Josh Marshall

Josh Marshall is editor and publisher of TalkingPointsMemo.com.

Articles by Josh

You have to hand it to Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of the Washington Times and former press secretary to Newt Gingrich, for pasting together a rant which manages to weave together both accusations of anti-Semitism and most of the key anti-Semitic slurs and motifs. A low point for public morality, I grant you. But credit where credit is due on rhetorical handywork!

Courtesy of Media Matters, some passages from Blankley's recent comments about George Soros on Hannity & Colmes.

BLANKLEY: This is a man who has blamed the Jews for anti-Semitism ... This is a man who, when he was plundering the world's currencies, in England in '92, he caused the Southeast Asian financial crisis in '97 ... He said that he has no moral responsibility for the consequences of his financial actions. He is a self-admitted atheist, he was a Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust.


When a man is worth this kind of money, and he's spending it on trying to influence the American public in an election, trying to buy the election, he's not going to, we have a right to know what kind of an unscrupulous man he is ... He's buying influence all over the world. He's a robber baron, he's a pirate capitalist, and he's a reckless man ... He supported abortion in Eastern Europe, in a country that's losing population, he's a self-admitted atheist, I think he's a very bad influence in the world. He's entitled to spend his money, and the public is entitled to know what kind of a man he is.

A "a self-admitted atheist" and "a Jew who <$Ad$>figured out a way to survive the Holocaust", has the man no shame?

And what's the point of that last line, exactly? A Jew who figured out a way to survive the Holocaust? Tell me the subtext of that remark. It is rather telling how quickly those who used the charge of anti-Semitism as a political tool during the debate over the war now slide their hand back into the glove.

Given Blankley's professional background I guess we shouldn't be overly surprised that this sort of rhetorical dexterity is the handmaiden of verbal butchery or that the anti-Semitic playbook is so tempting, so ... well, so difficult to resist and so natural as it glides off the tongue.

In any case, Soros does deserve scrutiny, as anyone who puts such large sums of money into the political process does, just as Richard Scaife deserves the scrutiny which he has gotten. But it is no less important to call right-wing publications like these on their lies about Soros, and even more when outlets like CNN pick those lies up and run with them. And, of course, it's so important to make sure everyone takes note when someone like Blankley gets sloppy and lets his sanguinary hoofs and fangs show.

So, so important.

The Clintons on Reagan<$NoAd$> ...

Statement of Former President Bill Clinton and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton

Hillary and I will always remember President Ronald Reagan for the way he personified the indomitable optimism of the American people, and for keeping America at the forefront of the fight for freedom for people everywhere. It is fitting that a piece of the Berlin Wall adorns the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington.

President Reagan demonstrated his strength and resolve after leaving office when he shared his struggle with Alzheimer's Disease with the world. We will always remember his tremendous capacity to inspire and comfort us in times of tragedy, as he did after the loss of the space shuttle Challenger. Now he, too, has "slipped the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of God," and we can rest assured that, as joyous a place as Heaven is, his wit and sunny disposition are making it an even brighter place to be.

Hillary and I send our prayers to Nancy, their children and their many friends and family, as well as our gratitude for the life of a true American original.

And there he goes, like a candle, long only barely burning, finally being snuffed out. A revered, popular president hasn't died in America for more than thirty years -- Harry Truman's death in 1972 is probably the last such similar event. In this case Alzheimers created a liminal decade in which he was often spoken of as though he were part of the past, even though he still lived. A month ago, Nancy Reagan, describing his condition, said "Ronnie's long journey has finally taken him to a distant place where I can no longer reach him." Here's biographer Lou Cannon's extensive obituary of Ronald Reagan, just out from the Washington Post.

Here at TPM we've repeatedly noted the tendency for Republicans (and also non-Republicans) to argue that non-white voters somehow aren't quite real voters. The point is often framed as noting how up-the-creek Democrats would be without black voters.

