In our view, Walsh clowns Mandela a tad!


In our view, Walsh clowns the world: Last week, Ted Cruz said some nice things about Nelson Mandela.

Needless to say, Joan Walsh was offended.

As usual, Walsh cast herself in the role of brave outspoken defender of all things good and decent, as opposed to the conduct of Those People.

This is the way that piece began. As it turned out, Joan had been offended since at least July:
WALSH (12/6/13): I tried to honor Nelson Mandela on the day of his death, and love my political enemies. But the whitewashing of Mandela’s legacy, as well as the role of the United States in supporting both apartheid and Mandela’s long imprisonment, has to be rebutted.

It began on Mandela’s 95th birthday in July, when House Speaker John Boehner had the audacity to declare in a tribute, “At times it can almost feel like we are talking about an old friend.”

It got much worse when Sen. Ted Cruz announced Thursday night: “Nelson Mandela will live in history as an inspiration for defenders of liberty around the globe.”

But Cruz’s political heroes opposed Mandela as a terrorist and a communist, and there’s little doubt the red-baiting Texas senator would have done the same had he been in Congress back then.
If Cruz had been in Congress back then, he would have been very young. Walsh felt sure she knew what he would have said, despite his tender years.

Yesterday, Cruz attended the Mandela memorial. When Raoul Castro spoke, the Texas solon walked out.

Needless to say, Walsh was offended. Unlike in the good old compliant days, it seems to be part of the brand:
WALSH (12/11/13): OK, Sen. Ted Cruz showed me: I accused him of hypocrisy for his Nelson Mandela praise last week—praise that horrified his racist wingnut Facebook fans—and he followed up by attending Mandela’s memorial service this week.

That’s nice. But far from getting into the “What Would Mandela Do?” spirit of the day, he made headlines by walking out on the speech by Cuban President Raul Castro...

Of course, Cruz couldn’t pull off his walkout with quiet dignity. ABC News broke the story, and its headline reads “Cruz says he walked out of Mandela service when Raul Castro spoke.” Get that? It appears Cruz wasn’t spotted walking out, he announced it, with a hectoring statement from his spokeswoman to ABC: “Sen. Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela. For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners. He should hold free elections, and once and for all, set the Cuban people free.”

I can very much promise you that Ted Cruz has not learned the lessons of Nelson Mandela.
Cruz couldn’t get into the “What Would Mandela Do?” spirit, Joan complained, even as she chose to eschew the “What Would Mandela Do?” spirit. (Salon’s headline writer honored that spirit by using this click-bait headline on the contents page: “Cruz gets even more repulsive.”)

Might we summarize? Walsh knows everything! She knows what Cruz would have said back then. She knows what he’s thinking now.

For ourselves, we think it’s fairly likely that Cruz actually hasn’t “learned the lessons of Nelson Mandela.” At the same time, we think it’s obvious that Walsh has no plan to try, despite the one heroic day when she “tried to honor Nelson Mandela...and love my political enemies.”

This Sunday, we were struck by a different approach to these matters by Ta-Nehisi Coates. To read his post, click here.

Coates quoted a statement by Newt Gingrich concerning Mandela’s career. Coates made a point of noting the fact that Gingrich always supported Mandela, even when it put him in the minority within the GOP.

Here’s part of what Gingrich wrote last week, the part which was quoted by Coates. Gingrich wrote this as a direct challenge to conservative critics of Mandela:
GINGRICH (12/6/13): Some of the people who are most opposed to oppression from Washington attack Mandela when he was opposed to oppression in his own country.

After years of preaching non-violence, using the political system, making his case as a defendant in court, Mandela resorted to violence against a government that was ruthless and violent in its suppression of free speech.

As Americans we celebrate the farmers at Lexington and Concord who used force to oppose British tyranny. We praise George Washington for spending eight years in the field fighting the British Army’s dictatorial assault on our freedom.

Patrick Henry said, “Give me liberty or give me death.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote and the Continental Congress adopted that “all men are created equal, and they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Doesn’t this apply to Nelson Mandela and his people?

Some conservatives say, ah, but he was a communist.

Actually Mandela was raised in a Methodist school, was a devout Christian, turned to communism in desperation only after South Africa was taken over by an extraordinarily racist government determined to eliminate all rights for blacks.

