Remember when Al Franken took apart the testimony of the lying Tom Minnery of Focus on the Family at a DOMA hearing? Minnery claimed that a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services report showed that “children living with their own married biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier.” Al Franken (D-MN) set him straight in front of “God and everybody”:
FRANKEN: Mr. Minnery, on page 8 of your written testimony, you write, quote, “children living in their own married biological or adoptive — with their own biological or adoptive mothers and fathers were generally healthier and happier, had better access to healthcare, less likely to suffer mild or severe emotional problems, did better in school, were protected from physical, emotional and sexual abuse and almost never live in poverty, compared with children in any other family form.”
You cite a Department of Health and Human Services study that I have right here, from December 2010, to support this conclusion. I checked the study out. And I would like to enter it into the record if I may.
And it actually doesn’t say what you said it says. It says that nuclear families, not opposite sex married families, are associated with those positive outcomes. Isn’t it true, Mr. Minnery, that a married same sex couple that has had or adopted kids would fall under the definition of a nuclear family in the study that you cite?
MINNERY: I would think that the study, when it cites nuclear families, would mean a family headed by a husband and wife.
FRANKEN: It doesn’t. The study defines a nuclear family as ‘one or more children living with two parents who are married to one another and are each biological or adoptive parents to all the children in the family. And I frankly, don’t really know how we can trust the rest of your testimony if you are reading studies these ways.
Well, it may not surprise you to know that the religious right is unhappy about how that turned out – not that Minnery lied, of course, but that he got exposed as a liar. And since they were unable to really defend him for lying they seem to be embracing a new spin to put on the story that they think will take the focus off Minnery as a lying snake and put it on Al Franken as a mean former comedian. (Apparently it’s not so much a sin to lie as it is a sin to point out that a Christian fundamentalist is a liar. This is your religion, Jesus. You listening?)
We have Carrie Daklin, of Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) to thank for this new angle. Daklin wrote on July 29 that “Franken missed an opportunity to be kind to a witness.” What? You mean the problem isn’t that Minnery lied but that Al Franken wasn’t nice to him? This is what we’re supposed to take away from that DOMA hearing? Are you kidding me?
No kidding. Daklin did not write about was Minnery’s dishonesty, or his attempt to deceive Congress and therefore the American people. That seems unimportant to Carrie Daklin.
I have testified in a trial. It is not fun, it is not exciting. It is stressful. You are out of your element. Your adversary is salivating to get you to say something he can spin, some little something he can magnify out of proportion and use to his advantage. As an experienced paralegal I knew this when I testified, and I was in hyper-vigilant mode because I knew it. Imagine what it is like for someone who has no knowledge of the courtroom.
I have no knowledge of congressional hearings. I have never been to one. I can only hope that if I did have to testify before the Senate, whoever was questioning me would be kind, would recognize that this was his sandbox, not mine, and that, as a representative of our country, he would not embarrass me for his own purposes.
Sadly, when Tom Minnery testified, that was not the kind of treatment he received from Al Franken.
It doesn’t seem to occur to Daklin that Minnery might have escaped without a scolding if he’d simply been, oh, I don’t know…honest. There’s a thought! Look: You lie to Congress and you get busted. You can’t expect a pat on the back and a kindly, “Well, son, you tried; it just wasn’t your day.”
Of course, the National Organization for Marriage (meaning, against marriage just like pro-life means anti-life), also known as NOM, has eagerly linked to Daklin’s article. It is unsurprising that one group famous for deficient reasoning would link to another piece of deficient reasoning, and even less surprising that they, like Daklin, faily to mention that Minnery was lying. Daklin even made very weak excuses for the lying Minnery:
A fine performance, Sen. Franken, but here’s the rub: In case you missed it in those DOMA hearings, the federal government doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage. So I would think it might have been reasonable for Minnery to assume that a federal report had followed federal law.
Whoa! Wait a second: are you telling me that Minnery is not required to actually read a study he cites before Congress before pretending he knows what it says? He can just assume it says what he wants it to say? If that was the case, the DOJ would not have pointed out that DOMA was unconstitutional. I begin to wonder if Carrie Daklin is even paying attention. I begin to think deficient reasoning hardly begins to cover it.
As a result of this blame the victim mentality a case of a conservative bigot lying to Congress has been turned by the religious right into a case of the liar being the victim and the person catching him at it being a liberal bully.
And Daklin’s charge is bizarre in the extreme:
The point here is not where you fall on DOMA or gay marriage. The point is that Franken, sadly, did exactly what we as a nation are finding so frustrating in government today: He polarized the situation. He escalated it. And that is not an appropriate role for the powerful position he occupies.
Again, Daklin has the chance to come clean, to point out that Minnery was at fault for lying. But instead of accusing him of polarizing the situation by intentionally misrepresenting a report in order to deprive a segment of our population of their equal rights, she lambastes Al Franken for catching him at it.
How catching somebody at a lie can be called “escalating” the situation is beyond me. Rather, it seems to me this is Franken’s job. I suppose we should not stop here but condemn anyone else who catches the forces of hate and bigotry lying. We can all laugh about it later in a more appropriate venue – concentration camps for the “homosexuals and their liberal allies.”
You have to wonder what sort of universe a person like Carrie Daklin lives in where she thinks the advice of her grandmother has any bearing on the forces tearing our nation apart: “You can catch more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.”
Really? You think this will work on the forces of dominionism? Really?
In a Hollywood film, she’d be the person who says “Wait, don’t shoot! Let’s reason with them!” right before being captured and tortured by the Spanish Inquisition. To switch to another metaphor, I suggest we let Carrie Daklin play “good Indian” if she wants while the rest of us remember that in history no good Indian ever escaped the fate of all the other Indians – the reservation.