Thus we have a comment like Bill Schneider posed to Judy Woodruff a couple years ago on CNN ...

Judy, how dependent are Democrats on the African-American vote?

Without black voters, the 1992 and 1996 presidential elections would have been virtually tied, just like the 2000 election. Oh no, more Florida recounts!

What would have happened if no blacks had voted in 2000? Six states would have shifted from Al Gore to George W. Bush: Maryland, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Oregon. Bush would have won by 187 electoral votes, instead of five. A Florida recount? Not necessary.

Right now, there are 50 Democrats in the Senate. How many would be there without African-American voters? We checked the state exit polls for the 1996, 1998, and 2000 elections. If no blacks had voted, many Southern Democrats would not have made it to the Senate. Both Max Cleland and Zell Miller needed black votes to win in Georgia. So did Mary Landrieu in Louisiana, Bill Nelson in Florida, John Edwards in North Carolina, and Ernest Hollings in South Carolina.

Black votes were also crucial for Jon Corzine in New Jersey, Debbie Stabenow in Michigan, and Jean Carnahan in Missouri. Washington state and Nevada don't have many black voters, but they were still crucial to the victories of Harry Reid in Nevada and Maria Cantwell in Washington.

Nebraska and Wisconsin don't have many black voters either, but Ben Nelson would have lost Nebraska without them and Russ Feingold would have lost Wisconsin, too, in both cases by less than half-a- percent. Bottom line? Without the African-American vote, the number of Democrats in the Senate would be reduced from 50 to 37.

A hopeless minority. And Jim Jeffords' defection from the GOP would not have meant a thing -- Judy.

There are other examples. But you get the <$Ad$>idea.

True, of course. But what's the point exactly? Presumably any political party would put at something of a disadvantage if one of their major constituencies was suddenly struck from the rolls.

We heard a lot of this during Tim Johnson's successful reelection campaign back in 2002 in South Dakota. And now it's being proffered as an excuse to explain Stephanie Herseth's narrow victory in the state earlier this week.

As Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), former head of the Republican House campaign committee (NRCC), told The Hill, "If you take out the Indian reservation, we would have won."

As I said when we last discussed this, I don't like making too much of this. I think the people who say such things haven't quite thought the point out. But their underlying assumption pretty clearly seems to be that blacks or Indians or whoever aren't quite real voters, and that Democrats who can't quite get the job done with ordinary white voters have to resort to them as a sort of electoral padding.

Delicious ....

From the Times ...

Chalabi also accused Tenet of providing ``erroneous information about weapons of mass destruction to President Bush, which caused the government much embarrassment at the United Nations and his own country.''


Mike Allen has some good follow-up on the president and his decision to bring on a personal lawyer in the Plame matter. Allen quotes the president as saying, "This is a criminal matter. It's a serious matter. I met with an attorney to determine whether or not I need his advice, and if I deem I need his advice I'll probably hire him."

This follows the White House line from last night. The president 'consulted' Jim Sharp to advise him on whether or not he needs Sharp's advice. And based on that advice, if the president decides he does need Sharp's advice, he'll probably retain him so he can get the advice.

What about Tenet? All the chatter -- not to mention simple logic -- says he was fired. The Times gets it right when they say that the way this was announced was "almost bizarre."

Actually, here concision should be the handmaiden of precision. Drop the "almost". It was bizarre.

Thus the Times ...

Mr. Bush announced the resignation in a way that was almost bizarre. He had just addressed reporters and photographers in a fairly innocuous Rose Garden session with Australia's prime minister, John Howard. Then the session was adjourned, as Mr. Bush apparently prepared to depart for nearby Andrews Air Force Base and his flight to Europe, where he is to take part in ceremonies marking the 60th anniversary of the Normady invasion and meet European leaders — some of whom have been sharply critical of the campaign in Iraq.

