Kim, Have You Met Rhonda?

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The MoveOn PAC ad in today's New York Times features people who voted for George W. Bush in 2000 but plan to vote for John Kerry this year. Collectively, they make me worry more about Kerry than anything a medal-minimizing Vietnam vet has said.

The ad starts off OK, with Iraq War veteran Lee Buttrill faulting the Bush administration for going to war over nonexistent weapons of mass destruction (although he uncharitably calls the WMD argument "just a lie," rather than a mistake). Then financial consultant Kim Mecklenburg, "a lifelong Republican," says she was turned off by Bush's "reckless spending" and disregard for civil liberties. Go, Kim!

Almost immediately, however, laser printer technician Rhonda Nix is complaining that the government should be spending "billions and billions of dollars" on health care, education, and welfare at home instead of using it to "liberate other people." Former National Steel executive Richard Coffee criticizes Bush for not doing enough to "protect the steel companies." Sixth-grade teacher Debbie Mancuso wants more spending on education, and mother-of-eight Deborah Wood, whose husband has had difficulty finding a job despite his bachelor's degree in computer science, wants the government to stop companies from "sending jobs overseas."

Notice that Bush gets no credit, only blame, for his big-spending, tariff-imposing ways, which serves him right. But bad as Bush has been, MoveOn seems determined to convince us that Kerry would we worse.

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  1. Agreed those comments only underline my disagreements with Kerry and left-liberals in general, but one can hardly blame Move On for not worrying about losing the libertarian vote.

  2. I wonder if Deborah Wood and her husband, despite being in some financial difficulty, will start working on Kid #9 soon.

  3. fyodor,

    “one can hardly blame Move On for not worrying about losing the libertarian vote.”

    Although as a coherent movement or formal party libertarians are insignificant, a philosophy libertarianism has significant impact. Virtually everybody, especially centrist swing voters find several ideas in the libertarian vein appealing. The moveon.org add seems to cover so much ground that it has something to alienate every swing voter.

    The sad truth for those who hold libertarian principles is that these days the highest concentration of small government, individualistic policies is in the Republican party.

  4. Incidentally, there was a nice piece about these ads in _The New Yorker_. Errol Morris is behind them:

    http://newyorker.com/printable/?fact/040823fa_fact

    For the most part, I think these ads are about why people are dissatisfied with Bush, not particularly why they are voting for Kerry. The article does suggest that a great deal of footage was shot, and I would love to see more of it — I’m sure that at least some of these positions are more nuanced than the edited snippets suggest.

    Nevertheless, the goal is not to get agreement on all subjects. Some people dislike Bush because he’s not progressive enough; others dislike him because he’s not conservative enough. Depending on the issues you care about, you may even think he’s too progressive on some and too conservative on others.

    The question is what issues matter most to you, and which candidates tacks mostly in your direction.

    You’re right that Move On probably looks at these ads as Bush-bashing ads, period. Morris probably sees them as Bush-bashing, too, but I think he may recognize (as you do) that the ads don’t make a coherent argument. I think that’s why the different ads are for the most part constructed so as to make a single point — about education, about the war, about the economy, etc.

    But I think your conclusion that they reflect on a potential future Kerry administration is wrong. I think you have to assess these claims as fair or unfair assessments of the current administration. Then you have to decide if you side with the person in the ad or with the administration.

    It can certainly be argued that the unspoken assumption is that Kerry would be different — surely that’s what Move On thinks. But that’s an artifact of a two-party system, and any set of ads like this one will naturally favor a challenger.

    I guess I find the ads enjoyable (if not always convincing) because they represent passionate, regular, non-expert folk, which I think is always good to see. Let’s face it — stories of conversion are always entertaining.

    Anon

  5. “The sad truth for those who hold libertarian principles is that these days the highest concentration of small government, individualistic policies is in the Republican party.”

    Must be frozen concentrate.

  6. “(although he uncharitably calls the WMD argument “just a lie,” rather than a mistake).”

    mistake: An error or fault resulting from defective judgment, deficient knowledge, or carelessness.

    I’d say it was a hat trick according to that definition.

  7. It was a lie for the Bushies to say the knew, for certain, that Iraq posessed WMDs. To be certain, you need absolute proof. And, since such proof did not exist, they didn’t have it.

    Don Rumsfeld was asked, point blank, if he was certain that Iraq had WMDs. He said yes. That was a lie.

