Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Journalists Playing Moral Superiors

Jake Tapper at ABC chastises those bloggers and folks who make a big deal about Obama's comments yesterday that led to the Obama campaign releasing a correction about his grand uncle's participation in the liberation of Nazi concentration camps.

Obama clearly misspoke/lied about what his uncle said and did, but instead of going after Obama and other journalists who gloss over this egregious gaffe, Tapper instead goes after bloggers saying that we're the ones who are off base.

How exactly does that work? Obama lied. Yet, Obama gets a pass when a simple spelling mistake by Dan Quayle gets repeated ad infinitum. President Bush gets ridiculed over his pronunciation of the word nuclear, and even Sen. Hillary Clinton rightfully gets slammed for claiming that she took sniper fire when visiting Tuzla. Yet, Tapper thinks that this is much ado over nothing?

Tapper claims that he's uncomfortable because the subject matter is the Holocaust and Obama was relating a fake but accurate story about his great uncle who happened to participate in the liberation of one of the Buchenwald subcamps, Orhdruf (Tapper, btw, gets that spelling wrong - he reports it as Orhdrud).
For me there's a tonal issue going on here with some of the Republicans pouncing on the issue and some of the blog coverage.

I suspect many members of the Jewish community wouldn't think this mistake that big a deal. Good for his great uncle for having helped liberate a concentration camp.

There's another argument, of course, that the best way to honor those killed in the Holocaust is to know their history, to know that Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians and was in Poland, and that Buchenwald was liberated by the U.S. and was in Germany, that Auschwitz was much larger than Buchenwald.

No matter where you stand, I guess I just don't particularly care to see Concentration Camp survivors on the same page as cartoon Pinnochios, as whoever does graphics for the Washington Post's great fact-checker Michael Dobbs has done HERE.

And do we really need the headline "Where In the World Is Auschwitz?" This isn't a joke.
The fact is that we need to know where such places like Auschwitz were located, and that our political leaders who claim to be worldly and knowledgeable about world events so that we do not repeat that gruesome history.

That's a double standard by any objective review.

Tapper goes on:
I am certainly part of the media world that pounces on politicians when they screw-up. As such, I'm often guilty as charged when it comes to not seeing the forest for the trees. In this instance, the forest is the deliberate extermination of 12 million people. And the sacrifices of the brave Americans who risked and gave their lives to save those people victimized by Nazi barbarism. Not to mention our fighting men and women through the generations who have had to deal with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, a conversation about which prompted Obama to mention his great uncle.
No one questions the patriotism or the heavy lifting that this man did, but that doesn't mean that Obama gets a pass because of the subject matter was unrelated to the discussion at hand.

Not so fast on Obama's press release? It seems that assertions made by the Obama camp still aren't checking out. Curious. Very curious.

In the meantime, one has to wonder what motivated Obama to expound on his crazy great uncle's experience in the military. Note, he was clearly trying to link his military service to his going crazy and spending six months in the attic.

Has anyone actually confirmed that this incident actually occurred? If so, it is a tragic situation for his great-uncle, but Obama is clearly trying to use it for political gain and in doing so once again casts soldiers as victims and attempts to slander them for their honorable service.

So, why would Obama mistake Auschwitz for Buchenwald? Well, it could be because of scale - anywhere from 2.5 million to 4 million people were slaughtered at Auschwitz, while less than 100,000 were murdered by the Nazis at Buchenwald. Both were ghastly locations, but Auschwitz (and Auschwitz II aka Birkenau and Auschwitz III) are properly considered extermination camps for their intent and purpose wasn't merely to work people to death, but to kill them in massive and mind-boggling numbers in as efficient a manner as possible.

Buchenwald was a concentration camp, where the victims weren't just Jews, but many political prisoners.

Still, there has to be more to the story than what we've gotten from Obama thus far. And the media still isn't willing to ask those questions or dig deeper.

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