But minutes later, Mr. Bush reappeared on the sun-drenched White House lawn, stunning listeners with the news of Mr. Tenet's resignation, which the president said would be effective in mid-July. Until then, Mr. Bush said, the C.I.A.'s deputy director, John McLaughlin, will be acting director.

The president praised Mr. Tenet's qualities as a public servant, saying: "He's strong. He's resolute. He's served his nation as the director for seven years. He has been a strong and able leader at the agency. He's been a, he's been a strong leader in the war on terror, and I will miss him."

Then Mr. Bush walked away, declining to take questions or offer any insight into what Mr. Tenet's personal reasons might be.

The more interesting <$Ad$>question is whether we get to hear from Tenet before he grabs the one-way for Guantanamo.

Word has been out for some time that the Senate Intelligence Committee report on intelligence failures is terrible for Tenet. So that could be a cause of his resignation.

For my part, Tenet strikes me as a sort of tragic figure. Under his tenure the CIA got many things wrong about Iraq -- though largely by making estimates in the direction his critics, who now want him sacked, embraced. (A person who's intimately knowledgeable about this intel stuff recently told me that their sense was that the CIA would have gotten a lot of the basic intel stuff wrong without any help from Chalabi.) Then, on top of these errors, the White House added further gross exaggerations, which in many instances Tenet tried to knock down.

Now he's the fall-guy for it all, in all likelihood made to take the fall by the true bad-actors.

Having said all that, beside the possibility that the White House's favored Iraqi exile was an Iranian agent, that the spy chief just got canned, that the OSD is wired to polygraphs, and that the president has had to retain outside counsel in the investigation into which members of his staff burned one of the country's own spies, I'd say the place is being run like a pretty well-oiled machine.

A couple thoughts on the charges against Chalabi.

Chalabi's advocates are arguing that the case against him simply makes no sense. If Chalabi had told this Iranian in Baghdad that we'd cracked one of their codes, why would he turn around and use that code to inform his masters in Tehran?

My answer? Good question. I have no idea.

Reports suggest that the Iranian agent didn't believe Chalabi. And perhaps this is the explanation. Sloppiness could be another. In my mind, however, the key is we -- i.e., we on the outside -- are dealing with extremely fragmentary and limited information.

Most of the details we simply don't know.

Since that's the case we're just not in much of a position to outlogic the counter-espionage people who've decided to take this seriously. And notwithstanding all the stuff we've heard about incompetence in our intelligence community, these folks aren't fools. If the story so obviously made no sense that any chat show oaf could tear it apart, I don't think they'd be taking it as seriously as they are.

The other argument, of course, from the Chalabites is that Chalabi's enemies at the CIA have seized on obviously bogus or questionable intelligence to neutralize him because of their long-standing hostility to him. Basically, they argue, this is just his enemies using an excuse to destroy him.

In my mind, two facts argue against this hypothesis. The first is that people on the inside -- people who know the relevant facts -- and who are either indifferent to or friendly to Chalabi seem to be taking this very seriously. If it was so obviously trumped up, I doubt they would do so.

The second point goes more to the root of the claim. Every charge we've ever heard about Chalabi -- going back almost a decade now -- has been answered by his friends with claims that the CIA or the State Department simply has it out for him because they don't believe he can be controlled and that they're against the 'democracy' that Chalabi represents.

They on the other hand maintained that they just thought Chalabi was a liar and a crook and that we shouldn't have anything to do with him.

At this point, who has the better part of that argument? The Chalabites or the CIA/State? Right. Pretty much answers itself, doesn't it?

One other point, the word I've heard from several Chalabi-friendly sources with good contacts on the inside doesn't throw doubt on the charges against Chalabi so much as it suggests that someone at the CIA or elsewhere in the Intelligence Community might be responsible for the leak to Chalabi. I think that's inherently implausible. But I think that tells us a lot about how seriously we should take claims that Chalabi is being set up.

Tenet resigning for 'personal reasons'. More on that soon. And more thoughts on the alternative theories explaining the evidence against Chalabi.