Democrats spent December celebrating as Sen. Trent Lott
immolated himself like a Buddhist monk. And could they ever celebrate, too.
They know that what applies to Republicans just doesn't apply to them.
Sen. Patty Murray -- never known as one of the sharpest tools in
the drawer -- was having a casual chat with honor students at a Vancouver,
Wash., high school on Dec. 18 when this Democrat unleashed a series of real
whoppers about Osama bin Laden. "Why are people so supportive of him in many
countries?" she asked. "He has been in many countries that are riddled with
poverty. ... He's been out in these countries for decades building roads,
building schools, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities,
building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful."
Murray was digging herself a public-relations hole, carrying on
as if Al Qaeda was an appendage of the Salvation Army serving kids
breakfast, earnest servants of the poor who just happen to be killers in
their spare time. Not even Osama would dare flood al-Jazeera with this sap.
Plain and simple, the liberal Democrat from Washington was making it all up
as she went along, going above and beyond the Al Qaeda public-relations
But then she dug even further. Murray placed the apparently
compassionate superstar terrorist on a higher moral plane than the United
States. While Osama allegedly built hospitals and daycare centers: "We have
not done that. We haven't been out in many of these countries helping them
build infrastructure. How would they look at us today if we had been there
helping them with some of that, rather than just being the people who are
going to bomb in Iraq and go to Afghanistan?"
The United States dumps billions of dollars in aid across the
largely undemocratic Middle East every year. If Osama built a hospital, the
United States rebuilt Afghanistan. Are we to believe that Sen. Murray ...
forgot? And how can you measure popularity in a tyranny?
Gregg Herrington, a staff writer for the local newspaper, the
Columbian, saw the gaffe as it happened. He reported the remarks the next
day and made sure readers knew that the senator's remarks were the real
deal, transcribed from a recording. The newspaper was inundated by Internet
interest when the Drudge Report posted the Murray story on Dec. 20. Talk
radio, led by Rush Limbaugh, hopped on. The Washington Times followed up.
Fox News nibbled on the story in snippets on "Special Report with Brit
Hume," "The Beltway Boys" and "Fox News Sunday."
But where were all those national media outlets that the
liberals say are now dominated by the right wing? Where were those broadcast
networks that had reported so dutifully every (mis)statement by our former
majority leader? ABC, CBS and NBC had nothing to say on Murray's remarks,
nothing at all. It popped up on NPR and CNN chat shows when GOP politicians
brought it up, but hosts left it hanging.
What about our great print outlets? There was nothing in the
news pages of The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times or USA Today. They
could devote their covers to Trent Lott, but Time and Newsweek had no room
anywhere for a mention of the Murray gaffe. Ditto, U.S. News and World
The only liberal media outlet that noticed was The Washington
Post, with a couple of paragraphs in a political roundup on Sunday, Dec. 22.
Then on Christmas Day, the Post's editorial page mustered a remarkably lame
defense, headlined "Inept but Entitled to Her Say." The Posties called the
reaction to Murray "the massive overreaction to perfectly useful ideas that
have been badly stated or misinterpreted."
Despite admitting Murray's facts were "very wrong," they claimed
"it ought to be possible to discuss America's image in the Islamic world,
and the kinds of mistakes the United States has made there." The problem
with the Post argument is that Washington state Republicans are now asking
for precisely that -- a discussion with Sen. Murray about her goofball
theories -- and she's not responding.
Liberals will shovel out a whole lot of arguments explaining why
Murray should be spared a richly deserved bout of embarrassment. Why, she's
not the minority leader (although she was Bill Frist's Democratic
counterpart in raising campaign funds for Senate candidates). She wasn't
caught on videotape like Lott, either. The holidays cause stories like these
to be buried under the Christmas-party hangovers, don't you know.
But Republicans from George W. Bush to Jesse Helms to Newt
Gingrich have been pounded for far, far less. No one can deny this. Perhaps
the Republican elephants in Washington state won't let her forget as she
attempts re-election next year. But for now, she's safe. Most Americans
still haven't heard about her outbreak of idiocy.