Friday, April 08, 2005


Florida Senator Mel Martinez caught lying—again

Some background, in case you've been in a Schiavo-like state: During the Congressional meddling into the Florida court's decision to remove Terri Schiavo's feeding tube, Florida Sen. Mel Martinez passed an unsigned memo to Sen. Tom Harkin on the floor of the Senate that is now known as "the Schiavo memo." It was a "talking points" memo celebrating the benefits to the Republicans of the Schiavo case.

Democrats seized upon it to show the crass and exploitative nature of the majority party. All 55 Republican Senators denied any knowledge of the memo's origin. Then the right-wing blogosphere, abetted by such right-wing media outlets as the Washington Post and CNN, began spreading the rumor that the memo had really been written by Democrats, and at least one Republican Senator took up the banner.

So the news that managed to break through the Papal proceedings yesterday was that Sen. Martinez had "discovered" on Wednesday that an unnamed aide—who turned out to be his legal counsel Brian, Darling—had indeed written the memo quite unbeknownst to Sen. Martinez, of course. Mr. Darling resigned immediately and will no doubt appear shortly on a National Press Club panel, along with Guckert/Gannon, where they will upbraid the somber journalists for "disinforming the public."

The whole sordid media campaign is righteously detailed by Media Matters, and I do recommend their account as a textbook illustration of how the right-wing media machine works.

But ABC's The Note yesterday carried the story forward by giving the right-wing media reaction to the news—their basic tack is that they've been "had" by Mel Martinez. The Note quotes Michelle Malkin—

Sen. Mel Martinez told the Washington Times he did not see the Schiavo memo until ABC News and the Post publicized it. But Sen. Tom Harkin told the Post that when Martinez handed him the memo, "[Martinez] said these were talking points — something that we're working on here."

"How could Sen. Martinez describe the contents of the memo if he had not seen it? And who is 'we?'

But then The Note had a recollection—

... remember, from the '04 campaign, when Martinez's Senate campaign put out a nasty mailer on primary opponent Bill McCollum, alleging that McCollum catered to the "radical homosexual lobby?" Martinez said he hadn't seen the flier and disavowed its contents, even though it was sent out with the usual "paid for by Martinez for Senate" line.

Now all of this is "Washington insider" stuff that normally wouldn't raise a blip on the radar. But this story has some interesting and unique features—a right-wing smear campaign that has backfired, a public that is genuinely pissed (and a little bit frightened) by the Republican theocrats' actions in the Schiavo case, and a bunch of media blowhards who've been made to look like the fools that they are.

Mel Martinez is a liar and a snake. Though we have six years to suffer this serpent's representing the state of Florida, we may only hope that the scales will fall from the eyes of the voters even as they emerge on Martinez' reptilian behind.

Martinez-related posts
The Republican party's "Don't ask, don't tell" policy (updated) (8/31/04)
No abortions, no penalties—so what's the problem? (10/22/04)
Oppose Israel? Get arrested. Be an Arab? You're guilty. (3/14/05)

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