« This one's the Beltona brand | Main | This should be a national holiday! »

Un-amusing democracy

There's something deeply depressing about watching the American electoral process at work, even when you do so from a safe distance, without the dubious benefit of American newspapers, American TV and American hate radio, and even when the candidate who you, for lack of a better word, support, has a fighting chance. Ed Brayton nails why. I'm not going to quote a single word from it here; go there, read the whole thing, then read the whole weblog from the first post to the last (including the posts at Dispatches From The Culture Wars' old location, from which Ed has just moved). It's one of the best blogs out there. Every post is an education.

Update: After posting this, I saw that Ed had followed his post up with Speaking Truth to Power, in which he points out two organisations that help separate spin from sooth:

After the last entry, I feel like I should at least point out the few people who actually are making an effort to find the truth about statements made by the politicians. There are two websites that come immediately to mind, both of which I link to under news sources on my sidebar - Spinsanity and FactCheck.Org. Both sites are non-partisan and both of them take the ads and pronouncements and talking points of the two major party candidates and check them for accuracy.

Comments (11)

My brief foray into the world of Ed Brayton was scary. I find nothing there but myopic cynicism.

The left's grumpiness at the moment is encapsulated in the phrase "we're having the wrong debate". They think we should be talking about Bush's perceived weaknesses instead of Kerry's actual weaknesses. But it's actually a rather elitist thing to tell people that they are idiots, and don't know what issues are good for them and which aren't.

For all the controversy over the 527s, there's a healthy debate going on. It just doesn't seem healthy if you're losing the debate.

Myopic cynicism? Then we really do live in different worlds.

Carson Fire wrote:

"My brief foray into the world of Ed Brayton was scary. I find nothing there but myopic cynicism."

I'm always a bit confused by statements like this. You've taken what I've written and you've labeled it, but therefore....what? You seem to think that giving it a label somehow refutes it. Is what I wrote true or not, that would seem to be the only question that matters, not whether it does or doesn't qualify as "myopic cynicism".

He further wrote, "The left's grumpiness at the moment is encapsulated in the phrase "we're having the wrong debate". They think we should be talking about Bush's perceived weaknesses instead of Kerry's actual weaknesses. But it's actually a rather elitist thing to tell people that they are idiots, and don't know what issues are good for them and which aren't."

Are you sure you actually read what I wrote? What does "the left's grumpiness" have to do with me or anything I wrote? What I said we should be talking about is whether anything either candidate says is true or false. I'm not a Kerry supporter, I think Kerry is an outright liar and a fraud. I think the same of Bush. My post was about the nature of political discourse and the failure of the media to even attempt to critique the claims made by candidates on both sides. If it is elitist to point out that most people swallow this nonsense whole, then color me an elitist. I suspect you really won't like it when I point out that by filtering what I said through the prism of Bush vs Kerry, you've managed to duck into the punch rather extravagantly.

And finally, he wrote, "For all the controversy over the 527s, there's a healthy debate going on. It just doesn't seem healthy if you're losing the debate."

There is? Pray tell, where is that debate going on and who comprises the two sides? No sane human being believes that George W. Bush has any desire whatsoever to ban 527s. Kerry obviously doesn't want to either. So this "debate" is a sham, one side taking a position publicly that everyone knows is an outright lie, to gain an advantage over someone who also doesn't take that position. This is a "healthy debate"? By what possible definition of debate?

Yes, I didn't read everything in your blog, Ed! I said right up front that it was a brief foray. I wouldn't expect everybody to read everything in my blog, and I would hope that people wouldn't label me based on two posts (the number I read of yours)

"Myopic cynicism" isn't a label, it's just my opinion on the writings that Reinder linked to. When you say things like (paraphrasing) Bush is the most vulnerable incumbent since Jimmy Carter because he's been a failure on every issue, then you are displaying a myopic sense of politics; Bush has had by any reasonable standards many successes; only an ABB type brands his entire administration a failure, and they do so because they disagree with everything Bush has done. Political disagreement does *not* equal failure. Carter, on the other hand, was presiding over what all sides agreed was a disasterous economic and foreign policy situation. Charges like you made in one of your recent posts I do indeed consider politically myopic. By comparison, I wasn't a great Clinton fan, but I wouldn't brand his two terms in office a "failure" simply because I disagreed with his political philosophy.

