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The Argus interview, creating our own reality, big lies, and crossing the line

Family story: When our VW bug's head gasket blew in the summer heat, we ended up stranded at a cheap hotel in Terra Haute, Indiana -- we were moving to a new town because my father's department was no longer tolerable after it split down the middle on the VietNam war -- and on that day RFK was shot.

And when we got to our new house, I remember unpacking with the black-and-white TV on, as I watched RFK's funeral train make its grainy, slow way up the Northeast Corridor to New York.

A line had been crossed: MLK's assassination, RFK's assassination, the war, the Democratic Convention in Chicago, all the lying, and of course, my own childish loss of friends and home... A line had been crossed. Nothing was solid; everything was permitted. And once you're over the line, there's no way to get back.

Like now.

Like now, I feel, as do, I suspect, others. The way the Obama campaign, (many of) Obama's supporters, the OFB, and our famously free press smeared Hillary on her Argus interview crossed the line.

Now we know where we are.

We live in a political system where Obama's faction of the party -- the Democratic Party -- enthusiastically endorses the vile and baseless accusation that Hillary Clinton wishes, indeed has called for, Obama's death; that she wishes for Obama to be assassinated, just like RFK was, in June 1968. Never mind that this same faction also believes that every word of Hillary's is calculated, and that only an idiot -- and whatever else these lunatics believe about Hillary, they don't believe she's that -- would announce, in advance, that she'd prefer for a political opponent to be shot. And never mind that this same faction is also trying to buy off this supposed would-be murderer with offers of any other office than President -- like Senate Majority Leader, or a position on the Supreme Court. That's doublethink, the ability to hold two contradictory ideas in one's mind at the same time, which is becoming an increasingly prominent feature of the political landscape on the side that I thought I was on.

Never mind all that. The key point is this: Hillary did not say what her enemies claim she said. She simply did not say it. The accusation is not true. The people who propagate it are lying liars. In fact, they are propagating a Big Lie, just like the Republicans we thought we were the only "real enemy." Remember this classic from Ron Suskind? Years ago, it seems:

The aide said that guys like me were "in what we call the reality-based community," which he defined as people who "believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality." I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. "That's not the way the world really works anymore," he continued. "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

So, read the Howler how the Obama campaign and the press propagated this latest Big Lie. It's instructive and very familiar:

Let’s explain what happened this weekend. Let’s explain why Robinson, Olbermann, Herbert/Dowd/Matthews all sat up and started to bark.

How did the chronology go down this time? As usual, it all came down to a famous old question: At present, who is scripting your “press corps?”

In fact, a familiar old pattern reappeared in the wake of Clinton’s remark in Sioux Falls. As John Harris explained at Politico, the Associated Press filed an initial report about Clinton’s session with the editorial board—and the AP didn’t mention her remark about Robert Kennedy’s death! At the AP, it was March in May; no one seemed to be troubled by Clinton’s outrageous comment (link to story below). But then, the people who script your “press corps” got busy! As Katherine Seelye reported on Monday, the brilliant minds at the New York Post got the nasty episode started. Then, your press corps’ current masters told the dogs to bark:

SEELYE (5/26/08): Shortly after Mrs. Clinton spoke on Friday, the Obama campaign jumped on the story, sending an e-mail message to reporters saying her comment had no place in a presidential campaign. It linked to a online report in The New York Post that said Mrs. Clinton was ''making an odd comparison between the dead candidate and Barack Obama—a phrase the newspaper later dropped.

So there you see the sad chronology of Friday’s nasty, vile nonsense. The AP treated Clinton’s remark as inconsequential—just as Robinson, Olbermann, Herbert and Dowd had done back in March. But off in the dumbest regions of Gotham, the creepy crawlers of Rupert Murdoch’s dumbest newspaper made a claim so stupid that they later retracted—and just like that, the Obama campaign threw the Post’s dog food to all the dogs! And presto! Just like that! Every shill in America’s “press corps” knew what their current trick had to be. They repeated the New York Post’s stupid and ugly claim—a claim so stupid that the Post even dropped it!—and soon, they were trying to top one another. They competed to see who could bark loudest about the vile thing Clinton said.

