December 26, 2002

IS THERE A PATTY MURRAY WHITEWASH? Best of the Web says so. A reader suggests that’s not really the case:

1. She starts out as something of a media darling (remember the “Mom in Tennis Shoes”/”Year of the Woman” stuff from the 1992 campaign). I think the mainstream media will be very reluctant to go after her with as much intensity as they went after Lott. (Even recognizing they were late to that party.)

2. I really don’t see her as an idiotarian in the mold of Fisk, Chomsky, McDermott, Bonior, etc., She’s just a regular, garden-variety idiot. In other words, she says things like “Bin Laden is popular because he builds daycares” because she’s dumb, not because she has a political philosophy that sees the US as the prime source of evil in the world.

As result of #2, I think negative coverage of these remarks and others like them have a good chance of seeming ungentlemanly and/or downright cruel. Again, I believe the mainstream media will be inclined to back off in those circumstances.

I sincerely hope I’m wrong about this. Murray certainly has no business being a US Senator. I just don’t see her getting the full media treatment as Lott eventually did. I also agree that since McDermott and Bonior got a pass, there’s not the slightest chance she’ll ever get pushed out by her own party.

Yeah. In a way, there’s actually something to what Murray said — though given her line about Osama building day-care centers this probably falls into the broken-clock-is-right-twice-a-day category. But one thing I hear from people who’ve spent a lot of time in countries where there’s a substantial Islamic population is that the Saudi money is there year in and year out. The U.S. may come in and do things for a few years, but we get distracted and our interest dries up. The Saudis’ interest doesn’t. They build mosques, they build schools, they provide a lot of medium-influential folks with a secure livelihood and some money to spread around that lets them build up local patronage webs of their own.

We could learn from that. Not only should we work to formulate a reputation for steadfastness instead of flightiness (which we’ll have to do, over time, by actually being steadfast instead of flighty) but we should also seek to make the Saudi money less reliable by interdicting it — either at the source, or somewhere along the line.

I don’t really think that this was what Patty Murray had in mind, though.