Russert and Broussard, Take 2

In case you missed it, Tim Russert had another round with Aaron Broussard on Meet the Press last Sunday. Relevant links:

The segment was interesting for me in that it provided the closest thing I’ve ever heard to an on-air mention of True, Russert only referred obliquely to bloggerdom, and even then he probably had in mind folks like John at Wuzzadem, not my humble Bush-hater self, or even valued commenter trg34221, who actually got the ball rolling, pretty much, by posting links to the relevant articles in the comments here. That got me to post about it, and update the Aaron Broussard page at Wikipedia, which is where John of Wuzzadem got his info.

It’s also interesting to me that there are two people I think highly enough of to have in my blogroll who have posted about this item, but both of whom disagree with my take on Broussard.

Basically, at this point I think it’s clear that Aaron Broussard is one of two things:

A) A more-or-less honest guy who has been doing his best under very trying circumstances, and who as a result told an untrue story about how federal authorities failed to rescue Eva Rodrigue on Tuesday, and on Wednesday, and on Thursday, and on Friday, or,

B) A cynical politician who used (twice, now) an on-camera emotional meltdown and blatant lies to manipulate public perception.

If the truth were (A), I would have expected him to use his second Meet the Press appearance to apologize for the error and move on to his larger point about the failures that occurred and the need for accountability. But he didn’t do that. Instead he engaged in what comes off (to me at least) like self-serving political spin, repeating the falsehood that Eva Rodrigue died on Friday (rather than on the previous Monday, which is when all media accounts, quoted authorities, and her son Tom have said she died), and, while not quite acknowledging error and apologizing, making responses designed to allow those who don’t know the facts to retain their belief that his version of events is the factually correct one.

To me, that argues pretty persuasively for (B). No, I’m not sure he was intentionally lying. But the things I have to believe in order to believe explanation (A) are a lot more of a stretch for me than the things required by explanation (B).

If we’re willing to give someone a pass on accountability just because he’s on our side, we’re really no better than the Bush supporters. Which would be pretty sad.

11 Responses to “Russert and Broussard, Take 2”

  1. Steve Says:

    I think that’s a false dilemna.

    I vote for

    C) A more or less cynical politician who has been doing his best under very trying circumstances, and who as a result told an untrue story about how federal authorities failed to rescue Eva Rodrigue. Instead of humbly recanting the untrue parts of his story, he’s behaved like most people would and refuses to acknowledge his own cognitive dissonance and defends himself from attackers.

    True to my Chrisitan roots, I have to ask you how you would treat this man if he were your brother? I seem to remember posts where you’ve caught Julia in a blatant falsehood. Has this caused you to think of her as a cynical, manipulating bitch? I certainly hope not.

    I think you’re focusing too much on Broussard here. The facts clearly state that he was wrong about the timing of Eva’s death. But so what? We don’t live in Jefferson Parish, and it’s not our job to hold him accountable.

    Hmm, I seem to have made multiple arguments in this comment. Pick and choose my weakest (or your favorite) argument to dispute. :P

  2. jbc Says:

    Yeah, I think option C could well be the one that most-accurately describes what happened.

    For someone who’s really accomplished at manipulating people with this sort of thing, the dividing line between “lying” and “letting my emotions get the best of me” is probably really, really fuzzy. In order to pull off something like this believably, one would basically have to be able to believe it to be true onesself, at least at the time the “lie” is being told. Rather than getting into whether Broussard was really lying, I think I’d rather just fall back on asking, “In these sorts of circumstances, is Broussard trustworthy?” And I think the answer is pretty clearly, “No.”

  3. Craig Says:

    I don’t know how John would answer the “accountability” question, but I’ll give my view. All John and some others, including myself, have been doing is highlighting the obvious discrepancies in Broussard’s story and subsequent rationalizations and concluded that a very public and far-reaching falsehood was used to make a specific and dishonest emotional link to the failure of the Federal Government. To me, it’s important because this story served to launch a thousand rants, both in the blogosphere and in mainstream media outlets regarding the overall degree of culpability of the Federal Level in its response to the flooding.

    So therefore, pressing Broussard for the truth of the story, its true source, and the intent of the specific targeting of the Federal Government, are all legitimate questions that deserve resolution. To imply that only his constituents in his Parish are required to judge him is a very laise faire moral stance to take. So, if a State representative in Wyoming is revealed to have perpetrated a fraud on the public, only his constituents can call him out and assess blame? They certainly hold ultimate judgement via the voting booth, but not exclusive rights!