  8. joe,

    may be the ‘WMDs in Iraq belief’ was seared – seared – in Rumsfeld’s memory!

    would that still make it a lie?

  9. It was a lie for the Bushies to say the knew, for certain, that Iraq posessed WMDs. To be certain, you need absolute proof. And, since such proof did not exist, they didn’t have it.

    Interesting. And what’s your proof that the proof doesn’t exist? Most of the relevant information is classified. You have no basis for claiming that it is a fact that no proof exists. In other words, you’re lying.

  10. “And what’s your proof that the proof doesn’t exist?” And what is the sound of one hand clapping?

    Dan, go to the library, find a logic textbook, and read what it has to say about proving a negative.

    Yep, my failure to prove a negative makes me a liar. OK, just as long as you’re being fair.

  11. OK, just as long as you’re being fair.

    Well, you did say To be certain, you need absolute proof. And, since such proof did not exist, they didn’t have it. And you haven’t absolute proof that Bush gave you:

    1. A false statement deliberately presented as being true; a falsehood.
    2. Something meant to deceive or give a wrong impression.

    You only have the present appearance of him, and much of the world, having been incorrect. Such as the EU presidency (either Spain or Denmark at the time) on UNSCR 1441 (emphasis mine): “The resolution is an important step towards the elimination of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction. The European Union urges Iraq to accept immediately UNSCR Resolution 1441 and to comply unconditionally with all the provisions of the resolution. This is Iraq’s last opportunity to fulfill its disarmament obligations. The European Union urges Iraq to extend full cooperation to the weapons inspectors and to secure immediate, unimpeded and unrestricted access for the weapons inspectors to all areas and facilities in Iraq.”

  12. p.s. In case you didn’t know, Iraq didn’t heed the advice. Remember that cease fire we offered them in 687 if they accepted the terms? They didn’t accept them.

  13. p.p.s. How do you eliminate something you’re certain isn’t there?

    p.p.p.s. And what is the sound of one hand clapping? Ignoring the counterintuive use of the onomatopoeia “clap”, it is a “rushing” sound created by the displacement of air molecules near the hand (radiating outwards towards the typanum). It is not a very loud sound, so you have to hold your ear close.

    p.p.p.p.s. Sorry for the threadjacking.

  14. “You only have the present appearance of him, and much of the world, having been incorrect.”

    No, I have him dead to rights saying he knew – not believed, not “was convinced,” not “was pretty sure,” but knew – that Iraq had WMDs.

    He did not know this. He had some evidence, but clearly did not have proof. He lied about what he knew, and what he merely suspected.

  15. hey joe!

    agreed that there was some fast-and-lose playing for justification for war in iraq. the plentiful ad hoc justifications may demonstrate that, but the story of “who lied when” about the WMDs is not fair to place solely on the current administration.

    to this day i had expected us to find tons and hoards of WMDs there, and i was ready to tell my pro-war friends “good call” and buy the first round. that hasn’t happened, and they’re not reciprocating… oh well.

    rather, consider that the meta references to WMDs were really planted in the clinton years. hell, CATO itself, not in favor of the war, has tons of pdf files on their worries about the threat of uncontained nuclear powered Iraq.

    is it irresponsible to go to war when the main reasons apart from WMDs were clearly soggy? yes, i think so. but many supporters fervently believe that iraq played a part in 9/11. one thing in favor of that line of argumentation is looking at the iranian revolution and wondering if the hostages in iran were somehow “made easier” by our failure in vietnam? you know, “america is not as strong as we thought. we can do crap to her, too”. while that may have strategic implications, thinking iraq is some sort of master coup of FP strategy runs counter to US intelligence sagas. but many believe that, too.

    but those who are against the war should have been beating this drumb earlier about real WMD confirmation. you know, since iraq, everybody is an iraq expert, when they didn’t know where the country was pre gulf war (first), and these people “know” it was right to attack. on the other hand,the monday morning quarterbacking on the WMDs by those opposed runs counter to conventional wisdom and Intelligence STARTED UNDER CLINTON. didn’t you think they’d actually find WMDs? or did you doubt the WMD story when Madeline Albright talked about them, too?

    what was the solution to the WMDs/Iraq problem? dunno. rst notes that the UN resolutions for the cease fire in the war were not heeded, and that is a violation. is the UN mandated to go ahead there? or is the us empowered to act on its own? that’s beyond the immediate “who lied when” story.

