February 20, 2006

Picking and Choosing

I haven't fisked Nick Coleman in a long time.

Reading last Fridays piece - an on-cue attack on the pro-Iraq War ads that might appear to the cynical to be perfectly coordinated with the DFL's larger attack on the ads (stated for the benefit of those of you who still distinguish between the Strib's op/ed pages and the DFL), it's pretty clear that it's not because Coleman has gotten any better. Last Friday's effort was perhaps the most despicable, disingenuous, bias-flecked piece of unpaid DFL propaganda he's ever written:

Another pro-war ad is getting a trial run on some Twin Cities TV stations, repackaging the same deceptions that I deconstructed last Sunday [...and that the Strib won't display any more -- Ed]. The first ad was bad enough, but the newest installment in this expensive effort to shore up support for the war in Iraq is not honest about a mother's grief.

What happened? Did they hire an actress, like those gawdawful MPAAT ads last fall, the ones that repackaged junk science to the gullible?

What is this alleged deception?

Ad No. 2 began airing Wednesday and features the mothers and fathers of four dead soldiers. The final mother figure in the ad tells the camera: "We have to finish this job to remember Erik's sacrifice, and all of the other fallen heroes." She is identified as M. J. Kesterson, and many viewers will assume she is the mother of Chief Warrant Officer Erik Kesterson, 29, a helicopter pilot killed in 2003 who figures prominently in the ad.

But she's not his mom.

M.J. Kesterson is married to Erik's father, who also appears in the ad, and she's Erik's stepmother.

Nick: Did you ask [PiPress columnist] Laura Billings about what being a step-parent means?

You know - your own childrens' stepmother?

Or any step-parent?

I've been one, Nick. I've helped raise someone else's son. Do you think there's any less involvement in time, effort and love? Oh, it's different than having your own (and I have a couple of them, too), but you still care about them deeply, and worry about them intensely when they go off into the world.

And you get infuriated when dim little bulbs like Nick Coleman act like it doesn't count.

Of course, the fury hasn't started yet:

His mother is Dolores Kesterson, and the distinction is important because Dolores Kesterson is opposed to a war in which she believes her son died to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist and to avenge 9/11, which was not connected to Iraq.
Now, let's recap for a moment:
  • Coleman is pumping up the activities of Kesterton's mother - for no other apparent reason than she's anti-war.
  • He's just written off the step-mother's motivations
  • Worst of all, the father rates as barely a footnote to Coleman. Why? Because of his beliefs? Because Coleman is yet another media figure who treats fathers as a useless appendage to the family? (And why might that be?)
  • The Kestertons, by Coleman's own (furtive) admission, are one of four sets of parents in the ad. What of the other three sets of parents, Nick? They rate no mention - why? Because none of them are Bush critics?
  • And let's not forget the final point: Kesterton himself was an adult and a volunteer.
Coleman continues:
Dolores, who is a member of Gold Star Families for Peace, voiced her opposition when she was granted a brief meeting with President Bush in 2004 and gave Bush a letter in which she wrote: "The label 'Iraqi Freedom' doesn't work for me. Iraq is not free. It is occupied, and now, after all the loss of life on both sides, they don't want us there."
So let's get this straight: An ad expressing the beliefs of the majority of military people and their parents is "cynical lies", while a small splinter group is automatically credible?

For those of you new to fisking Nick Coleman, it might still seem maddeningly obtuse, I suppose. I guess I'm used to it by now:

Bush didn't want to hear it. Neither did a soft-money group called Progress for America, which raised almost $40 million for the Bush campaign in 2004 and is spending half a million dollars or more here to test whether pro-war propaganda can stop the slide in public support for the war (the latest CNN/USA Today Poll shows 56 percent of Americans oppose the war).
Did you catch that?

56 percent.

Unmentioned by Coleman, he of the finely tuned "baloney detector": That number would seem to be up in recent months - the media was crowing about support for the war being under 50%, not long ago.

