Thursday, October 2, 2003
Rebutting Chait II
(See my previous item for background on this post.)
A second, more crucial difference is that Bush is a far more radical president than Clinton was. From a purely ideological standpoint, then, liberal hatred of Bush makes more sense than conservatives' Clinton fixation. Clinton offended liberals time and again, embracing welfare reform, tax cuts, and free trade, and nominating judicial moderates. When budget surpluses first appeared, he stunned the left by reducing the national debt rather than pushing for more spending. Bush, on the other hand, has developed into a truly radical president. Like Ronald Reagan, Bush crusaded for an enormous supply-side tax cut that was anathema to liberals. But, where Reagan followed his cuts with subsequent measures to reduce revenue loss and restore some progressivity to the tax code, Bush proceeded to execute two additional regressive tax cuts. Combined with his stated desire to eliminate virtually all taxes on capital income and to privatize Medicare and Social Security, it's not much of an exaggeration to say that Bush would like to roll back the federal government to something resembling its pre-New Deal state.
Bush has antagonized conservatives more than most lefties are willing to admit. Social conservatives revile him because they see his limited outreach to gays as a slap in the face. They see his support of Affirmative Action (UofM) as a repudiation of conservative core values. They see his capitulation to Kennedy on school choice as weak-willed, and his abandonment of the Faith-based initiative as knuckling under to the anti-religionists of the left.
Fiscal conservatives are dismayed by his continuation of (and increases in) tariffs, his failure to contain the free-spending congress, his expensive initiatives in regards to prescription drug benefits, and his failure to push for significant reform in Social Security and Medicare, most of which were parts of his platform in 2000.
As for Bush's "enormous" tax cuts, they don't even reduce taxes on the top bracket to what they were when Clinton entered office, not to mention his father, or the beginning of Reagan's second term. Bush has not added tax hikes after his tax cuts because we are still being taxed too much.
Chait snivels that privatizing Social Security and Medicare will "roll back government to something resembling its pre-New Deal state". Not only is it not true, but by invoking the sacred New Deal, he is implying that Bush=Hoover, totally without any supporting evidence.
posted at 10:28 AM | permalink | Comments (3)
Rebutting Chait I
By now, most blog readers have seen at least a reference to a Jonathan Chait piece in the New Republic entitled "Mad About You; The Case for Bush Hatred". As the title implies, Chait has a laundry list of reasons why he hates Bush, and attempts to contrast them with the similarly intense hatred of Clinton by conservatives in the 1990's. He insists that the anti-Bush hysteria is nowhere near as pervasive as the Clinton-hatred, which is certainly open to dispute, but he makes a number of factual errors which the left seem to rely upon, time after time, despite the fact that they are wrong. I've got a lot to say, so I am going to break this up into several posts, over a couple of days, so I don't lose my mind in the process. Here's the first rebuttal to start the ball rolling. (I'll quote whole paragraphs, so there will be some extraneous information. I don't want to be accused of taking things out of context.)
It's certainly true that there is a left-wing fringe of Bush haters whose lurid conspiracy-mongering neatly parallels that of the Clinton haters. York cites various left-wing websites that compare Bush to Hitler and accuse him of murder. The trouble with this parallel is, first, that this sort of Bush-hating is entirely confined to the political fringe. The most mainstream anti-Bush conspiracy theorist cited in York's piece is Alexander Cockburn, the ultra-left, rabidly anti-Clinton newsletter editor. Mainstream Democrats have avoided delving into Bush's economic ties with the bin Laden family or suggesting that Bush invaded Iraq primarily to benefit Halliburton. The Clinton haters, on the other hand, drew from the highest ranks of the Republican Party and the conservative intelligentsia. Bush's solicitor general, Theodore Olson, was involved with The American Spectator's "Arkansas Project," which used every conceivable method--including paying sources--to dig up dirt from Clinton's past. Mainstream conservative pundits, such as William Safire and Rush Limbaugh, asserted that Vince Foster had been murdered, and GOP Government Reform Committee Chairman Dan Burton attempted to demonstrate this theory forensically by firing a shot into a dummy head in his backyard.
Mainstream Democrats have not brought up the bin Laden/Bush connection? Using the search phrase carlyle AND "bin laden", I performed a quick search on Google, and pulled up a couple articles from the Guardian, a major British paper. A quick check through the New York Times search engine (using the same parameters) pulls up four articles (three news articles a few months after the WTC attack, and one from Paul Krugman in January 2002). A search through the Washington Post found six in the past two years, including two in section A, a book review, two in Style (?), and one in business. The Los Angeles Times had four, two of which were from the notorious Robert Scheer. In other words, the Carlyle/bin Laden issue has received plenty of mainstream coverage. I'm not going to even try to search for the various possible permutations of the Halliburton/Iraq connection. Chait tries to be disingenuous by changing the allegations about Halliburton to "suggesting that Bush invaded Iraq primarily to benefit Halliburton". That is a fringe assertion, but there has been no shortage of lefties squawking about Halliburton and Bechtel contracts in Iraq.
Chait mentions Safire and Limbaugh's assertions that Foster was murdered; how about assertions from Gore Vidal and Cynthia McKinney that Bush (or his associates) were responsible for 9/11? A nice list of attacks on Bush from prominent figures is available at Spinsanity, which also has links to attacks on Cheney and Clinton (stuff from after his presidency, so it misses a lot of the nastier GOP attacks during his terms in office).
Chait also mentions Dan Burton. Burton may be elected, but he's still a loose cannon. The Democrats have analogs such as Dennis Kucinich, who introduced a bill to the House of Representatives that would ban orbital mind control satellites. Who is more unhinged?
posted at 09:54 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Wednesday, October 1, 2003
The Indepundit is back, and he's had quite a tale to tell.
In fact, you've probably read it; lots of people have. You just didn't realize it at the time. Only Meryl did, and she knows when discretion is the better part of valor.
Head here here to find out the whole story.
Welcome back, Scott.
posted at 03:52 AM | permalink | Comments (0)
Tuesday, September 30, 2003
Compare and Contrast
Toby Harnden, Washington correspondent for the Telegraph, is moving on and up. In his farewell column, he contrasts his views on America in the late 1980's, when he was a student traveling across America, with his views 14 years later, as a mature adult. He went to his diaries and remembered that he had what passed for fashionable thought amongst the British chattering classesthe view that America is a nation of lightly educated, overfed neanderthals. However, since then, he has grown up, and his view of America has changed.
It is interesting to note, however, that the media elite in Britain still hold the same views that they held during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, another "Cowboy President" and "amiable dunce" whom the glitterati despised with every fiber of their being. The Guardian has turned in into an art form; their continuing feature, sneeringly entitled "George Bush's America", is a prime example of the amber in which their minds are trapped. Matthew Engel (who filed two of the more egregious excesses) is a product of this mindset, as are most of the columnists at the Guardian, the Independent, and the BBC. It's nice to know, however, that some of them have the same potential for growth exhibited by Mr. Harnden; all we need is for some of them to exercise the potential.
Harnden's whole piece is worth reading, but one paragraph struck me as particularly important:
Americans had little choice but to rise to the challenge September 11 presented. But acting decisively has stirred the embers of anti-Americanism - among other governments and elites at least. Even more dangerous is the rise of "counter-Americanism", the doctrine that the United States has to be stopped, its goals frustrated and a counter-balance created.
Are French leaders reading the Telegraph? They should be.
(Orignal link courtesy of Andrew Sullivan.)
posted at 09:15 AM | permalink | Comments (1)