July 17, 2010

It's truly time to stick a fork in this one. Megyn Kelly can keep trying to beat dead horses, but when Bush appointee Abigail Thernstrom -- well-known for her conservative views on affirmative action and other civil rights issues -- says this, it's more or less a dead horse that's been flogged until it's unrecognizable.

But when it comes to the investigation that the Republican-dominated commission is now conducting into the Justice Department’s handling of an alleged incident of voter intimidation involving the New Black Panther Party — a controversy that has consumed conservative media in recent months — Thernstrom has made a dramatic break from her usual allies.

This doesn’t have to do with the Black Panthers; this has to do with their fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the [Obama] administration,” said Thernstrom, who said members of the commission voiced their political aims “in the initial discussions” of the Panther case last year.

“My fellow conservatives on the commission had this wild notion they could bring Eric Holder down and really damage the president,” Thernstrom said in an interview with POLITICO.

Now there's a surprise. Conservative politicians plotting to manufacture a controversy in order to 'bring down' the Attorney General? And surely they wouldn't be doing it with the assistance of Fox News and the ginned up breathless reporting of airheaded bimbos like Megyn Kelly, would they? Why, yes they would. As Media Matters points out, the Fox News hyping of this story follows the same right-wing trajectory as the ACORN, Ayers, and ClimateGate stories.

Writing for the National Review Online, Thernstrom elaborates:

So far — after months of hearings, testimony and investigation — no one has produced actual evidence that any voters were too scared to cast their ballots. Too much overheated rhetoric filled with insinuations and unsubstantiated charges has been devoted to this case.

She finishes the argument and the controversy with this:

The two Panthers have been described as “armed” — which suggests guns. One of them was carrying a billy club, and it is alleged that his repeated slapping of the club against his palm constituted brandishing it in a menacing way. They have also been described as wearing “jackboots,” but the boots were no different from a pair my husband owns.

A disaffected former Justice Department attorney has written: “We had indications that polling-place thugs were deployed elsewhere.” “Indications”? Again, evidence has yet to be offered.

The balance of Thernstrom's article concerns the upcoming redistricting battle where she reverts to a line of reasoning that suggests Eric Holder is behaving in a sinister way to stack redistricting decks. It's classic conservative argument and while I disagree wholeheartedly, I still think Thernstrom deserves a kudo or two for pointing out that the emperor truly does have no clothes and Fox has no sense.

Adam Serwer sums up the remaining shreds of the non-story thus:

So in the past day, the following things have been happened: The idea that there was outside pressure from the administration to close the case has been shown to have no evidentiary basis, the commission has been exposed as deliberately attempting to damage the administration with this investigation, and Adams' claim that the Voting Section does not intervene on behalf of white voters has been proven conclusively false.

Let's see Megyn Kelly try to spin that.

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