Jingoists for John Kerry

July 21, 2004 | 66 comments
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I had an oddly cheering experience today. I was driving along behind a pickup truck proudly flying two American flags (amen, brother) and got close enough to read the bumper stickers. They read, “Real Men Love Jesus,” “Half the Patients Die in an Abortion Clinic,” and “John Kerry, 2004.” Good for you, sir, I thought.

I’m a Bush man myself. I prefer his policies, respond to his character, and in any case don’t have reasons enough to cease being loyal (a quality sadly absent in liberal democracies). Still, I think all us politically-minded types could take a lesson from Samson. If he could find honey in a lion, why not in an ass?

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66 Responses to Jingoists for John Kerry

  1. Geoff B on July 21, 2004 at 4:34 pm

    It seems Kerry’s flip-flopping is now even attracting the pro-life vote…hard to believe that the senator is in favor of allowing partial birth abortions.

    Maybe he has an agreement with his Democrat wife with whom he shares the truck?

  2. Adam Greenwood on July 21, 2004 at 4:42 pm

    Real Men (we love Jesus!) don’t let their wife put bumper stickers on their truck. I’d prefer to think that this individual deeply dislikes Kerry’s stand on abortion but supports him for other reasons. The heartening part is that though one occasionally meets people who claim to oppose legal abortion but still support democrats, these people are usually pretty tepid. The fight for fetal lives is more likely to succeed if pro-lifers who feel that the Democrats are the party for them don’t hide their convictions under a bushel.

  3. Rob on July 21, 2004 at 4:49 pm

    “respond to his character”

    Aaron–I’m glad we aren’t supposed to question anyone’s character here, since I’m wincing to guess which part of W’s character you find so attractive ;)

  4. Blaine E. on July 21, 2004 at 4:56 pm

    I like the man because it seems that he doesn’t buy his party’s platforms wholesale. I realized during college that I really didn’t agree with the majority of republicans ideas of gun rights and capital punishment, but found myself arguing them just because I was a republican. Weird.

  5. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 4:56 pm

    I’m voting for Bush because if he loses we’ll have to vote for his brother in four years.

  6. Randy on July 21, 2004 at 5:15 pm

    I’m voting for Kerry because if he loses we’ll have to vote for Hillary in four years. (Wait, maybe now I’ll actually vote for Bush . . . .)

  7. john fowles on July 21, 2004 at 5:15 pm

    I want to paraphrase an interesting email that was read on Talk of the Nation today. The individual said that he lived in So. Cal. but in a conservative neighborhood. He said that the only reason he is voting for Bush this time is because Bush doesn’t make him feel inferior for flying an American flag, going to church, loving the American way of life, and enjoying hunting and fishing. I thought that that is an interesting thing to say. Is it true that the Left condescends to this type of life? I am inclined to answer yes, but confess I might be wrong. . . .

  8. Rob on July 21, 2004 at 5:16 pm

    “I’m voting for Bush because if he loses we’ll have to vote for his brother in four years.”

    Ah yes, oligarchy rules! Now if we can just get the Lord to give us back father-son apostle teams, we could show our civic leaders how its really done!

    I think we should only vote for Bushes or Clintons for the next 40 years. Nobody really cares enough to do more than vote for a brand anyway.

  9. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 5:17 pm

    Well, upon seeing a mention of bumper stickers, I thought I’d go trolling for some good ones on-line as well as one or two from memory. Here’s some that made me chuckle (I’m sure at least half of them will make you groan):

    1) I Swerve For Cats

    2) Bumper Sticker in 2100: Disco Still Sucks

    3) Pardon my Driving. I’m Reloading.

    4) I Still Miss My Ex-Wife, But My Aim Is Improving.

    5) Ask Me About My Vow of Silence.

    6) Diplomacy Is the Art of Letting Someone Else Have Your Way.

    7) Grow Your Own Dope. Plant A Man.

    8) Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

    9) Save The Whales. Collect the Whole Set.

    And this one is way way old but I still grin when I think about it:

    10) Nuke the Whales.

  10. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 5:20 pm

    The most treasured demographic that both Bush and Kerry really want to get are the people who put these bumper stickers on their cars.

  11. D. Fletcher on July 21, 2004 at 5:29 pm

    My particular favorite bumper-sticker, worth years of analysis:

    Licorice-eaters are sexier.

  12. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 5:36 pm

    Red or black licorice?

  13. Kaimi on July 21, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    Adam writes,

    “I’m a Bush man myself.”

    Hmm, according to the title page, so is the author of Joseph Smith and the Beginnings of Mormonism.

    :)

  14. BTD Greg on July 21, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    I haven’t laughed at a bumper sticker in a long time, but I saw one the other day that made me smile. It was on an old, beat-up sedan that also had Wiccan/New Age stickers on it. It said “Witch Parking Only — All Others Will Be Toad.”

  15. D. Fletcher on July 21, 2004 at 5:41 pm

    Exactly.

