Friday, September 26, 2003
Oh Pointy, Pointy.
The Total Information Awareness office is going to be shut down. This is mostly a victory. Politics by outrage gives us a few wins when a Bush's popularity is falling.
Of course they'll probably just hide the most evil stuff, but we get to feel good today, and maybe what's left will whither away.
Upon reflection, the main thing about the California debate was the extraordinary dumbness of Schwarzenegger's spoutings. How similar it is to the dumbness of Bush's spoutings....
The right-wing extremists say obviously stupid things, because they target the people they can fool.
In a democracy where elections matter, people have an obligation to pay enough attention to politics not to be fooled consistently. We can start with different values, but we must filter out the propaganda lies and the weapons of mass deception.
The media has a responsibility to help people with this filtering process.
The silliest episode last night was right-wing extremist Peggy Noonan saying the Democrats had nothing in common.
This is why we have laws against smoking crack!
It was a *debate*! The purpose of the debate was to draw distinctions.
Some said: repeal all of Bush's unaffordable tax cuts. Others said: only repeal the tax cuts for the richest of Bush's bankrollers. Legitimate distinction. But notice that they were agreed that Bush tax cuts to the rich aren't such a great idea. And nobody was arguing that passing the debt from Bush's Iraq blunder to our grandchildren is a great idea.
What good is it to let propagandists spout rubbish without explicitly indicating that it's nonsense?
I'm a little tired of hearing The Great Malfeasants justify everything with "9/11". The world didn't change on 9/11. There were already terrorists trying to attack us.
The only thing that changed was that the government of the United States was caught with its pants down, because George Bush and Dick Cheney betrayed us -- protecting their Saudi business partners, not the people of the United States.
I'd say Dean screwed up in the debate....
Dean: "That is flat-out false, and I'm ashamed that you would compare me with Newt Gingrich. Nobody up here deserves to be compared to Newt Gingrich.
"First of all, I did say that Medicare was a dreadful program because it's administered dreadfully.
"I've done more for health insurance, Dick Gephardt, frankly, than you ever have, because I've delivered it to a lot of seniors and a lot of young people. And I'll stake my record on health insurance against anybody up here.
"Of course, we're not going to get rid of Medicare, and you are wrong to insinuate so, but we're going to run it properly because we're going to have somebody that actually is taking care of patients running Medicare and Medicaid in the FDA so we can get the things that we need to get to patients.
"To insinuate that I would get rid of Medicare is wrong, it's not helpful, and we need to remember that the enemy here is George Bush, not each other."
First of all, Dean may have given health insurance to a large percentage of Vermont residents, but *I'm* thinking way more Americans have received Medicaid and Medicare. I'm thinking we saw an ugly bit of Dean's personality -- he perceived an attack, without listening to the actual words, and responded with an attack that was as inaccurate as his understanding of what Gephardt said.
As Kerry put it: "Well, in defense of Dick Gephardt, I didn't hear him say he was like Newt Gingrich, I heard him say that he stood with Newt Gingrich when we were struggling to hold on to Medicare. That's a policy difference.
"It's also a policy difference when Governor Dean says that we could balance the budget by cutting veterans' benefits, cutting Social Security, cutting defense. 'It'd be tough,' he says, 'but we could do it.'
"Now, I think these are policy difference that we need to discuss, and it's perfectly fair."
Kerry of course has more incentive to cut Dean down than to build Gephardt up, but what Kerry said was just about right. Here is what Gephardt really said:
"Howard and I just have a basic disagreement. He said in, I think, 1993 that Medicare was the worst federal program ever. He said that it was the worst thing that ever happened.
"He also supported, at our darkest hour--when I was leading the fight against Newt Gingrich and the Contract With America, he was shutting the government down--Howard, you were agreeing with the very plan that Newt Gingrich wanted to pass, which was a $270 billion cut in Medicare.
"Now, you've been saying for many months that you're the head of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party. I think you're just winging it.
"This is not the view of Democrats, in my view.
"This program has been under attack from the Republicans since the beginning. And we need a candidate against George Bush that can take the fight to him on it, not someone who agreed with the Gingrich Republicans."
Now, we can't really tell whether Gephardt's criticism is reasonable. We'll have to track down what Dean actually said and did when Gingrich was trying to cut Medicare. But I think it's pretty clear Dean overreacted. If Dean didn't support cuts to Medicare, all he had to do was set the record straight. If Dean did support the cuts, then Gephardt was right on, and it makes Dean look like something less than the Democrat's Democrat.
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Last update: 10/1/03; 10:29:59 AM.