Back in March, she had said the same thing—and Olbermann didn’t say one word about it. Neither did Robinson; neither did Herbert; neither did Klein, or Matthews, or Dowd. Neither did anyone at Time—and oh yes, neither did anyone in the “liberal” web! Go ahead! Ask the screaming mimis of the liberal web, the children who are so outraged today. Ask them to show you a single word anyone wrote back in March!

In fact, we’ve all seen this stupid story before, back when the RNC was still scripting the “press corps” (details tomorrow). But is it really so different today? Last Friday, it was Rupert Murdoch’s New York Post which first put out this rancid dog food—offering an interpretation so deeply stupid that even they later retracted it! But so what? If you want to know how your “press corps” works, you have to know who they take their scripts from. And last Friday, they took their script from Obama’s campaign—from the campaign John Judis tells us is “history.” But then, that campaign recently pimped out bullsh*t from “Mister Drudge” too! Should we really be surprised when it feeds on the New York Post!

Last Friday, Obama’s campaign told the “press corps” to jump. The “press corps” barked and then wondered: How high? But then, we’ve written this story for more than ten years: When the dogs were told to bark, Robinson, Olbermann, Herbert and Dowd all commenced barking and howling.

So there you have it. Our new friends in the "creative class" [cough] "creating reality" except this time on behalf of Obama. Is there nobody supporting Obama who doesn't find this troubling? Who doesn't experience the slightest twinge of cognitive dissonance? If so, could I please have a comment or a link?

The side that I try to be on is the side of truth and not truthiness. I wish that being on side of truth was being on the same side of the Democratic Party, and I especially wish that being on the side of the Obama faction was being on the side of the truth, because that would make voting for Obama easy, instead of difficult.

Unfortunately, that's not so. I'm not so naive as to think that politicians are truth-tellers by nature, or that making sausage is pretty.

But some things cross the line. Big Lies, for example.

So, for those Obama supporters who think that baseless accusations of the intent to kill don't cross the line; or for those who think that using the trauma of RFK's death to engineer those accusations doesn't cross the line; or for those who say that "Hillary wants Obama dead" is somehow equivalent to "the 3AM ad," or is somehow the same as "cling to," I've got news:

You crossed the line.

And it's going to be up to you to walk your Big Lie back.

You've made it impossible for me to support Obama, and believe me, if I had a constructive alternative to vote for, I would. In a heartbeat.

NWP, anyone?

No votes yet


BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

from all of this. James Carville, who granted I take with a giant grain of salt, kept bringing up this Big Lie in his interview with Diane Sawyer and it was like he couldn't get past it or at least that's how I read his comments. And he implied that it had damaged the goal of bringing the party together and even possibly ending this on June 3rd and avoiding a convention fight. I know I see the Obama folks differently knowing they pushed this. It's worse than even the race baiting. If I'm Clinton, someone for whom RFK's life and death is a very personal thing, I don't know how I could get past this.

What I won't be able to get by is if he gets away with it. If other Democrats and party leaders don't make him pay some price for it or some penance,* then I don't know what to do with that. Because then the party I'm supposed to support and elect to undo all of the GOP crap has signed on to a Big Lie and, even worse, it's a lie about one of their own standard bearers, someone who has been loyal to the party, who has vowed to work on its behalf for November. Once you're willing to accept that, what won't you accept?

* I don't necessarily mean not give him the nomination. That's what should happen for a whole host of reasons, but I no longer expect that. But someone on Obama's campaign needs to be fired at the very least and this course of action denounced. It's FITH and evil and I don't use the word evil very much in politics because most politics isn't evil, it's just crass and wrong.

Submitted by lambert on


It's like an initiation rite.

Once you accept and publicly propagate the Big Lie, you're in with the Kewl Kidz -- but you also have no way of getting crossing back, either, because when you operate from contradictory premises, any conclusion is possible.

