It appears that conventional wisdom, at least of the Republican sort, doesn’t hold up well to scrutiny. Two articles in Slate.com do a particularly nice job of exposing the lies, half-truths, deceptions, and misdirections that speakers at the Republican National Convention tried to pass on to the American public:
- Lies, Damned Lies, and Convention Speeches by Fred Kaplan
- Imperial President by William Saletan
Here is a (rather lengthy) passage from Saletan’s article, which includes a quote from psuedo-democrat Zell Miller’s speech:
If the convention speeches are any guide, Republicans have run out of excuses for blowing the economy, blowing the surplus, and blowing our military resources and moral capital in the wrong country. So they’re going after the patriotism of their opponents. Here’s what the convention keynoter, Miller, said tonight about Democrats and those who criticize the way President Bush has launched and conducted the Iraq war:
“While young Americans are dying in the sands of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan, our nation is being torn apart and made weaker because of the Democrats’ manic obsession to bring down our commander in chief.
“Motivated more by partisan politics than by national security, today’s Democratic leaders see America as an occupier, not a liberator.
“In [Democratic leaders’] warped way of thinking, America is the problem, not the solution. They don’t believe there is any real danger in the world except that which America brings upon itself.
“Kerry would let Paris decide when America needs defending. I want Bush to decide.”
Every one of these charges is demonstrably false. When Bush addressed Congress after 9/11, Democrats embraced and applauded him. In the Afghan war, they gave him everything he asked for. Most Democratic senators, including John Kerry and John Edwards, voted to give him the authority to use force in Iraq. During and after the war, they praised Iraq’s liberation. Kerry has never said that any other country should decide when the United States is entitled to defend itself.
But the important thing isn’t the falsity of the charges, which Republicans continue to repeat despite press reports debunking them. The important thing is that the GOP is trying to quash criticism of the president simply because it’s criticism of the president. The election is becoming a referendum on democracy. [emphasis added]
Fred Kaplan’s article is no less instructive—or disheartening. Referring to the charge that Kerry voted to curtail funding of all sorts of weapons, Kaplan notes:
…it’s not just that Cheney and those around him are lying; it’s not even just that they know they’re lying; it’s that they know—or at least Cheney knows—that the same lie could be said about him. That’s what makes it a damned lie.
Kaplan then directly quotes Cheney’s own complaint, during his tenure as Bush Sr.’s secretary of defense, that Congress wasn’t cutting weapons programs enough.
I could go on and on, quoting these articles and fuming, but my blood pressure is too high already, so I’ll just leave you to read them in their entirety (they’re linked above) or check out these others:
- Heads in the Sand, a New York Times Op-Ed by Bob Herbert
- Feel the Hate, another New York Times Op-Ed, this one by Paul Krugman
- The GOP’s Dirty Z-Bomb, by Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, Jr.
- GOP Prism Distorts Some Kerry Positions, by Glenn Kessler and Dan Morgan, in the Washington Post
No point in my preaching to the choir, so I won’t.
I am very distressed to observe the irrational polarization of the public generally. Is it misplaced loyalty? Is it perceived self-interest? Is it the sheep syndrome – but why do people keep following the shepherd regardless of where they are led?
It doesn’t help that Kerry has conducted a largely ineffectual campaign, nor that we believe voting for the best candidate (Nader) is O.K. Isn’t that what we are supposed to do as an informed electorate?
Maybe James Carville can rescue Kerry’s campaign.
One other thing: why is it so easy to see the citations from the New York Times, but so hard to see the ones from the Washington Post?
The links to the New York Times articles go directly to an “unprotected” newsfeed, bypassing the free registration requirement. Unfortunately, with the Washington Post, even their newsfeeds require you to sign in. It’s annoying, but here’s a workaround. Go to the Washington Post homepage at http://www.washingtonpost.com and click the Sign In link at the very top of the page. When you get to the sign-in page, type firstname.lastname@example.org in the email address field and fedup in the password field. Then, go back to this blog entry and click on the link to the articles.
One other thing: I hacked the blog software code so now you don’t have to enter your email address. The only two required fields are Name and Comments.
Back to mine of 9/4/04 @ 1:23pm for a correction;
I wrote “…nor that we believe voting for the best candidate (Nader) is O.K.”, when I meant to write …”is not O.K.”