    Another question: sexier than… non-licorice eaters? Or, if one eats licorice, does one get sexier? If one doesn’t like licorice, is one naturally less sexy? and so on.

  16. Jim F. on July 21, 2004 at 5:49 pm

    John Fowles says: Bush doesn’t make him feel inferior for flying an American flag, going to church, loving the American way of life, and enjoying hunting and fishing. I thought that that is an interesting thing to say. Is it true that the Left condescends to this type of life? I am inclined to answer yes, but confess I might be wrong.

    First, it is odd to describe Democrats as “the Left,” which what I assume you are doing, though I may be wrong. It is a Republican habit to do so, but not a very accurate habit, no more accurate than describing Republicans as “the Right.”

    Second, I can’t figure out why someone would think that Democrats are noted for condescending to flying the flag, going to church, loving the American way of life, and enjoying hunting and fishing. There may be some objective basis in the second of these since it seems that more of the anti-religious are in the Democratic Party than in the Republican, though appearances can be quite deceiving on these matters. Nevertheless, given the percentage of church-goers in the U.S., even if all of the non-church-goers were Democrats (highly unlikely), they wouldn’t account for a majority of the party. As for the other things to which Democrats supposedly condescend, I’m genuinely perplexed at what, other than Republican propaganda, would give one reason to believe that they do. Kerry, for example, (for whom I have no great fondness, just more than for GWB) is a hunter and sportsman. Many Democrats fly the flag, can be as jingoistic as the next person, and love the American way of life. (Though I suspect that the New York Times isn’t at the top of your reading list, you’ll find them consistently defending free trade in the same terms as the Wall Street Journal.)

    There are differences between the Republicans and the Democrats (though in terms of real politics, they are usually overstated), but I don’t see good reasons to suppose that this condescension you describe is one of them.

  17. Eric James Stone on July 21, 2004 at 5:59 pm

    Saw this bumper sticker on a pickup truck in Virginia a few years ago, and I think it’s my favorite:

    EARTH FIRST!
    We’ll strip-mine the other planets later.

  18. Russell Arben Fox on July 21, 2004 at 6:12 pm

    “There may be some objective basis in the second of these since it seems that more of the anti-religious are in the Democratic Party than in the Republican, though appearances can be quite deceiving on these matters. Nevertheless, given the percentage of church-goers in the U.S., even if all of the non-church-goers were Democrats (highly unlikely), they wouldn’t account for a majority of the party.”

    Excellent correction Jim. Also notice that this stereotype of the Democrat party makes the (tragically common) mistake of simply (and one hopes unconsciously) excluding the African-American population from all political consideration. As any number of reliable polls will tell you, the black population of the United States is for the most part a church-going and religiously active one, and yet of course African-Americans overwhelmingly support the Democratic party.

    “Many Democrats fly the flag, can be as jingoistic as the next person, and love the American way of life. (Though I suspect that the New York Times isn’t at the top of your reading list, you’ll find them consistently defending free trade in the same terms as the Wall Street Journal.)”

    Another excellent retort. To the average member of the American middle and upper-classes, the “American way of life,” all too often, basically comes down to defending the free market and economic expansion. And in matters of trade, while there are elements of both the Republican and Democrat parties which are occasionally willing to think outside this particular box, it certainly is true that most Democrats are just as willing to fly the patriotic flag of corporate capitalism and apple pie as Republicans.

  19. Nate Oman on July 21, 2004 at 6:34 pm

    Jim: Church attendance is the single best predictor of voting behavior in national elections. It beats out race, gender, region or income. Church-goers are much more likely to vote Republican. As Russell notes this is not true for African-Americans, who are more likely to vote Democratic if they are more active in church.

    Russell: There are two anti-free trade constituencies in the United States: unions and anti-globalization activists. Unions are firmly democratic. (The anti-globalization activists are not, but compared to the AFL-CIO they are peanuts.)

    Finally, I think that there must be at least some truth in the talk about flag waving, jingoism, hunting, and their lack of welcome in the Democratic party. The Democratic constituency that is most powerfully attached to such things is Southern Democrats, and it is worth noting that this has been the constituency that it has been the most difficult for national Democratic candidates to hold on to. Frankly, I think that this group flows in and out of national Democratic coalitions based almost entirely on cultural issues that could be nicely summed up with reference to God, guns, and the flag. I doubt that there is a single national Democratic strategist that DOESN’T worry about these things. Furthermore, I know that there is a healthy sized contingent of urban Democratic elites (read: donors) who perpetually worry that the party is selling its soul in order to attract cultural trogldytes with a drawl.

    In other words, John’s vision is overdrawn but not without substance.

  20. Jim F. on July 21, 2004 at 6:48 pm

    Nate Oman: In other words, John’s vision is overdrawn but not without substance.

