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The party of Lincoln, indeed February 19, 2007

Posted by Jeff in "Reality has a well-known liberal bias".
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Thanks to Queequeg the Harpooneer for yesterday’s quote from Congressman Abraham Lincoln, who spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives on January 12, 1848 in opposition to President Polk’s conduct of the Mexican War.

On February 13, Frank Gaffney of the right-wing Moonie newspaper The Washington Times argued that the debate taking place in Congress over the war in Iraq constitutes treason and that Congressional condemnations of those who fabricated evidence in favor of the invasion “really should be a hanging offense.”

Gaffney opened his column with this quote:

Congressmen who willfully take actions during wartime that damage morale and undermine the military are saboteurs and should be arrested, exiled, or hanged.

— President Abraham Lincoln

This quote has popped up repeatedly in neocon diatribes against Congressional war critics; Jack Murtha’s opponent used it against him last year. The day after Gaffney’s column, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) invoked the quote on the House floor during the debate on the anti-surge resolution.

There’s just one little problem … Lincoln never said it or anything like it.

The quote originated in a 2003 article in Insight magazine by J. Michael Waller, who blames the editors for putting quotes around the statement to imply it was a direct Lincoln reference. In any event, the quote has been discredited for at least the last six months, a fact Gaffney, Young or the Washington Times could have discovered with a simple Google search.

This all came up in a February 15 debate on Alan Colmes’s radio show between Gaffney and Salon blogger Glenn Greenwald. The debate can be heard below in its entirety.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

The soundfiles run about thirty-five minutes but they’re well worth a listen, as much as anything for the entertainment value of a total neocon meltdown. Here are Greenwald’s followup comments on the debate.

All this raises the question: which is the more treasonous act, challenging the actions of the government in the conduct of a war, or inventing facts and quotes in defense of that war?

Happy President’s Day!

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