Let me start off by saying I am a centrist who leans to the right. So it is with the delight of a cat watching two mice fight that I observe the machinations of the Democratic primary. And although I'd never vote for any of the contenders for the Dem nod, lets face it, the GOP race is rather boring. Giuliani and Thompson are basically done for, turning that race into a competition of the milquetoast, with McCain being the only interesting candidate left (and my ideal choice in case you were wondering).
The reason why I don't vote Dem is because I've always felt the meat of the Democrat platform always sounded like so much hot air. Striving to help the poor, or to make health care more readily available to the underprivileged is a very noble and worthwhile goal. However, if this is the mainstay of a presidential platform then the focus just isn't right. There is important business in front of this country on matters as crucial as the economy and security. And no matter what we do, the poor won't be better off if we don't take care of those two very important issues first. Unfortunately when you search the left's platform for how they'd address these two vital issues, talk invariably tends to move into tax increases for the rich, and withdrawing from Iraq.
Not that the GOP doesn't have its own moments of silliness. Who really cares about who is allowed to get married to who, or even to what species for that matter? I mean sure, I can see why some people are emotional over the "soft" issues of gay marriage and abortion, but the GOP's main (successful) platform has always been the economy and security – it's the basis by which they've always gotten elected. Not homophobia, not morals, it's all about the Benjamins.
In recent times, the left has feigned ignorance when it suited them. Remember the whole Iraq and 9/11 connection? I am sure those of the left still SWEAR that Bush connected Saddam to 9/11. I am a speech junky. I actually watch all those press conferences and addresses. I can attest that I have never heard Bush connect Saddam to 9/11. I've seen Bush correctly connect Saddam to terror, as Saddam was a major state sponsor of terror, and he did have links with al Qaeda, Hammas, etc. And while I may not have heard every speech the president has given, were a direct connection to 9/11 really part of the case to go to war, the whole debate about going to Iraq would have been different. Perhaps we would have gotten multilateral support in the UN for invading Iraq, as we did in Afghanistan, had the Bush administration really been able to make a direct connection between Saddam and 9/11. Fact is, they didn't.
Yet, the Dems were very effective at clouding this issue, casually interchanging "al Qaeda" with "9/11," and then disproving the connection to 9/11. And this strategy worked, flummoxing an easily flummoxed Bush administration, and calling into question, for the less intently listening, the purpose behind the War on Terror and Iraq. For approximately a year, I had to hear the left-leaning media constantly chant that Saddam was only ever linked to al Qaeda the organization, and not 9/11, the act (as if that makes it all ok).
Still this kind of misdirection is somewhat acceptable to me. It's not the full on cherry picking of words used entirely out of context (or in some cases an entirely new context). Moreover, this type of behavior should have been kept in check by the other side speaking clearly (something Bush failed to do in this and several other instances). And at least those furthering this misdirection have some plausible deniability that they are actually ignorant, and not just pretending to be ignorant.
Similar situations abound such as the "Attorney General scandal," the firing of the Attorney Generals wasn't even illegal (but someone apparently forgot to tell Alberto Gonzales). Then the Plame leak, the warrantless wiretaps, the SWIFT monitoring. To hear liberals tell it, Bush and Cheney should be facing a lethal injection right now, were it not for their personally owning the industrial-military complex, and also because of an apparently hamstrung Democrat majority in both houses of congress (chuckle). But the truth is that all these manufactured "bushgates" prove that the Bush administration has made some really stupid, and perhaps ethical mistakes, nothing more.
Campaign Trail Antics
On the campaign trail Democrats have been reaching new heights of silliness, ensuring that I and likely many other Americans, won't be voting for them in any November, 2008 and beyond. It all started when Clinton was charged with racism – something I didn't expect from the wife of the first black president. It turns out that she insulted none other than the honorable Dr. Martin Luther King. And to make matters worse, Bill outright claimed that Obama's quest for the Whitehouse was a "fairy tale", presumably because he was black. Clearly Hillary is a racist and should not be our next president, right?
What Hillary actually said was that it took a president to take King's vision and turn it into law. This isn't an insult to Dr. King, it's the truth. Dr. King was a visionary, and his words were able to move presidents into action. This doesn't take anything away from King's accomplishments, nor the president who was open and receptive to Kings words, and willing to answer with political action. I think it's pretty impressive for any person to hold that much sway, to be that inspiring, not to mention an African American speaking about equality in 1960's America.
What Bill actually said was that Obama's foreign policy stance was a "fairy tale." Given what limited information there is available on Obama's foreign policy, this may actually be accurate. But even if I disagreed with our former President, his statements were anything but racist in nature.