    I’m less convinced than you are that flag-waving, etc. is confined mainly to Southern Democrats. In spite of the anti-free trade stand that unions take, their members moves back and forth between voting Democrat and voting Republican, aren’t confined to the South, and are happy to wave the flag, applaud the war, hunt, fish, etc.

    There are urban elites with considerable power in the Democratic Party who are condescending about these issues, but it I think John’s mistake was to think that they characterize Democrats in general.

    I.e., I think we disagree mostly about the degree to which John’s comment was overdrawn.

  21. Steve Evans on July 21, 2004 at 7:00 pm

    I’m voting for Bush because I don’t like the idea of anyone smarter than myself as President. That, and I support nucular energy.

  22. Geoff B on July 21, 2004 at 7:14 pm

    Sigh. Can we dispense with the “Bush is an idiot” comments? Everybody thought Reagan was an idiot, of course, and the cafe and night club crowd used to love making fun of him, but it turns out Reagan won the Cold War, making the people who opposed him look like real idiots. Jimmy Carter was supposedly brilliant, but he gave us Afghanistan, Iran, Nicaragua, inflation, high unemployment and on an on. Bush is not the greatest public speaker, but he’s certainly not an idiot. Korihor, Nehor and others called the prophets idiots because they weren’t as sophisticated as the people who opposed the Church. There seems to be a lesson there.

  23. clark on July 21, 2004 at 7:16 pm

    Jim, while I agree it isn’t fair to call Democrats the left and Republicans the right, it is becoming more and more like that every year. I had great hopes for Clinton and the New Democrat movement. But the primaries and the selection of Kerry make me think that Democrats *want* to move to the left and are using the current anti-Bush movement to enable them to get in. It is sad.

    I think that Republicans, at least in national politics have moved far more to the center, with varying results. I personally think that the last election was a choice between two very moderate but weak candidates (McCain and Bush). But the Democrats seem moving in the opposite direction with Kerry, the current leadership and so forth. That’s not to say Republicans don’t have a strong right wing agenda. But I think that I have more faith in them trying to move left than Democrats moving right.

  24. Randy on July 21, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    What if we turned the email noted by John around. How’s this:

    “I live in the heart of the South but in a liberal neighborhood. I am voting for Kerry because Kerry doesn’t make me feel interior for worrying that our brave troops have been sent needlessly into battle, for expressing concern over conscious efforts to erode the traditional division between church and state enshrined in our constitution, for wanting to give the poor and needy a leg up in tough times, and for fighting to protect the quality of the air we breath and the water we drink. Is it true that the Right condescends to this type of life? I am inclined to answer yes, but confess I might be wrong. . . .”

    Overwrought? Perhaps. But as Jim implies, I think the answer to that question depends in large part on where we personally come out on these issues. Even Republicans (I hope) are concerned about these things. They just come to very different conclusions than I do about how best to accomplish them.

  25. Greg on July 21, 2004 at 7:25 pm

    Geoff,

    I don’t want to argue with you about Reagan or Carter, let alone Bush, but as a lawyer I am trained to timely raise my objections so as not to waive them. In other words, this comment is just for the record: relevance, hearsay, speculative, conclusory, etc., etc.

  26. Randy on July 21, 2004 at 7:36 pm

    To Greg’s objections, I would add: assumes facts not in evidence, misstates the record, and liar liar pants on fire.

  27. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 7:57 pm

    Hate to interrupt this thread … but I am hearing that there are news reports that Mark Hacking (husband of Lori Hacking) never applied to UNC Medical School and that UNC has no knowledge of him. I have so far only been able to find one news post about this (check out my site) so far though I assume it’s showing up on the local news.

    Lori Hacking lived in our stake and everyone here has been asked to help search if they can and to be ready to fast and pray this weekend for the family. So needless to say, we’ve been paying attention. This could mean some very bad news.

  28. danithew on July 21, 2004 at 8:16 pm

    Here’s the link addy to the Hacking story. I can’t find anything like it anywhere else right now, though I’mn sure it will be popping up everywhere very soon.

    http://www.wral.com/news/3561411/detail.html

  29. Jim F. on July 21, 2004 at 8:35 pm

    Clark: just for the record, I don’t share your perception that the Republicans are moving to the center. And, though I think both parties are quite responsible for the nastiness and divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats, my perception is that the former are more guilty than the latter (but, to repeat, they are in good company).

    Though I will probably vote for Kerry because I think Bush has to take resonsibility for enough blunders to make him no longer a viable president, I’m more sympathetic to Russell: neither party is really very interested in thinking creatively about the problems we face. Unfortunately, I suspect that is because it is impossible to do so and still to get elected.

    Democracy is better than its alternatives, but it isn’t very good in the long run because it cannot avoid becoming rule by the masses–which is better, to be sure, than rule by tyrants.

  30. jeremobi on July 21, 2004 at 8:40 pm

    “Church attendance is the single best predictor of voting behavior in national elections. It beats out race, gender, region or income.”

