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Conservative Hypocrites Still Howling About Clark

Reported by Ellen - July 2, 2008 -

For a second day, FOX News continued trying to make political hay out of General Wesley Clark’s statements that Senator John McCain’s military service does not automatically make him fit to be president. In my book it’s a non-issue that Democrats should have just shrugged off by telling the Republicans they can cry “unfair!” all they want but that Clark was not saying anything they had not used against John Kerry and besides, being president is a tough job and sometimes your feelings get hurt. Instead, the Democratic guest dithered and the Republican strategist thought she had come up with something meaningful by alleging that Obama had been in cahoots with Clark. Fortunately, Alan Colmes did challenge the Republican outrage. With video.

Hannity & Colmes devoted two segments last night (7/1/08) to this supposed controversy about which I’ll bet most Americans do not care very much.

The unbalanced line up began with Paul Galanti, a former POW at the Hanoi Hilton with McCain, now serving as chairman of a group called Virginia Veterans for McCain. Galanti got the entire first segment to himself.

The second segment (video below) had a typical H&C panel of two conservatives to one Democrat.

Republican Andrea Tantaros (wearing decidedly unconservatively form-fitting and low cut attire) obviously thought she was on to something significant as she told substitute co-host Oliver North, “I think you have to ask the question, was it coordinated?”

Tantaros continued excitedly, “There are rarely coincidences in politics. This is a very well scripted campaign. It allowed Barack Obama to innoculate himself and come and rise above it. And if you don’t believe it was coordinated before Clark came out, it surely is now. To have Charlie Rangel, to have Jim Webb, all piling on top, I think it’s a bad strategy.” She finished with a self-satisfied nod.

And I think you have to ask, “Who cares whether it was or was not coordinated?” Personally, I don’t think it was coordinated but if Tantaros thinks that her conspiracy theory is going to trump “100 years in Iraq” or “Bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran,” I think she’s got a rude awakening coming.

Furthermore, she’s a Republican strategist. What difference does it make whether or not she approves of Democratic strategy?

Politico’s Mike Allen was there in the guise of a neutral journalist (just like Bill Sammon and Byron York in other, similar Hannity & Colmes panels). Allen sounded even more excited as he claimed, “This is a real gift to the McCain campaign!” Allen, a professional journalist, went on to misrepresent the nature of Clark’s comments. “Boy, (the McCain campaign) sure can push back on someone suggesting that Senator McCain has a weak military record.” Allen didn’t even bother to hide his admiration. The only problem is, Clark never said McCain has a weak military record. In fact, Clark specifically said,

"I certainly honor (McCain's) service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands of millions of others in the Armed Forces as a prisoner of war. He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he has traveled all over the world."

Steve Murphy, the Democratic guest, did correct the record and noted that Clark never criticized McCain’s military record. “Wesley Clark just said that McCain’s military record didn’t necessarily qualify him to be president,” Murphy correctly noted.

Then, inexplicably, Murphy took a swipe at Clark. “Even having said that, it was a dumb thing to say and it is not helpful to Barack Obama for Wesley Clark to have said it.” Murphy, you may recall is the same Democratic “strategist” who, while he was working for Bill Richardson’s campaign, yucked it up with Ann Coulter and Sean Hannity in a three way pile up on John Edwards.

When Colmes took over the discussion, he went on offense. Turning to Tantaros, Colmes asked, “Tell me specifically, in what way was McCain’s military service denigrated?”

With theatrical outrage, Tantaros said, “Well, look, just alone, having a member of the military – and the Colonel knows better than I do – criticize another member of the military – impugn someone else’s service is DISGRACEFUL!”

Funny how Tantaros’ touching reverence for military service has not gone deep enough to translate into actual military service for herself.

Tantaros tried with little success, if you ask me, to parse her way out of Colmes’ question asking why, if Clark was so out of bounds, the Swift Boat Veterans were not, too.

To Allen, Colmes said, “Mike, it seems to me as though conservatives are trying to play the victim and saying, ‘Oh, how dare you Democrats attack John McCain’s military service' and using what Wes Clark said out of context, misappropriating his statements and claiming he said something he never said. Tell me, exactly, in what way was John McCain’s military service questioned or denigrated?”

Allen answered, “Well, I think you’re absolutely right about the fact that conservatives are being opportunistic about that but that’s what politics is.”

Colmes replied, “You’re agreeing they’re being opportunistic and not necessarily honest about it.”

Allen didn’t disagree. “In politics, you seize the opportunities you have.”

“I see,” Colmes said.

I'll bet most other people do, too.