The "cynicism" charge is pretty straightforward. The specific post Reinder linked to is extremely cynical about the current situation.

And please get this straight, because every time I try to raise debatable issues at Reinder's blog, everybody acts as if they're being attacked personally. I didn't say, and am not saying that Ed Brayton is a myopic cynic. I don't know you that well, Ed! But the recent posts of yours that I read were full of, in my opinion, myopic cynicism. Somebody could just as easily stop by my blog and accuse me of jingoistic flag-waving or administrative butt-kissing; I wouldn't assume that person is accusing me of being a lifelong jingoistic flag-waver, or an administrative butt-kisser by trade.

Ed sez: "There is [a healthy debate going on]? Pray tell, where is that debate going on and who comprises the two sides?"

I sit here trying to think of an answer, and the only thing that keeps coming to mind is so obvious, that I know it can't be the answer you're looking for.

The debate at the moment is between the swift boat veterans and John Kerry. Kerry opened this line of debate himself, by pointedly comparing his military record to Bush's for months on end (and not just through massive 527 MoveOn.org, but from his own mouth in public speeches); now that he has been answered in the debate, he and his supporters are begging for the debate not to happen.

Bush is on record prior to this as opposing the 527s. The 527s have in fact heavily favored the Democrats, with something like 87% of all 527 money on their side. 527s make it easier for fat cats like George Soros to pour obscene amounts of money into the political process, the kind of money that election reform was supposed to stave off. Why is it so incredible to think that he would continue to be against them now? Considering that now, the situation is reversed, and the 527 process is favoring him, in that a much smaller funded group is making the waves that MoveOn.Org couldn't, this actually shows some strength of character on his part to stick to his guns that the 527s aren't a great idea.

But I couldn't really care less about Bush's position on 527s, anyway. The fact is that they're here, and Kerry's supporters aren't doing him any favors by being so openly hypocritical in trying to shut down debate just because they're not winning it.


Quote Carsonfire: "The debate at the moment is between the swift boat veterans and John Kerry."

This is an example of "healthy debate"? It's "between" the "swift boat veterans" on one side and Kerry on the other side?

Man, the US of A does at times come across as a foreign planet.

(And for the record: I'm still not supporting either of your presidental candidates. I'm not a US citizen. I'm just following the show on sattelite TV. Now that X-files and Riget are no longer running, it's the nearest thing to a horror bizarre comedy I can get.)

What are you guys suggesting, exactly? I certainly understand that this particular debate may seem unseemly to some, but what would be the solution? It seems to me that you're advocating the suppression of free speech, which is indeed an alien concept to me.

This is by no means the only debate going on here, anyway. And we have yet to reach the point of our formal debates. The very positive aspect of the current swift boat debate in my mind is that it will finally be resolved before Kerry and Bush sit down and discuss the *real* issues, the very important ones.

The reason why I insist that this is a healthy debate is because prior to now, our one candidate, John Kerry, has been successfully using his Vietnam service as a dishonest answer to every tough question. What would you do about Iraq, Sen. Kerry? I served in Vietnam! What's your position on gay marriage? I won three Purple Hearts! What about your record in the Senate? I've got shrapnel in my leg!

OK, an exaggeration, but he has been allowed to be extremely vague about all of his positions... well, not just vague, but allowed to change them substiantally from day to day, depending on which crowd he happens to be working at the time. For instance, he recently told vets that it would be a good idea to pull troops out of Germany (making a previously announced goal by Bush sound like his idea). When Bush announced that we were getting ready to do just that, Kerry announced that pulling troops out of Germany was a terrible idea! (providing the nuanced "pulling them out *now*" -- as opposed to pulling them out when he can take credit for it)

And so this debate forces Kerry to stop using his brief stint in Vietnam as an excuse to dodge every question and get puffy at every charge. When the dust settles, he must - MUST - debate the proper issues in a substantive manner, something which he has refused to do up til now, or lose. If this swift boat vet debate didn't erupt on him now, I had fully expected him to continue successfully using Vietnam to filibuster every question in the Presidential debates, and possibly gain access while denying the American people honest answers. Now, he just simply can't dodge and prevaricate with Vietnam as his shield without looking like an utter fool.