    This is only a decent predictor since 1992. For those who like to take a longer view of factors, say a generation or two, class is still overwhelmingly the best predictor of partisan voting intentions.

    “There are two anti-free trade constituencies in the United States: unions and anti-globalization activists. Unions are firmly democratic. (The anti-globalization activists are not, but compared to the AFL-CIO they are peanuts.)”

    Oh, I can think of more than a few Agribusiness interests that are far from free-traders, i.e., Google the Australian-US Free Trade Agreement and see who’s opposed.

  31. Jeremy on July 21, 2004 at 9:48 pm

    Here’s a very trenchant commentary from the illustrious faux-anchorman Jon Stewart about how we arrive at the clumsy polarities that drive American political rhetoric. You can listen here. Or, here’s a summary quote:

    “Talking points are true because they’re said a lot.”

    Is it just me, or is anyone else getting tired/freaked out about the idea of “talking points” — on both sides of the aisle?

  32. john fowles on July 21, 2004 at 10:39 pm

    Jim: it is odd to describe Democrats as “the Left” I was surprised by this comment. If it is odd to describe Dems as the Left, then we should also quit any rhetoric denominating the Republicans as “the Right.” I wonder if the Dems would be willing to do that. I suppose you were implying that Dems are not on the Left but really in the middle. If that is true, then it forces Republicans to occupy “the Right.” But then that is only based on your definition of the middle.

    Democracy is better than its alternatives, but it isn’t very good in the long run because it cannot avoid becoming rule by the masses–which is better, to be sure, than rule by tyrants. The beautiful thing about the Constitution as it was originally intended (before “rights” started emanating out of some “penumbra”) was that it harnassed the most rapacious aspect of our self-interested human nature and played it out against itself, creating an ingenious dynamic that worked out for the common good. Knowing the danger of factions in democracies, and trusting in the ability of a large republic (not a democracy) to curb faction, the Constitution enshrined a republican form of government (see Federalist 10). What is better, then, than both rule by the masses and rule by tyrants, is rule by coalitions of factions, each of which individually is frustrated in imposing its will fully on the others, whether that is the majority will, or the will of a disproportionately influential minority. Politics has always been a nasty business; but it seems that this ability of factions to neutralize each other has diminished over time. Perhaps the shrinking republic (through modern travel and communications) has something to do with this. The result has been that states are no longer the main stage of our political life, but rather the federal government and its cumbersome administrative state. And that is one reason why the Republicans are more attractive to me: because from my perspective the Republicans seem to be more interested in originalism regarding the Constitution, which includes a greater reliance on the states and governance at local levels, where, admittedly, local factions, representing the true majority values and tastes of the locality, will be able to arrange local affairs in conformance with those values.

    (None of this diminishes the importance of bills of rights that prevent overreach by such a local majority. Thus, I am thankful for the incorporation of most of the Bill of Rights against the states through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. I tend to think that as a Latter-day Saint, who in large part shares the same values as the majority of American Christians, but who as a Latter-day Saint cannot count on those Christians to protect my rights despite such shared values, I actually appreciate the federal government and the incorporation of the Bill of Rights more than a straight-shooting evangelical Republican does or should. [And I'm not saying that I am a Republican--but I can't be a Democrat for a number of reasons. One of them is a reluctance to side with the dems until Dem. leaders, who accuse Bush of only benefiting the rich through his tax cuts, fire their tax lawyers who are working overtime to find all the loopholes and spare them any possible cent of tax that they can find. I don't criticize such behavior coming from Republicans because their rhetoric and track record are anti-taxes.])

    Randy: Overwrought? Perhaps. But as Jim implies, I think the answer to that question depends in large part on where we personally come out on these issues. Even Republicans (I hope) are concerned about these things. They just come to very different conclusions than I do about how best to accomplish them. I really liked your observation or your expression of hope that Republicans are also concerned about those things. I argue that they most definitely are, and that the way they are approaching finding solutions are more effective. Rather than perpetuating a victim mentality that holds people down, they trust more in the regulated free market and the supervised invisible hand to bring prosperity through a more natural system that forces people to produce and work and rewards them for it.

    Finally, I just want to note that I was paraphrasing someone else’s email to NPR. So even if that email was overwrought, I hope that noone misunderstood and thought that the comment stemmed from me (although I am frequently overwrought about any number of things). After contemplating my own experience in life, I observed that Dems do seem to condescend to that–at least those Dems who create party platform and policy. Jim and Russell have made convincing statements to disabuse me of that, and I trust the truth of it as far as they as individuals are concerned. I tend, however, to distrust the motives of other Dems (like Kerry) who act like these traditional values are actually important to them. That might partially be because the voices in the Dem. party advocating morally questionable causes (like abortion, and rights to “privacy” that in reality are not found in the Constitution but which are blatantly judge-made) are so much louder than the voices promoting a Church-going nation, if there is one in the Dem. party.

