Blue Scheer Project

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In The Nation, leftoid journo Robert Scheer rains down hellfire on "moderate Republicans and "consistent conservatives" for supporting George W. Bush:

How else to explain their cynical support for this shallow adventurer, a phony lightweight who has bled the Treasury dry while incompetently squandering the lives of young Americans in a needless imperial campaign? If Al Gore had been knighted President by the Supreme Court and overseen this mess instead of Dubya, the rational remnant of the Republican Party would be rightly calling for his head.

Scheer's invective is somewhat puzzling–is Bush a phony lightweight or a real lightweight? But he may well be on to something. Certainly, it seems pretty likely that had President Gore marched into Baghdad, the GOP would have been less enthusiastic about the adventure. Whole thing here.

Of course, Scheer neglects to point out something else too: Why the hell do Democrats all the sudden hate budget deficits and humanitarian justifications for war? Could it have something to do with the fact that Bush is from the other side?

And speaking of "consistency," why won't The Nation ever say it's the right year for Ralph Nader–who clearly fits their ideology 1,000 times better than the Bay State's answer to the Frankenstein monster–to run for president?

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  1. “How else to explain their cynical support for this shallow adventurer, a phony lightweight who has bled the Treasury dry…”

    Since when was Scheer ever worried about bleeding the Treasury dry?

  2. Robert Scheer knows what “true conservatives” would do. Right. Let me guess…some of his best friends are true conservatives.

  3. Since when have Democrats hated the deficit? Well some of them have been pretty consistent about it since the days of Saint Ronnie.

  4. “Kerry has now framed the debate we need to have concerning American priorities.”

    Memo to Scheer: Wake up and smell the coffee. If what you said, above, were true, we wouldn’t be having this little tete a tete just now.

    Kerry’s problem is he can’t frame staight. He’s the Crooked Man of nursery rhyme fame.

  5. Clearly the time of summertime blues has passed now that we’re reading debate like this. It’s getting close to election time.

    I myself am having a hard time understanding why conservatives would keep supporting Bush. And why they’re so hard on Kerry. What possible justification is there for continuing to support this secretive, incompetent, spendthrift, protectionist and triumphalist administration?

    There is only one reason I like Bush. At times, he seems to be willing to ignore some critics, and he seems to stand by his staff. Those are good qualities in a manager.

    But then again he still panders to social conservatives, and I hate that.

    And he doesn’t seem to obey the Harry Callahan law: a man’s got to know his limitations. He seems to be unaware of his ability to convince himself of his own bullshit. I seriously wonder sometimes if maybe he does think that divine powers are on his side.

    Nick Gillespie, what is it that keeps you in this administration’s corner? How might the Kerry administration plausibly be worse for America? Might it spend more money? Or enact more tariffs? Conduct a new incompetent large-scale military intervention? Reduce further our ability to influence and draw on other nations? Further compromise our moral standing? Further besmirch our name?

    Tell me! I’m alarmed that I can’t see any good reasons.

  6. Nick Gillespie, what is it that keeps you in this administration’s corner?

    Funny you accuse the staff of Reason of being too pro-Bush. Most people here are always saying that they’re going to cancel their subscriptions over the leftward tilt of Reason. Something about Julian Sanchez being too lefty and everything was better when Virginia Postrel was in charge.

  7. “And speaking of “consistency,” why won’t The Nation ever say it’s the right year for Ralph Nader–who clearly fits their ideology 1,000 times better than the Bay State’s answer to the Frankenstein monster–to run for president?”

    They’re the same people that say “a vote for Nader is a vote for Bush”.

    When you have such a large proportion of the population that can say such blatantly self-contradictory bullshit with a straight face, you’re a long way from electing a third party candidate for Prez

  8. I wonder the same thing about Libertarian’s who support Bush, regardless of the facts.

  9. ROBERT SCHEER WROTE:
    a century’s worth of conservative ideals are tossed out the window for political expediency

    True. Most conservative ideals have to be ignored in order to support Bush. But Sheer thinks in order to be “consistent”, conservatives need to support Kerry?? Kerry, who is among the top five biggest spenders in the senate!

    http://www.ntu.org/misc_items/rating/VS_2003.pdf

    The only way that it would make sense for conservatives to support “Big Spender John” is to hope that the GOP holds congress and that they throttle him the way they did Clinton (who btw, had a more moderate posture than Kerry) but that they haven’t done with Bush’s big spending agenda, although they are starting to move in that direction.

