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Thursday, February 4, 2010

Harvard Law: Limbaugh’s Lying about Obama

Yesterday, in an interview taped on Jan. 29, 2010 with Gretchen Carlson for Fox and Friends,
Rush Limbaugh made up another smear about Barack Obama:

I think this is the first time in his life that there's not a professor around to turn his C into an A, or to write the law review article for him he can't write. He is totally exposed. There is nobody to make it better. I think he's been covered for, all his life.

I asked some Harvard law professors about this charge. Laurence Tribe responded to me, "The allegation is absurd. Obama earned every one of his enormously high grades. ‘Affirmative action’ had nothing to do with his success there. He was the most impressive student and research assistant I have taught in my 40 years at Harvard."

Charles Fried, a Harvard Law Professor who served as Solicitor General during the Reagan Administration, wrote to me, "It’s paranoid nonsense. Grading is anonymous by a randomly generated exam number and it takes a vote of the faculty to change a grade."

This isn’t the first time Limbaugh has made the false allegation that Obama gained from favorable grading. In 2008, Limbaugh declared that Obama "probably didn’t get out of Harvard without affirmative action."

In reality, Obama graduated Magna Cum Laude from Harvard Law, which meant that there would have needed to be a vast conspiracy to raise the grades of this unknown student. Limbaugh’s attack on Obama is particularly ironic coming from a man who flunked out of college and had his two books (and an earlier newspaper column) ghostwritten for him.

Limbaugh did not respond to my request for any evidence to support his accusation. Unfortunately, there’s no sign that the mainstream media will follow up. The Politico quoted Limbaugh’s claims without bothering to point out that they’re completely false, or asking him for any basis to support his allegation. Nor did Fox News Channel bother to ask Limbaugh about how he knows such things. It’s time for the media to follow up on Limbaugh’s lies, and also ask Republican officials if they embrace these ridiculous claims.

Crossposted at DailyKos.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Limbaugh Interviews Dick Cheney

In the February issue of the Limbaugh Letter (not available online; I subscribe because I'm writing a book about Limbaugh), Limbaugh interviews Dick Cheney. It's hard to say which right-winger is more delusional.

Cheney declared, my travels around the country, as I get out there and speak to groups, support for our counterterrorism policy is overwhelming. They may not have agreed with other things, but they certainly supported that.

That's a stunning statement, and it reflects the kind of groupthink bubble on the right occupied by Cheney.

A CBS News/New York Times Poll on Jan. 11-15, 2009 asked Americans, "Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush has handled the campaign against terrorism during the last eight years?" Only 47% approved, while 48% disapproved. That's what Cheney regards as "overwhelming" support. And it's a number inflated by the media's lack of coverage of Bush and Cheney's disastrous approach to counterterrorism from start to finish.

Cheney opposes any trial for terrorism suspects:

If Obama is worried that Guantanamo was some kind of a recruiting tool for al Qaeda, you can imagine what's going to happen when you put Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is a very articulate, clearly very bright individual, on the platform they're going to give him in New York City in the federal courthouse. He's had years to prepare his remarks, so to speak, and he's going to just have a field day.

This is a very odd bit of reasoning. Guantanamo served as a recruiting tool because it besmirched the American system of justice. There won't be terrorism recruiting speeches in a court of law, and this notion that Mohammed's words would magically recruit terrorists completely misunderstands what promotes terrorism.

Cheney was also very defensive:

We did not torture anybody, Rush.

Considering that there are numerous cases where people died from torture, it's hard to believe how anybody could possibly make such a claim.

Yet Cheney dismissed the possibility that there was any torture:

There isn't a thing we did to al Qaeda that had not previously been done to our own people in training them in the SERE [Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape] program. So the whole notion that somehow this is torture is just wrong. It's a lie.

Of course, we train our soldiers to experience torture by using some torture techniques on them voluntarily. The fact that we use limited torture techniques on our soldiers to help them deal with torture does not make them cease to be torture. There's no doubt that it's torture if an enemy did it to American soldier.

Cheney also made his usual claims about the effectiveness of waterboarding:

our enhanced interrogation techniques, and especially working with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, Abu Zubaydah, people like that, provided us with vast amounts of first-rate intelligence. It worked.

This isn't true. The intelligence came before the torture was used, according to a New York Times investigation.

On domestic issues, Cheney declared:

...we've got an awful lot of people in the country who are hurting. But this Administration doesn't appear to have a clue as to how to turn that around and get the private sector up and running again.

It takes some kind of chutzpah for the Bush Administration officials who caused this recession to make lectures about being clueless.

Cheney, who revealed that his book will be out in spring 2011, said about Liz Cheney: "I'd love to see her run for office someday."

Cheney also had this to say about his former VP opponent, John Edwards:
I have always been surprised that a number of responsible people out there held him in high regard. And he obviously didn't deserve it.

Damn right. Of course, exactly the same thing needs to be said about Cheney. When will Republicans realize what an embarrassing, incompetent disaster Dick Cheney and the Bush Administration were?

Crossposted at Daily Kos.