September 01, 2004

The Coach is Dropping the Ball

For someone who has often disagreed with TPM--I gotta say Josh Marshall is dead on on this one. Denny Hastert (aka the "Coach") should immediately put up or shut up. He can't do the former, of course, because his wild claims are totally bogus. So shutting up would be smart--before Soros starts getting some really good defamation lawyers teed up (yeah he'd likely be considered a 'public figure'; but proving malice might be doable under these circumstances).

Here's the language in question:

"You know, I don't know where George Soros gets his money. I don't know where - if it comes overseas or from drug groups or where it comes from," Hastert mused. An astonished Chris Wallace asked: "Excuse me?" The Speaker went on: "Well, that's what he's been for a number years - George Soros has been for legalizing drugs in this country. So, I mean, he's got a lot of ancillary interests out there." Wallace: "You think he may be getting money from the drug cartel?" Hastert: "I'm saying I don't know where groups - could be people who support this type of thing. I'm saying we don't know."

"Drug groups" is vague language (is he talking the Escobar Brothers or Merck?) And he ultimately says "we don't know." So he's got ample wriggle room in any defamation action.

But, legal parsing aside--it's certainly sleazy. Not what I'd like to see in a Speaker of the House. But, truth be told, I'm not that surprised. Rhetoric emitting from Congress (especially the House) is often deeply underwhelming, isn't it?

Posted by Gregory at September 1, 2004 12:25 AM
Comments

There's enough indignation to be spread around. Calling the sitting President "Chicken Hawk" might be just a tad beyond what you described from the Secretary of the House, don't you think?

Soros' group funded depiction of Bush as Hitler might be some (perhaps not all) justification for such outlandish statements. A not-so-veiled attempt to buy an election might count as well.

But, no excuse, such comments by Hastert about illegal drug dealings does require a basis of facts. We are not the Democrats.

Posted by: Capt America at September 1, 2004 12:48 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Just give it a rest already, Capt America. If you think chickenhawk is worse than drug dealer, well, that's your opinion. But the whole "Hitler ad" thing is false and you know it. MoveOn had an open submission contest for ads. They had 2 out of over 1000 ads make references to Hitler. They pulled the ads quickly and apologized. most significantly, the organization didn't pay for or create the ad.

So, if you're going to start talking about basis in fact, you might want to start with yourself.

Chickenhawk is entirely subjective. What Hastert is saying crosses that line... it's kind of like the difference between saying, "George Bush is stupid" and saying, "I don't know how George Bush made it through college -- whether he paid TAs for his grades or had his dad write checks. I just don't know." See the difference?

Finally, Greg, I think the phrase "legalizing drugs" is typically associated with illegal drugs. I think it might actually be enough to convince a jury that he wasn't talking about Merck.

Posted by: Just Me at September 1, 2004 04:20 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

As monkeys with typewriters are to novels, politicians with open mikes will eventually produce a Howard Dean moment.

Posted by: Prospector at September 1, 2004 04:39 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

I'd like to see Speaker Hastert stay above this kind of thing, but you have to admit that the selective indignation Marshall shows here is knee-slappingly hilarious.

Let's see, so far Soros-funded groups have:

- Accused the Bush family of having ties to the Nazis
- Accused the Bush administration of sending our soldiers to die for:
a) Big Oil interests of the Bush family
b) Cheney's old company, Haliburton
c) To settle some kind of deep-held personal grudge
- Accused the Bush administration variously of poisoning the water/air and killling children because they want the profits from lobbyists

...all without a shred of proof...They smear by insinuation, and Josh Marshall is front and center amongst the smear artists and their ridiculous conspiracy theories...

Shall I go on?

Until Marshall condemns what the groups that Soros is funding are doing and until he himself stops doing it, then he needs help himself to a big can of "shut the *%^& up, you hypocritical a$$."

As for Soros, what comes around goes around...Like John Kerry, he picks a fight then wants to whine when the tables are turned....

If you can't stand the heat....Move to France...

Posted by: Jim B at September 1, 2004 10:41 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

You know we don't know about Belgravia Dispatch, its format looks similar to the Haliburtion building and it is very pro Republican.... so I'm just saying we don't know if it conspired with Haliburton to commit fraud or if it provided cover....
I'm not saying Gregory has any information, I'm just saying we just don't know?

What a fin moron Hastert is.... its not only sleezy, disgusting and ignorant..... o did I mention dripping with hateful invective.....
its moronic... it makes him look like a moron.

Mike

Posted by: Mike at September 2, 2004 12:18 AM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Speaker Hastert, like most WOD supporters, rarely understand the economics of prohibition.

In Hastert's world, Soros' funding of anti-WOD groups is evidence of being "pro-drug", therefore he MUST be doing the bidding of drug cartels. After that, it is not a stretch in Hastert's mind that drug cartel money might make its way to Soros.

Of course, in reality, prohibition drives up profits, making the cartels the last people (along with the DEA, etc.) that would want prohibition to end.

Hastert should be embarrassed by his orginal statement and his blame-shifting apology.

Soros, OTOH, should be ashamed for his slanders of GWB and all the bile being spewed against GWB using his donations.

Posted by: RandMan at September 2, 2004 11:33 PM | Permalink to this comment Permalink

Maybe he's talking about NORML. I'm sure they have a big budget.

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