I would ask of his critics: where were some of these conservatives as allies against tyranny? Where were the masses of conservatives opposing Apartheid? In a desperate struggle against an overpowering government, you accept the allies you have just as Washington was grateful for a French monarchy helping him defeat the British.
Again, Coates made a point of noting that this was Gingrich’s position all along. We thought Coates’ presentation was interesting and informative. Hugely, we appreciated his lack of snark.

For ourselves, we think Gingrich is such a fallen, compromised figure that it’s no longer worth discussing what he “really” believes or what he may have really believed at some earlier time.

We can’t say we’re real high on Cruz either, though we wouldn’t presume to tell you what he would have said as a senator in 1980, when he was only 9.

(Beyond that, his family comes from Cuba; Walsh’s family does not. Maybe Joan could remember that the next time she goes on about the horrible way “her people” were treated in the 1860s.)

Back to Coates:

What a treat, to read a piece by a person of the left who doesn’t feel the need to posture in the way Walsh persistently does! This brings us to Rachel Maddow’s closing segment last night.

In her segment, Rachel read unfortunate comments from World Net Daily, then pleasured us by talking about the Republicans who failed to support Mandela back when. She didn’t mention what Gingrich said this past week, or what he said in real time.

Even Walsh had managed to say, in her first piece, that Gingrich supported Mandela in real time. Last night, Rachel didn’t assault the pleasure centers of our brains by making us hear about that.

In our view, Rachel has been throwing a lot of sweet hay to the herd this week. Tomorrow, we’ll look at the way she opened her program this Monday.

What would Nelson Mandela have done? We don’t know, but history suggests he might have mentioned Gingrich.

In the history of the last century, the giants tried to tamp down The Hate. Others may seem to stoke it for profit.

Maddow's finish: As she finished her segment, Maddow applauded her own brave commitment to telling the truth:
MADDOW (12/10/13): Even though it may seem now that opposing Nelson Mandela, something that couldn’t have happened in this country, it did. And it didn’t go away. When Nelson Mandela came to the U.S. in 1994 to deliver a joint address to Congress, one Republican congressman from California called the invitation to Mandela a national disgrace. And Jesse Helms, the one who filibustered the bill that called for Nelson Mandela’s release, Jesse Helms turned his back on Nelson Mandela and his visit to the U.S. Capitol.

That history has been mostly lost down the memory hole, but on days like this an uncomfortable thing to remember. But it is the truth.

Now it’s time for The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell.
Query: In what world has that history “been mostly lost down the memory hole?” Uncomprehending minds want to know.

In our world, Gingrich is a profoundly fallen figure. But the things he said back then are part of history too.

Be careful what you wish for: Did Helms really “turn his back on Mandela” in 1994? Possibly during his joint address to the Congress?

It's certainly possible! Using Nexis, we find no report in real time of such an event. Maddow’s blog links to a claim which was published some seven years later.


  1. "In our view, Walsh clowns Mandela a tad!"

    In our view, the blogger is a shit-sucking scumbag.

    Almost praising Republicans or putting them down mildly, with venom only reserved for "librulz".

    Saturday, Feb 5, 2011 11:01 AM EST
    Reagan’s embrace of apartheid South Africa
    His foreign policy legacy includes an alliance with a racist government
    Justin Elliott

    "On a trip to the United States after winning the Nobel Prize in 1984, Bishop Desmond Tutu memorably declared that Reagan’s policy was ”immoral, evil and totally un-Christian.” Reagan’s record on South Africa was also marked by at least one embarrassing gaffe, when he told a radio interviewer in 1985: “They have eliminated the segregation that we once had in our own country — the type of thing where hotels and restaurants and places of entertainment and so forth were segregated — that has all been eliminated.” Of course, that was simply not true, and Reagan later walked the statement back. "


    " Would you argue that Reagan’s foreign policy extended the life of the regime in South Africa?

    Yes. It gave it life. It gave it hope that the United States would continue to stick with it. It gave it continued flow of aid as well as ideological support. It delayed the changes that were going to come. Then you had the big crackdowns in ’86 and ’87. So there was harm in the lengthening. There was harm in the violence that continued."

    Bone-gnawer is not merely an anti-liberal, but a nativist tea-bagger. The endless crap about "black kids" is nauseating - he will pull a Michael Richards act one of these days (may already have, but since he hardly ever leaves his mom's basement - nobody knows it yet).

