A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

This Is Morally Corrupt, Not Merely Politically Inexpedient

I reprint here the recent editorial in the online pages of the St. Johnsbury, Vermont Caledonian-Record:

Senator Clinton And The GOP

Tuesday April 19, 2005

Claiming that Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton is running for the White House, New York Republican State Chairman Stephen Minarik has kicked off a national fund-raising campaign ("Stop Hillary Now") to thwart her 2006 Senate re-election bid. "Stopping Hillary Rodham Clinton is the most important thing you and I can do as Republicans," says Minarik.

Sen. Clinton is anything but our choice for president. But we think Republicans would do well to remember a statement John Kennedy made in the '50s about the opponent he would later face in a presidential election. The then Massachusetts Senator said Democrats could not win in 1960 by waging a negative campaign against Richard Nixon.

In this vein, we don't think a 21st century hate Hillary campaign will be enough to stop her in New York or the nation. Republicans must demonstrate why their candidate and program is better than Clinton - or any Democrat for that matter. We think the Grand Old Party can do that. We also think North Country Republicans should pay careful attention to the presidential contenders - and choose the right Republican - in the 2008 New Hampshire primary.

I have quoted it all because, in a matter so vital, it is well to have all the evidence on the table. In that vein, I must, in all fairness, also link to another editorial where this newspaper condemned the Vermont GOP attempt to jam Democratic phone lines in a get-out-the-vote-campaign.

I think that the hearts of these editors are in the right place, but their heads, like so many of their ilk, are simply not screwed on straight.

The reason that a 21st century hate campaign should not be directed against Hillary Clinton is because it is morally wrong to do this, not because it is inexpedient to win an election. It is morally wrong to treat any human being as a mere Judy to be whacked constantly by your Punch.

There is absolutely no reason not to disagree with Hillary Clinton's opinions or criticize Hillary Clinton's actions, if you are so inclined. But the demonizing of any human being, whatever their politics, is the total dehumanization of both the target and the perpetrators. And, the refusal to see or acknowledge the moral turpitude of it, is the first step in that same dehumanization in the bystanders.

Such hate campaigns are also corrosive to American life and American government. The only thing they furthers is partisan political advantage.

For, first of all, hate campaigns are not inexpedient to win elections. That is why a hate campaign against Hillary Clinton is being attempted in the first place. More often than not, vicious, third party, smears against opposing candidates work. We know, as clearly as we know anything in politics, that they work. We saw them work in the last Presidential election, where the third parties were the Swift Boat Veterans.

The only time they do not generally work is where absolutely irrefutable evidence exists refuting the smears, whether it is the evidence of the typewriters in the Bush National Guard smear of the President, or evidence of the authenticity of the Schiavo Talking Points Memo in the Powerline/Michelle Malkin smear of the Democratic Congressional Staff.

As long as any doubt, no matter how small, as in the case of John Kerry, can be raised and sustained by the smears, the smears will prevail. Rush Limbaugh has built a following and a private fortune on this fact, pouring out smear after smear so fast that no one can keep track long enough to refute him, and he now has many imitators.

To parade out the stale cliches that negative campaigning is ineffective, merely because politicians of The Greatest Generation were far more gentlemanly 50 years ago, than those of the Baby Boom & Generation X, today, is plain absurdity.

It is a refusal to open one's eyes to the facts of the 21st Century in America.

Not that it is surprising that any of the Republican persuasion can only deal with our current politics by closing their eyes to plain facts. At this late date--and after half a decade of Republican rule (and I mean "rule", not "government")--to state something like this:

Republicans must demonstrate why their candidate and program is better than Clinton - or any Democrat for that matter. We think the Grand Old Party can do that.

is not only to wear the old fashioned blinkers they put on horses, but also to transform yourself into the part of the horse that doesn't need the blinkers.

No one with eyes, as well as fairness and objectivity of mind, would state that our foreign policy, and its "War Against Terror", has been anything but partially successful in realistic terms. Two corrupt regimes have been destroyed and a good attempt has been made to put something better in their place, but it is still an attempt only, whose success remains in the balance.

No more than this has occurred. Period.

And none of the other problems facing the world, and America in it, have been even addressed, let alone solved.

If we then turn to the domestic and economic scene, we have but to quote former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volker:

Altogether the circumstances seem to me as dangerous and intractable as any I can remember, and I can remember quite a lot. What really concerns me is that there seems to be so little willingness or capacity to do much about it.....As a nation we are consuming and investing about 6 percent more than we are producing.

What holds it all together is a massive and growing flow of capital from abroad, running to more than $2 billion every working day, and growing. There is no sense of strain....The difficulty is that this seemingly comfortable pattern can't go on indefinitely. I don't know of any country that has managed to consume and invest 6 percent more than it produces for long. The United States is absorbing about 80 percent of the net flow of international capital. And at some point, both central banks and private institutions will have their fill of dollars....

I don't know whether change will come with a bang or a whimper, whether sooner or later. But as things stand, it is more likely than not that it will be financial crises rather than policy foresight that will force the change....But can we, with any degree of confidence today, look forward to any one of these policies being put in place any time soon, much less a combination of all?

The answer is no. So I think we are skating on increasingly thin ice.

This situation has been entirely manufactured by George W. Bush and Alan Greenspan between them. It was not present on January 20, 2000, and it is clear and unequivocal that the policies of this administration and the Federal Reserve have made this happen. They have done this in everything from a tax policy that systematically cuts government revenue; resulting in insane deficit spending; combined with refusal to support the dollar; as well as refusal to address oil price volatility; and, finally, virtually soliciting the entire country to take on unsustainable private debt through propping up this economic house of cards with historically low interest rates.

But, if a genuine collapse comes, I doubt very seriously that the Caledonian-Record will have the wit to see the most blatant relations of economic cause and effect since Herbert Hoover and the Great Depression. I doubt very seriously that a large number of Americans will have the wit to see it. Though we can always hope that the numbers of the American voting public who do have the wit to see it will finally be larger than 48%. If so, we might be able to get the mess straightened out.

But, to return to hate campaigns, one of the most important ways our moral perceptiveness can rot through from the inside is the persistent refusal to face facts. Good judgment in matters of intellect and fact is no different from judgment in the matter of moral conduct. To abandon one is to lose the other.

I greatly fear that the rotting of such moral perceptiveness is terminal among far too many of my fellow citizens.


Anonymous cowalker@mail.com said...

Of course it's wrong to run smear campaigns. On the other hand, since Republicans will always be Republicans, I'm not so sure it's bad for Democrats for them to concentrate on Hillary.

I think they'll be wasting their money, since she won't be the Democratic candidate. Wasted Republican political funds makes me happy.

7:11 PM  
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