2006/08/14

In response to an editorial

On Sunday August 13th, the Philly Inquirer published an editorial entitled “A self-test on whether you are a partisan” wherein the editor tried to play cute by trying to copy Jeff Foxworthy with his "You just might be a Redneck if..." tagline. Pretty weak and fairly insulting "comedy" I thought. One of my buddies from the Rapid Response letter-writing network thought so too.

My response was as follows:

Am I a partisan? Absolutely. No two ways about it. But there's more than one kind of serious hard-core partisan. Do I make the presumption that the other side is ready and willing and able “...to do dastardly things to win.“? Yes, I most certainly do.

But the second part of that question is: “Does that justify dastardly things on our part?” My answer, and the answer of all of the liberals, leftists and progressives that I associate with, is “Absolutely not.” Rules must be followed, consideration must be shown. I'm part of a group that pickets Senator Specter's home every month over the Iraq War (Our next picketing is on August 20th - our flyer in PDF format.) . His house is actually about a hundred yards from where we gather. We have never blocked or disrupted his home and have no intention of ever doing so. We leave the area clean of litter every time. The notion that conservatives might do worse is in no way an excuse for anything.

Favorite “facts”? I had an email conversation with a conservative who felt that the media has a large, safe middle area known as the “Mainstream Media” where citizens can more or less take for granted that anything published there is, to the best of the MSM's knowledge and given ordinary human frailties, true. Unfortunately, that hasn't been true for well over two decades. Liberals don't accord any media outlet automatic trust. If DailyKos and Atrios and even Z Magazine agree on something, that doesn't make it true. These folks must win our trust every day by carefully-reasoned arguments and by well-documented facts. The story must “ring true” by being consistent with human nature and with what we've observed of the particular actors in the story so far.

Yes, I'm a partisan, but that doesn't make me all-wise. If we progressives were to take over all the levers of power tomorrow, we'd prefer that conservatives hang onto some and that conservatives continue to be given a place at the table. We're not perfect and will not always make the right choices. Truth is best found via vigorous debate.

The “Blog Cabin” feature is one of the best in the paper because we don't get mushy, middle-of-the-road, unclear pieces like “Terror still a danger, Bush says; Democrats criticize readiness”. No, Democrats are not opposed to “readiness”, their complaint is that the Bush Administration is using the latest terror alert in a highly partisan manner to gain electoral advantage. The assertion that President Bush only cares about national security and that it's the Democrats who are playing politics is belied by the fact that Bush is still on vacation. If there were truly an emergency, why is Bush making speeches at fundraisers? Would an actual emergency leave time for such things?

Truth is not and never was in the middle. As Jim Hightower once put it “Ain't nothin' in the middle of the road 'cept yellow stripes and dead armadilloes.”

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