Thursday, April 15, 2004

Joel Klein is an insightful journalist, who often displays a nack for mapping the contours of the political landscape. However, his recent article in Time, "How to win over a nation of partisans," would have been more aptly titled "How to throw the election you are on track to win in the trash."

The article opens by noting that on many topics recently in the news, public opinion is largely split along partisan lines.

"The electorate seems both cynical and hyperpartisan...We may have reached a point at which a civil political conversation is no longer possible in this country."

Hmm, yes, indeed. I wonder if that might have something to do with the fact that one party has taken over all branches of government using anti-democratic tactics, and attacks anyone who disagrees with them as unpatriotic America-hating scoundrels? One party has shredded the constitution, impeaching a president for lying about sex, then lied to congress about reasons for going to war at the cost of several thousand lives and hundreds of billions of dollars?

Klein then suggests that Bush and Kerry need to rise above the rancor, and reach out to all Americans instead of just trying to stoke their bases.

"Both Bush and Kerry face a basic political decision...whether to speak to the nation or preach to the choir."

Klein acknowledges that the Bush smear-machine has used heavy-handed tactics, but then says
"Kerry has to decide how to respond to that."
True enough. Then he says that

"[T]he flaws in...[hitting back hard]...are already manifest in the television ads aired by liberal advocacy groups like, and the Media Fund. They paint America in shades of black and blacker. Jobs are leaving, the economy is in the tank, health care is evaporating, and Social Security and Medicare are threatened by Snidely Whiplash Republicans."

Well, that certainly would be a manifest flaw except for the small fact that all of the above is true. Over 2 million jobs have manifestly disappeared dearing the Bush reign, the economy is manifestly in the tank, and thanks to the Bush economic team, the social security surplus is manifestly gone and thanks to his Medicare plan, Medicare is scheduled to be manifestly insolvent in 15 years. If these ads seems extreme, perhaps it is because of the extreme nature of the Bush Administration, and the extreme extent of the damage wrought on America by his policies.

It only gets worse

"The Media Fund launched a morally atrocious ad last week questioning the additional $87 billion that Bush is spending in Iraq: "Shouldn't America be his top priority?" I mean, even for those who opposed the war, what's the alternative to staying the course now? Abandon Iraq to chaos and terrorism? (Kerry's contradictory votes in favor of the war and against the $87 billion are his most difficult to defend.)"

The fact that George W. Bush, in his exercise of his discretion as President, decided to use American resources to go to war with Iraq, the direct result of which was this $87 billion to fund the occupation does raise questions about his priorities as commander in chief, and this certainly is a valid question to ask. It is a non-sequitir to suggest asking the question whether America should be his top priority is equivalent to demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops in Iraq. The fact is, Iraq raises questions about whether America has been Bush's first priority as President, and as voters decide who they want to vote for, they should consider this as a reflection of what his priorities would be in the future (what kind of new conflicts is he going to get us in)?

Oh, and about Kerry's votes being difficult to defend, I don't think so. John Kerry voted to give the President authority to decide to go to war (for me, a disappointment, but not nearly as bad as being the guy who is using a false rational to push the nation into an unnecessary war). Then, to protest the lack of information that was being given to Congress about how the money was being spent in Iraq and information about progress or lack of there (everything is great, trust us), he voted against the supplemental appropriations bill. There is nothing contradictory about this at all.

"[A] radical move to the middle, a campaign that looks and sounds different from the usual partisan claptrap—one that features more ideas like Kerry's proposed reduction in the corporate tax in return for corporate-loophole closing—may be John Kerry's only chance to transcend the swamp gas that is threatening to engulf this long, long political year."
A radical move to the middle... also known an unprincipled flip-flop. Can you hear it now "John Kerry doesn't even know what he stands for." Does anyone remember the last time our party ran a mushy, centrist campaign for the presidency (hint: it was about four years ago)? George Bush's administration is absolutely deplorable, and John Kerry has every right to call it what it is, and suggest exactly what is needed: a dramatically different course for America.


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