Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Another one about politics

[Sorry folks, gotta get this off my chest. By way of disclaimer, I admit that I generally lean to the right on economic issues and a bit to the left on social issues. I maintain that I am free to pick and choose my opinion on issues independently of either organized party.]

However... Two recent television interviews of Democratic politicians have really bothered me.

The first was incoming majority leader, senator Harry Reid on This Week with George Stephanopoulos. When asked about his Congressional colleague, senator Tim Johnson who recently suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery, Reid gave a disappointingly typical politician's response. Is the senator conscious? "I'm not a doctor." Apparently consciousness is a medical diagnosis, so I will refrain from indicating whether I think Reid himself is conscious.

Later, when asked about a potential compromise amendment being discussed by Democratic colleague, senator Barak Obama, Reid wisely said he would withhold judgement until he knew the specifics of the plan. Fair enough. When asked, "in principle," would he support a compromise? Reid continued to dodge the issue, indicating to me that he has no principles.

The second interview that bothered me was the Daily Show with Jon Stewart interview of Democratic presidential candidate, Governor Tom Vilsack. Discussing the current state of Iraq and plans for the future, Vilsack described it as "a culture of dependency" where Iraqis believe it is America's responsibility to protect them indefinitely but that we should implement a program to get them self-sufficient. Where have we heard the phrase "culture of dependency" before? Could it be the Republican mantra for describing welfare? Aren't Republicans always saying we need to cut back these programs and teach Americans to be self-sufficient? (Hint: yes) And Republicans are wrong for saying that? (Hint: yes) But Democrats are allowed to ask Iraqis to be self-sufficient? (Hint: apparently so) How did Stewart let Vilsack get away with that? Rather than accuse Stewart of being left-leaning or biased, I'll simply suggest that he dropped the ball.


At 11:00 AM, Blogger Leese said...

This does not say anything about what I think about welfare, but I think the primary difference in the culture of dependency in America (as you pointed out, welfare) and dependency of Iraq on America is that we have an obligation to OUR citizens and residents who are probably contributing to our society and tax base in one form or another (we can argue this point all day and all night as well).

I'm not going to argue Iraq's value to the United States and what a "democratic Iraq" means in the big picture because I agree with the President to some extent on this subject.

Just sayin...it's not fair to put the two "cultures of dependency" side by side.

At 11:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tiny, although you make perfectly valid point about that moment in the Jon Stewart interview, recall that Jon did pursue a similar path when he asked Vilsack if Iraq wasn't obviously going to fall into civil war upon our departure.

That being said, you'd be right on the money to accuse Stewart of being left-leaning. It's obvious that he makes an effort to be critical of both sides, but criticizing the right clearly comes much more naturally to him.

At 2:21 PM, Blogger tinyhands said...

Leese- Calling the American welfare system a culture of dependency was not my idea. I've heard that many times from the right. I think it's dangerous NOT to put the two groups side by side. Holding a foreign group up to a higher standard can be (but isn't necessarily) the beginning of a slippery slope of deciding who is better than someone else. Where do immigrants fit into the spectrum of our obligations?

As for dependency, by way of contrast the government of Sudan is (by some measures) stable and does not want outside intervention. And yet the atrocities they appear to be allowing are sickening. Should we not intervene because they aren't "dependent" on us to do so?

ikeMay- I thought he was too easy on the governor and it may have had to do with the guy being able to make fun of himself. There was just something about that phrase that stood out that seemed to me like the comparison was right there to be made.

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OF COURSE he just dropped the ball--he was probably too distracted by that damn fuzzy duck.

John Stewart is a god.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger me said...

i have a shiny lollipop.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger Zelda said...

Funny how frequently the ball gets dropped.


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