The enemies within

Taylor Marsh and Larry Johnson have allowed their hatred of Barack Obama to lead them into both dishonesty and disloyalty to the progressive cause. That sort of behavior ought to be remembered.

Now, class, please pay careful attention, because the sequence of events gets tricky.

1. An Army Captain calls the Obama campaign and discusses his frustrations as a lieutenant leading a rifle platoon in Afghanistan.

2. Obama uses his complaints in a debate to to illustrate his point that Iraq caused us to take our eye off the ball in Afghanistan.

3. Wingnuts, including the Pentagon spokesgeek, criticize Obama’s use of the story, challenging his veracity and his knowledge of military matters. Republicans in Congress demand that Obama betray his source by handing over his name, thus likely wrecking his military career.

4. ABC News confirms Obama’s account with the original source. Phil Carter provides independent confirmation.

5. Army Chief of Staff says he has no reason to doubt Obama’s account.

6. Wingnuts mostly go on to their next slander.

7. General Electric’s on-line news operation gives a retired wingnut colonel space to repeat the discredited charges, with no indication that the original account has stood up to scrutiny.

8. Taylor Marsh, who claims to be a recovering Reagan Democrat, relapses further, linking to the wingnut column with the note “If Obama is hoping to earn respect on military matters, he needs to keep articles like this from popping up.” Marsh doesn’t explain how Obama is to prevent it, other than by not criticizing the Iraq War or the Bush Administration’s handling of it. And of course she doesn’t bother to mention that Obama was right and the wingnut colonel wrong.

I’ve declared a moratorium on criticism of Hillary Clinton in this space, and called for a cease-fire from the Obama side. With any luck, the whole thing will be over on Tuesday and we can form a united front toward John McCain. But I see no reason to include people like Taylor Marsh and Larry Johnson in that cease-fire. Whatever drives their hatred of Barack Obama, it has caused them both to act both dishonestly and disloyally toward the progressive cause, giving aid and comfort to the party that has misruled us for the past eight years and wants to keep us in Iraq for the next 100. That shouldn’t be forgotten.

Footnote Now Marsh and Johnson are pushing the CTV story that an unnamed Obama staffer told the Canadian ambassador that Obama was just kidding about his demand to put worker and environmental protections into NAFTA. The story is pretty clearly bogus: not only is the purported source unnamed, so is the supposed Obama staff member who made the alleged phone call. Of course, that hasn’t kept John McCain from trying to ride it. Why is he getting help from people who supposedly would like to see him lose?

If another Democrat were equally ready to credit an implausible negative story about HRC, Taylor Marsh would no doubt accuse that person of misogyny. However, I have no evidence that Taylor Marsh hates men. There must be something else about Obama she can’t stand, though I can’t imagine what it might be. Does he have some personal characteristic that Reagan Democrats tended to be hostile to?

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: