A few words are required about the Schiavo memo: It wasn’t a fake after all.
A lawyer on the staff of Republican Senator Mel Martinez has now admitted that he wrote the cynical memo. It urged Republicans to rally around Terri Schiavo as “a great political issue.”
Linking to a Fred Barnes piece saying that only “a few paragraphs were of Republican origin,” I snidely remarked that the memo “wasn’t a GOP document.” I suggested that the media had portrayed it that way without thoroughly investigating it.
Well, if it wasn’t *quite* a GOP memo, it certainly came too close for comfort. Lucianne Goldberg, a tough fighter but also a gracious lady, says, “We have met the enemy and it is us.’ Lucianne added, ‘We goofed. Bite the bullet and soldier on.”
She’s right. How stupid and callous do you have to be to write something like the Schiavo memo? Still, I can’t resist quoting a post by maverick liberal Mickey Kaus’s item (“Non-Fake but Inaccurate”) on the memo:
“WaPo’s Mike Allen reports that the now-famous Schiavo ’talking points’ memo came from freshman GOP senator Mel Martinez’s office. So that mystery is cleared up. The memo wasn’t a fake. But Allen doesn’t come off looking too good in this latest account. a) The memo was apparently not ’distributed to Republican Senators by party leaders,’ as Allen’s initial story, sent out through the Post news service to other papers, reported. It was–at least judging from today’s account–handed to one Democratic senator, Tom Harkin, by one freshman Republican senator (who isn’t in the party leadership); b) Allen doesn’t explain why he told Howie Kurtz he ’did not call them talking points or a Republican memo’ when he had in fact done just that in the news service draft; c) Even the later, more ’carefully worded’ account Allen published in the Post itself was apparently wrong. Allen wrote:
“’In a memo distributed only to Republican senators, the Schiavo case was characterized as ’a great political issue’…This is almost the reverse of what Allen now reports. We know the memo was distributed to at least one Democratic senator. We don’t know whether it was distributed to any Republican senator other th[a]n the senator whose staffer wrote it (although it’s hard to believe it wasn’t given to at least some other GOP lawmakers)…
“But certainly whatever legitimate valence Allen’s ‘memo’ story had depended almost entirely on the impression that the memo revealed and represented the strategy of the GOP leaders who pushed the Schiavo bill. If all that was involved was a staff memo Martinez gave to Harkin, Allen’s story was way out of whack. The memo wasn’t close to being worth the play it got in WaPo or in [ABC correspondent Linda] Douglass’ report…”
Powerlineblog–which quotes Kaus’s material–is also a good place to see the evolution of the story.