrorists" a half dozen times in a brief statement. He repeatedly used the words in an October speech. Other administration officials have repeatedly used them, too. [...]

[I]f we're going to deem DeMint's claim newsworthy, the question of whether Obama actually does or doesn't use the word seems marginally relevant, too.

Exactly. DeMint's over-arching claim is that Obama has downplayed counter-terrorism by neglecting to use the word "terrorism." It's an error of fact and judgment, which was nevertheless widely picked up by news outlets.

And if history is any guide, DeMint will be punished for lying on national television by receiving several more invitations to lie on national television.

Post Script: It's worth noting that DeMint was on MSNBC this morning, where he said President Obama now "seems to be on the right approach" when it comes to counter-terrorism. Why DeMint believes Obama was wrong 24 hours ago, but right this morning, is unclear.

Steve Benen 1:45 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (16)

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"both foolish and wrong"

Yeah, sure. Demint is a liar, so let's call him that.

He is just as interested in seeing the U.S. Government fail as al Qaeda is.

They hope for the worst, together.

Birds of a feather, hand in glove.

Posted by: John Thullen on January 4, 2010 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I don't watch television news or political shows. How hard would it be to cue up video of Obama's speeches with the words "terror"? Or for a bonus, a mash-up of only the words terror? How hard is it to guess that Demint would claim Obama isn't using the word "terror"? Again, not hard -- common right-wing claim.

Demint, as a Republican, has a responsibility to be a fascist prick. What's the media's excuse for being lazy and stupid?

Posted by: inkadu on January 4, 2010 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

"Instead of focusing on the blame right now, the president seems to be on the right approach. He’s recognizing we’ve got a terror problem. What he is doing in Yemen is good." - DeMint on MSNBC

DeMint probably heard from focus groups that he's looking like a jackass - so he quickly pivots to make it seem like Obama reluctantly is NOW listening to the likes of DeMint and doing the right thing...

But it doesn't change the fact that DeMint still looks like a jackass.

Posted by: Ohioan on January 4, 2010 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

This is why I don't watch television news or political shows. How hard would it be to cue up video of Obama's speeches with the words "terror"? Or for a bonus, a mash-up of only the words terror? How hard is it to guess that Demint would claim Obama isn't using the word "terror"? Again, not hard -- common right-wing claim.

Yeah, but that's like something "The Daily Show" would do. And besides, it doesn't fit neatly in the [he said/he said/no way to tell which side is right] narrative so it's clearly out of the province of mainstream "news" programs.

Posted by: Equal Opportunity Cynic on January 4, 2010 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

There was a sweet moment this morning on the Diane Rehm show when Reuel Marc Gerecht tried to give the "doesn't talk about terrorism" meme fresh life and Jessica Matthews (I think it was) cut him off at the knees saying, Hey, we know this is a conservative talking point and it's just not true.

Posted by: pw on January 4, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

dr demento's just a few vowels away

Posted by: liza on January 4, 2010 at 2:24 PM | PERMALINK

Demint, is doing nothing more than repeating what his C street masters of the universe (at least according to their beliefs) are telling him to go out and say.

In Demints way of thinking he was appointed by God to educate the masses out there, Obama is not one of the chosen so Demint must go out and preach his version of the gospel according to the family.

Posted by: Tom In Maine on January 4, 2010 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

If Facts mattered as much as a good conflict on these shows, we'd never hear from Bill Kristol, Joe Lieberman, Pat Buchanan or Dick Cheney again.

Posted by: atlliberal on January 4, 2010 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I am deeply concerned with Obama's actions if the lunatic DeMint thinks that Obama is "on the right approach.".

Posted by: ckelly on January 4, 2010 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

DeMint is aiding and abetting the terrorists by single handedly holding up the TSA appointment of Earl Southers.

And wasn't DeMint also the one to travel to Honduras in support of the military coup there...as opposed to democratic process?

This guy is simply...unAmerican...LOL

Posted by: Evergreen2U on January 4, 2010 at 2:55 PM | PERMALINK

It is interesting to hear that former Bush terrorism experts have said privately that they really approve of everything Obama is doing but they are afraid to say so publicly because there would be reprisals from Cheney's circle.
This shows what kind of country we are living in!

Posted by: JS on January 4, 2010 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

Gloria Borger is incompetent. She let Cheney get away with denying what he had said in the past and couldn't call him on it.

The problem with the "Kool Kids" running these talk shows(the ones who weren't in High School and are trying to prove that they really are more than just smart) is that they know what they would say a day or two after they should have known.

Posted by: goalkeeper on January 4, 2010 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

goalkeeper, you got in just ahead of me. I was going to point out that Borger was the one who sat there when Cheney made a blatantly false claim -- I can't remember exactly what it was, but I recall her response was a vague "OK", while millions of heads exploded across America among those who knew damn well Cheney had said what he was now denying.

This was, to my knowledge, the first news interview exchange where it fell to The Daily Show to make the correction (something easily done, a day or so later, by simply showing clear video). Sadly, they're still about the ony ones on the job...though sometimes Chris Matthews will later replay the pieces as Sideshow material, as if it's all a big goof.

Anyway...by all this history, expecting Borger to do news-work is folly.

Posted by: demtom on January 4, 2010 at 4:10 PM | PERMALINK

why a 24 hour turnarond?

he's a L-I-A-R

pretty simple, really

Posted by: doc on January 4, 2010 at 7:12 PM | PERMALINK

The problem isn't as much what these goons say as when they go unchallenged while spouting on the MSM.

Posted by: Mxyzptlk on January 5, 2010 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

I can't believe the comments on this page or that the liberals could be such idiots to not know what Jim DeMint is talking about... You people have continually tried to blame the U.S. for these terrorist attacks and even go so far as to close GITMO, thinking that this must be the reason that these people hate us... My answer to that, why don't you read the Qur'an and study radical Islam. Their goal is the world wide domination of their religion, even at the point of a sword. The basic conflict has been going on for centuries. Instead of trying to prevent these people from attaining world wide domination, you help them, through sensitivity training, through your support of C.A.I.R. sponsored Democratic politicians like Keith Ellison, etc. A Democrat never seems to even support religion anymore... Unless it is Islam...

Just so you people can understand... What Jim DeMint is saying is that you didn't like waterboarding. You thought a terrrorist that has killed Americans shouldn't be made uncomfortable... Ok, you say that there are more effective ways. Lets see them! Instead you give a terrorist a lawyer and don't even interrogate him!!! No matter what Obama says, this is not a judicial matter!

Whether you know we are at war with radical Islam or not, these terrorists definitely know it.

Stop helping radical Islam!!!

Posted by: Jay on January 15, 2010 at 3:50 PM | PERMALINK
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