In so many ways, it's like the country is deliberately blinding itself. As Somerby keeps asking, How can a society function like this?

What can't continue forever, won't.

[x] Any (D) in the general. [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

FlipYrWhig's picture
Submitted by FlipYrWhig on

When our VW bug’s head gasket blew in the summer heat, we ended up stranded at a cheap hotel in Terra Haute, Indiana — we were moving to a new town because my father’s department was no longer tolerable after it split down the middle on the VietNam war — and on that day RFK was shot.

Lambert, reading your story in the light of Obama-supporter exegesis, I can only conclude that you hope something blows Obama's head gasket in the summer heat. Expect a Special Comment shortly.

Corner Stone's picture
Submitted by Corner Stone on

Flip -
I think you've only begun to see the true evil of Teh Lambert.
Add in the deliberate usage of "black" and "white" to describe the TV. This is clearly a message intended to rile up racists and keep them agitated. Otherwise why wouldn't he have just said TV?
I think you see where I'm going with this. As Flip has said, expect a frothy spittle flecked Special Comment shortly.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

will he heard around the web regarding what Somerby has written.


orionATL's picture
Submitted by orionATL on

i had you pegged for a pacifist.

i think i was dead wrong.

willyjsimmons's picture
Submitted by willyjsimmons on

has mucho essays regarding this and other themes.

If you can take it.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I haven't exactly heard party leaders walking this one back or pushing Obama to walk this one back.

Of course, that does raise the question of why Obama felt the need to push this bullshit in the first place. I'd say he was desperate if I didn't already think the fix was in on his behalf.

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

of the past 30 years, and run a campaign based on them.

Joan Walsh recognizes it: one lonely voice in the MSM-- A new low in Clinton bashing -- "... For several months I've found myself bothered by a double standard in both the behavior and the media coverage of the Obama campaign, as supposedly representing a new kind of clean, post-partisan politics, by contrast with the dirty old win-at-any-cost Clintons. Hardball Obama campaign tactics -- David Axelrod partly blaming Clinton for Benazir Bhutto's death; the intimidation of Clinton voters by a pro-Obama union in Nevada (to be fair, some Obama supporters claimed intimidation by Clinton forces, too); the campaign's infamous South Carolina race memo (prepared before Bill Clinton made his dumb Jesse Jackson remark); the multiple "Harry and Louise" mailers distorting Clinton's healthcare proposal; not to mention ties between Obama, Axelrod and the Exelon Corp., even as Obama is touting his lobbyist-free campaign. Nothing seems to stick to Obama; he's Teflon.

This episode was worse than many but not entirely atypical: After his staff helped whip up a frenzy about Clinton's remarks, Obama himself said he accepted Clinton's statement that she had been misunderstood, and Axelrod tried to act gracious and insist that it's time to move on. But the damage had been done. ..." --

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

* Drudge's Muslim photo rumor
* Faked Mickey Kantor videotape
* Fake controversy about "AFAIK"
* Fake "fairytale" controversy
* Fake "MLK insult" controversy

And then, with the nomination supposedly in the bag, we see that they'd just been warming up.

Meet the new politics. Way the fuck slimier than the old politics.

OxyCon's picture
Submitted by OxyCon on


Also, yesterday I tried to respond to a comment I made about the Axelrod/Patrick/Obama method of smearing and demonizing their female opponents. I wrote a very lengthy reply with some examples and when I went to post it, it went "poof".
So, as concisely as I can say, the methods they use is to act like they (Patrick and Obama) are the bringers of light. Their opponent is using horrible tactics to try to deny everyone "the light". The opponent is responsible for all the bad things that happened in the past; she's a despicable person who will do anything to win; she's a loathsome person who is worthy of your hatred.
Once that is all established, then it's really easy to manufacture slanderous memes by taking comments out of context,twisting them, and applying the most evil intent to them. Like, it's really easy to convince the general population that your opponent is a racist, even though they've never done anything in their entire long lives that could be deemed racist and that your opponent is trying to kill you, as ludicrous a thought as that is.
Go read the MyDD diary. People are starting to get it. People are starting to figure out Obama's politics of darkness.(*oops I said "darkness" you know the drill)

amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on

earlier -- -- "... In his first race for office, seeking a state Senate seat on Chicago's gritty South Side in 1996, Obama effectively used election rules to eliminate his Democratic competition.