Yet Obamaites, and the media went along with the show, echoing the sentiment that these statements were racism, not even bothering to clarify the situation. Curiously, even Tim Russert aired the sound bytes and not the context behind these statements, when Hillary appeared on Meet the Press. This omission by NBC made it that much more confusing for us, the voters, to understand what was really going on here.
More recently, Edwards rebuked Obama for his supposed support of Ronald Reagan. Obama correctly noted that Reagan, in his time, changed the path that this country was on. This wasn't a comment in support of the GOP, it wasn't "anti-Union" talk as Edwards faux populism would have you believe, it was a statement as to the occasional desire by the electorate for change, and the type of leader that is needed to fill that role. Considering the source, you could make a reasoned argument that Obama turned the image of Reagan on it's head, claiming that he would in fact be for Democrats what Reagan was for the GOP. But that didn't stop Edwards from ignorantly ranting on. Are we to believe that none of Edwards’ staff had any opportunity to read what Obama actually said?
Hillary is speaking about what it takes to be president. Bill arguing the merits (or lack of) of another candidate’s policy. Obama talking about the positives of a past leader, regardless of which "side" he was on. Apparently this type of reasonable discourse is way ver the heads of the media and members of the more fundamentalist (or just mental) wing of the Democrats. Instead, they seem to only hear about 4 words of every sentence, and it happens to be the worst four words that could be chosen. This isn't by coincidence. Omission of all of the facts is dishonesty. Selective recall is dishonesty.
If only this problem was limited to campaign rhetoric, and maybe the occasional partisan bashing, I wouldn't be nearly as concerned. But it's not. On the issues themselves, Democrat positions often play with the truth.
Hillary recently said in the Nevada debates, "I would also work to reinstate the assault weapons ban. We now have, once again, police deaths going up around the country, and in large measure because bad guys now have assault weapons again. We stopped it for awhile. Now they’re back on the streets." This statement is not based on any facts.
It is true that police deaths were up sharply in 2007 (41 more deaths than in 2006, a total of 186 deaths as of Dec 26, 2007), as MSNBC reported, there were 17 more police deaths by shooting in 2007. MSNBC attributed most of the uptick to traffic fatalities (81 deaths). And there is no evidence that this year's additional 17 shootings were carried out by assault weapons, or that a growing number of deaths were caused by assault weapons. While we don’t know what kind of weapons were used, it's much more likely that regular handgun carrying criminals carried out these crimes simply because handguns are easier for criminals to pack. Not to mention the obvious point that cop killers are already breaking the law, do they really care what weapon might be illegal? It's obviously not the weapon that is the problem when a cop is killed; it's the guy doing the killing. Government bans only affect the law abiding citizens who wouldn't kill cops anyway.
But if this logic escapes, then consider that it's been a couple of years since the Assault Weapons Ban expired, and despite the predictions of doom by AWB supporters, murder and crime stats are the same or down on average across the country. Cities like New York are experiencing never before lows in murder and other crimes without the AWB in effect. The fact is that Hillary's unsubstantiated exhortations were plain lies, although I suspect Ken Starr won't be investigating.
Hillary's recent Economic Stimulus Plan should really be called Hillary's Pet Projects plan. Does anyone really believe that energy assistance for the poor, bailing out irresponsible lenders, and "green collar jobs" will have any material impact on the real economy? And all this to the tune of $70 billion more taxpayer funded dollars!
Before the specter of a recession reared it's head, Hillary's main economic program consisted of calling for the rollback of the "Bush" tax cuts to pay for her government healthcare program. Should she get elected, after paying for this $70 billion dollar package, and HillaryCare, and the rollback of the Bush tax cuts, this country will find itself in serious need a lot more than a simple economic stimulus package.
My definition of economic stimulus is similar to that of most economists – tax cuts for those paying taxes, coupled with government spending restraint, and perhaps strategic public investment in the private sector. (I leave out actions by the Federal Reserve as they *should* be independent). Income redistribution programs, tax increases and government spending increases are not stimulants. That the Democratic party has been able to continue pushing this fallacy that tax cuts are bad, but government spending programs and assistance programs for the poor are good economic policy, is one of the most egregious examples of political dishonesty in modern times. The only thing more perplexing to me is the hordes of Americans who willingly vote for people running on this platform.