    As for Nate’s injection of “jingoism” into the formula that the paraphrased email was discussing, I think it was a nice way to bring Adam’s original post into the discussion, but I don’t think that jingoism was one of the traits that the emailer to NPR had in mind when he listed values important to him and then said that the Dems make him feel inferior for holding to them. I think that we can omit “jingoism” from this discussion, because noone, on the right or left, is actually advocating jingoism as a desirable characteristic of American values (to my knowledge).

  33. Jim F. on July 21, 2004 at 11:19 pm

    John Fowles: I am quite happy to say that it is a mistake to describe the Republicans as “the Right.” Like the Democratic Party, the Republican Party contains a wide-variety of views. On average, I suppose it makes some sense to say that the Democrats come out slightly left of center and the Republicans come out slightly right of center, but the truth is that both are pretty much in the center. However, I don’t like reducing either party to its “average” because I think it is misleading to do so.

    Political parties are like other clubs: people join them for a variety of reasons, and often they make up their reasons for joining and for continued loyalty after the fact. I suspect that most members of either party are members for a variety of sociological, cultural, and historical reasons rather than because they have thought carefully about their own political views and feel that the party they’ve chosen best represents them. Heck, if we did that, we would find it hard to be part of either party.

  34. A Edwards on July 22, 2004 at 1:07 am

    Jim: I concur with your point that sociological, cultural, etc. reasons inform party affiliation. Being a Connecticut Saint, I’m hard pressed to find ANYBODY around here, inside or outside of the Church, that is openly and unabashedly in support of Bush. While I suspect there exists the common LDS inclination toward the GOP, these “Bushies” are underground at the moment. (I’d say “in the closet,” but wouldn’t want to open THAT can of worms!)

    Russell: I’ll join you in your Communitarian Crusade to Remake America. And that makes a third column of … two.

  35. Clark Goble on July 22, 2004 at 2:52 am

    Jim, I think in Presidential politics Republicans are definitely moving towards the center. In congressional politics it is the opposite. Democrats, as I said, were moving towards the center with Bill Clinton and the New Democrats. However I think the losses in the congress and now the anti-Bush ferver is pushing them the other way.

    I definitely agree on Bush and his gaffes and mistakes. A few one can handle. But they keep adding up. I think Kerry will win and perhaps create some soul searching in the Republican party. But its hard to say what will happen. I think Democrats within the party machine will take it as a mandate for far more liberalism than the nation desires. (Much like Republicans took the midterm elections under Bush to provide far more of a mandate than was justified)

  36. Hellmut Lotz on July 22, 2004 at 9:11 am

    “Church attendance is the single best predictor of voting behavior in national elections. It beats out race, gender, region or income.”

    It is true that people who do not go to church are overwhelmingly Democrats while those who attend religious services more than once a week are overwhelmingly Republicans. But the bulk of religious people go to church less than once a week and is evenly distributed between parties or undecided.

  37. Hellmut Lotz on July 22, 2004 at 9:30 am

    “I think in Presidential politics Republicans are definitely moving towards the center.”

    It is true that Bush campaigned in 2000 as a centrist. But he surely has not governed as one. The only centrist thing he has done is appeal to our tribal instincts and malign those of us who identified the flaws in his reasoning as traiterous and unpatriotic.

    Then there are the tax cuts, which have been garnished with a few crumbs for the middle class while benefitting the super rich . . . as if we were Samaritans in the promised land. In the end, it will be our many children that will pick up the bill for the ballooning deficits. They will either pay more taxes or see their pay checks consumed by inflation.

    But who cares. As long as politicians use the name of the lord in vain we will mistake a third generation career politician with a speech impediment for a “regular guy.”

  38. Randy on July 22, 2004 at 10:14 am

    Clark, I have to agree with Hellmut here. Whatever one might conclude about the relative moderation of Bush’s political campaign in 2000, his administration certainly has not governed like moderate Republicans. Where are the hard compromises of this administration, akin to Clinton’s welfare reform? I don’t know what you are seeing, but it is lost on me.

    Getting back to Adam’s post, I have been somewhat surprised that more average-joe Republicans have not come out against Bush on certain issues. (Or, as one of several possible examples, is the administration’s “starve the beast” mentality–high tax cuts combined with sharp increases in spending to create enormous budget deficits designed to limit future government action–now a “moderate” Republican view?) I can understand why politicians are slow to criticize Bush–they are playing politics. But why don’t more citizens who vote Republican stand up and call a spade a spade?

    Now it is certainly true that Democrats are guilty of this as well. But the fact that both parties are guilty of this does not excuse the behavior.

  39. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 11:02 am

    A Edwards: About a third of the Connecticut electorate tell pollsters they’re going to vote for Bush. I don’t have an explanation for why so many fewer tell you they’re going to vote for Bush. Do you?

    Hellmut: If you were to pick the single Bush quote that most clearly maligns you as traitorous for identifying the flaws in his reasoning, which would it be?

