Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

The DSCC is charging that the NRSC (the Republican senate committee) is using a 'race-baiting' ad to shore up Tom Coburn's flagging senate campaign in Oklahoma. Looking at the ad, I think they've got a point. But you take a gander at the ad and make up your own mind. I don't want to, shall we say, prejudice your viewing. But keep an eye out for the racial dimensions of the ad.

A note from TPM reader <$NoAd$>RW ...

If the Republican's were given the gift Dick Cheney gave the Democrats last night, Peggy Noonan would be on TV today wondering aloud why Dick Cheney felt compelled to lie about something so silly, and so easy to refute.

It's very odd, Peggy would muse... Peggy would then sweetly wonder if Dick Cheney wasn't a compulsive liar. She would detect a 'pattern' of lies stretching from his house days, to the Iraq hype, to the recent debate. She would then wonder if it wasn't a pathological problem.

Finally she would shrug and say 'I am not saying the Vice President definitely has a compulsive lying disorder, I'm just saying it's worth expert analysis.'

You can imagine the rest. A two week parade of experts mulling the possibility that Dick Cheney is a compulsive liar. Jokes on the radio and TV. Headlines about Cheney's 'illness'. etc.

Where is the Democratic Peggy Noonan?

Sounds right to me ...

More trouble...

Last night Vice President Cheney told John Edwards: "Your hometown newspaper has taken to calling you 'Senator Gone.'"

This morning the 'hometown newspaper' chimes in with a response: "Well, not exactly," they say.

See the rest here.

Not a lie really. Just a pretty egregious distortion. So sort of an improvement for the VP.

[ed. note: A special note of thanks to reader JT.]

When you can't even keep the lies straight ...

This morning in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania President Bush told a crowd: "My opponent says he has a plan for Iraq. Parts of it should sound pretty familiar -- it's already known as the Bush plan."

Then about a minute later he said: "In Iraq, Senator Kerry has a strategy of retreat; I have a strategy of victory."

Oops ...

Late Update: A few readers have written in to say that what President Bush said between these two sentences takes away any sense of contradiction. Specifically, he says that there is one thing that distinguishes the "Bush plan" from the "Kerry plan". Looking back over it, I think that's a fair point. But, on the merits, what he says in between is just flat-out false, a lie.

Here's the key passage: "There was one element of the Senator -- there's one element of Senator Kerry's plan that's a new element. He's talked about artificial timetables to pull our troops out of Iraq. He sent the signal that America's overriding goal in Iraq would be to leave, even if the job isn't done."

Kerry hasn't set any timetables. He's said he hopes to bring back some troops by next summer. But he's bent over backwards to say that that would be determined by the situation on the ground at the time. As to his saying that the overriding goal is to leave rather than get the job done, that's explicitly the opposite of what Kerry and Edwards have been saying again and again.

They just make the stuff up. Like Cheney never meeting Edwards.

I loved the headline Will Bunch had on his blog this morning about the Dick Cheney's George Soros/Factcheck.com debacle, "Why George Soros is a billionaire -- and you're not!"

There's been endless speculation online over the last dozen hours or so about whether someone from Soros's shop had snatched up the domain on hearing the VP's goof or cut some deal with the owner of the site or perhaps owned it all along.

But apparently the Soros people had nothing to do with it.

This morning I spoke with Soros's senior aide and spokesman Michael Vachon. And he told me that they hadn't snatched up the domain or made a deal with anyone. In fact, they had no idea what happened.

However the site got redirected to Soros's site, he told me, it was something done by the owner of the domain and not by them. They were as surprised as everyone else.

Myself, I kind of preferred the fast-moving Soros cyber-coup theory that everyone's been going on. But they say it just ain't so.

When Dick met John. A short clip from the February 2001 prayer breakfast. In some ways, the photo is even more telling. So you can take your pick.

At Slate, Fred Kaplan thinks Dick Cheney got the better of John Edwards in large part because Edwards did not zing the Vice President for a long list of falsehoods he uttered through the course of the debate.

That's not the way I saw it.

But whether I'm right or Kaplan is, this is a very good example of how the debate itself is only the kick-off of the several day post-debate spin war.

True, perhaps Edwards didn't spell out how the vice president was lying through his teeth when he said: "I have not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9/11."

But that shouldn't stop every Democrat under the sun from flogging the point at every opportunity over the next forty-eight hours. The truth is that Vice President Cheney has repeatedly suggested that the Iraqis may have played a role in 9/11.

In this article out this evening, the Post notes just two cases where he pressed the long-since-discredited claim that Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague in early 2001. Making that point is, of course, on its face suggesting a connection between 9/11 and Iraq.

A year ago September on Meet the Press he said that in invading Iraq we had "struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9/11."

And shortly before that he had this exchange with Russert ...

