Thursday, May 15, 2003
That don't impress me much: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman's latest screed against the Bush administration demonstrates that the clever use of quotes can give the impression someone's saying something they're not.
Krugman today attacks the Bush administration's record on terrorism on the pretext that an attack in Saudi Arabia proves not enough is being done here at home.
How is the war on terror going? You know about the Riyadh bombings. But something else happened this week: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, a respected British think tank with no discernible anti-Bush animus, declared that Al Qaeda is "more insidious and just as dangerous" as it was before Sept. 11. So much for claims that we had terrorists on the run.
Still, isn't the Bush administration doing its best to fight terrorism? No.
I've written before about the Bush administration's amazing refusal to pay for even minimal measures to protect the nation against future attacks — measures that would secure ports, chemical plants, nuclear facilities and so on.
Is Krugman suggesting we take over Saudi Arabia? Probably not.
Krugman then goes on to use a quote by Republican Sen. Richard Shelby in a deceptive way -- to make a charge by presidential hopeful Sen. Bob Graham appear to have bipartisan credibility.
Senator Bob Graham has made an even stronger charge: that Al Qaeda was "on the ropes" a year ago, but was able to recover because the administration diverted military and intelligence resources to Iraq. As former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he's in a position to know. And before you dismiss him as a partisan Democrat, bear in mind that when he began raising this alarm last fall his Republican colleagues supported him: "He's absolutely right to be concerned," said Senator Richard Shelby, who has seen the same information.
Shelby's quote appears in this Washington Poston Graham's presidential campaign. Note how Krugman juxtaposes Graham's recent charge about resources diverted to overthrow Saddam Hussein with Shelby's months-old statement that he's "absolutely right to be concerned."
Shelby's statement is not meant to endorse Graham's charge -- but a casual reading of Krugman's piece could easily give a reader that impression.
Krugman's crusade continues -- beware.