Anyone watching “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday saw he was clearly out muscled by the non-stop motor mouth debate tactics of Liz Cheney. Tom Shales takes Stephanopoulos to task for letting the rising right wing star get the better of him, though nothing less than a Vaudevillian hook would have succeeded in shutting her up. This is especially true when Liz gets on one of her Cheney tears defending torture, waterboarding her favorite technique. Regardless of truth or reality on record, Liz Cheney babbles on, inspired and fueled by her embedded right wing ideology, which no fact can dent, because with ideological blindness you can never be wrong. Shales on Liz Cheney’s “Chatterbox Summer”:
She doesn’t just finish a thought, she doesn’t just finish a sentence, she’ll go right into a new paragraph and ignore all attempts to head her off.
But for all of Liz Cheney’s babbling, her ideological blindness recently led her into embarrassing territory. How can someone charged with being a “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs”, then promoted to “Principal” in that same post, not know basic information about Jordan? Liz Cheney getting suckered into what some have called the first great hoax of the 21st century.
This is something that has not garnered much attention even with “Forbidden Lie$”, which is about the Norma Khouri hoax, hitting Showtime. Khouri is a now disgraced fabricator who perpetrated this fantastic hoax, writing a book about her friend who she claimed was a victim of an honor killing in Jordan.
This tale was good enough to suck in Liz Cheney, someone who touts her experience as “Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs,” which some have claimed was a post specifically created for her by her father, with Cheney promoted in 2005 to Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State For Near Eastern Affairs. A position that should have given her, at the very least, rudimentary knowledge of Jordan. Meaning that when Khouri talked about women needing escorts around the streets, let alone that they had to be covered, warning bells should have gone off in Cheney’s head. It’s just not reality for women in Jordan. But Ms. Cheney fell for Khouri’s fiction hook, line and lie, not even aware the Jordan in the book has little relation to the country it chronicles.
Honor Lost was initially published in 2002 in Australia, under the title Forbidden Love, and became a bestseller. But in 2004, the literary editor of the Sydney Morning Herald revealed that, although Khouri had indeed been born in Jordan, she had been living in Chicago during the years her story took place. Khouri’s book was withdrawn from publication, but the author didn’t slink so quietly into the Australian night. – Vanity Fair
Evidently, hearing about a supposed honor killing that allegedly happened in Jordan was all Liz Cheney needed to know.
You can forgive NBC news anchor Lester Holt for an interview with Khouri, the author, which is shown in “Forbidden Lie$”. But someone with Liz Cheney’s background should have easily recognized some of the more glaring and obvious factual errors in Khouri’s book. Like where the Jordan River flows (and where it doesn’t).
Enter Rana Husseini, an award winning journalist and expert on honor killings in Jordan, whose book is called Murder in the Name of Honor, who is also featured in “Forbidden Lie$.” Ms. Husseini did interviews asking women about the conduct expected of Jordanian women alleged in Khouri’s book, only to get laughter as a response. The places mentioned, like a unisex hair salon, not even in existence in Jordan.
Liz Cheney’s part is a side story, but is influential:
First was the granting of the visa. The department doesn’t define “Distinguished Talent” outside the circularity of “people who are internationally recognised for exceptional and outstanding achievement”. Assessing that talent is left to the nomination process. Those who nominated Khouri were her victims: publishers, literary agents and others who believed her memoir was a true story. Supporting material was provided by Elizabeth Cheney, a daughter of the US Vice-President, who was also sucked in. Her “Distinguished Talent” rested on pure deceit. We can only speculate on how much weight the name Cheney carried in the department.
This is just background on the type of shallow knowledge Cheney has accrued while spinning a career readying herself for higher office.
But to be taken in on an honor killing story is particularly dangerous. Countries are sensitive to Americans lecturing and any interference in their affairs, so getting caught in an honor killing hoax reduces our standing to ideological reaction. It’s one thing to come out strong where honor killings are hidden, but this is not the case in Jordan, because when it does happen they are prosecuted fully.
Liz Cheney’s ideological performances have become very popular on political shows, because everyone loves a spectacle. No problem with that, as politics on TV is now seen as entertainment. But as much as I think it’s important to get women on TV, Stephanopoulos choosing Michelle Malkin, then Liz Cheney, shows a disturbing trend.
However, the real issue is more serious. When someone like Cheney uses her clout and name on a sensitive issue like an honor killing, but ends up being duped because she didn’t know basic knowledge of a country like Jordan, which has supposedly been in her purview for years, it makes us all look bad, because our actions are reduced down to primitive emotional and ideologically driven spasms.