    Despite two huge tax cuts for the super-rich…

    They weren’t just for the rich. (Scheer sounds like a politician)

    Bush turns out to be a big believer in that old GOP boogeyman, Big Government. An equal-opportunity spendthrift, he throws billions into the sinkhole of Iraq as easily as he doles out corporate handouts.

    Good points, but Sheer forgot to mention the huge increase in federal education spending by a department that the GOP platform always was in favor of abolishing before Bush held sway. Also, the prescription drug program, the biggest expansion of “entitlement” spending in decades seems to have escaped Sheer’s rage. Gee, I wonder why?

    nothing has been done to shore up Social Security

    At least the Republicans and even Bush are looking at some privatization. All Kerry has done is to demagogue the issue and pledge: “Never to privatize SS”. Which, is another way of saying “screw you” to every one under 45″, and “screw everyone else” later on with a system that is demographically untenable, especially if you believe in things like a growing economy and personal prosperity. The prospects for both will wilt under rapidly expanding withholding taxes.

    Bush, pretending to be conservative, said he was against “nation-building.” Now, led by radical ideologues way outside the conservative mainstream, he’s got us trying to build two nations–and failing–with many in his Administration hoping to take on a few more in a second term.

    Exactly! But Sheer’s recourse to this war, that the neocons lied us into because they have long thought it would be for the Israeli government, is to do what? Vote for Kerry!? Kerry is a gutless wonder whose most recent pronouncements that Sheer seems to be so buoyed by are in vivid contrast to his previous position and are most likely motivated by poll numbers, not anything resembling principle. If Kerry is their solution to the war; Scheer should be asking the question: What’s happened to the left?

    As for the right; the course should be clear: http://www.badnarik.org/ and a more conservative congress.

  10. Rick Barton, what you seem to be saying is that we need a divided government again. Funny thing, so do a whole lot of other people.

  11. mac,

    Yes, but for divided government that causes gridlock and restrains spending we’re going to need a GOP congress and a President Kerry. A Dem congress will only be too happy to spend even more, regardless of who’s president.

  12. I am not a conservative, so I can’t speak for them. But my main reason for supporting Bush are similar to that of conservatives: he’s running against Kerry.

    During the Cold War John Kerry actively aided the enemy, both by acting as a propagandist for North Vietnam and by pushing for the United States to unilaterally disarm and trust in the Soviet Union’s goodwill. Today, his position on the war on terrorism can only be described as incoherent. So basically this is a race between a person who has done a lousy job of fighting the war (Bush) and a person who spent his career sabotaging his own nation (Kerry). Even if they were otherwise equal, Bush would be a superior choice to Kerry.

    But of course, they aren’t otherwise equal. Sure, they’re equal in that they both currently support FCC censorship, support “campaign finance reform” (i.e., censoship), oppose gay marriage, and have “balanced budget” proposals that don’t even pass the laugh test.

    But Kerry is more protectionist than Bush (or, at least, claims that Bush isn’t protectionist enough), has called for even more spending than Bush, and has called for my taxes to be raised. Kerry is opposed to Social Security privatization, which (as noted above) means he is *for* fucking me out of my retirement savings.

    So I’m either voting for Bush or not bothering to vote at all (and since I live in California, the end result will be the same). There’s no rational third option.

  13. Dan, thanks for engaging with me on this.

    I’m not convinced on the matter of past performance. You undoubtedly exaggerate when you characterize Kerry’s whole career as one spent “sabotaging” his own nation. And you fail to look at the other side of the coin.

    I’ll stipulate, for the moment, that Kerry was very credulous w/r/t to the Soviets during the Cold War. Undoubtedly he was doing what he thought was right, even if it was pretty fucking stupid. Now what was Bush doing at the time? He was drinking. He was a goddamn drunk. So that’s a tie.

    I should study Kerry’s record more, especially since then – i.e. the period in which Bush was busy fucking up being the President. Maybe Bush still comes out ahead. I’m skeptical.