Question: Given that, as well as the synchronicity of Coleman's piece with the DFL's media assault on the ads, who is the propagandist here?

I could tell you more about Progress for America and "Astro-turfing" (artificially created "grass-roots" politics) if the Washington-based group had answered e-mailed requests for information.
No, Nick. I'd be much more interested in your telling us why you are calling PfA (and their step-mothers, fathers, and pro-war parents "astro-turf", but giving "Gold Star Parents For Peace" full credence - not to mention keeping mum about the obvious coordination of your column with the DFL's propaganda offensive.

Because after a year of claiming you're not the DFL's monkey, it's obvious that you're flinging blue poo on command. Don't believe it? Check out the DFL memo over on KvM; note the similarities; note, indeed, the bits that seem to be almost the same words.

Let's pause for a second.

My intent here is to expose the agitprop tactics of a political group campaigning on the bodies of fallen soldiers in a transparent attempt to cover the war's lies. It is not my desire to discount the grief of the families -- including the stepmothers -- of the 2,274 soldiers who have died following orders.

Buy you've just discounted the grief of the three sets of (apparent) bio-parents, one father, and one stepmother who don't conform to your prejudices, or to your transparent attempt to propagandize against the war.
Folks who would do that kind of despicable thing are the folks who attacked Cindy Sheehan as a "tragedy pimp" and mocked her grief over the loss of her soldier son, Casey.
Words nearly fail me here. Perhaps Coleman is incapable of distinguishing that the vast majority of Sheehan's critics attack her disingenuity in being used as tool of pro-Democrat groups - I have yet to see a single credible pro-administration pundit "attack" Sheehan's grief in any way.

But it's Coleman that is spitting on the grief of parents, by devalueing - ignoring - the parents whose beliefs don't match his.

Americans are divided about this war. But there are patriots on all sides of the debate and there are many families, including those in mourning, praying for an end to it.
True. And irrelevant.

This isn't about patriotism. This is about mainstream media gasbags and party hacks picking and choosing the grief they'll dignify, in the service of the political agenda they cynically package as "journalism".

This is about the media's disingenuous picking and choosing which big-money supported groups they'll label as "plucky, grassroots underdogs" - Gold Star Parents, MoveOn, MPAAT - and which ones they'll label "astroturf", rightly or wrongly, iin support of their own political agenda.

These cynical ads ignore that. They exploit the fallen and are a disservice to the troops. More than that, they are lies.
But as we've sen above, the only "lies", obfuscations and shimmyings about the truth are Coleman's.

(Check out Brian's take or MDE's bit and Foot's sideswipe on the same column)

(And the Nihilist has the most economical response to Coleman's column; Nihilist turns Coleman into a pink mist. Read it. Forward it to "friends" who think Coleman is anything but a sad joke).

Posted by Mitch at February 20, 2006 06:22 AM | TrackBack

"Nick: Did you ask [PiPress columnist] Laura Billings about what being a step-parent means?"

Mitch, Nick didn't have to ask...remember, he knows stuff.

Posted by: Paul at February 20, 2006 04:32 AM

Interesting. The DFL is complaining about coordination and astroturfing by inference and slight-of-hand, yet Coleman *admits* to working with DNC consultants on getting out the Democratic/DFL line. Who's doing the coordinating here?

The point on being a step-parent is dead on, though. I have to say that in many ways it's actually harder that your own kids, especially with boys who tend to be pretty rebellious as they hit teen years.

Posted by: nerdbert at February 20, 2006 08:54 AM

Christians aren't supposed to hate other people, but I do, indeed, hate Nick Coleman et al.

Posted by: Colleen at February 20, 2006 09:14 AM

Mitch wonders why Little Nicky calls PfA and the pro-war parents "astro-turf" while giving the Gold Star parents full credence. It's too obvious. The former are bad guys and the latter are good guys. Nicky has a very nuanced view of the world.

Posted by: Kermit at February 20, 2006 09:47 AM

Counting the seconds until PB shows up.




