Lanny Davis does his best Nathan Thurm impression.

I put this on our Twitter feed yesterday, but it’s too disgusting to let pass without a post. Lanny Davis, high powered Democratic lobbyist and former special counsel to President Bill Clinton, has a new client: Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo.

That would be the same Laurent Gbagbo who refuses to recognize his re-election loss last month, and has since committed a range of human rights abuses:

According to various media reports, Gbagbo or forces loyal to him have blocked food and medical supplies from getting to U.N. peacekeepers who are guarding the hotel where [President-Elect Alassane] Ouattara is holed up; ordered those same peacekeepers out of the country; killed unarmed opposition protesters; and conducted nighttime raids in neighborhoods supportive of Ouattara. There are now fears of a civil war between the two sides, and the U.S. has imposed sanctions on Gbagbo and his allies.

Orthodox. Faithful. Free.

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That isn’t enough to dissuade Davis from continuing to cash Gbagbo’s checks, though. When an interviewer with Salon confronted him on the point, he did his best to embody every cartoon stereotype about Washington, D.C. lawyer/lobbyists:

CNN quoted you as saying, “Mr. Gbagbo opposes violence and has authorized me to say he wants a mutual renunciation of violence.” In the past few days there have been widespread reports of military police literally killing dozens of marchers; that just doesn’t square with what you said.

If that’s true, then Mr. Gbagbo is lying. But do you know whether Ouattara’s forces are firing first? I don’t. Do you?

I’m going off the widespread press coverage …

If the Gbagbo government is firing on civilians then the Gbagbo government is immoral. And my job is to ask and to recommend that there’s a pathway to getting the bloodshed to stop, which is bringing in an international mediator like former [South African] President Mbeki. And at least get a cease-fire.

I don’t see how it’s a question of “if.” I’m reading the most respected media outlets in the world, the New York Times, the Christian Science Monitor; they’re all reporting the same thing — violence, overwhelmingly from one side. 

Tell me where you just read, “overwhelmingly from one side.” Give me that phrase, from what newspaper does it say “overwhelmingly from one side”?

The United Nations high commissioner for human rights is talking about “massive violations” of human rights by the government this week. That’s where I’m getting it.

You can certainly quote me that if there’s anybody representing the Gbagbo government that is killing civilians, that that’s immoral. If there is anybody representing Mr. Ouattara that is killing, that’s immoral. I’m not agnostic on killing civilians.

Davis might owe Saturday Night Live some royalties for stealing Martin Short’s “Nathan Thurm” character. Judge for yourself:



  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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