    how would you have felt had we, the US, increased pressure on iraq, really cracked down there but “finished the job” (whatever that means) with afghanistan first and then, later, gone after iraq? that would have allowed for, perhaps, stronger dealings with iraq, allowed for mopping up those fucking assholes who did 9/11, and it could have, (cue the fantasy music) maybe maybe helped show everyone that there were no WMDs… ? and if that continued, then built a coalition, including powerful european countries other than the UK, and then done the job? even though containment may have done well for a few years, one aspect and responsibility of starting war in the gulf in the first place is finishing the job. at some point we would have to do something to force SH’s compliance with UN resolutions. the questions would be 1) do what and 2) when.

    either way, you have made good arguments against the timing of this war in other posts in the past, but relying on the “bush lied about WMDs” has deep roots and highlights poor intelligence work going back a while, and with that song, there’s plenty of blame to go around. including prez cigar-dipper 🙂

    cheers and have a great evening!
    drf

  16. drf,

    “didn’t you think they’d actually find WMDs? or did you doubt the WMD story when Madeline Albright talked about them, too?” I believed then, and believed at the beginning of the war, what Albright said about Iraqi WMDs – that Saddam had programs at some level of activity, which could have someday in a few years advanced to the point that they could have been a threat.

    But to pretend that that above statement is the equivalent of ‘Iraq has WMDs, we are in danger, and we need to invade immediately, because he could “dedicide any day to pass them to terrorists”‘ is absurd.

    Bush overstated the case dramatically. And in doing so, he LIED about what he knew about the existence of Iraqi WMDs.

  17. joe,

    re-read your posts;

    “we knew Iraq HAD WMDs” – yes, even an idiot knows this is true. He used chemical weapons on Kurds and Iranians. So, there! Iraq HAD them. The next fact is they “have NOT demonstrated to the UN inspectos that these WMDs were destroyed”.

    Some how this translates to “Bush lied” ?!

    What would you conclude if you could think logically (or if JFK2 were president)?

  18. The sad truth for those who hold libertarian principles is that these days the highest concentration of small government, individualistic policies is in the Republican party.

    This is the equivalent of saying that since water has a high concentration of oxygen atoms, we should try to breathe it.

  19. hi joe!

    i’m not questioning the soft reasons for going to war at present – i don’t think iraq posed a threat at D-day minus one. and i agree that the prez overstated the case. looking at monolithic islam is about as worthless as at monolithic “komminism”.

    but then there’s the other aspect that iraq was in violation of the cease fire agreements. the timing was wrong, IMO, but what would be the way to return iraqi sovereignty? the status quo was a barely acceptable temporary state of affairs, but what could have been done, assuming we waited and didn’t go in to iraq when we did, and kept the UN, um, um, “involved” (to be read as if mini-me were doing his little finger quotes)? how would it turn out?

    cheers,
    drf

  20. zorel, Bush was not speaking in the past tense, but the present. He did not say that Saddam used to have WMDs, but that he continued to have WMDs. Cripes, do think Saddam was going to create that “mushroom cloud over an American city” with an historical atomic weapon? Given the state of his enrichment program, I don’t imagine his time machine was very far along either.

    Seriously, though, have you noticed that your arguments have degenerated into “technically, it wasn’t a lie, so much as…?”

    drf, I don’t know. I agree with many of the arguments that we needed to address the situation, as Albright’s statement makes clear. I can even dig the idea that, in realpolitik terms, 9-11 freed our hand. But that’s a far cry from “Yipee, we can start that war we’ve been hoping for since Clinton’s first term – let’s whip up some excuses!”

    It might have ended up with a negotiated settlement that removed Saddam from power and had inspectors crawling over the country with microscopes. It might have ended up with an invasion anyway (though it would have been a very different sort of invasion, militarily and geo-politically).

    I really can’t say what would have happened in an alternate universe. But I’m a process guy – with a more honest (not to mention competant and realistic) process, we would have seen a better outcome. Garbage in, garbage out. Misleading the public about your reasons for going to war is garbage.

  21. Lie or mistake,

    the weird thing is, nobody is held accountable in governement. Nobody gets shit canned for fucking up.

    On the other hand, since the President couldn’t even think of one single mistake made since the start of his administration, maybe it was a lie. After all, if he wasn’t mistaken, what was he?

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