    This type of moral cherry-picking can apply to a particularly sore subject for me, which is the way many people beat their chests in rage and sorrow at a “heartless and evil military machine” when an American soldier is linked to a civilian death, such as a tragic miscommunication or misjudgement at a military checkpoint in Iraq. But when hundreds of innocent civilians are being targeted, killed and injured monthly in a very DELIBERATE strategy by the insurgents, the same people are utterly silent, with their common rationalization being that they can only pass judgement on people who are representing themselves, as US citizens. Sorry, but we have a shared humanity on this earth before we ever divide up into nationalities.

    So, in making a short answer long, we do, in fact, have a right to hold people like Broussard accountable and question his integrity and motives. Otherwise, would have a very limited scope!

  4. Rise Against Says:

    Oh calm down.

    It’s not like he sent in a conservative knucklehead to lob softball questions to the white house. Or lied to take your country to war resulting in thousnands of needless deaths. Or revealed classified information for political reasons. I think you can see the point I’m getting at here.

    You’re “cherry picking” the people you want to hold accoutable. Where is the outrage over these other well known abuses of power? Don’t you want answers to those questions and more?

    You need to ask yourself what is the cause of the insurgency? Why did it come about? What is fueling it?

    I don’t see anyone other than insurgents cheering when they spread bloodshed. You have to look at it from the outside. To many Arabs, the American occupation and insurgency have a lot in common.

  5. Craig Says:

    I’ll “calm down” if you try to stay within the context of the discussion in this thread and not automatically comparing everything to “Bush”, “oil”, “illegal”, “he lied-they died”, etc.

    I didn’t say that the anti-Bush crowd is “cheering” the insurgents actions. I didn’t ask why the just Arab world isn’t equally appalled by such civilian deaths.

    I’m merely giving a rationale to the importance of calling out the questionable actions and motives of officials in connection with the Gulf Coast disasters. I apparently made the mistake of using a Iraq war analogy in the process, which seems to generate a reflexive response by those with Bush tunnel vision.

  6. Steve Says:

    As for a laise faire moral viewpoint, my view is that we should judge the sin and not the sinner.

    There are two conditions where I think we should move from judging someone’s actions to judging the person:

    1) We have to because it’s time to make a major decision about them. Should we hire them, fire them, elect them, marry them, etc?

    2) We’ve known them long enough that we have enough data points to make an informed judgement.

    The more you post about Broussard, the more he begins to move into category 2. I just think he has a long way to go before he’s there yet.

  7. ethan-p Says:

    Those rich fucks! This whole fucking thing– I did not watch my buddies die face down in the muck so that this fucking strumpet–

    I don’t see any connection to Vietnam, Walter.

    Rise — watch you don’t turn into Walter Sobchak. Your Iraq could become like his Vietnam.


  8. Rise Against Says:

    Hey, I am just drawing on the fact the the voice from the right seems forever absent on this site over accusations of lies that actually affect people. But they’re all over this old fella who could have simply got his story wrong. It’s hillarious.

  9. Craig Says:

    If you try to remember, you’ll recall that I have given my opinions and counter-facts on Bush, his Administration, the war and the road that led to it, over the course of the last few years. Granted, you likely wouldn’t have agreed with it, but it doesn’t mean it wasn’t discussed. I just have no interest in constantly regurgitating it ad naseum. Topics and opinions change, situations and facts evolve. The world and the events that shape it continue to move forward. So should we.

  10. J.A.Y.S.O.N. Says:

    It is rad how this happens. Its like we’ll talk about Aaron Broussard and whether or not what he said was true. Then it becomes a sides issue. Everything is about sides. Commenting on Broussard doesn’t diminish in anyway any of the other discussions about the culpability of other players in the NOLA disaster. Its funny too, that John, certainly more liberal than I, was the person to bring this issue up. No one is cherry picking here, we’re just disscussing this one guy and what he said. Does the worst liar of a given era give absolution to the rest of the liars? If Bush lied about something bigger, like the war, does that somehow give Broussard a pass for lying to advance his (albiet smaller) agenda.

    This really isn’t a partisan issue for me. I get pissed when I see this tactic here and on television. Seems like the left blames the right and vice versa. Ethan is still the only nonpartisan poster I see here, although I take my hat off to John for speaking his mind on this, even though it goes against whatever previeced doctrine he was supposed to follow.

  11. ethan-p Says:

    Woohoo! In your face, partisan fools!

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