Nothing to Say


Conservative pundit Ramesh Ponnuru writes that one problem with the Bush administration is

its unwillingness even to try to win arguments. So often, it appears more interested in getting its legislative agenda through sheer force--twisting enough arms to get the 218th vote in the House--than in persuading anyone that conservative (or conservative-ish) initiatives make sense. Overseas, it has been more interested in saying that we are going to do what we are going to do than in getting people to agree that what we are doing is in the world's interests. The convention line-up suggests that the Republicans believe that the conservative message could never possibly appeal to the unconverted. It's a far cry from Reagan's approach. It reminds me of Rick Brookhiser's old line about the Republicans: In their hearts, they know they're wrong.

NEXT: Everybody Can't Get Stoned

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  1. Has any legislation actually been passed through based on an arguement? Sounds good but does it ever really happen? Isn't most legislation 'you vote for mine and I vote for yours' or 'pad it with this provision and I'm in'?. I've watch CSPAN where they actually argue on the floor, and like 2 folks are listening. Come on, do we really believe a Ted Kennedy or a Tom Delay will change their mind about some legislation based on an arugement they have heard all their life and have already made their mind up on. No way, it's all a give and take.

  2. That's an interesting notion. I'm inclined to be a bit more cynicle though.

  3. No, I think they know they won't change the feelings of pathos only driven democrats. Why waste time?

  4. Rob,

    But what about everyone else? I'm not a demmycrat, and certainly am not only driven by pathos, but I'd certainly like to hear the Administration try to argue/defend their positions a little more.

  5. Wow, Bush is a moron. What a news flash.

    Hi - I am voting for Kerry, because I am a dumbshit libertarian and think that the libertopia will instantly occur when Evil Bush is given his pension.

  6. Who exactly should Bush be trying to convince?

    In the legislature, the game is to get a majority plus one - making concessions to get more votes than that is not only a waste of time, it is a betrayal of those who supported the original bill. Bush played this game in the first two years of his administration (that's "reign" or "regime" for some of you) in an effort to set a new tone, blah blah. I got him exactly nothing except a pissed off base.

    With respect to legislation, then, the author seems to be asking Bush to piss off his base in exchange for exactly no political capital or goodwill. Why would Bush do that?

    Overseas, we reach out and regularly get support from a pretty good range of friends and allies. At the most recent European summit, it was Chirac who looked isolated, not Bush. Our foreign policy is not for the purpose of making us popular, it is for the purpose of advancing our interests. Do the extent being popular advances our interests, fine. Otherwise, though, sacrificing American interests to seek the approval of other countries is wrong.

  7. R C Dean-

    Bush isn't the President of 50%+1 of the people and 26 states. He isn't even the President of 270 electors. He's the President of the entire country. It might be nice if he'd at least try to satisfy more than the barest majority needed to implement his vision, seeing as how those policies affect ALL of us, not just the barest majority needed.

  8. "Overseas, it has been more interested in saying that we are going to do what we are going to do than in getting people to agree that what we are doing is in the world's interests."

    The difference between the ?world?s interests? and what the administration is ?going to do? isn?t the only example of assumed interest in conflict. I would suggest that the Bush Administration sacrificed America?s interests on the same altar, and when I say that, I?m talking about foreign policy, not just free trade and the Patriot Act.

    I?ve suggested in the past that trashing the good will of France and Germany without getting anything in return is further evidence of the Bush Administration?s incompetence; but, regardless of whether or not alienating France and Germany was in the best interest of America, I can see that, from the Bush Administration?s perspective, there was an advantage to not having to answer to the pesky nations of ?Old Europe?. Now, however, it seems to me that if alienating our allies benefited the Administration in any way, then ?incompetence? just isn?t the right word. I suppose ?demagogue? comes close, but it would be better to use a word that everyone already understands. The phrase ?out of touch? doesn?t work because that makes it sound as if the Administration didn?t really understand what was best for America?s long term interests when it chose to pursue its own interests instead. Maybe the word I?m looking for is ?reckless? as it?s used in the sentence, ?The Bush Administration was reckless in its disregard of the value of our traditional allies in the War on Terror.?

    I guess I?ll have to save the word ?incompetent? for use in describing the Bush Administration?s suggestions of Iraqi collaboration with Al Qaeda, its claims of Iraqi WMD and its claims of having made America safer from terrorism by bringing Iraq to the brink of civil war. Of course, there are other examples as well. If the great ball of ineptitude we call Abu Gharib, for instance, isn?t a prime example of ?incompetence?, then I must not understand the meaning of the word.

  9. Maybe, RC and me, Mr. Pomonorru has concerns that exentd beyond the votes in the current Congress. Maybe, in a democratic Republic, having a broad base of support for your ideas has real-world applications in politics.

  10. Why does Ramesh "liberals = al Qaeda" Ponnuru hate America?

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