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The newest fashion on right-wing websites: Claiming that the Schiavo memo ("this is a great political issue") was forged.

From Powerline:

The memo has three possible origins.  The first possibility is that it was created by a low-level Republican staffer.  This seems possible, but highly unlikely.  Only a very dim-witted staffer would 1) copy word for word from the Traditional Values site, 2) get the Senate bill number wrong, 3) make a number of silly errors, including misspelling Mrs. Schiavo's name as "Teri," and 4) mix comments about political advantage into a "talking points" memo.  Moreover, the Post and ABC have tried to create the impression that the memo is an official, high-level Republican strategy document.  It clearly is not that.

The second possibility is that the memo was created by a lobbying group, presumably the Traditional Values Coalition, since most of the content of the memo comes word for word from their web site.  But the controversial political observations--"the pro-life base will be excited," etc.--are inappropriate for an organization like the Coalition.  They sound as if they are written from the internal perspective of the Republican party ("this is a tough issue for Democrats").

The third possibility is that the memo is a Democratic dirty trick.  At the moment, that looks most likely.  It is easy to picture how the document could have been constructed.  A Democratic staffer wants to put in some language that will sound authentic for a Republican memo.  What does he do?  He steals four paragraphs from the Coalition's web site.  Then he adds the explosive political observations which are the whole point of the exercise--weirdly out of place in a "talking points" memo, but good politics for the Democrats.

From Cliff Kinkaid at the organization Accuracy in Media.
The memo may have been written by some Republican somewhere. But there's no independent evidence at this point that it was authorized by a Republican Senator or written by a top Republican staffer. If the media are confident that the memo is real, let them produce an actual copy and describe in detail how they verified it. There's no reason we should accept their claims about this memo at face value. Didn't we learn anything from Memogate?
So ... bloggers don't think a document is real because it has typos! And it mentions the "pro-life base"!

Hoo-ee! This seems less like Rathergate (which wingers were onto within minutes) and the wishful-thinking "Kerry cheat sheet" incident the week after the debate.

Remember that?

UPDATE: A story soon to be posted on the American Spectator's website ...

Republican leadership staffers now believe the document was generated out of the Democratic opposition research office set up recently by Sen. Harry Reid, and distributed to some Democratic Senate staffers claiming it was a GOP document, in the hope - or more likely expectation -- that it would then be leaked by those Democrats to reporters. In fact, the New York Times stated that it was Democratic staffers who were distributing the "talking points" document. ... Republicans staffers looking into the "talking points" case believe that at least some of the language used for the original Traditional Values Coalition may have come from documents pulled together by the staff of Sen. Mel Martinez, who has been out front on the Schiavo case, and pressed hard for federal action to save her life. But there is no evidence that the talking points were a Martinez staff product.
So, they THINK the memo originated with Democrats, because they don't know where it came from. I smell Pulitzer.

Originally posted to daveweigel on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:03 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Riiiiight (4.00)
    Because Lord knows the Republicans would ever politicize something like this.  
  •  I wish I hadn't followed that last link (none) :

    When pressed on the fact that even brandishing a pen from his jacket would have violated debate rules, the Kerry staffer laughed, adding, "See you at the inauguration, Drudge".


    "He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetuate it." -- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by sgilman on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:05:57 PM PST

  •  Then, why did so many (4.00)
    Republicans and right-wing orgs use the EXACT SAME language?

    "Minimize our defensive posture, maximize our offensive posture."--Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-IL)

    by Newsie8200 on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:07:48 PM PST

  •  Thanks for posting this (none)
    I have read some of the right wing blogs and am bothered by this.

    Something to point out.

    They say they ask a Republican if they wrote it and the Republican says no.  Then the questioning stops.  I doubt a Republican would admit to writing this.

    Secondly, the fact that it wasn't on letterhead may simply be for reasons of Republican deniability.  "If it was official policy, we would have it on letterhead."

    Powerline makes an issue out of Martinez's statements on the issue and the memo.  Martinez did use two of the talking points in a speech.  Martinez didn't mention "this was a great pro-life issue."  I doubt he would.

    The basic strategy of the Republican spokespersons has always been to try and label facts uncomfortable to them as being "partisan" -- Left Coaster

    by bonddad on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:10:51 PM PST

    •  Exactly (none)
      They say they ask a Republican if they wrote it and the Republican says no.  Then the questioning stops.  I doubt a Republican would admit to writing this.

      Considering what a political disaster this whole thing has become, would you admit to having been the author?

      And it's nice to know that everyone on the other side is so "in the loop" that they receive talking points on official letterhead.  But are they honestly trying to say that GOP/wingnut talking points don't jet around the right wing circuit constantly, from a multitude of sources?

  •  You go, Hindrocket (4.00)
    Looks like the memo was typed in Times New Roman, complete with kerning!  Hey, my own theory is that whoever wrote this also must have created the CBS memos.

    The points of this memo showed up, in one way or another, coming from a dozen right wing mouthpieces.    Whoever sent it out, a lot of Republican operatives considered it as coming highly recommended.

    I'm not terribly surprised, though, that they're trying mightily to divorce themselves from the political ramifications of all this, considering what a colossal fiasco it's become.

  •  I know who wrote it! It was Overzealous Staffer (4.00)
    Overzealous Staffer is such a scamp.  Always putting up crazy-ass "Mission Accomplished" banners on aircraft carriers and pasting fake "Made in the USA" labels over boxes that that actually contain goods from China.  O.S. has been grounded for tearing up tickets at Bush and Cheney town hall meetings as well.  We just can't seem to convince him to stop barring folks just because they have t-shirts endorsing free speech, etc.  That darn Overzealous!
  •  What's more (4.00)
    ...Republican Senate and House members never even discussed this local issue, nor did they produce a special bill that caused the Republican president to end his vacation early in order to sign.  Actually, this Mrs. Schiavo person doesn't exist at all and never did--she is just a figment of the gay Jew liberal media.
  •  Of course, (none)
    everything's a forgery to them now. I would imagine that the press wouldn't get burned twice .

