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Timothy Egan Gets It Wrong

By Josh Feit December 1, 2009


[We originally posted this editorial about Timothy Egan's NYT opinion piece yesterday afternoon.]

I agree with Goldy at HA Seattle: The local MSM—The Seattle Times, The PI.com, the TNT—owned it today. They flooded the zone, they were hep with Twitter, and they (the Seattle Times especially) were throwing all kinds of cool Google mapping technology at the manhunt coverage.

In an era when traditional media is accused of being slow-footed, they're coming up big on this big story.

One fail, though: Timothy Egan over on the NYT op/ed page. Yes, we get that Democrats are still bitter about getting schooled by Lee Atwater in 1988. And yes there's hypocrisy when a high-profile Republican isn't "stalked" (to use Egan's word)  by FOX News for being light-in-the-loafers re: commuting Maurice Clemmons' sentence.

But if GOPers are hypocrites, then so are liberals who want it both ways too: Yea on compassion except when they have a chance—nah-nah-nah-nah-nah-nah—to smear Mike Huckabee?

And the Dukakis/Huckabee analogy is one that liberals (way too hard up to have their tough-on-crime moment) are unwise to go for in the first place.

Willie Horton, the man Gov. Mike Dukakis allowed out on a weekend furlough in 1986 (when Horton then brutally raped a woman), was serving a life sentence for a vicious murder he committed as an adult in 1974 (stabbing a gas station attendant 19 times during a robbery).

Clemmons' case is much different. At the time Huckabee was considering Maurice Clemmons' petition, Clemmons was guilty of seven robberies or burglaries that he committed when he was 16/17—and a robbery he committed in his late 20s. Read his commutation file. What would you have done?

Yes, I'm sure it feels good for liberals to huff and puff and call the GOP on its hypocrisy. But Huckabee's decision was actually in sync with liberal values that call for second chances for young felons? Is getting back at Lee Atwater and the 1988 GOP so important to liberals that they are willing to abandon their core beliefs.

Fighting hypocrisy with hypocrisy is sloppy. And using a politically expedient example (that actually doesn't stand up) is crass partisanship on a day when the public needs some unity.
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