Responding to a Right Wing Smear
by Scott Shields, Thu Jan 05, 2006 at 09:40:03 AM EST
It was all a big lie. In the post that they were referencing, I never said that the disaster at the Sago Mine was Bush's fault. Plain and simple. I'd have to be a paranoid lunatic to write that it was. Fortunately, despite what many claimed, I never did. I would assume that's why Malkin and The Corner didn't actually quote anything I wrote. It would have undermined the attack.
The ironic thing about the whole dust up is that I called it all before it even happened, writing that "some will criticize me for placing blame on President Bush here," as I knew that's how they'd spin it. And spin they did. With varying degrees of anger, each one of them claiming exactly the same thing -- that I was an unhinged Bush-hater accusing him of causing the disaster.
One blogger wrote that I wanted "to hold W accountable for the unfolding mining tragedy in West Virginia..." In a certain light, I guess that's somewhat true. But not in the way that he would assume. I believe that, as President, Bush should be held accountable for every tragedy is related to his policies. The right wing bloggers, in a clear cut case of projection, seem to think that I meant Bush should be locked up on individual criminal charges or worse. That's obviously not what I was talking about.
Here's what I was talking about. I wrote the piece because, in my mind, the coal mining industry as a whole serves as a lesson about what can happen when workers' safety is compromised in the name of profit. Public policies have real world impact on real world people. It's easy to lose sight of that when you're focused on furthering "pro-business" policies that maximize profits for shareholders. A disaster like this is a grim reminder.
Amidst the coordinated right wing buzz that I'm some sort of rabid psycho, there were a few who got the point. I felt quite vindicated by this post from Alan Williams at Blogging Out Loud. Here's what he wrote in linking to my piece.Before you go off the deep end and start accusing this guy of blaming Bush for this tragedy, just read it all the way through before jumping to conclusions.
And that's really the key. If you read the post and didn't jump to conclusions, you'd know I wasn't "blaming Bush" for the disaster. In fact, John J. Miller at The Corner almost admits this in a follow-up, writing that it was the title of my post and not the body that led him to assume I was "blaming Bush."
And later on Wednesday, other higher-profile bloggers started making the connection between the Sago disaster and Bush's policies. One was Kevin Drum at The Washington Monthly. Here's part of what he had to say.UNDER MINED.... What's the story behind the story of the tragedy at the Sago Mine? At least part of it is predictable: after George Bush took office in 2001 the Mine Safety and Health Administration was stocked with coal mining executives who were distinctly less interested in mine safety than they should have been.
Even the conservative/libertarian Andrew Sullivan made basically the same point, going so far as to tie the issue back to Jack Abramoff. (Something even I think is a bit of a stretch.)ABRAMOFF AND SAGO: Maybe there's a budding connection. What happens when coal executives spend lots of money on Republican politicians? A looser regulatory and safety regime?
As President, Bush has quite a bit of power at his disposal to make coal mines as safe as possible. By not exercising that power, he failed all miners, and he did it long before this disaster struck. Bush is not to blame for the accident in the mine. But he is to blame for bad policy that habitually favors profit over people.