InstaPundit on James Taranto and the Patriot Act

I almost never read the world’s most celebrated ultra-super-blogger, but after scanning his posts today I think I’ll give him more attention. His critique of James Taranto and his thoughts on the Patriot Act are really very intelligent:

I’m afraid I have to agree with MATT WELCH that James Taranto’s characterization of Democrats who booed the Patriot Act as the “al Qaeda Cheering Section” is over the top.

I’ve been a Patriot Act skeptic — to put it mildly — since pretty much day one. It’s not all bad (and even John Kerry pointed that out last night on ABC) but the overall mindset, and the bureaucratic opportunism, that it represents is a bad thing. And “Homeland Security” remains pretty much of a joke today: lots of pork and gold-plating, lots of new bureaucracy, and not a lot of obvious benefit for security. What’s more, Steven Brill’s account of Ashcroft’s role in the Patriot Act’s drafting, which I blogged here back in April, is just devastating.

There’s no question that the Democrats have demonized the Patriot Act and tried to turn it into a political weapon against Bush — and it’s hypocritical given the 1994 and 1996 “crime” and “terrorism” bills, which were basically more of the same. But that hardly turns them into an “Al Qaeda cheering section.”

I get incensed whenever I read Taranto’s Der Sturmer Best of the Web column and wonder why the blogosphere gives him such free reign. It’s good to see that others think he goes too far.

The Discussion: 5 Comments

Especially because it wasn’t the Democrats who booed at all–it was the Republicans.

It went like this:

Bush’s address had a line that noted that the Patriot Act was due to expire. The Democratic side of the aisle applauded. This put Bush off for a moment; it clearly wasn’t expected.

Bush continued, noting that terrorism would not be expiring at the same time. The Republican side of the aisle applauded.

The Republican applause was clearly rehearsed, but the Democrats’ unanticipated response moments earlier made it appear that the Republicans were applauding the notion of Continuing Terrorism, rather than the complete sentiment as the speechwriters had intended.

The “booing” came at a completely different time, and was in response to a line about tax cuts.

January 23, 2004 @ 3:33 am | Comment

If what you say is true, I’m amazed. Taranto is an insidious snake, but he’s not stupid. This sort of screw-up would be either an example of extreme stupidity, or of Taranto totally fabricating and misrepresenting reality. Either way, it shows how reckless and dangerous the darling of the far right can be.

January 23, 2004 @ 10:05 am | Comment

The white house’s own transcript of the event backs up my description.

I see I misspoke, however, in saying that the Republicans booed–the booing occurred during a different part of the speech, unrelated to Patriot Act/Terrorism topics at all (the topic: tax cuts).

Everything from “it went like this” on, however, is accurate. And it still makes Taranto a hack.

And it still left the Republican side of the aisle in the quite humorous (to me) position of applauding the line “terrorism will not expire on schedule.”

“Al Queda cheering section,” indeed.

January 23, 2004 @ 10:37 pm | Comment

Anymouse, you certainly don’t have to convince me that Taranto is a hack! The depressing thing is that he has an enormous audience (Best of the Web is emailed to hundres of thousands every morning) and answers to absolutely no one.

January 23, 2004 @ 10:43 pm | Comment

For what it’s worth, I maintain a daily review of Taranto’s blog. . You might check it out.

January 31, 2004 @ 4:13 am | Comment

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