    W. puts the CON in CONservative

    by Ga6thDem on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:25:41 PM PST

  •  But, but, but, (none)
    Rather's retired!
  •  so the plea from defendant VRWC (none)
    is entered as "guilty"

    I believe children are the future - unless we stop them now. -Homer Simpson

    by jkennerl on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:33:41 PM PST

  •  Lautenberg demands investigation (none)

    Senator Lautenberg is demanding an investigation into who distributed the memo.

    And it does indeed look like the wingnuts are going to try to regain the initiative by crying "forgery" over yet another memo.  This time, they're going to try to go after ABC and the Washington Post.

    The problem, of course, is that this time, the GOP's political opportunism is rather evident for all to see, and the Democrats certainly weren't mounting any kind of an organized opposition.  What's more, the memo could have come from the wingnuts DeLay met with on the 17-19th.  

    I predict limited traction from this pseudo-scandal.

    •  Here's why it's not a scandal (none)
      First - Lautenberg would not be yelling about this if it was a Democratic trick.

      Second - It's anonymous. There's no one to call and ask whether they wrote the memo, and no one who has a family who can confirm/deny it.

      Third - It happened four days ago and Republicans made no noise about it. In politics, if you think you're the victim of a trick, you shout about it immediately.

  •  Call me crazy. (none)
    But didn't I hear on AAR today that the talking points echoed something Mel Martinez wrote about Florida politics quite some time ago?  This memo was new, but the talking points were basically the same.
  •  The hidden message: (none)
    They claim it could not be a memo from a Republican staffer because it has typos, and Republicans are (presumably) smart and don't make typos.

    They further claim that it was probably written by a Democrat playing "dirty tricks."  Basically, this means that Democrats are not smart enough to avoid making those typos.

    New GOP meme:  Democrats are drooling nincompoops who can't even write a fake memo without fucking up the spelling.

    In Afghanistan, they call them the Taliban. Here, we call them Republicans

    by ragnark on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:35:41 PM PST

  •  Never underestimate... (none)
    the rabid fury of freeperland and the idiocy of the media.

    Common sense, and little things like the underlying truth of the document under attack mean little to them.

    •  Common sense... (none)
        I like your reference to common sense and truth. Members of congress are there because they are consumate politicians. To think they do anything without political considerations defies common sense. When they lie about not politicizing the Schiavo case, they are again doing what politicians do.
  •  A copy of the original memo here: (none)

    My honest appraisal is that this was likely written by a GOP staffer, or by a lobbyist.

    The thing that convinces me is the line, "this is a tough issue for Democrats".  GOP'ers think in terms of wedge issues designed to put the opposition in a bind.  As recent history shows, Democrats don't think like this (nearly as often as they should, anyway).

  •  Actually (4.00)
    There are three, and only three possibilities:

    (1) the memo was drafted by space aliens,

    (2) the memo was dictated by God, or

    (3) it's a Democratic dirty trick forgery.  

    Why would space aliens care about the Terri Schaivo case?  We can eliminate (1).  God is much more eloquent, and really, if you think about it, could restore Terri back to full health if he really wanted to.  So we can eliminate (2).  Therefore it's the dirty Democrats' forgery.  

    Ever get the feeling you've been cheated?

    by johnny rotten on Wed Mar 23, 2005 at 07:47:02 PM PST

  •  Well (none)
    Who knows, really?  I mean, I'm not taking the side of the wingnuts, because they haven't made a single good point so far.  But it's fair game to at least question the source.  Is it truly UNTHINKABLE that someone could doctor up a memo as a dirty trick?  I would say no.  There's absolutely no rational reason for anyone of significance in the Democratic Party to fake this thing, but I am not prepared to vouch for every aide, staffer, and flunky up and down the line.

    The real point, as this diary highlights, is that these people are so proud of themselves for basically, doing nothing to date but engaging in wild speculation.  The instant these Powerline guys raised the glimmer of an issue, every right-wing blog was like "this memo OF QUESTIONABLE AUTHENTICITY, blah blah blah..."  It's positively Pavlovian, and fun to watch.

    If only Powerline had thought to look over that WMD intelligence this closely, how the course of history might have changed...

    •  Except for the taped DeLay comments (none)
      that have him talking about how this will counter the Demo agenda to 'destroy the conservative media by fabricating personal attacks'.  Of course, the real problem there is his comments reveal DeLay thinks he is the 'conservative movement'. As if.  No, you're just one of their bully boys, Tom.

      Seriously tho, putting the absurdity of a double-fake aside, how do these yahoos think even the gulible media will bite on this nonsense?  Could this be the beginning of the - well deserved - end for Powerline?
      One can only hope.

  •  Sounds like a conspiracy theory to me..... (none)
    I don't think the Democrats are stupid enough to create a memo and claim it was from the Republicans.
  •  Finding the Memo's Source (none)
    If you put the memo on a turntable and play it backwards between the third and fourth bullets, it will reveal its authors' names.
  •  Hmmm ... (none)
    I always wondered if the Killean memos were GOP forgeries, given the speed of the "debunking." Sounds like these boys are jealous.
  •  Shamelessly pimping my new diary (none)
    Some fresh discussion on the right's latest moves on this subject. Please take a look. Sorry for the cross-posting.

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