    1. proud american-who-happens-to-have-irish-catholic-heritageDecember 11, 2013 at 9:25 PM

      "In our view, the blogger is a shit-sucking scumbag."

      where r all the bobanistas when u need them? probably some big doings on stromfront. well, if nobody else is gonna say a word about this type of abuse and worse (one commenter calling for somerby to die the other day), then i will.

      i myself have called somerby a possible for-hire pr flack, a secret gop-er or anti-dem, and a bigot (against americans with irish-catholic heritage). but u all dont have to talk like a thug to express distaste for the blogger . . . there is no lack of material provided by somerby himself to highlight which shows him up as the less than admirable figure he is, imo.

  2. "In her segment, Rachel read unfortunate comments from World Net Daily, then pleasured us by talking about the Republicans who failed to support Mandela back when."

    Nearest thing to a sex-life the basement-dweller must have gotten in recent times.

  3. Breaking,breaking...."clowning" librulz' war against bone-gnawer's supreme hero - Jesse Helms.

    It doesn't seem to be part of the congressional record that Helms turned his back on Mandela.

    Holy Mother of God - "Zimmerman was told to stay in his car" and now this unsupported calumny against the paragon Helms.

    Them librulz.

  4. proud american-who-happens-to-have-irish-catholic-heritageDecember 11, 2013 at 4:28 PM

    " ‘Madiba’ helped bring peace to Northern Ireland" - boston globe

    1. proud american-who-happens-to-have-irish-catholic-heritageDecember 11, 2013 at 5:14 PM

      this originated in the irish times but no free link is available:

      ‘THE IRA helped carry out one of the biggest bomb attacks against the South African apartheid government in the early 1980s, according to the memoirs of former senior ANC activist and politician Kader Asmal.

      The former ANC cabinet minister and Trinity law professor, who died earlier this year, reveals in his memoirs published this week how volunteers recruited from Ireland carried out reconnaissance on one of the country’s most strategic installations – the Sasol oil refinery in Sasolburg, near Johannesburg, before it was bombed on June 1st, 1980.

      The attack was carried out by Umkhonto we Sizwe, better known as MK, the military wing of the ANC, and struck a major blow against the apartheid state at the time.

      In his book, Politics in my Blood , Asmal, founder of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement (IAAM), also claims Gerry Adams provided the IRA volunteers to carry out the mission after he contacted go-between Michael O’Riordan, then general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland.

      “I went to see the general secretary of the Communist Party of Ireland, Michael O’Riordan, who was a man of great integrity and whom I trusted to keep a secret. He in turn contacted Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin and it was arranged that two military experts would come to Dublin to meet two MK personnel and take them to a safe place for two weeks of intensive training. I believe the expertise the MK cadres obtained was duly imparted to others in the ANC camps in Angola.”

      Asmal says he was later approached again by the MK high command who wanted two people to conduct a reconnaissance operation on the feasibility of attacking Sasol, South Africa’s major oil refinery, vital to the maintenance of the apartheid state.

      “Once again, I arranged the task with Adams of Sinn Féin, through the mediation of O’Riordan. Though I no longer recall the names of the persons who volunteered, if indeed I ever knew them, they laid the ground for one of the most dramatic operations carried out by MK personnel.”

      Recalling the 1980 attack as one the most daring acts of military insurgency in the struggle against apartheid, he writes: “. . . while the damage to the refinery was, according to the apartheid regime, relatively superficial, the propaganda value and its effect on the morale of the liberation movement were inestimable. Yet only Louise (my wife) and I knew the attack on Sasolburg was the result of reconnaissance carried out by members of the IRA.”

      He added: “The attack on Sasolburg had nothing to do with the IAAM, and nobody knew about the story behind it except Louise and me.

      “When the plant blew up, we were so excited I suppose some of the other IAAM people must have wondered if we had any connection or involvement.”’

    2. an american who happens to have irish-catholic heritageDecember 11, 2013 at 5:25 PM

      but all we hear from the so-called left (really effectively an extension of the right wing) is that reagan was against sanctions which is code for irish are anti-black. [reagans father happened to be of irish-catholic heritage and thats close enuf for americans to understand the dog whistle.]

    3. You've got to be kidding. Reagan and his administration were staunchly pro aparteid. They played the "soft on communism" card for all it was worth. To say so has nothing to do with dog whistles, being supposedly anti Irish or any other ulterior motive. Get real.