    For some reason I just don’t expect Kerry to be as commie as you think he will be. I’m not arguing that it would be bad if he were; it would be terrible. But I just doubt it for some reason. Is history on my side?

  14. Rick,

    But isn’t that where we’re headed? A GOP congress, both House and Senate?

    I’m a registered Democrat, but I surely don’t want an undivided Democratic government, either.

    And Dan — if you think John Kerry was bad news in terms of wanting to shrink the military, what on earth are you doing as a Libertarian? They want a smaller military than the Democrats do!

  15. Dan is ABK apparently.

    Basically the differences between Bush and Kerry are a wash. Kerry credulously supported the nuclear freeze movement and Bush has proven himself to be an incompetant Commander in Chief. Bush claims to be for free trade, yet doesn’t practice such, while Kerry claims to want to act as a protectionist, but probably won’t act as hard nosed about it as he claims that he will. Quite honestly, there is no appreciable difference between these two guys; we need to suck it up and face that reality.

  16. I agree with Dan – if Kerry is elected, his foreign policy will be far too sympathetic to the Soviet Union and its satellite states like North Vietnam and East Germany. The USA needs a president who will stand up to the USSR; who will oppose Brezhnev’s admitted plan to continue to dominate Europe east of the Iron Curtain; and who will be firmly behind the defense projects the armed services need, like the radar-evading “stealth” bomber. And he must above all continue covert support for the brave fighters of the Afghan mujahedin, now struggling against a brutal occupation by the Soviet Army. I have no confidence in Kerry to defend the West against the growing power of the Warsaw Pact, nor to support key allies such as the Shah of Iran.

    We now return you to this century’s election.

  17. The conservative R’s, aided by the lefty D’s just extended $150 billion of tax cuts without a clue how to pay for them. There’s an election coming up, you know. In fact, any tawdry pressure at all the D’s try to apply to balance tax cuts with spending cuts (yes, that is a D stance) are shot down in an instant by the “conservatives” who haven’t balanced a budget in 40 years.

    Sometimes I think this is all just a bad dream.

  18. The conservative R’s, aided by the lefty D’s just extended $150 billion of tax cuts without a clue how to pay for them. There’s an election coming up, you know. In fact, any tawdry pressure at all the D’s try to apply to balance tax cuts with spending cuts (yes, that is a D stance) are shot down in an instant by the “conservatives” who haven’t balanced a budget in 40 years.

    Well maybe they could, oh, I don’t know, cut back on some spending programs. Wait, I forgot, that’s just crazy talk. I’m crazy.

  19. A few points: Historically, it’s certainly true that budget deficits haven’t been the Democrats’ biggest priority, but it’s also true that they took them on successfully under the Clinton administration (admittedly under the prodding of an opposition Congress), so their track record in that area goes back over a decade now. And, besides, whatever their history on that issue has been, the point is that they’re night NOW and this administration manifestly is not.

    As for supporting Nader, if you’re a progressive it just isn’t rational to do so given the way this system works. In fact, a vote for Nader IS a vote for Bush, the same way that a vote for Perot was a vote for Clinton. If we had a run-off system when a candidate did not receive a majority, then your criticism would make sense. Right now, though, within the parameters of the rules we operate under and given the closeness of the polling, it is clearly rational for a progressive publication to disdain Nader.

    Finally, I understand that as an editor, Mr. Gillespie cannot refrain from picking nits, so let’s just all agree that Bush is both a phony AND a lightweight.

  20. “Why the hell do Democrats all the sudden hate budget deficits and humanitarian justifications for war? ”

    Because this war didn’t make George Soros any money.

  21. Since when was the reason for going into Iraq humannitarian? Oh, yeah, since their first reason, WMDs, did not pan out.

    If you want to go to war for hummanitarian reasons, I would suggest that there are many much better opportunities out there: Sudan for example. Saddam may have killed his own people, but that was mainly in times of civil war. By the time we went in, he was nothing more than your average crappy dictator who opressed political dissidents. By contrast, in Kosovo, the Serbs were actively emtpying out villages and filling mass graves; an immediate crisis which demanded action to prevent the sort of atrocities we already witnessed in Bosnia.

