23. March 2005 · Comments Off on Another Phony Memo? · Categories: Politics

It seems the “Republican Talking Points” memo on Terri Schiavo is quite likely a fake:

The memo has three possible origins. The first possibility is that it was created by a low-level Republican staffer. This seems possible, but highly unlikely. Only a very dim-witted staffer would 1) copy word for word from the Traditional Values site, 2) get the Senate bill number wrong, 3) make a number of silly errors, including misspelling Mrs. Schiavo’s name as “Teri,” and 4) mix comments about political advantage into a “talking points” memo. Moreover, the Post and ABC have tried to create the impression that the memo is an official, high-level Republican strategy document. It clearly is not that.

The second possibility is that the memo was created by a lobbying group, presumably the Traditional Values Coalition, since most of the content of the memo comes word for word from their web site. But the controversial political observations–“the pro-life base will be excited,” etc.–are inappropriate for an organization like the Coalition. They sound as if they are written from the internal perspective of the Republican party (“this is a tough issue for Democrats”).

The third possibility is that the memo is a Democratic dirty trick. At the moment, that looks most likely. It is easy to picture how the document could have been constructed. A Democratic staffer wants to put in some language that will sound authentic for a Republican memo. What does he do? He steals four paragraphs from the Coalition’s web site. Then he adds the explosive political observations which are the whole point of the exercise–weirdly out of place in a “talking points” memo, but good politics for the Democrats.

Further, this could explain why the scanned version of the document is different from the one that ABC News originally obtained. The document was apparently corrected in three respects between the time it was given to ABC and when it was leaked to a left-wing web site. Who cleaned up the memo? Presumably the person or persons who created it. The site that put up the jpeg of the memo said that “a source on Capitol Hill…leaked” it to them. The source was presumably a Democratic staffer. If the document was a genuine Republican memo, would the Democrat who leaked it onto the web take the trouble to re-create it, correcting typos? No. The leaker would only correct errors if he himself was the source of the memo.

And finally: as the New York Times has reported, the only people who have actually been seen passing out the memo are Democratic aides.

The evidence we have so far is not conclusive, but it points in the direction of a dirty trick by the Democrats. The onus is certainly on Mike Allen of the Post and ABC News, if they actually have evidence that the memo is genuine, to tell us what that evidence is. In any event, however, the suggestion that this is some kind of high-level Republican strategy memo is ludicrous.

Hat Tip: InstaPundit

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