    4. an american who happens to have irish-catholic heritageDecember 11, 2013 at 8:35 PM

      as a true leftist, i dont like being put in the position of defending ronald reagan. i voted against him twice without a second thought.

      so i wont. ill let one charles c. johnson do the honors:

      "Although liberal commentators and Hollywood movies like “The Butler” blame Ronald Reagan for apartheid, Reagan repeatedly called for Nelson Mandela’s release and apartheid’s abolition.

      Despite well-founded concerns about Mandela’s pro-terrorist, pro-Communist views, Reagan also pressed South Africa to bring him into the country’s politics in a July 22, 1986 speech.

      Reagan’s actual South Africa policy will come as a surprise to Americans accustomed to the systematic distortion of his actual record. That distortion continued after Mandela’s death, as MSNBC among others, selectively edited Reagan’s remarks on apartheid.

      In fact, Reagan called apartheid “a malevolent and archaic system totally alien to our ideals” and made clear that his opposition to sanctions was a matter of strategy, not goals.

      In his 1986 speech, Reagan called for “all political prisoners” to be released. Then the president mentioned Mandela by name, declaring, “Nelson Mandela should be released to participate in the country’s political process.”

      >>> but my main point wasnt about reagan himself, but rather to point out another example of the media singly out a so-called 'irish-american' to use him as club against americans-who-happen to have-irish-catholic-heritage. for example, ive heard nothing of senator ted kennedy's extensive work against the apartheid regime.

    5. Excellent rebuttal, I stand partially corrected. Despite classifying Mandela a terrorist and refusing to join in applying economic sanctions that may have ultimately turned the tide. Reagan's policy it turns out was a bit more nuanced than what I recall. Of course that's not to say that elements of the Right did not loudly (incorrectly) portray South Africa as just another "domino", with all the demonization that went along with it. Credit where credit is due.

      As far as alleged anti-Irish bias, in all honesty, and with all due respect I think you might be going way overboard. I don't mean to be insulting but persecution complex comes to mind.

  5. About a week ago on Morning Joe there was a good segment about the politics surrounding South Africa in the 80's that was unusual in the sense that it wasn't a poo-flinging session.

    Tom Brokaw was there and the tone was conversational and adult, rather than the relentless polemics of today.

  6. Boy, is this bad.

    You have to wonder if any of Bob's serious fans are willing to defend this. Joan Walsh has been, in the course of this year, indefensible many a time, but She is correct here and this is terrible work from the Daily Howler.
    Actually, Walsh can be faulted for giving Cruz the benefit of the doubt. How likely is it he had no idea that Castro was going to speak? And if he didn't, wouldn't the decent person keep his seat out of respect to Mandela? Cruz almost certainly showed up to take a dump on the event.
    Does Bob really not get this drill at this point? If not, his sermons on stupidity should be saved for the mirror. For YEARS, conservatives of the CeceliaMe stripe have been singing the praises of MLK while crapping on everything he stood for. Bob snarks that Walsh's writing was not in the spirit of Mandela. But Cruz, a Senator who attends the guys funeral, must meet no such standard.
    Since Cruz IS impossible to defend, he brings in Newt, a figure irrelevant to the incident, who is also A) completely outside the realm of being taken seriously, as Bob admits, and B) only interesting because he is an utter exception to the Republican Rule.
    The sickening thing about this, as Walsh points (but The Daily Howler did NOT quote) was that Cuba helped Mandela, while The Republican Party did what they could to keep him in jail. And the Daily Howler even suggests Cruz be given a pass because The Right was, after all, correct about Cuba.

    Whatever, On matters of race The Daily Howler is a hopeless hack. Make it stop.

    1. Greg, it depends on how you view the Cuban government. Many Americans think that government is OK. If they're OK, then Cruz's walkout was indefensible. OTOH, Cruz, who knows better than you and I, believes that Cuba's government is an evil tyranny that puts political opponents in prison and commits various atrocities. If he's right, every attendee had a dilemma: Walk out and insult the memory of Mandela? Or stay and show implicit support for an evil tyrant? IMHO they were faced with a true dilemma. I don't blame Obama for staying and I don't blame Cruz for walking out. I think both choices were reasonable.