  22. “Nick Gillespie, what is it that keeps you in this administration’s corner? How might the Kerry administration plausibly be worse for America?

    “Might it spend more money?” Uh, yes. Absolutely. Kerry’s platform has much more spending in it. If Republicans lose out in the midterms, we are screwed.

    “Or enact more tariffs?” Well, yes, if you lump all forms of protectionism together. What do you think the candidate means when he says he will keep american jobs here or create new ones?

    “Conduct a new incompetent large-scale military intervention?” Yes. He has one to contend with and his only answer to questions about what he would do differently is ‘more people like me’. He is supposed to be the adult realist, but that sure as hell doesn’t sound like he apprehends the problem he will be facing.

    “Reduce further our ability to influence and draw on other nations? Further compromise our moral standing? Further besmirch our name?” These are non issues. He wouldn’t have gotten Kyoto through, and he wouldn’t have signed us up for the international court system. He may or may not have gone to war, and he has no magic wand to make our allies agree with us if it is politically impossible for them to commit troops.

    I’m no Bush fan, but hanging your hat on a split government seems dangerous to me. Would I rather deal with all Republicans than all Democrats? Yep. The best argument that I can come up with for Kerry is that I believe him to be an incompetent influencer of people and presenter of ideas. Just as an incompetent presentation of Hillarycare completely destroyed public support for nationalized healthcare for a while, Kerry may be such a boob that he will make any protectionist, anti growth policy he concocts look similarly foolish.

  23. While I think worrying about Bush’s past drinking exploits or Kerry’s past military exploits is a waste of time, I do think it’s worth considering their past political actions, even with regards to particular crises (like the Cold War) that are now history. Regardless of whether or to what extent past crises affect current affairs, the responses thereto can be indicative of basic views (or lack thereof), general approaches to crises, consistency and character.

    With respect to both candidates, I don’t think their political records are that impressive at all. Neither of them has been supportive of scaling back government (except for their particular agendas, and even then, such support has been fairly weak), and neither of them seems to have a plan as to how to make big government work effectively (regardless of whether that’s even possible). I’ve leaned toward Kerry solely for the gridlock argument, but even then, if Kerry is elected, won’t that just postpone movement towards a more fiscally-conservative political party (Democrat, Republican, or whatever)?

  24. “the Bay State’s answer to the Frankenstein monster-”

    frankenstein? i always thought he resembled lurch more.

  25. “Why the hell do Democrats all the sudden hate budget deficits…”

    Democrats have been the deficit-hawk party for twelve years now. Try to keep up.

    “…and humanitarian justifications for war?”

    Because this justification is transparent bullshit as applied to Iraq, and we don’t appreciate seeing principles we hold dearly, and got the snot beaten out of us for holding dearly, exploited as a convenient ass covering by a president who never paid even a passing respect to them until he started flailing around to come up with a reason why his enormous fuckup was a actually a good thing.

  26. Pesky Fly said:
    “The conservative R’s, aided by the lefty D’s just extended $150 billion of tax cuts without a clue how to pay for them.”

    On Hit and Run, tax cuts need to be “paid” for?
    Buzz off Fly!

  27. Democrats have been the deficit-hawk party for twelve years now. Try to keep up.

    so they have, joe, but i would venture that that position was made very convenient for them by the bubble and capital gains receipts. i heard a dem on lehrer last night asserting that the role of the 90s economy was large in running surpluses was “nonsensical” — well, plainly, it’s not only sensical but true.

    still, i agree with you that it doesn’t absolve the republicans under reagan and dubya particularly of becoming what they supposedly once beheld. power, it seems, still corrupts. unfortunately, i don’t see how either kerry or dubya can close the gap on the debt anymore — too many promises made, including for middle class tax relief. americans, in their arrogance, simply cannot fathom paying the piper anymore.

  28. I’ve got no confidence in the ‘gridlock’ scenario anymore, seeing how much BOTH sides are willing to go along with legislation so that they’re seen as ‘doing something’. At this point, I’m thinking of trying a write-in vote. Sadly, as has been observed time and time again, noone who should be president wants the job, and anyone who DOES want it definitely shouldn’t have it.

