Response to President Trump’s speech last night has been overwhelmingly positive, and the high point of the speech was Trump’s emotional tribute to fallen Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens and his widow, Carryn Owens. Even many Democrats (although not Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Keith Ellison) were blown away by the moment.
So the Associated Press had to spring into action to neutralize the pro-Trump tide. AP reporter Tammy Webber authored this hit piece headlined “Was Trump tribute to fallen soldier fitting or calculated?” The AP story is already popping up in newspapers across the country, as editors join in the counterattack against the president.
Ms. Webber poses the issue this way:
President Donald Trump’s tribute to fallen Navy SEAL William “Ryan” Owens during Tuesday’s congressional address was seen by many as touching. But others regarded it as a calculated attempt to deflect criticism of his decision to approve a failed military operation and to turn around his administration’s shaky start with a gesture that appeared to unify a deeply divided country.
Not a lot of doubt about where Tammy stands on this one. She adds that some “…said Trump was responsible for Owens’ death and criticized the ‘exploitation of his widow for last night’s dog and pony show.'” After briefly framing the issue in that one-sided way, Webber turns to two unbiased, objective “experts”–on what?–for comment.
The first is Matthew Dallek, a professor at George Washington. Ms. Webber identifies Dallek as a former speechwriter for Richard Gephardt, so at least we know we are hearing from a Democrat:
“Whether he seems to be exploiting (Owens’) death or it seems to be heartfelt and genuine very much depends on one’s political view and whether or not you trust Trump,” Dallek said. “If you voted for him, you think he’s honoring a patriot and this is powerful. If … you don’t trust him and don’t approve of his presidency so far, I don’t think this changes very much.”
Is Matthew Dallek really a person whom a reporter should seek out to comment objectively on President Trump? This is what Dallek has said about our president:
…arguably the most retrograde major-party presidential nominee in modern times.
…the leader of such a dystopian political movement…
Trump is a fearmonger without peer…
Trump’s breathless campaign has distorted and magnified legitimate worries beyond all reason…
Dallek also refers to “Trump’s bigoted anti-Muslim ideas” and “Trump’s fearmongering.”
An objective commentator? Not exactly.
But he’s not the worst. Ms. Webber turns next to Elizabeth Sherman, who gets the last word. This is the conclusion of the AP piece:
Trump’s gesture could have been genuine and calculated at the same time, said Elizabeth Sherman, a political science professor at American University, adding that he likely knew that it would be difficult to criticize the tribute because Carryn Owens accepted his invitation and the chance for the nation to honor her husband’s sacrifice.
“I think Trump figured this was a brilliant PR move. How can you lose?” Sherman said.
But Ryan Owens “might have been alive” if there had been a deeper assessment of the raid’s risks, she said. “No one wants to say that” amid Carryn Owens’ grief.
Still, Sherman said, “questions need to be asked and answered about whether the decision was made cavalierly.”
That is a viciously anti-Trump spin. So who, exactly, is Elizabeth Sherman? Sherman, founding director of the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy at the University of Massachusetts Boston, is a Democratic Party loyalist and a virulent hater of the Republican Party in general, and Donald Trump in particular. She wrote this:
The Republican Party has looked the other way for years as the tea party and now Donald Trump continue to generate hateful propaganda against the president in an effort to make him appear alien, foreign, subversive and illegitimate. …
Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Congress and on the campaign trail tut-tut over the growing controversy, allowing it to serve their purposes — which is to play the dangerous game of making Obama seem sinister and un-American.
Not only does this strategy incite the worst elements on the right to conspiracy theories, it highlights the president’s race and background as “outside the mainstream” of legitimate political leadership.
Following a financial crisis of unprecedented proportions, massive layoffs and foreclosures, the “loyal opposition” will resort to anything to convince voters that Republican leadership had nothing to do with the contraction, that the Democrats are irresponsible and subversive, and that somehow the New Deal and Great Society programs are to blame for the ongoing downturn and widespread distress.
The so-called “birther” movement has played a vital role in roiling the waters and churning the discontent against Obama in particular and government in general. It’s past time to call them on their wretched, and dangerous, strategy.
The new Republican majority has been spoiling for a fight and they’ve found one in the debt ceiling battle. Most are revolutionaries against the old order and its conventions of horse trading and compromise. Like it or not, they distrust the conservative bona fides of the speaker.
They are determined to do whatever it takes, including throwing the full faith and credit of the United States onto the bonfire, to force the massive cuts in social welfare they are demanding.
And this, which I find especially entertaining. How loyal to the Democratic Party can you get?
Wisconsin state senators did not “flee” to Illinois to avoid voting for the bill to destroy Wisconsin’s half-century of public sector collective bargaining. They left to prevent the debate and vote from coming to the floor because they were outnumbered and could not prevent it from passing, even if they voted against it.
So Edwards is a down the line, uncritical spokeswoman for the Democratic Party.
This trick is as old as the hills. Or as old as the Associated Press, anyway. Step 1: Frame an issue with a slant toward your political point of view. Step 2: Seek out like-minded “experts” for partisan commentary. Let them do most of the dirty work. Step 3: Give the last word to the political ally whose spin you want the reader to remember.
The Associated Press was once–perhaps mistakenly–seen as a respected news service. No longer.