    Randy: My recollection is that Clinton campaigned in favor of welfare reform in 1992, which would make his support of welfare reform as President not much of a compromise. Is my recollection on this matter faulty?

  40. Robert Wilkey on July 22, 2004 at 11:07 am

    I’m a newbie to Times and Seasons, but have thus far found the commentary extremely insightful. Here in Philadelphia, people are still in arms over Bush’s failure to attend the NAACP Convention held a week or so ago. Who could blame Bush though since Julian Bond, Chairman of the the organization’s Board of Directors has been so hostile to him. But if Bush doesn’t start making some appeal to the citizens of Philadelphia, I predict that that the Democrats will take Pennsylvania. Just my two cents.

  41. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 11:15 am

    Jim F. wrote: “though I think both parties are quite responsible for the nastiness and divisiveness between Republicans and Democrats, my perception is that the former are more guilty than the latter”

    The BYU Bookstore has assembled an impressive number of books that are harshly critical of President Bush. Is it your impression that there were at least as many books harshly critical of President Clinton?

  42. Randy on July 22, 2004 at 11:39 am

    The fact that Clinton campaigned for welfare reform does not mean that the welfare reform bill signed into law was not a compromise. Democrats and Republicans had very different ideas about how to go about doing this. Clinton took a lot of flack from Democrats for signing the bill because they thought he had given too much up. Clinton, in otherwords, helped moved the Democrats into the center.

    My question still stands: Where are the hard compromises of this administration? Where are the moves to the center?

  43. Jim F. on July 22, 2004 at 11:42 am

    Chris Grant: Yes.

  44. Randy on July 22, 2004 at 11:52 am

    For those interested, Wikipedia has a rundown on the welfare reform bill signed by Clinton.

    “The welfare reform movement reached its apex on August 22, 1996, when President Clinton signed a welfare reform bill, officially titled the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. The bill was hammered out in a compromise with the Republican-controlled Congress, and many Democrats were critical of Clinton’s decision to sign the bill. In fact, it emerged as one of the most controversial issues for Clinton within his own party.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welfare_reform

  45. Steve Evans on July 22, 2004 at 11:52 am

    Geoff: “Korihor, Nehor and others called the prophets idiots because they weren’t as sophisticated as the people who opposed the Church. There seems to be a lesson there.”

    Is the lesson, “Bush is not a prophet”? I sure hope that’s what you were getting at, because otherwise this comment of yours is extremely problematic.

  46. Kingsley on July 22, 2004 at 11:54 am

    The BYU Bookstore does not discriminate, as far as I can tell, when it comes to best-selling bashers of whatever party or party chief. You can get your NR fix and your Nation fix, whichever you prefer.

  47. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 12:14 pm

    Randy: The Wikipedia article goes on to identify 2 controversial parts of the bill that passed: block grants and time limits. While Clinton apparently did compromise on block grants, time limits were part of his original proposal. Clinton made a campaign pledge to “end welfare as we know it”. Many of the Democrats who were upset by the welfare reform legislation that passed were upset by Clinton’s original campaign pledges.

    As far as compromises made by Bush, there seem to be several identifiable by googling “Bush compromised”. (Not all of the hits on that search are along the lines of “Bush compromised our national security”!)

  48. Randy on July 22, 2004 at 12:52 pm

    Chris,

    My argument is not that Bush has “never” compromised. (I do find it somewhat telling, however, that most of the google hits for “Bush compromised” are along the lines of “Bush compromised our national security” or “Bush compromised our environment.”) It is that even his so-called compromises are to the right of his campaign pledges.

    As for welfare reform, President Clinton did not campaign on a pledge to limit welfare benefits to a total of five years (consecutive or nonconsecutive). This was a true, and significant, compromise. I’ve yet to see a compromise of comparable substance out of this administration. Part of this, of course, is a result of the fact that the Republicans control Congress, but the point remains–Bush has been become more, not less, conservative during his tenure in office.

  49. Hellmut Lotz on July 22, 2004 at 1:06 pm

    Chris Grant:

    Good question. Let me explain what I am talking about.

    Bush operates with a shrewd division of labor. He has others who do his dirty work for him. You need to hold Bush accountable for every word out of Cheney’s mouth. Though I do suspect that it may well be the other way around. We may have to hold Cheney accountable for every word out of Bush’s mouth.

    Remember the campaign strategy memo that Karl Rove lost in Lafayette Park? In 2002 the White House run a campaign that insinuated that Democrats are undermining the war on terror. Before the war the Bush attack machine even targeted Norman Schwarzkopf when he suggested that Rumsfeld should defer to military planners. They depicted former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter as a pedophile when the marine captain documented that Iraq did not possess sizable amounts of mass destruction weapons. They outed Valerie Plame, a CIA agent, when her husband’s analysis questioned the Bushies. In Georgia, Republicans attacked Max Cleland who had left three limbs in Vietnam as soft on terrorism and national defense.

