Posts from October 26, 2004

Issues2004: 30 issues in 30 seconds

Issues2004: 30 issues in 30 seconds

: Fred Wilson quite properly busts me for dropping the Issues2004 ball. I dealt with the issues that mattered to me most (see the list on the right of the home page or follow this link) but intended to come back and at least touch on the rest. I didn’t. My bad. If you want a good and comprehensive discussion of many issues, see Brian Lehrer’s 30 Issues in 30 Days on WNYC). I have the time to give them only short shrift but here goes:

: Judicial appointments: Yes, Chief Justice Rhenquist having thyroid cancer brings this issue to the top of the heap. And it’s pretty obvious that judicial appointments are the biggest thorn in this tiger’s paw when it comes to thinking of voting for Bush. There are so many issues that matter to our daily lives that I do not want in the hands of a right-wing court — many having to do with strict interpretation (how’s that for spinning?) of the separation of church and state as it affects efforts to legislate one side’s morality regarding abortion, homosexuality, marriage, science, and religious freedom. This is the wisdom of the founding fathers; this is how they get us to think past just one issue. Ideology matters and it matters most for the Supreme Court. See Fred Wilson’s post today.

: The deficit: Yes, these are extraordinary times, with a downturn to deal with and a war on — and I mean the war on terrorism and Islamic fascists (take your rhetorical pick) more than just the war in Iraq. So it’s not easy to balance the budget. But we should at least try. And I don’t trust either guy on this. Bush cynically lowered taxes without responsibly cutting spending. Kerry has not made clear how he’ll pay for his promises. We need responsible budgeting especially now that we are intertwined with the world economy and we, the voters, need to start demanding it.

: Gay rights: For them. Period.

: Death penalty: Against it. Period.

: Freedom of speech: For it. Absolutely.

: Abortion rights: Leave it the way it is.

: Stem-cell research: It’s not abortion and efforts to tie this research to the abortion fight are cynical and ultimately destructive of important science that can save lives. Supporting this research is very much about maintaining a culture of life.

: Social Security: This isn’t a simple one-liner (well, none of them is). We need to reexamine what our national goal is: If it is to maintain a national pension scheme, then, yes, I see sense in allowing us to invest our own. If, on the other hand, it is to assure a safety net for our elders, which I certainly support, then we need to look at this as a tax funding an entitlement. We’re trying to mix the two now. This potato is too hot for any politician to handle. And so I say give it to the 9/11 Commission. No, I’m serious: Take a bunch of respected political yesterdays and make them grapple with it and come to consensus and fight for it so the politicians can blame them.

: Immigration: I don’t believe the rest of the world has an inalienable right to come here (hell, Canada gave me trouble about moving there once). That’s the way the world works. I also find efforts to give noncitizens local voting rights ridiculous; citizenship means something, damnit. Further, immigration is a security issue these days. So I’m not the most open regarding immigration and believe it is OK to judge immigration on two scales: humanity (allowing refugees to come, keeping families together) and self-interest (bringing in smart technicians and students is good for America). I also think we can’t keep on giving amnesties and neverminds, for then our immigration laws become meaningless. If the laws don’t work — and in many ways, they don’t — then we need to fix them and not work around them.

: Israel: I support Israel and its right to be a nation. Yes, I believe the world has a special obligation to assure the security of Jews after everything that happened in the last century. Though I may sympathize with the Palestinians’ right to have a nation, I abhor their tactics of terrorism — especially today — and so I do not believe we should deal with them until they stop murder for political gain.

: Gun control: The founding fathers didn’t say which arms. Yes, we must have controls on certain people and certain weapons and you can scream at me all day long — don’t bother — I will still say this. I am a First Amendment absolutist but I do think we can restrict people from yelling “fire” in a crowded theater or jeopardizing troops in war by giving their positions. Similarly, I understand the right granted by the Second Amendment but believe any reasonable soul has to agree that keeping weapons out of the hands of nuts and restricting weapons intended only for murder on a large scale is necessary. All others belong to the NRA.

: Trade: We’re part of the world and need to have open trade. There isn’t a lot of choice about that these days.

: The environment: Yes, it matters. But I also see too much thrown in under this PC tent. In my town, building ball fields becomes an environmental issue. I like the environment more than I like environmentalists.

: The draft and national service: No. Serving our country has many definitions and working for government, armed or unarmed, is only one of them.

So that’s my list. It’s short shrift, as I said, but in the interest of continuing the Issues2004 discussion…. join in….

How (not) to win friends and influence voters

How (not) to win friends and influence voters

: It wasn’t hard to guess what would happen when I wrote this post yesterday about what I think Bush should have done in his first term and what he could have done to win a landslide this time around.

Keep in mind that I’m a lifelong Democrat talking about how I might have voted

for Bush — even me, even Bush.

You might think that people would come in and convincingly try to push me over the edge. You might think that. But I didn’t.

Some — but not all — of the comments were vituperative and venemous; so were some of the links (get a load of this inane and infantile spit-sputtering).

That, sadly, is what is going on across America in this final week.

Now I’m not exactly an undecided voter, as I’ve made clear, but let me give some advice to both sides:

This is no way to win friends and influence undecideds.

And it is a failing of both sides. Whenever I said anything civil and respectful about Bush or supported the war in Iraq in the last year, I got self-appointed Democratic PC police coming after me with two-by-fours yelling that I wasn’t Democratic enough. Now I dare to say something critical about Bush and the execution of the aftermath in Iraq and I’m getting bashed from the other side.

The biggest lesson of this election — of all elections — is the same lesson for both sides:

Your guy is not perfect. Far from it.

So to defend him as if he were perfect and error-free lacks credibility for you and your side, whichever one that is.

If you think that the state of things in Iraq is good then I don’t trust your definition of “good.”

If you think that that the other guy is a decisive decision maker, then I don’t want to be around you when it’s time to decide what to order from the Chinese restaurant.

No, it’s far more credible and convincing to admit the errors of your guy’s ways and then say how he’s still better. I don’t mean to repeat the theme of my sermon last Sunday, but, heck, even God makes mistakes. So do politicians.

So I’d be much more comfortable if Bush and the Bushies said, yes, we didn’t anticipate the ability of the terrorists (the so-called insurgents, if you prefer) to disrupt Iraq and murder their own people and we need to change our assumptions and increase our resources and force to make sure we get this in hand. I’d be much more comfortable if Kerry and the Kerryites said, yes, we flip-flopped on this war but we’re there now and we need to assure we’ll bring peace and, you’re right, it was pretty damned dumb to say that we’d rely on the French and Germans and that we’d put it to a world test and — while we’re at it — that terrorism could ever be just a “nuisance.”

But instead, this is like an argument between Yankees and Red Sox fans who don’t want to convince the other side, they only want to yell.

And that’s fine for baseball. And it’s fine for blogs and comments and forums.

Except don’t forget: There are people you can convince. You have to try. You have to know how. And spitting in their faces while calling them idiots and insisting that your guy is perfect is no way to win an election.