Those who read -- or listened to -- last week's essay, Riddle Me a Riddle, might recall a brief reference to Texas Senator Ted Cruz, whom John McCain took to the verbal woodshed after the upper chamber's junior-most member wondered aloud if perhaps former Senator Chuck Hagel -- Obama's nominee for Secretary of Defense -- had received cash considerations from Iran and North Korea. Elsewhere in the essay, there was a reference to an unsubstantiated blurb in the online "Breitbart News" which pondered whether Hagel had received funding from a (nonexistent) group called "Friends of Hamas." Readers will recall that we characterized both of these off-the-wall assertions as coming straight out of the "Joseph McCarthy playbook." In the week since this essay was posted, both threads in the Hagel controversy -- the one emanating from the lips of Ted Cruz, the other from the keyboards of Breitbart News -- have become major news stories for media outlets on both the left and the right.
When Ben Shapiro, editor-in-chief of Breitbart News was asked whether he stood by his claim (which originated in a sarcastic, off-handed comment by the New York Daily News' Dan Friedman) that Hagel "may have received the financial backing of 'Friends of Hamas,'" Shapiro responded, "The story as reported is correct. Whether the information I was given by the source is correct I am not sure.” This bit of elliptical reasoning comes perilously close to the logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc -- namely, "Since 'A' occurred prior to 'B,' if nothing else, blame 'B' on 'A.' Essentially, what the right-wing is demanding is that Hagel prove that a scurrilous rumor -- which has been shown to be nothing more than a childish canard - isn't true. Hmmm. It's tantamount to answering the question "Have you stopped beating your spouse?" No matter how you answer, you lose . . .
Then there is the matter of Senator Cruz, whose understanding of innuendo is second-to-none:
Turns out, when we characterized the above nonsense as being right out of the McCarthy playbook, we were actually hitting a nail more squarely on the head than we realized. According to a blog post by award-winning New Yorker writer Jane Mayer, Cruz, speaking in 2011 at a Fourth of July gathering of the Koch-funded "Americans for Prosperity" accused the Harvard Law School of harboring a dozen Communists on its faculty when he studied there back in the early 1990s. In this speech, Cruz -- who regardless of what one thinks of his politics is a fabulous orator -- began by describing Barack Obama as "the most radical president ever to occupy the Oval Office." He then went on to say that Obama "would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.” When asked to respond to this outrageous charge, Cruz's spokesperson actually said his boss was right; that Harvard Law School was "full of Communists when he was a student there."
George W. Bush (A.B Yale '68, MBA Harvard, '75),
Bobby Jindal (B.A. Brown, '91, M. Lit. Oxford, 1994),
David Vitter (B.A Harvard '5\83, B.A. Oxford, '85) and
Pat Toomey (B.A Harvard, '84)?
Why do fellow conservatives consider them to be "just one of the guys," when people like:
Barack Obama (B.A. Columbia, '83; J.D., Harvard, '91),
Charles Schumer (B.A. Harvard '71, J.D. '74),
Alan Grayson (B.A. Harvard, '78, J.D. '83, M.A. '83) and
- Michelle Obama, (B.A. Princeton, 1985, J.D. Harvard, 1988)
are considered by the rubes of the right to be snotty elitists? It just doesn't make sense. Tea Party folks love to pillory progressives with elite educations for having been born with silver spoons in their mouths and golden slippers on their feet. Truth to tell, Barack Obama's mother spent time receiving welfare; Chuck Schumer's father was an exterminator (bugs, that is); Michelle Obama's dad was a city water plant employee in Chicago, and Alan Grayson worked his way through Harvard cleaning toilets and working as a night watchman. Elitists? I think not.
It is reminiscent of early Hollywood where, they use to say, that the only difference between a millionaire movie star -- who was treated like a member of the aristocracy -- and his manservant, was that the latter was literate.
Yes indeed, the way things are in modern civil society, one man's elitist is another man's rube.
The only question is, which is which?
©2013 Kurt F. Stone