    2. Many Americans like me and Ted Cruz know Cuba has done evil things and that the U.S. has done evil things. The spirit of Mandela, which people like you and Cruz don't really respect, was about acknowledging the past so it can be laid aside in the name of progress. Cruz went to the event pretending to respect Mandela so he could pull this stunt and play up to the knuckle draggers. The tremor in John McCain's voice as he condemned Obama's handshake, the sound of a man who has lied so much he can feel the crap welling up in his throat, pretty much says it all. The idea that Cruz's background gives him some special insight into the region is laughable, a pathetic attempt on Bob's part to change the subject. I often complain that Bob won't weigh in on Military issues and how they are played up in the press, but he probably knows it's the U.S. who has more recently tortured prisoners to death in Cuba. The crass, ugly, and evil red baiting game you playing with me here is a bad remnant of the waste dumb white guys like you have forced the U.S. to engage in since the end of WWII. That this stuff will pass with the likes of you and John McCain is another thing Joan Walsh probably got right in her piece.

    3. It isn't possible that Cruz didn't know Castro would be speaking?

  7. Well done, Bob. Thank you for being interested and dogged enough to expose these imbeciles so effectively.

  8. The point isn't to criticize Republicans, such as Newt. The point is that Walsh was biased because of her need to paint conservatives as vile people, using Cruz as an example. Her bias was reflected in choosing only examples that made her point and ignoring ones that didn't (such as Newt). Coates is a contrasting example showing that one can make a point without being biased in the process.

    Bob objects to fuzzy thinking and writing. He is criticizing liberals because he is one and wants us to present our positions as clearly and effectively as possible, not borrowing lazy or dishonest tactics from the right.

    You think there should never be any criticism of someone on the left by someone of the left, because that weakens the cause. You represent the win any way you can approach. Some of us believe that if we adopt the tactics of those we oppose, we become them. We don't want to emulate them to win because we don't want to be them. Those who argue that conservatives are conservative because they don't think straight should get this point.

    Bob is neither praising nor reviling Newt (or Cruz). He is praising Coates and reviling Walsh -- because of how they handled this topic.

  9. AnonymousDecember 12, 2013 at 12:39 PM

    The point is not who is praised/criticized - The SSBN (Shit sucking bone-gnawer) could only find the word "fallen" for Gingrich (which either wittingly or unwittingly expresses some sympathy) - whereas the Newt was/is up there amongst the vilest wingers.

    SSBN has absolutely hateful, derisive language for liberals that can be construed as constructive criticism only by twits.

    Something has happened to him - he is probably late middle age - no money, no prospects for income as a liberal blogger and his recent posts are only a resume for a job as the male Ann Coulter with some winger outfit.

  10. Fallen refers to the fact that he was once liberal.

    Personal attacks (on me, the twit, or on Bob) are not arguments that will convince anyone of anything. Your language is hateful and derisive. I consider Bob's language colorful. If he were to use derisive language toward conservatives, he would be demonstrating the kind of tribalism he has been most critical of. You want him to be more tribal, or else there is something terribly wrong in his life. That doesn't compute.

    Bob is at least my age. That suggests he is thinking more about retirement than a third career.

  11. AnonymousDecember 12, 2013 at 1:21 PM

    "Bob is at least my age. That suggests he is thinking more about retirement than a third career. "

    From your lips to God's ears.

    Enjoy the Kool-Aid as long as the bone-gnawer keeps serving it.

    "Anti-trabalism" is just a slogan bone-gnawer is using to cover his aisle-jumping.

    "I think you should defend to the death their right to march, and then go down and meet them with baseball bats." (Woody Allen, in regard to the KKK)

    The Right is straddling the political discourse like a colossus and liberals are scurrying about like mice hoping not to get squashed. This is not the time to be doing what this shit-sucker is doing,

    1. There is an article in the current Atlantic about whether morality is inherent. It says that tribalism imperils our planet because entrenched rivalries between people justified by morality result in violence. I think Bob is hopping on the bandwagon of people who wish to prevent that kind of thing. You are not.

    2. The blogger is not honest.

      You and his other Kool-Aid drinkers are not honest when the "indignation gap" has been pointed out repeatedly , such as

      "Has there ever been a more tortured soul than that of the hapless, inane Dowd? Dowd is the badly-maimed semi-survivor of our mid-century Irish-Catholic cultural wars. In her most recent column, on Saturday past, she pretty much begged us to see this.

      The destructive themes of Dowd’s broken soul were on display in her first seven paragraphs."

      Was Welch being tribal when he asked McCarthy

      "Welch: You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

      There are, I suppose Right Wingers with whom one could have civil debate (and they are falling like nine-pins to tea-party challengers as we speak) - but the current crop is truly beyond the pale.