For those who will try to cast me as the typical child-eating, heartless, and dim-witted Republican (another dishonest stereotype perpetuated by the left), let me say that I am not against assistance programs for the poor. In fact, I think every great society should help it's underprivileged. The problem is that these programs are being prmoted under the guise of economic stimulus. For those making the more reasoned argument that I am forgetting about deficits, I am not. But as I've noted in previous columns, closing the government's budgetary deficit won't help the economy. Paying down private American held debt will, but Americans are not encouraged to do that when taxes are high.
Hillary on her health care plan: "It puts the consumer in the driver's seat by offering more choices and lowering costs. If you're one of the tens of million Americans without coverage or if you don't like the coverage you have, you will have a choice of plans to pick from and that coverage will be affordable. Of course, if you like the plan you have, you can keep it."
It's a fact that the total cost of Hillary's health care program is unknown. The impacts that such a change would have to the way the insurance and medical industries function, are compensated, and are invested in, is unknown. The resulting quality of care, and the viability of research and development efforts in the industry are unknown.
Reading her plan, Clinton is really proposing that the government engage in mandating what doctors are paid, what drug makers can charge for their products, and what and who insurance companies will cover. Such meddling will have an impact on the attractiveness of the medical field, from the perspective of bright young minds going through the arduous process of becoming doctors, to private sector investors looking to partner with companies to devise future medical advances.
With insurers forced to expand whom they cover, regardless of the risk assessment, how can the cost of coverage get cheaper? The most likely outcome of such a change is that many private sector insurers drop out of the business. It's not so farfetched to suggest that sometime down the road, after we've desiccated our existing medical industry in favor of politics, that the need for a quasi public insurer would arise, kind of like a Freddy or Fannie for health insurance.
A myriad of negative outcomes can occur with such a massive change to an industry that today, by some estimates represents approximately 16% of our GDP and growing. To claim to know what would happen and to suggest that what would happen would be an improvement over what we have now is pure conjecture. The only truthful thing that can be said about the impact HillaryCare would have on the care we receive, is that it will be different. How remains to be seen, and to suggest otherwise is dishonest.
One of the best examples of dishonesty among the Democrats is on one of the most important issues of the day – the whole "discussion" on Iraq. I don't care if you were pro-war or anti-war from the beginning. Let's be honest, withdrawal means retreat. Redeployment means failure. Why not call it that? I'd have had respect for the Democrats position on the war if they just said, "Listen, we are losing and we need to leave, it's not worth it for the US to be in Iraq." The choices facing this country should be on the merits of the choice itself. Instead, the truth is molded, we are "redeploying out of Iraq” – nonsense! How can anyone possibly take this seriously?
And don't even get me started on the whole privatized Social Security "debate" where the Democrats cut off our nose to spite Bush. Thanks for that guys!
Note that I've focused on Hillary for the bulk of this article. Hillary is leading the primary race, and considering the way the delegates are split in the Democratic primary, she will likely win. More importantly, she has been best able to communicate specifics of where she stands on these issues (to me at least). I have similar problems with all of the other Dem candidates. Especially Edwards, who raises the game of dishonest political pandering to an all time high.
On The Other Hand…
This phenomenon is not specific to the Democrats. Certainly there are those in the GOP who engage in dishonesty. However, as a rule, the GOP candidates have managed to avoid a dust-up akin to the racial warfare of Clinton-Obama, or the faux populism of Edwards-Obama.
Much more importantly, on the issues there is much less spin on the right. You don't have to parse words wondering where GOP pols stand. Even if you disagree with the GOP on issues such as abortion, gun control, or even the war in Iraq, the positions the candidates have taken are based on an observable logic, and it's not masked in double-speak.
For example, I support a woman's right to abortion. The GOP is against the practice of abortion. While I disagree that it should be outlawed, it's hard to disagree that abortion is murder. I am for choice because if it were illegal, then young women would die getting abortions illegally. While I may disagree with the GOP on this issue, at least they are honest about where they stand and why.
The GOP generally supports the constitutional right to bear arms. Even if you hate guns, you can't deny that right was one explicitly given to us by the Framers of this great country. If the goal is to reduce violence, then let's have that discussion and not spend hours arguing over which type of murder weapons are ok, and which aren't.
On the War in Iraq, the GOP wants to do anything possible to win, and they believe the way to get there is to actually win the conflict on the ground. I can respect someone who disagrees that it’s worth the effort. But let's actually have that discussion and decide what is best for the country. Endlessly uttering words like diplomacy or redeployment in the sheep’s clothing of just wanting to quit is dishonesty.
There are many things that I find in common with my fellow countrymen on the left. I really hope that we can get together and have an open and honest discussion about them one of these days.