Friday, January 15, 2010

Watch Them Closely

I try to stay objective and unemotional regarding the issues of the day. I can be characterized as ideologically in the center, slightly center-left. My son is well-connected in the national GOP, currently with a high-level, full-time communications assignment, which motivates me to examine approaches from both political parties.

Today I read on Politico, with interest, Karl Rove's rebuke of the Obama administration for running up the national deficit. He fails to acknowledge that the Bush administration left a deficit of $1.4 trillion, and a projected $8. trillion shortfall over the next 10 years. The Bush Administration passed two massive tax cuts skewed to the wealthiest Americans, enacted a costly Medicare prescrpition drug program, and waged two wars, without suggesting how any of it might be paid for.

In addition, Rove fails to recognize the severe recession with which the new administration was confronted. His blindly partisan rhetoric does not help the opposition party. On the other hand, David Axelrod, in his response, fails to acknowledge that the Bush administration had 9/11 with which to deal.

If we stay engaged and try to be reasonable in our evaluation and response, not letting national figures get away with blatant inaccuracy and deception, collectively we can have impact.


  1. Bob, have you links to the articles in question or, better, transcripts of what Rove/Axelrod said?

  2. Lex, I sent the link to you. Having troublr posting it here. It is on Politico front page.

  3. Bob, this is a classic example of the Politico's pro-Republican bias. The writer creates a false moral equivalence between Rove's active obfuscation and Axelrod's failure to state the obvious. (The Politico does this kind of thing a lot; you really have to watch them.)

    No, Axelrod didn't specifically mention 9/11. He didn't HAVE to. Everyone knows that we invaded Afghanistan to go after bin Laden. Moreover, Axelrod's point isn't that we started two wars; it's that we started two wars WITHOUT HAVING, OR CREATING, ANY MECHANISM TO PAY FOR THEM.

    The Politico writer also states that Axelrod "points to no specific factual errors on Rove’s part." Two points: 1) He should have, but the fact that he didn't doesn't mean there weren't any; and 2) as a journalist, couldn't the writer also do that, and do it more thoroughly and competely than he did here?

    Here's what I mean: He writes, "Rove only vaguely alludes to the massive recession and doesn’t allow that any of his boss’s policies may have contributed to it."

    "May have?" Bush shouldn't get all the blame, but there's no question but that loose regulation, at the least, contributed. Greenspan certainly admitted as much to Congress last year.

    To fully understand Politico's abdication of its journalistic responsibility here, it's worth examining Rove's original points.

    He calls the stimulus package "ineffectual" and something that "didn't produce the promised results." In fact, economists generally agree that GDP would have been significantly lower, and unemployment significantly higher, without the stimulus, and he neglects to mention that GOP pressure for tax cuts over (less effective) direct spending reduced the bill's effectiveness. That's to say nothing of the fact that the damn thing should have been at least twice as big as it actually was, given the abyss into which we were looking, but Republicans flat-out opposed anything larger (and almost unanimously opposed what we actually got).

    Yes, discretionary spending and debt went up at the rates he describes, but given the fact that we were looking at the real possibility of a Second Great Depression, that was entirely appropriate. (That's not to say that all the spending, particularly on some banks that should have been nationalized instead, was appropriate, but that drastic conditions call for drastic responses.)

    He claims Dems "made a priority of the unpopular cap-and-trade energy tax while Americans were worried about jobs and the economy." In fact, an economic stimulus was enacted before spring and a health-care bill, with huge ramifications for the economy, is now in conference, while cap and trade hasn't even gotten out of committee, so how is he defining "priority"?

    He claims Dems "squandered every opportunity for the bipartisanship President Obama promised in his campaign." Even if true -- and it isn't; just yesterday Harry Reid acknowledged wasting months trying to get a vote out of Olympia Snowe on health care that he was NEVER going to get -- this ignores Congressional Republicans' determination to make health care Obama's "Waterloo," to deny him confirmation of reasonable appointees, and mainly to use the filibuster the way a dysentery victim uses toilet paper.

    And, of course, he hopes you won't notice that a big part of the reason the health-care bill is "increasingly detested" is that Dems have caved on popular issue after popular issue, to the benefit of traditionally Republican constituencies.

    These are not honest people, Bob, and you can't assume otherwise.

  4. Lex, I agree with most all of your points. But as far as just websites go, Politico and The Hill are probably as objective as you're going to find for political coverage.

  5. One correction/clarification, Bob: Cap-and-trade hasn't gotten out of committee in the Senate. The full House has approved it, but then the House got done with health-care reform much faster than the Senate did.


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