March 13, 2010

David Brooks excuses Liz Cheney and his "friend" Bill Kristol's fear mongering ad by saying we've been too mean to Dick Cheney. Instead of actually addressing how corrosive their attacks have been, Brooks tries to write it off as politics as usual. Sorry David, but it's not politics as usual unless you think the sort of rhetoric used by McCarthy should be considered part of our civil discourse now.

Transcript via PBS.

JIM LEHRER: Let's go to another disagreement...

JIM LEHRER: ... the so-called al-Qaida seven. Liz Cheney and her group have criticized some Justice Department lawyers because they once represented some Guantanamo detainees.

Where do you come down on that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think the ad, which sort of accused whose values do they have, do they have al-Qaida or Taliban values, I thought that was tremendously unfortunate.

I mean, it's just part of a long range of corrosive language. And, to be fair to Liz Cheney, if you Google Taliban and Liz Cheney, millions of people have called her a member of the Taliban and made similar charges. But it's a series of steps away from the, you know, normal way any of us should be talking to each other.

MARK SHIELDS: The idea of the al-Qaida seven, I mean, there are those of us who are old enough to remember the Chicago Seven, when incitement to riot and the seven protesters, militants, whatever you want to call them, disrupted as a matter of course, and it became a famous court case at the time and trial.

I just thought it was more than unfortunate. I thought it was offensive. And I thought it was, frankly, un-American, in the true sense of the word.

JIM LEHRER: Un-American?

MARK SHIELDS: Un-American in the true sense of the word. I mean, that -- we -- that is a great American tradition.

Lindsey Graham, the Republican senator from South Carolina, defended it very well. He said: I owe it to my country and to the legal system in my country to be sure that everybody gets a good defense, the best defense possible.

JIM LEHRER: David, in fact, a lot of the hot words about this whole dispute has been among conservatives, between conservatives.


JIM LEHRER: How do you read that?

DAVID BROOKS: Well, I mean, a lot of people who like Liz Cheney and my friend Bill Kristol, who was also involved, thought this was a step over the line.

And they were -- they agreed with them on the principle of the thing or on the substance, which is that they thought discussion should take place in a certain respectable venue, showing respect, and that this ad stepped over the line. So, there has been a fair bit of criticism from fellow conservatives toward this.

But, again, I would say, if you look at the words that were hurled at Dick Cheney, who I am no fan of, but, believe me, he has been the subject of calumnies worse. And maybe that was part of the emotional...

MARK SHIELDS: And these were people -- these were people who were practicing their profession as lawyers. They weren't candidates for high national office.

I mean, when somebody does run for high national office, they come to expect this. When somebody volunteers his or her time in the fulfillment of what is the American constitutional dream, to be upbraided and attacked in a paid television advertising, to me, is unforgivable.

DAVID BROOKS: Well, if are you calling people evil, and members of the Taliban, or members of al-Qaida, or members of evil conspiracies, that is the corrosive factor here, who -- regardless of who you are talking to, which public servant you are talking to. There's ways to talk and there's ways not to talk.

JIM LEHRER: I have bad news. I was about to ask you about the Eric Massa case, but we're out of time.

Thank you both very much.

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