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December 18, 2009


I have no desire to defend Glenn Beck (I've never watched the guy, other than in the sixty minutes before "Red Eye" comes on at 3 AM), but simply in the interest of precision, it ought to be noted that Beck did not say Obama had, in Brendan's words, "committed treason," he said that what Rahm Emanuel is accused of doing "borders on treason" or is close to treason. Bordering on a place or being close to a place is, as a matter of simple logic, different from being in that place. (Contra, John Kerry, who claimed to have been in Cambodia on Christmas Eve 1968 when he later was obliged to acknowledge he'd merely been close to Cambodia that night.)

Similarly, while treason may be a high crime worthy of impeachment, a high crime is not treason. We've had impeachments of two presidents (and a third averted only by resignation), one senator, one cabinet officer, one Supreme Court justice and thirteen other federal judges, and none of them, to the best of my knowledge, was charged with treason in the articles of impeachment. Beck's statement about a high crime does not, therefore, support Brendan's allegation concerning treason.

Finally, the action Beck was protesting was purportedly done by Rahm Emanuel, not President Obama. Before we can impute Emanuel's actions to Obama, we'd need to prove advance knowledge and direction by Obama. Beck doesn't make that charge.

Accordingly, Brendan's headline about Beck suggesting "Obama committed treason" is not an accurate description of what Beck said, nor does it logically follow from what Beck said. A more precise description would be that Beck said what Rahm Emanuel is accused of doing borders on treason. Beck may be a rodeo clown and polemicist, operating in a spoken rather than a more deliberative written medium, but he appears to have chosen his words more carefully than our esteemed host did.

Rob, as Beck's other statements suggest, the "high crime" in question appears to be treason. In any case, you're parsing pretty strenuously -- I think three separate mentions of treason on one show, including "how much closer do you get to treason?", constitutes a suggestion that Obama may have committed the crime. If someone said (for example) "what Rob did borders on murder," I suspect you'd feel differently about the relevance of weasel words like "borders on" and "closer... to."

Beck's weasel words are "borders on" or "closer . . . to." Brendan's weasel word is "suggests."

BTW, a correction: my only first-hand knowledge of Beck is the sixty seconds before "Red Eye" comes on.

Even if the allegations are true, nothing like treason occurred. An essential aspect of "treason" is that one supports the enemy. At worst, the Dems are giving insufficient concern to maintaining the strength of our military. And, even that is hard to justify, since duties could be moved from Nebraska to some other state without weakening the country's military strength.

OTOH the story is not implausible. Senator Landrieu publicly boasted that Louisiana was given $300 million in exchange for her support for the health bill. A new analysis shows that Democratic districts received nearly twice the amount of stimulus funds as GOP districts. An Administration so steeped in power politics might conceivably threaten to take pork away to get a vote.

"OTOH the story is not implausible...An Administration so steeped in power politics might conceivably threaten to take pork away to get a vote."

So believe an air force base is "pork," David?

Correction to my last post: So you believe an air force base is "pork," David?

Rob:"Before we can impute Emanuel's actions, we'd need to prove advance knowledge and direction by Obama. Beck doesn't make that charge."

Uh, Rob, from the TV excerpt from Beck (emphasis is mine with the all caps. My "bold" key isn't working): "...no one wants to believe that the THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES or any of his advisors would stoop to these kinds of tactics." If Beck had said "...no one wants to believe that the any of the advisors of the president of the united states would stoop to these kinds of tactics," then your above defense would be reasonable, but that's NOT what he said.

daniel, the more apt question is: Do I believe that our elected officials treat military bases like "pork"? I do believe that. That's why the number of bases grew to be so large. When it was time to cut the number of bases a few years ago, Congress was unable to do the job. Each member opposed closing any base in his/her state or district. They finally managed to agree on which bases to close by means of an independent commission and some restrictive parlimentary.

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