Daschle's Selective Outrage

Last Sunday, November 23, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (S.D.) was on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” and was asked by host Tim Russert his opinion of a Republican National Committee (RNC) advertisement.

The advertisement in question has clips of President Bush’s State of the Union address in which he states, “Our war against terror is a contest of will in which perseverance is power. Some have said we must not act until the threat is imminent. Since when have terrorists and tyrants announced their intentions, politely putting us on notice before they strike?” Along with the clips are chyrons, one of which reads: “Some are now attacking the President for attacking the terrorists.”

Senator Daschle called the ad “a repulsive and outrageous attack” that was “wrong” and “erroneous” and said the RNC “ought to pull the ad.”

Explaining his position that the ad should stay off the air, Daschle stated:

    “We don’t need that kind of rhetoric right now. Obviously, there is room for difference. There is a fundamental difference of opinion with regard to how this war is being fought and whether it’s being fought correctly. To question whether or not these issues are resolved in a way that will bring about the result we all want-we all want to defeat terrorism. We all want to confront the terrorists in every way we can. But to say that there is a different way, and that that way ought to be considered in the debate, to have differences of opinion, to tolerate differences of opinion, is what the American Democratic experiment is all about. To chastise and to question the patriotism of those who are in opposition to some of the president’s plans, I think, is wrong.”

Russert then asked, “How are they questioning the patriotism?”

Daschle replied:

    “Well, I think that there is an implication here, as they’ve done throughout this debate on Iraq, that if you oppose the president, your patriotism ought to be questioned, that there is some degree of question about the degree of your commitment to the country or your commitment to the effort. That’s certainly implied once again in the ad. So I think it’s important for us to bring the debate back to the central question: How can we more effectively confront the war on terror?”

Compare Sen. Daschle’s outrage over the RNC’s “rhetoric” to his response to some outrageous statements made by a leader of his own party.

In an interview with the Associated Press on Thursday, September 18, 2003, Sen. Ted Kennedy (Mass.) said of the war with Iraq: “There was no imminent threat. This was made up in Texas, announced in January to the Republican leadership that war was going to take place and was going to be good politically. This whole thing was a fraud”

He went on to say: “My belief is this money [being spent for Iraq] is being shuffled all around to these political leaders in all parts of the world, bribing them to send in troops.”

The AP then reported that “Kennedy also criticized the administration for failing to articulate a coherent policy in Iraq and said administration officials relied on ‘distortion, misrepresentation, a selection of intelligence’ to justify their case for war.”

What was Daschle’s response to Sen. Kennedy’s inflammatory language that essentially accused the President of treason? The Republicans are out to make Democrats look bad.

  • From the Washington Post, September 24, 2003:
    • Senate Democratic Leader Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.), noting that he too has come under fire this year for criticizing Bush’s Iraq policy, decried what he called an “orchestrated” GOP effort to attack anyone who criticizes Bush. Later, at a news conference, Daschle said it was “McCarthyesque” to criticize people who are vocal in their opposition to certain policies.

      “It seems like anyone who comes to the floor to express concern or to express his views or her views on Iraq is now the subject of attack, regardless of one’s views,” he said.

  • From the Houston Chronicle, September 24, 2003:
    • “Any time somebody speaks out criticizing this administration or its policies, there is this orchestrated, concerted effort to attack those who criticize,” Daschle said.

    Mr. Daschle needs to keep his own rhetoric and selective outrage straight. He seems extra disingenuous when he doesn’t.


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