The National Republican Senate Committee put out a blast email today mocking Ed Markey as the next Al Gore—aka a politician whose opponents will lie about him in order to try to block him from claiming deserved credit for his legislative initiatives:*
In case you missed it, Out of Touch Ed Markey — who has been sitting in Washington since 1976 — has channeled his inner Al Gore during a couple of his recent campaign appearances.
Earlier this month, Congressman Ed Markey claimed that he invented the satellite dish, low-cost mobile phone calls, and the ability for cable companies to provide long distance service.
Now, Markey tells us that he’s actually the hero we have to think for Google, Hulu, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. Who knew?!
Perhaps Markey can use the technology he invented to call, tweet, or message his friend Al Gore, inventor of the internet.
— Ed Markey Passed Some Good Laws In The 1990s, Matthew Yglesias, Slate, Mar. 28
Yglesias goes on to say that–surprise!–Markey said nothing of the kind, and that the Republican Senate Campaign Committee was referencing comments by Markey in which he was discussing legislation that he had championed in the 1990s–the 1996 Telecommunications Act and the 1992 Cable Act–that restructured laws regulating telecommunications and cable companies. Markey says that these laws were instrumental in advancing development and competition in the telecom industry. Yglesias explains:
What is true is that, as Markey said, he was a leader in pushing the provision of the 1992 Cable Act that made it possible for commercially viable direct-broadcast satellite companies (Direct TV, etc.) to compete with cable companies. The specific issue is that cable companies had vertically integrated with cable stations. The same firm might own a cable infrastructure company and also own HBO. Then the integrated cable firms would agree to license their channel to other cable companies in other geographical areas, but not to competitors. So the technology existed to do satellite TV, but the content wasn’t there. Markey’s provision forced cable companies to license content to satellite companies on non-prejudicial terms, thus injecting some much-needed competition into the market.
At the second link, Markey is saying that he took a leading role in the 1996 Telecommunications Act and is arguing, plausibly, that the act led to a surge of business investment in digital technology.
Yglesias updated his post to report:
I’ve had some email exchange on this subject with RSCC spokesman Brad Dayspring who doesn’t dispute that the 1996 Telecommunications Act was a good law or that the 1992 Cable Act was a good law or that Al Gore never claimed to have invented the Internet, but explains that the point of attacking Markey in this dishonest way was to underscore the idea that Markey sometimes exaggerates the extent of his accomplishments. What the point of attacking Gore was, I couldn’t quite say.
Soooo … a good way to underscore a false point that Markey sometimes exaggerates the extent of his accomplishments is to falsely claim that Markey said things that it’s, y’know, extremely easy to prove he didn’t say. It’s also a terrific way to demonstrate that Republicans apparently deny the connection between federal legislation and the advancement of technological invention and progress.
Not even to mention how good a way it is to illustrate that Repubs can’t distinguish between comments about engineering and computer science–or science, at all–and legislation about, and investment in, engineering, computer science, science, or much of anything else.
These tactics worked well for Mitt Romney, so I can understand why the RSCC thinks they are the ticket to victory for their Senate candidates next year.
Go for it, Republican Senate Campaign Committee!
*Indentation format corrected after initial posting.