Thursday, September 30, 2004

playing the osama card

Another post I was working on yesterday was about the Patty Murray/George Nethercutt Senate race here in Washington.

Senator Patty Murray has become a Dem powerhouse over the past few years. The Repubs are looking to Rep. Nethercutt (R-Spokane), the guy who unseated Speaker Tom Foley back in '94, to turn things around for him again. The fact that Nethercutt ran almost exclusively on a term limits issue, which he subsequently disavowed for himself, doesn't appear to be an issue for them.

Anyway, even non-Washingtonians might remember the Murray brouhaha back in late 2002, when Murray was quoted as saying the following:

"We've got to ask, why is this man so popular around the world? Why are people so supportive of him in many countries that are riddled with poverty? ... [bin Laden has been] out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."
Of course, Murray's point was that we need to understand our enemies in order to counter them, but the Right spent a joyous week or more excoriating Murray for "praising" bin Laden and voting her chair of the "Blame America First" crowd.

Nethercutt piled on, calling Murray's comments "bizarre" and uninformed. "You have to wonder what country Sen. Murray has been living in since September 11th." (from Seattle PI, Dec 21, 2002) Uninformed was exactly what her comments were not, but that didn't stop Nethercutt. Of course it helped that so many GOP cohorts sliced down Murray's comments to little more than "bin Laden builds day cares", which I guess would sound pretty bizarre if that's all you heard.

But that was back in the dark days, when most people were still watching what we said and did (although some of us were starting to show up at anti Iraq war marches). When the GOP could and did pretty much marginalize anyone they wanted to by calling their statements "traitorous" (this would later morph into "not supporting the troops").

But Nethercutt still thinks the "bin Laden builds day cares" line still hold some quicksand for Murray. Perhaps he hasn't noticed that his leader, Bush, has almost successfully avoided uttering the bin Laden name for nearly 18 months. In any case, Nethercutt has pulled out his little water pistol and loaded it up with this yellow slime, in the form of a TV ad. Nethercutts new twist on Murray is " winning the war on terror means fighting terrorists, not excusing them", and snide accusation that bears no relation with Murray's words.

But then Nethercutt has never been one to let facts get in the way of a dogmatic ideology. In October 2003, after returning from a visit to Iraq, he said U.S. progress "is better than we might be led to believe in the's a bigger and better and more important story than losing a couple of soldiers every day, which, which heaven forbid is awful."

This debate, of course continues through today. Its the debate between people who want to understand the whys behind events--to better prepare for the future, and people who find virtue in dogmatism and manufacture hearts and flowers to justify themselves.