  29. Gaius, had tax receipts skyrocketed (after a tax increase! but that can’t happen! Laffer told me!) in the 1970s as they did in the 1990s, do you think the 1970s Democrats would have held down spending and paid off debt? Hell no!


  30. If the “wasted vote” argument ever held any water, it doesn’t any more. The two major parties have moved toward a weird, non-existent “center” for the last 50 years, to the point where it’s difficult to tell them apart.


    We could argue all day about whether Bush or Kerry is the “lesser evil.” The fact is that they both support the war in Iraq. They both oppose gun rights. They both supported the PATRIOT Act. They both support the war on drugs. They both support confiscatory taxation. They both support ruinously high levels of spending, huge deficits and increasing debt.


    It’s hard to tell them apart on the real issues. They spend their time scrapping over “swing votes” in the gray area of the “center” — which means, in practice, “how do I not make too many people too angry to vote for me?” That’s no way to do politics. Politics, in my view, should be as unimportant as possible — but where it’s important, it has to value freedom, remain rooted in principle and be forward-looking.



    All I can tell the “lesser of two evils” folks is that if they keep voting for evil, they’ll keep getting evil. If you don’t like the way things are, how do you change it by voting for more of the same?

    More from Badnarik on Slashdot.

  31. do you think the 1970s Democrats would have held down spending and paid off debt? Hell no!

    touche, joe, quite true — i appreciate the reforms of the New Democrats.

  32. mac:

    “But isn’t that where we’re headed? A GOP congress, both House and Senate?”

    Not necessarily; I know that the Senate is in play. And if the Dems take the Senate, government looks to grow faster than if they don’t.

  33. He of little or no ruth says: “On Hit and Run, tax cuts need to be “paid” for?
    Buzz off Fly!”

    You can borrow them, then. No problem.

  34. Jason Ligon:

    “Kerry may be such a boob that he will make any protectionist, anti growth policy he concocts look similarly foolish.”

    I think that there’s something to be said for this. For example, Nixon rendered a great service to the libertarian cause by breeding a profound distrust of government.

  35. I seem to remember Newt Gingrich ramming fiscal responsibility down the Democrats thoat, um say, around mid-90s or so.

    Also, Scheer is right that the Republicans would be singing a different tune if the exact same situation in Iraq had happened under Gore, but so would the Democrats.

  36. Much has been made of Kerry’s undistinguished Senate career vs. Bush’s estwhile background of business acumen and governorship. I’ll leave the latter myth to your judgement but would like to point out this article regarding the former, linked through Atrios.

    In a nutshell, while Bush was self dealing and shepherding Harken Energy into bankruptcy Kerry was busting up a terrorist money laundering scheme operated by the BCCI. He bucked both party leaderships doing it over a three year time period. Have a look.

    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/features/2004/0409.sirota.html

  37. “I seem to remember Newt Gingrich ramming fiscal responsibility down the Democrats thoat, um say, around mid-90s or so.”

    So that would be 2-4 years after Clinton made it a major plank in his campaign platform, after having stolen the issue from Tsongas, who used it to win New Hampshire?

    No one’s claiming New Gingrich isn’t a deficit hawk, just that the modern Democratic party is.

  38. Gadfly,

    Maybe if he’d spent his time on important matters, like creating a Kerry Grant to allow amputee clowns to buy rubber dogshit, or a Kerry Act to mandate that IRS forms appear in Helvitica font, he wouldn’t be such an “undistinguished senator.”

    I mean, I don’t even think he has a bridge named after him!

  39. joe,

    I share your admiration for the New Democrats. Problem is, Kerry isn’t one, not even a little bit.

    Remember his comment a couple months ago that there are more black men in prison than in college, and “it’s not their fault”? First, it’s not accurate, and second, no New Dem would say anything that stupid.

    If Kerry was a New Democrat, I might vote for him.

  40. The thread talks about some fiscal issues, new dems/old dems, who’s better on deficits, etc. and Steve goes into black men in prison being there own darn fault.

    What’s up with you, Steve?

  41. I’ll stipulate, for the moment, that Kerry was very credulous w/r/t to the Soviets during the Cold War. Undoubtedly he was doing what he thought was right, even if it was pretty fucking stupid. Now what was Bush doing at the time? He was drinking. He was a goddamn drunk. So that’s a tie.