We didn't really get good debate at all here in our 2000 elections. I watched the Bush-Gore debates, and in each one, Bush did an adequate job of addressing issues while Gore relied on silly (and self-destructive) gimmicks like rolling his eyes and trying to intimidate Bush by suddenly appearing behind him when he wasn't looking. Gore turned the debates into a circus, which is what helped make a close contest and an eventual defeat (albeit still contested in some circles) for a sitting Vice-President of a popular administration.

And so... I don't know why this places me at some astrological plane away from you guys... I'm waiting for the honest debate that is so rare. This particular preliminary debate, between Kerry and his "band of brothers" that he has only used until now as a PR tool against their will, is paving the way.

Correction, Kerry didn't tell a group of Vets that pulling troops out of Germany would be a good idea, he said it on a Sunday morning news show.


That doesn't change my point, though, as it remains illustrative of Kerry's habit of saying wildy conflicting things at different times and -- until now -- finding that the media lets him get away with it. I cannot stress enough, this has false hero-worship for Kerry by journalists has been *hampering* debate up til now.

Our media has been so lopsided in its reporting for the past few months, that the swift boat discussion seems to finally be rattling them to their senses. They've been leaking credibility as fast as an open manhole in a raft, and now we'll be seeing some serious hole-stoppage with some serious, substantive examinations of Kerry's positions.

And as I said, this is only a bad thing if you're the one losing the debate.

Guys, try reading this:

It's a compelling piece about how our one candidate, John Kerry, has ripped open an old wound over the most difficult period in this country's modern history through his selfish aggrandizement, and how he could have instead helped to heal an unsettled and unsettling issue.

This debate that you all find so ludicrous is not about nothing.

The charge of cynicism seems justified. The post does basically conclude that the current situation is both horrible and inescapable.

"Myopic" is less defensible, at least regarding the article Reinder linked to directly—I haven't read the others yet—which seemed quite clear-eyed.

Tonight in the Dutch football premier league ("eredivisie"), Roda JC played De Graafschap. At one point, Roda JC got to take a free kick, and the player who took it accidentally shot the ball hard into the face of a De Graafschap defender, who immediately sunk to the ground, where he lay injured.

Roda managed to get possession of the ball and even scored a few moments later. De Graafschap's players were seething and purposely tried to hurt the Roda JC player they held responsible for ... well, for what?

If Roda had taken possession of the ball, and then had played the ball outside the lines, most comentators would have considered that sportsmanlike behaviour. Such an action would have given the injured defender a chance to recover and get into the game again.

However, (neutral) commentators felt that Roda JC's continuation of play was professional behaviour.

Either which way Kerry would have dealt with the Bush-is-a-weasely-coward issue (because that is what it is--that Kerry fought in Vietnam is irrelevant and not even commendable; but it so nicely contrasts the fact that Bush is a coward), either which way he would have been condemned. If he had gentlemanly refrained from opening up old Vietnam wounds, he would have been attacked for not having the balls of running a hard-hitting campaign. And some Republican supporters would still have tried to dreg up every detail they could find about Kerry's Vietnam past.

Garth: fair enough. Myopia is, er, in the eye of the beholder. :)

However, Branko just puts more of it on display. This intense loathing for Bush drives a great deal of it, and creates the same kind of myopia that the Republicans had in the 90s because of their loathing for President Clinton.

Back to the original issue, the "debate", and whether it's a good one or not -- the guy who says this (a self-admitted GOP flack) makes an excellent point:

"Listening to John Kerry complain about the scrutiny his Vietnam record is getting is like Pamela Anderson complaining about the fact that guys keep staring at her breasts. What the hell did you expect?"


This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 24, 2004 5:07 PM.

The previous post in this blog was This one's the Beltona brand.

The next post in this blog is This should be a national holiday!.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.34