    If you are not satisfied, I can give you lots of Bush quotes that use the name of the Lord in vain.

  50. Hellmut Lotz on July 22, 2004 at 1:19 pm

    Would quoting Bush using the name of the Lord in vain be abusing the name of the Lord as well?

  51. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 1:30 pm

    Randy wrote:

    “[Bush's] so-called compromises are to the right of his campaign pledges.”

    Really?

    “Bush compromised with Democrats who fought cost controls and his own effort to inject competition into Medicare.” (AP, 6/28/02)

    “By accepting a 15 percent tax on dividends, Bush compromised on his moral argument for full repeal.” (Tech Central Station, 6/2/03)

    “Pres Bush’s compromise with Sen Ted Kennedy has effectively gutted Bush’s education-reform plan” (Wall Street Journal, 5/4/01)

  52. Robert Wilkey on July 22, 2004 at 1:39 pm

    Not a website of any real-substance, but definitely a catchy URL.

    http://www.republicansforkerry.org/default.asp

  53. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 1:55 pm

    Randy wrote:

    “As for welfare reform, President Clinton did not campaign on a pledge to limit welfare benefits to a total of five years (consecutive or nonconsecutive).

    Here’s what a June 1994 press release from Clinton’s HHS said:

    “President Clinton’s ‘Work and Responsibility Act of 1994′ was sent to Congress June 21, 1994. . . . Highlights of the President’s welfare reform proposal follow. . . . A two-year time limit. Time limits will restrict most AFDC recipients to a lifetime maximum of 24 months of cash assistance.”

    That this was true to Clinton’s campaign pledges is confirmed by the New York Times: “Proposals for more radical change, like Gov. Bill Clinton’s call to limit time on welfare to two years, are receiving unusual attention in the Presidential campaign.” (7/26/92)

  54. Clark Goble on July 22, 2004 at 2:38 pm

    Where are the hard compromises of this administration, akin to Clinton’s welfare reform?

    You’ve not listened to Republican pundits much. In health care he’s done many compromises against the wishes of the Republicans as well as in many other of his “compassionate conservativism.” However like Republicans never wanted to acknowledge Clinton’s centrist moves, Democrats tend to not acknowledge the moderation of Bush.

    Regarding tax cuts, which someone mentioned, those were a fairly centrist position – especially during a recession. Democrats differed only about the size and the targeting. However there was general consensus they were needed.

  55. Randy on July 22, 2004 at 3:13 pm

    Mea culpa. I suppose this goes to show you what happens when you rely solely on your memory in discussing events from 12 years ago. It appears that Chris may be right about Clinton’s campaign promise–though I can’t find the NYT article he points to (perhaps you could link to it, Chris). I stand by my initial contention, however, that Clinton made substantial compromises in signing the 1996 welfare reform bill, and in so doing pulled the Democrats to the center in a significant, even historically significant, way. This article from the WP gives some of the flavor of the day.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/politics/special/welfare/stories/wf080196.htm

    To suggest that Clinton was not really compromising because he had previously recommended time limits ignores the other parts of the bill (including not only the block grants, as acknowledged previously by Chris, but, as another example, welfare benefits for immigrants).

    As for Bush, the fact that he agreed, reluctantly, to cut the capital gains tax rate to only 15% rather than abolishing it altogether doesn’t exactly make him a moderate in my eyes. Beauty, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. Still, eliminating “welfare as we know it” just does not seem to on the same level as agreeing to tax cuts that are not as large as originally hoped for.

  56. Geoff B on July 22, 2004 at 3:20 pm

    Steve, my point was that sophists and lawyers of all times and in all places love to claim they are smarter than everybody around them. The scriptures attest to that. Sometimes the truth is so simple that it evades the sophists (and even the lawyers). Bush’s is not the most eloquent speaker in the world and often comes off as inarticulate and therefore dumb. Reagan was the same way. But they both proclaim universal truths that are simple and un-nuanced but nevertheless still true. Bush pointed out that Iraq, Iran and North Korea form an “axis of evil.” Well, we know that Iranian leaders have been funding terrorism for at least 30 years, have declared they want to get nuclear weapons so they can wipe Israel off the map, etc, etc. Seems pretty evil to me. Now we know that Iran let al Qaeda through the borders and probably encouraged them to go make their attacks. Bush often portrays the world in black and white terms of good and evil, which seems simplistic, but the more you study things, the more you realize that there really is such a thing as good and such a thing as evil and many of the “nuanced” figures are simply apologizing for evil. That’s the point of the Korihor reference — IMHO the BoM points out that we should recognize that sometimes things really are just as simple as they seem. It takes true smarts to see through the propaganda and recognize that.

  57. Steve Evans on July 22, 2004 at 4:06 pm

    I’d agree with you, Geoff, that it takes smarts to see through the propaganda.