    A tie? The hell it is. Being a drunk is certainly not admirable, but pushing for the United States to disarm and throw itself on the mercy of the two most genocidal empires in history, the USSR and China, is orders of magnitude worse. Bush, in his worst days as a drunk, never harmed or endangered anyone beyond his immediate associates and a few Texas drivers. Kerry endangered the entire planet and everyone on it.

    I agree with Dan – if Kerry is elected, his foreign policy will be far too sympathetic to the Soviet Union and its satellite states like North Vietnam and East Germany

    The point is that Kerry has proven himself to be too stupid or careless to recognize obvious threats to the United States. He’s unfit to command a Boy Scout troop, let alone the military and the Executive Branch.

  42. Since when was the reason for going into Iraq humannitarian? Oh, yeah, since their first reason, WMDs, did not pan out.

    In reality, of course, there were many reasons given for the war against Iraq; read Bush’s speeches from before the war began. WMDs were cited as the main reason, but a short list of other reasons included (a) human rights violations by Hussein, (b) genocide by Hussein, (c) Iraqi violations of UN Security Council resolutions, (d) Iraqi support of terrorist groups, and (e) the need to establish democratic regimes in the Middle East. All of these have been shown to have been valid, with the exception of (e), which is still a work in progress.

    What’s curious to me is that the opponents of the war seem unable to hold more than one thought in their head at a time: “If it was about WMDs, then it CAN’T have been about humanitarian issues!”, “If it was about terrorism, then it CAN’T have been about establishing a democracy in the Arab world”, etc.

    I suspect the problem is that a lot of the opposition was simply due to knee-jerk dislike of Bush, so there was never any reason to actually listen to the arguments for the war. Cut to a few years later, and all these people remember is that there was a lot of talk of WMDs on the TV back in 2002 and 2003.

  43. Steve,

    Kerry voted for the Balanced Budget amendment in the 1980s, way before it was cool for a Democrat to be a deficit hawk. He was known for most of his career as “the Senator from 128,” Massachusetts’ high-tech cluster highway, because of his business-friendly philosophy and respect for innovative capitalism. He was an original “Atari Democrat,” the term applied to forward looking centrist Dems in the 80s, before there were enough of them to make a splash. He is the ultimate New Democrat, and was so before it became de riguer to be one.

  44. I volunteer Dan to go over there and kick some ass. I’m too frightened and stupid to defend my ownself from those terrorists.

  45. I don’t suppose anyone would like to give a name to any of these “New Democrats?” Names, as in actual humans wandering the planet?

  46. Dan,

    The point is that Kerry has proven himself to be too stupid or careless to recognize obvious threats to the United States. He’s unfit to command a Boy Scout troop, let alone the military and the Executive Branch.

    And Bush has proven himself to be too incompetant and too credulous of grand Wilson-like theories to manage those threats.

    Cut to a few years later, and all these people remember is that there was a lot of talk of WMDs on the TV back in 2002 and 2003.

    I would argue that the vast majority of the talk was about WMD; and it is neither foolish nor incorrect to state that the main, primary, etc. reason given for the invasion was WMD. Indeed, this is all the more readily acknowledged when one re-views Powell’s presentation before the UNSC, which focused primarily on Iraq’s supposed possession of WMD. Now we have you trying to (apparently) subtlely deny that WMD was not the major, even primary factor, in the administration’s call for an invasion. In other words, it may be dishonest to ignore these other factors, as you imply, but it is equally dishonest to minimize the centrality of WMD.

    All of these have been shown to have been valid, with the exception of (e), which is still a work in progress.

    While these accusations may be valid in the sense that they are “true,” whether they are valid or appropriate reasons to go to war is a different matter entirely.

  47. “He’s unfit to command a Boy Scout troop, let alone the military and the Executive Branch.”

    The men he actually commanded in a combat zone seem to feel differently.

  48. What Douglas Fletcher asked.

  49. Doug, Rick,

    Bill Clinton. Evan Bayh. Joe Lieberman. Al Gore. The DLC. The NDN.

  50. joe,

    I’ll buy Clinton’s inclusion, but not Joe Lieberman for sure. Not Gore and I don’t know enough about Bayh.

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