As a community organizer, he had helped register thousands of voters. But when it came time to run for office, he employed Chicago rules to invalidate the voting petition signatures of three of his challengers.

(Obama's past battles
See how Barack Obama has used election rules to his advantage during his political career on AC 360.
Tonight, 10 p.m ET
see full schedule »)

The move denied each of them, including incumbent Alice Palmer, a longtime Chicago activist, a place on the ballot. It cleared the way for Obama to run unopposed on the Democratic ticket in a heavily Democrat district. ..."

hells kitchen's picture
Submitted by hells kitchen on

and would like to find out others' thinking on this:

Lambert talks about seeing the truth rather than truthiness and I agree, but the truth that is growing like a fungus is not one that I really want to see.

Over the years - going back to Reagan - no, going back to Nixon - we have suffered one outrage after another from the Republicans. I think we were lulled (or at least I was) into a sense of vindication for Watergate. Nixon left office, people went to jail. The System Worked. It started all over again with Reagan but this time the system didn't work as well.

Then came Bill Clinton's two terms which were great despite the hell of it. Then came Bush.

For almost eight years now, we've been agonizing over the seeming incompetence of our senators and representatives - how they've capitulated, how they seemed to have forgotten what politics is all about. Where's the fight? Where's the leadership?

Now suddenly, in the primary season of 2007-8 they have the Republican play book down pat?

What's your thoughts on this?

Submitted by cg.eye on

For the sake of healing the fucking nation, Nixon and his henchmen were not impeached. Not Cheney, not Rumsfeld, not anyone who is turning our Constitution into adult diapers and compost. There was a skit on SNL decades ago, where Nixon had just released an excerpt from his memoirs, and Christopher Lee played Van Helsing, and attempted to put a stake through the manuscript... but it and Nixon DID NOT DIE....

That's what we forgot to do -- kill any root, any weed that was left of the secret, totalitarian way his government worked. We only made it grow stronger, by getting rid of its natural check(a deeply entrenched, mildly corrupt Democratic Congress).

ClareA's picture
Submitted by ClareA on

This was it for me,too. I actually felt the need to send a handwritten letter to Obama explaining how I couldn't vote for him despite Hillary Clinton's repeated assertions that we need to unite behind whoever the Democratic nominee is.
It was important for me to take the time and effort to write because this is such an unlikely position for me to take.
The RFK smear was the final blow to any wish of mine to half-believe the rhetoric of Obama being "new politics."
I really wonder how many other Democrats had this same reaction.

dupager's picture
Submitted by dupager on

I was in 7th grade when RFK was assassinated. That June week I was transfixed by his funeral and the train winding through those towns and all the people along the way saying farewell. It's what galvanized my emotions about politics. That probably sounds strange, but often your heart needs to lead you...

anyway, I had another fit of emotion, this one such incredible anger that these operatives, these aparatchiks of the Obama campaign believe they can do this to one of the most admired women in the world (not just the US, the f-ing world!) and get away with it scott free. It's like Bushco and that crew of dark troglodites... all this character assassination and zero consequences.

Well, this got me thinking: i don't have anyone to vote FOR for president either.. I live in Illinois, so my vote's not needed anyway, he'll carry the state. So i can conceivably sit this prez vote out and vote Dem on down tickets.


amberglow's picture
Submitted by amberglow on -- Editorial: Clinton is top candidate for Dems --

"... Clinton might not win this race. In fact, it's a long shot. But whatever some might say, the race is not over, and her name is on the ballot. Win or lose, she's also the best Democratic candidate for South Dakota."