    As for “Reagan was the same way,” that’s just not true. They didn’t call Reagan the Great Communicator for nothing — he was incredibly articulate. He didn’t come off as terribly educated, but he was hardly inarticulate.

    Thanks, incidentally, for mentioning sophists and lawyers (several times). Very accurate.

    As for the Axis of Evil (or as I like to call it, “the worst foreign relations blunder in decades”), no one suggested that the three countries you mention were nice, friendly nations. It’s the Axis part that was not only incorrect, but ill-advised and ill-timed. Perhaps a tendency to lump people in broad and inaccurate categories accompanies’ Bush’s ability to see things in black and white terms.

    Other than that, he’s been a decent president — no sex scandals, at least!!

  58. Chris Grant on July 22, 2004 at 4:07 pm

    Randy: I accessed the 7/26/92 NY Times article excerpted above on Nexis. Here’s a link to the URL I see at the top of that Nexis page, but it might not work if you’re not coming from the right IP address.

  59. Philocrites on July 22, 2004 at 5:06 pm

    Adam, in your original post you wrote: “I prefer [Bush's] policies, respond to his character, and in any case don’t have reasons enough to cease being loyal (a quality sadly absent in liberal democracies).” What do you mean when you mention loyalty? Are you describing your personal loyalty to Bush? Or are you saying something about national loyalty?

  60. Adam Greenwood on July 22, 2004 at 7:36 pm

    The former. I dislike very much the tendency to hold one’s leaders at arm’s length distastefully. Much could be said for the latter point, of course.

  61. Owen Tanner on July 22, 2004 at 9:15 pm

    It is so easy for us all to take pot shots and lavish praise on political figures as many of us do.
    Having not set in the chair of any political office and felt the responsibility that it calls for, we have no idea what it feels like.
    Yet we continually blabber on and on about the ‘blunders’ and lack of ‘creativity’ as Jim puts it so eloquently of our elected office holders.
    It is easy to use such ‘generalizations’ without being specific and stating our own solutions to such finger pointing.
    Come on, lets go on record, state your position and solutions from a to z on how you would solve all of our problems from the drainage problems on your street to the starvation of thousands upon thousands in Africa.
    We all, myself included, standby and point our fingers while the world quickly spirals into moral decay and decadency.

    Will the righteous really prevail in the end?

    Owen L Tanner

  62. Chris Grant on July 23, 2004 at 1:40 pm

    Hellmut: I don’t see why losing 3 limbs in Vietnam should immunize someone from charges of being soft on terrorism and national defense (anymore than, say, serving a full-time LDS mission should immunize someone from charges of being anti-Mormon).

  63. travis on July 23, 2004 at 1:43 pm

    before this goes any further, i think we should all agree that jim f. is disqualified from continuing the discussion of american politics. he has just spent too much time in france!

    the red cross won’t accept donations from people who’ve lived in africa or england for long periods of time; there is just too great a chance that they’ve been tainted.

    sorry, jim.

    see also johnny depp [link]

  64. James on July 24, 2004 at 6:31 am

    I can’t vote for either Bush or Kerry – neither would really represent me. Neither truly obeys the Constitution. As a former lifelong Republican, I’m actually going to vote my conscience this year – I will vote for Michael Peroutka the Constitution Party candidate.

    One thought on Kerry – he has attended around 18% of this years Senate votes, yet he still draws 100% of the Senate salary from the treasury. Does not sound like he is honest with his fellow men. Of course. many similar things could be said about Bush.

    I think the bottom line is we have to stop thinking we HAVE to vote for the Republican or Democrat. Often the candidates from the two major parties are both equally bad. Why would anyone want to vote for the lesser of two evils? – You still end up voting for evil when you do that! Vote for the best person, and leave the rest up to the Lord. (I say ‘we’ as a generic term for the majority of Americans)

  65. Matt Evans on July 24, 2004 at 10:50 am

    James, unless you think Michael Peroutka would be a better president than anyone else in the country (e.g., better than Oaks, Eyring, Holland, and everyone else), by only considering the major candidates announced for president, you are choosing from the lesser of seven evils, and are still “voting for evil,” by your analysis.

  66. James on July 25, 2004 at 3:12 am

    Matt, At last count – Oaks, Eyring, Holland are not running for the office of president. Of those that are running – I do believe that Peroutka is the best of those running.

    As for voting for the less of x evils – that would be correct if I thought everybody was evil – which I do not. Do I think Bush or Kerry would be good choices – no. Hence, I can’t vote for either. However, everytime I say I am going to vote for Peroutka, someone always says they are going to vote for Bush – not because they believe he is a good choice – but because he “is better than Kerry” (or vice versa).

    My point was that we should consider all the candidates on the ballot – not only those from the two major parties. And by all means, if the candidate from the Prohibition Party seems like the best person running – vote Prohibition Party.

    But hey – you’re right – and if Eyring was running for president, he’d get my vote.

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