MR. RUSSERT: The Washington Post asked the American people about Saddam Hussein, and this is what they said: 69 percent said he was involved in the September 11 attacks. Are you surprised by that?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: No. I think it’s not surprising that people make that connection.

MR. RUSSERT: But is there a connection?

VICE PRES. CHENEY: We don’t know. You and I talked about this two years ago. I can remember you asking me this question just a few days after the original attack. At the time I said no, we didn’t have any evidence of that. Subsequent to that, we’ve learned a couple of things. We learned more and more that there was a relationship between Iraq and al-Qaeda that stretched back through most of the decade of the ’90s, that it involved training, for example, on BW and CW, that al-Qaeda sent personnel to Baghdad to get trained on the systems that are involved. The Iraqis providing bomb-making expertise and advice to the al-Qaeda organization.

We know, for example, in connection with the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93 that one of the bombers was Iraqi, returned to Iraq after the attack of ’93. And we’ve learned subsequent to that, since we went into Baghdad and got into the intelligence files, that this individual probably also received financing from the Iraqi government as well as safe haven.

Now, is there a connection between the Iraqi government and the original World Trade Center bombing in ’93? We know, as I say, that one of the perpetrators of that act did, in fact, receive support from the Iraqi government after the fact. With respect to 9/11, of course, we’ve had the story that’s been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohamed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we’ve never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don’t know.

As I wrote at the time, in his discussion of the purported Iraqi tie to 9/11, Cheney provided the best explanation of why the Post found that 69% of Americans believed there was a connection. Why? Because government officials like Cheney keep lying to them about it.

Cheney's defenders may insist that he never outright claims there was a tie. But when Cheney says 'we don't know' presumably he's basing the veracity of that claim on the same principle by which he doesn't know that I can't bench press a thousand pounds.

In the absence of any appeal to common sense it's difficult to prove a negative.

But by dangling this 'we don't know' line repeatedly in front of viewers he was clearly trying to create the impression that the existence of a tie was an open question, despite the fact that at the time Cheney made his remarks US intelligence had found no credible evidence whatsoever of a connection. Moreover, the US had assembled a quite detailed and complete narrative of the people and networks involved in the attacks. And none of it involved any involvement by the Iraqis.

Time and again on this issue Cheney sought to deceive the American people. And tonight he denied ever having suggested there was a connection.

Purely on the basis of this evening's debate, Cheney has a mammoth credibility problem. Again and again he said things that were simply false. In the case of the Iraq-9/11 tie, I think there's no question but that he simply lied when he said he had never suggested there was a connection.

Yet Cheney is well-liked within the Washington establishment so it will be interesting to see whether the the big TV shows and major dailies are willing to call him on it.

It will be key for the Democrats to force the matter and tie it to the broader issue of the president's lack of credibility and fear of levelling with the American people.

Ryan Lizza brings you the inside scoop on the orders from BC04 central command on how surrogates should zig and zag.

And then there's another rather humorous screw-up. Cheney clearly wanted to send folks to factcheck.org; but he sent them to factcheck.com.

So close and yet so far.

Factcheck.com is George Soros's website.

Some guys are just lucky, I guess. Soros spends millions on the campaign. And Cheney sends him a blizzard of more free media.

Late Update: Now I'm hearing word from readers that during the debate itself factcheck.com was a dead URL. Nothing was posted on it. Only later did it redirect to GeorgeSoros.com. Perhaps the owner of the domain immediately redirected it? Or the Soros people sprung into action? One reader suggested to me that the Soros people must have found out that the domain wasn't being used and quickly snapped it up for their operation. But my admittedly out-of-date experience tells me that it takes a good deal longer for a domain assignment to propagate through the Internet. Perhaps I'm wrong on that last point. But I'm sure we'll hear the whole story soon enough.

As I noted earlier, I think the debate spin -- if the Dems are even remotely sensible -- will turn heavily on the great number of straight-up falsehoods Cheney told during the debate. But who knew the first one to be pegged would be so gratuitous and easy to nail?

In a rather churlish moment, Cheney told Edwards that the two of them had never met before tonight's debate, despite the fact the Edwards is a serving senator and Cheney's the body's presiding officer.

But as Atrios and no doubt many others have now pointed out, one can easily find a citation on the web of a prayer breakfast the two men attended together in February 2001. And the Dems are already circulating a picture from the event showing the two standing right next to each other.

There was less than no reason to get into the fairly irrelevant topic of whether the two guys have ever met before. But Cheney did. And right like that, smack in the face, what he said turns out to be false.

The key for Democrats will be to drive into Cheney's falsehoods on Iraq and terror. But this is a nice addition. And Cheney has provided Dems with plenty of grist.

Oh ye Dems. That is your meme. Spin forth, spin I tell you.

[I can already hear the Dems' snark line: "Dick Cheney says he'd never met John Edwards before last night? I bet he wishes he still never had."]