…you not only have to pay attention to what they say, but to what their enemies say–and to how their enemies distort what they say.
This *seems* obvious enough. People bark “Don’t trust the liberal media” and figure that’s it, but it can be trickier than we suppose. So, for instance, people will sometimes send me some panicky Planned Parenthood fundraising letter warning that Mitt Romney is just about to institute martial law, abolish abortion, and erect a Handmaid’s Tale theocracy of forced impregnation and pre-frontral lobotomies for college educated women who act uppity and watch The View.
“There!” I am told. “You see! Romney *is* prolife! Look how they fear him!”
What such people forget is that it is a time-honored fundraising technique to try to stampede your donors into coughing up money with scare tactics. The Anti-Defamation League does it with ominous tales of the alleged “tide of anti-semitism” that is perpetually about to swamp this most philo-semitic country on planet earth (an orthodox rabbi I know once wisecracked that the big danger Jews face is not that Christians want to kill them, but that they want to marry them). The Right does it with hysterical rubbish about how Obama the devout Muslim and Marxist atheist communist is just about to declare martial law, launch a race war, and turn the US into a Stalinist prison camp governed by shariah.
The point is this: As Debbie Wasserman-Schultz demonstrated, just because a Lefty is trying to gin up panic about Romney’s alleged anti-abortion fanaticism, that doesn’t mean it’s true.
Conversely, just because a Lefty is talking about Romney doesn’t mean everything is a lie. Lefties, like Righties, are capable of doing research, documentation and fact-checking. When they do, it’s wise to pay attention to what they say, even if they are ritually impure members of the wrong tribe. So when conservative bloggers took down Dan Rather because he did a crappy job of sourcing his story, it was unwise for Old Media to dismiss them as pajama-wearing buffoons. Similarly, when William Saletan documents (as if we needed it) the fact that Romney’s “conversion” to being “prolife” is utterly phony and driven solely by the need to appear prolife for the GOP base, we should listen since this is not a mere baseless hatchet job but a careful look at the documented record of Romney words and deeds. The plain truth is that Romney is a moral void when it comes to abortion, not the crazed prolifer the Left fears.