Comments on dialogue & politcal communication

This really ticked me off:

Who is qualified to speak on matters of national security? According to the American left, only pacifists, military members who have served in combat and direct relatives of those slain in combat or in acts of terrorism. The rest of us -- about 80 percent of voters -- must simply sit by silently. Our opinions do not matter. You want disenfranchisement? Talk to the political left, which seeks to exclude the vast majority of the American populace from the national debate about foreign policy.

The bulk of the left in this country refuses to argue about foreign policy rationally, without resorting to ad hominem attack. The favored ad hominem attack of the left these days is "chickenhawk."

Lefties have always felt that someone who has no idea what they're talking about, say a person speaking about the World War II policy of internment, should not be taken as seriously as someone who has some clue as to what they're saying but we have never felt or advocated that such people should be prevented from speaking. Ben goes on:

The "chickenhawk" argument proves only one point: The left is incapable of discussing foreign policy in a rational manner. They must resort to purely emotional, base personal attacks in order to forward their agenda. And so, unable or unwilling to counter the arguments of those like Paul Wolfowitz, Dick Cheney and President Bush, they label them all "chickenhawks."

Would that these people had ever, at any time, "discuss[ed] foreign policy in a rational manner"! I remember quite a few times from late 2002 to early 2003 when the left attempted to have some sort of dialogue about the planned war with Iraq and when we were casually pushed aside. I'll let Orcinus continue:

Sure. And she {Cindy Sheehan] will also [while in the process of "Googling"] -- rather more to the point -- read many accounts of what happens when anyone chooses not to let themselves merely be a photo op for Bush's propaganda, a prop for his agenda. They get shut out or shouted down, accused of being anti-American traitors.

She'll be able to find any number of stories that make clear that the only way to you even get be in an audience for an appearance by the president is by swearing to be a supporter. And that the easiest way to get tossed from a Bush event is to express support for anything resembling a liberal idea. How weird -- how totalitarian -- is that?

This is a president who lives in a bubble, who refuses to be held to account. By anyone.

Indeed, if Cindy Sheehan were to Google around a bit, she could find plenty of stories about what happens to anyone who tries to hold this president to account. Paul O'Neill. Richard Clarke. Joe Wilson. All tried to expose the lies he used to lead us into this war, all were smeared. Wilson's wife saw her career as a CIA specialist in weapons of mass destruction end.

What's remarkable about all this is that Bush has succeeded. He has not yet been called to account for misleading the nation into war. The primary reason: the watchdogs of our national discourse, the mainstream media, have refused to hold him responsible.

I mean, just how is it that the nation isn't really aware of the contents of the August 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing? How is it that, nearly a year after both the 9/11 Commission Report and the Duelfer Report, most Americans still believe Iraq was connected to 9/11? How did it happen that a guy who certifiably skipped out on his military commitment was able to run a campaign that slandered his war-hero opponent's record? How is it that the Downing Street Memo is still just a rumor for most Americans?

I'll tell you how: Because the traditional media have completely fallen down on the job. The public isn't getting this information because guys like Robert Jamieson [A reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer] and his editors have decided they have, um, "other priorities."

Sure. While the threat of terrorism was building both at home and abroad in the late 1990s, these are the same folks who thought it worth the public's while to devote most of our attention to prurient allegations regarding the president's private life. Some priorities.

The song and dance continues: Michael Jackson. Scott and Laci Peterson. Robert Blake. Terri Schiavo. An endless circus of freak shows, bread and circus for the masses. Let's not be bothered by the inescapable reality that the United States invaded another nation under false pretenses, and almost certainly in violation of international law. Oh, and don't look over there at those photos from Abu Ghraib, either, or the reports out of Gitmo.

But then what happens? Someone comes along and reminds everyone that soldiers are dying daily in Iraq, and that this president still hasn't been called to account for misleading the nation into war, and in so doing, dishonoring the memories of those people who have died there. Someone tries to do what the media have failed to do: Hold this man to account.

And, well, the media poobahs huff and they puff. How dare she? Who does she think she is?

Well, Robert Jamieson may not like it, but she is someone who is speaking for a lot of us. We're people who are opposed to the war on principled grounds, and who have not been taken seriously because our motives, too, have been discounted and smeared.

You find wonderment that the antiwar movement has coalesced behind her? It shouldn't be a surprise, because everyone else who has demanded this accountability has been called an anti-American traitor, sideline carpers who won't make the necessary sacrifices. It's false, it's a smear. And it sticks -- mostly because the charge is made so freely in today's "mainstream media" environment. Right, Ann Coulter?

But it's harder to pin that on Cindy Sheehan. A lot harder.

So she's become a spokesperson for a lot of people. Including a lot of those other mothers and fathers of dead soldiers for whom Jamieson seems to have so much sympathy -- the ones who don't have the luxury of spending the time and energy to force some kind of accountability from this president. She speaks for many thousands of them, even if not all of them.

She speaks for a lot of people who feel passionately about this war, that the killing must stop.

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