Posted by: Sandy at February 20, 2006 09:50 AM

I had been hearing some folks go on and on... "but she's not his mom!"

Come to learn she in fact is... his step-mom.

This from the crowd of folks who liked President Clinton's distiction between is and is.

Posted by: Badda-Blogger at February 20, 2006 10:06 AM

Nick Coleman undermines his argument about an alleged "deception" by writing:

"Folks who would do that kind of despicable thing are the folks who attacked Cindy Sheehan as a "tragedy pimp" and mocked her grief over the loss of her soldier son, Casey."

Should that be "her soldier STEP-son" or is that distinction only important when the (step-)parent supports the mission in Iraq.

Posted by: Thorley Winston at February 20, 2006 12:05 PM

I corrected Nick at Anti-Strib by pointing out that Cindy Sheehan is not a tragedy pimp... she's a tragedy WHORE.

The far Left Leaning folks with MoveOn, Code Pink, the Howard Dean-iacs, and the Kusinich Krowd are the pimps for using her. (Although, at this stage she clearly looks like a willing stooge.)

Posted by: Badda-Blogger at February 20, 2006 12:25 PM

"Should that be "her soldier STEP-son" or is that distinction only important when the (step-)parent supports the mission in Iraq."

Surely you aren't accusing Nick Coleman of hypocrisy? He writes for a major newspaper, for gosh sakes.

Posted by: Kermit at February 20, 2006 12:37 PM

“Surely you aren't accusing Nick Coleman of hypocrisy? He writes for a major newspaper, for gosh sakes.”

I wasn’t commenting so much on hypocrisy as the apparent lack of fact-checking done for Nick Coleman’s columns particularly when it undermines a key part of his argument that this was somehow a “deception.”

Posted by: Thorley Winston at February 20, 2006 01:09 PM

You say deception, Nick says composition. Cindy Sheehan is a couageous saint standing up to Power, M.J. Kesterson is a loathsome fraud abetting the forces of evil.
Nick Coleman is an objective voice of truth, crying in the wilderness of American ignorance and apathy.
Gee, this nuance stuff is fun!

Posted by: Kermit at February 20, 2006 01:29 PM

Colleen said,

"Christians aren't supposed to hate other people, but I do, indeed, hate Nick Coleman et al."

That's ok colleen - we forgive you.

Posted by: Doug at February 20, 2006 06:41 PM

I shudder to think about all the interns and young
reporters at the Strib who believe that this type of partisan ward heeling, letter to the editor stacking and the regurgitation of proveably false statements is excellent journalism.

Posted by: jt anonymous at February 20, 2006 06:52 PM

Thanks for fisking the Coleman column, Mitch. I know several of the vets and family members in the ads personally and they appreciate the support.

It's sad that when you agree with the left, it's free speech, but when you don't, it makes you a liar. (Where was the DFL outrage when was paying for ads, hmm?) Gotta love that double standard.

As was the motto for my husband's old unit:



Posted by: Kelly at February 21, 2006 01:36 AM

Thorley Said: ""Folks who would do that kind of despicable thing are the folks who attacked Cindy Sheehan as a "tragedy pimp" and mocked her grief over the loss of her soldier son, Casey."

Should that be "her soldier STEP-son" or is that distinction only important when the (step-)parent supports the mission in Iraq.""

= = = = =

I am confused, are you inplying that Cindy Sheehan, Casey's birth mother and the woman who raised him through adulthood while being married to his father for 28 years is anything less then that.

I know the some attempted to perpetrate some confusion, which ironically had roots with the Kesterson family, that Patty wasn't as involved in her son's rearing, but that was all fallacy.

More here:

Posted by: Flash at February 21, 2006 08:37 AM

I've never heard anyone claim that Sheehan wasn't Casey's biomom. If she WERE a stepmother, it wouldn't make a stitch of difference to me; for someone like Coleman to distinguish between the two is the story, and also reprehensible.

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