Sunday, January 21, 2007

David Broder: So Dumb it Hurts to Read His Stuff

David Broder has a columm in today's Washington Post titled "A Chance for Unity on Iraq". The title tells you all you need to know about Broder's worldview: Broder thinks the constant goal is "unity," that "partisanship" and "divisive debate" are bad. Broder's take on Bush's Surge plan? Cut out the divisive debate and get with the program!

Broder writes:
The change of command in Iraq offers an opportunity to move past the divisive domestic debate over the deployment of more troops to Baghdad and instead put the pressure where it belongs -- on the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
That's Broder for you! While others debate the actual Iraq War debacle, Broder is busy hunting for an opportunity to "move past the divisive domestic debate over the deployment of more troops." "Moving past" the substance of the Surge proposal is a good thing, because it ends "divisive domestic debate". "Divisive domestic debate" is inherently bad, because it is inconsistent with achieving "unity." How do you achieve unity in circumstances where the President is hell-bent on escalating a catastrophic and massively unpopular war that has just been specifically repudiated in an election? Why, just cut out all the divisiveness and support the President's policy!

Here is Broder's argument, in detail: if the Democrats and those Republicans who have abandoned Bush start supporting the Surge plan and Bush's conduct of the Iraq War, then Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki could be threatened with the loss of that support if he doesn't accede to American demands. Got that? Start supporting the War, so we can use the prospect of the loss of that support as leverage against the Iraqi government. Broder writes:
In effect, [General] Petraeus is offering a way to convert the opposition to the war that is growing in both Republican and Democratic ranks into leverage on Maliki. Together, they can hold the prime minister to his pledge to go after all the combatants -- Shiites as well as Sunnis -- and to provide the troops for the fight.
Yes, that's Broder's argument. "Convert the opposition to the war" into "leverage," i.e., convert the opposition to the war into support for the war, which will yield "leverage."

Here is Broder's concluding paragraph:
The challenge is immense, but for a change, there is a chance to get the full weight of our government pulling in the same direction. Congress ought to seize the opportunity.
There you have it. Broder always thinks the goal is to achieve "unity," to have "the full weight of our government pulling [sic] in the same direction." Broder doesn't particularly care what that direction is -- he doesn't care about the actual policies, except to the extent that they present an "opportunity to unite."

I've said it before and I'll say it again: it speaks volumes about the state of political punditry in America that a guy as vacuous as David Broder is widely regarded as the "Dean of Washington journalists."

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Maureen Dowd's Latest: Vicious Meme Queen Strikes Again

Maureen Dowd's column in today's New York Times, titled "Monkey on a Tiger," is an unbelievably dumb "pox on both their houses" piece about how both Democrats and Republicans just can't help themselves and keep "reverting to type", i.e., Congressional Democrats keep being a bunch of weak, ineffectual, fence-straddling feminist hippies and leading Republicans (Bush, McCain) keep plowing ahead on the Iraq war.

In addition to being characteristically twitty and substance-free, Dowd's column is also an occasion for her to promote vicious memes about Democrats. And that's the nature of Dowd's power, her special gift: even though she plainly isn't knowledgable (or even well-informed) about politics or public policy, she is a very, very talented crafter and promoter of successful memes, or images, about politicians and political parties.

Here's Dowd's opening paragraph:
There was a touch of parody to the giddy Democrat takeover this week: Nancy Pelosi indulging her inner Haight-Ashbury and dipping the Capitol in tie-dye, sashaying around with the Grateful Dead, Wyclef Jean, Carole King, Richard Gere, feminists and a swarm of well-connected urchins.
This is how Dowd portrays Democrats: ridiculous, San Francisco-based, childish, unserious, self-indulgent, beholden to feminists and movie stars and stoners. Needless to say, Dowd's opening paragraph is entirely gratuitous and totally substance-free -- but it sets the stage for any discussion of Democrats by Dowd: first, they must be ridiculed.

After the ritualistic mockery, Dowd makes stuff up in order to promote the idea of Democrats-as-hypocrites:

The first act of House Democrats who promised to govern with bipartisan comity was imperiously banishing Republicans from participating in the initial round of lawmaking. Even if Republicans were brutes during their reign, Democrats should have shown more class, letting the whiny minority party offer some stupid amendments that would lose.
This is pure, unadulterated bullshit. The Democrats did not campaign on a blanket promise to "govern with bipartisan comity." Rather, Pelosi and Congressional Democrats explicitly campaigned on a promise to enact new legislation to "drain the [GOP] swamp" within the first 100 hours after assuming control of the House!

Was Maureen Dowd actually unaware of the Democrats' 100 Hours pledge? Or did she know about it but choose to misrepresent the facts instead, to conform them to the vicious spin she was promoting? And which would be worse, rank incompetence or gross dishonesty? For what it's worth, the Democrats' 100 Hours platform was hardly a secret -- here is an excerpt from an AP article by David Espo published in the Washington Post on October 10, 2006:
WASHINGTON -- Franklin Roosevelt had his first hundred days.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi is thinking 100 hours, time enough, she says, to begin to "drain the swamp" after more than a decade of Republican rule.

As in the first 100 hours the House meets after Democrats _ in her fondest wish _ win control in the Nov. 7 midterm elections and Pelosi takes the gavel as the first Madam Speaker in history.

Day One: Put new rules in place to "break the link between lobbyists and legislation."

Day Two: Enact all the recommendations made by the commission that investigated the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Time remaining until 100 hours: Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour, maybe in one step. Cut the interest rate on student loans in half. Allow the government to negotiate directly with the pharmaceutical companies for lower drug prices for Medicare patients.

Broaden the types of stem cell research allowed with federal funds _ "I hope with a veto-proof majority," she added in an Associated Press interview Thursday.

All the days after that: "Pay as you go," meaning no increasing the deficit, whether the issue is middle class tax relief, health care or some other priority.
To summarize: Maureen Dowd misrepresented the facts -- just invented her own facts -- in order to portray the Democrats' fulfillment of a clearly-articulated campaign promise as hypocritical and lacking in "class." Could Maureen Dowd possibly be a bigger hack?

Here is Dowd's concluding line about Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats:

Perhaps the Democrats’ power-shift into overdrive is a neurological disorder, or neuropolitical disorder.
Now that's rich! Maureen Dowd -- vacuous, vicious and utterly indifferent to the truth -- thinks that the Democrats suffer from some sort of "disorder."