Comments: Honesty

Anne - I actually think the Sun Tzu quote below is more appropriate..the one in the article is only 1/2 of the actual passage...

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

I had to read one paragraph again because I thought the author meant more people are aligned with Democratic Party IDEALS - but then up re-reading, realized she wrote ISSUES. Well, after studying Pollingreport.com and other polls, I'm not sure the author has conclusively supported that position or the one below:

"Usually the preferred, or superior, product wins out in the marketplace, but not always."

First, it may be the Republican product IS actually superior..or at least after a long period of Democratic control of the congress, the pendulum swung the other way and will likely move back in the future.

I might accept the notion Americans relate more to Demo ideals along broad stereotypes: Dems favor the laborer, Reps favor business; Dems are more concerned with minority issues than Reps; Dems are more concerned on the environment than Reps, etc. but that is NOT the same as being in sync with the issues.

For example, if you talk in general terms on discrimination or fairness, I bet more Americans polled would lean dem. But look at Pollingreport and others on how gay marriage is viewed: 2 to 1 against it. Does that mean most Americans don't want homosexuals to have certain benefits? Probably not- they just don't want to see it done through marriage. A democratic ideal, but I suspect it is more the Dem party platform for gay marriage (note how JFKerry reads the tea leaves)...

Now, look at the two issues that those polls say are on the minds of voters this year - Iraq (and overall terrorism) and the Economy. Both Bush and JFK say we have to stay the course. Bush says we'll do what we have, JFK promises to be out in 4 years, but also says he'll increase the size of the Army and will go to the UN and our allies. Ok, in another poll, most Americans have a negative view of the UN and what do you bet on how they feel about the other 3 Sec Council members - France (please), China (like they'll help), and Russia (a scandal waiting to break on the oil for food)?

The economy? Note how most Americans also feel they are overtaxed (okay, so JFK wants targeted tax increase - but that only plays to the class warfare crowd that already is voting Dem - the moderate crowd hears tax increase)..And I believe Presidents are generally not responsible for job loss OR creation (like what would John Edwards really do - stand in front of the plant as President with troops?), but they get to take the blame or credit..unfortunately, I suspect the economy will be more likely to be up along with the market, especially if oil prices fall, there is no major terror incident domestically, and Iraq trends anywhere near stable.

Or look at Abortion. The polls show almost a split between illegal/other limited cases vs. doctor/woman. But the impression from the NOW/NARAL type organizations is that even middle of the road positions (ie. parental notification) is extreme and will put us on the road to back alleys and coat hangers. Now, in balance, the NRA takes that all or nothing attitude too (which is why I won't join in spite of owning firearms) - but the polls show the country is a more supportive of gun rights and thus the perception is not the same.

Now, let's look at this passage:

"The Democrats must once again embrace moral politics and reshape the debate around what kind of nation America wants to be. "

Ok, I'm open..but then the first sentence talks about "international things" (again, not in sync currently with majority opinion); then about the hungry children (ok, so they are only in Rep controlled cities and states? And what about faith-based charities - which the Reps can say gets cut down by Dems (right or wrong)); and then "work hard and play by rules" (if this is the greedy CEO angle, you've got sympathy - but then again, it can also mean vouchers for education, tax breaks, equal opportunity as opposed to quotas, etc. - and that cuts against the Dems)..

And the section above that one on religion wants to recast that in terms of the environment and civil rights..I think Hugo had a great post on that..something like it's lonely to be a pro-life Democrat..

It gets back to knowing yourself and knowing the enemy..

"Of course, having the truth on your side doesn't hurt, and a cadre of media-savvy, progressive spokespersons must be developed to vociferously counter conservatives' disinformation, character assassination and spurious statistics"

Yes, because Al Gore screaming like a lunatic and Michael Moore are not exactly helping. Look, you had the model in Bill Clinton. Heck, I even voted for him - twice! My disappointment with him (besides not firing Janet Reno - but we got something just as bad in Ashcroft) is that he let his personal weaknesses interfere with the great opportunity he had for real change. And now the Democrats have abandoned that model for Kerry? At least Dean said this is what I believe in now take it or leave it. The bad thing for Kerry is Clinton's upcoming book tour will show more what the Democratic party is lacking than being anti-Bush) - but then again, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks it's all about Hillary in 2008 anyway.

"However, the glorious times of yore that conservatives long for are not ones that most Americans would care to relive. Think of Trent Lott who waxes nostalgic for the good ol' days of segregation"

Yes, and for everyone you can name, the other side can do the same - Sen Byrd (former KKK member who voted against 1964 civil rights act); Rep McDermott "fogetting" to add under God to the pledge, etc..

Goodness, a poll in the website you sent showed almost 80% of people have a negative view of Congress to begin with so I'm not sure why the author is trying to claim some moral superiority..

Seems to me she should have actually READ Sun-Tzu as opposed to cherry-picking a quote.

Posted by Col Steve at May 28, 2004 10:56 PM

I rather disagree with a lot that you've said here :) but my response will have to wait until I get back to town, sorry.

Posted by Anne at June 3, 2004 08:44 AM

Finally...five free minutes! Okay, my response:

First, it may be the Republican product IS actually superior..or at least after a long period of Democratic control of the congress, the pendulum swung the other way and will likely move back in the future.

The Republican product is, of course, clearly inferior. ;-)

Aside from that bit of rudeness, the natural "pendulum" swing of political balance in this country is probably moving back to the left. From my perspective, we've been in a conservative mode since the 70s and the failures of the Reagan and Bush I presidencies, the excesses of the GOP-controlled Congress through the Clinton years, and the more immediate failures of the Bush II administration have to be getting through to people by now.

I might accept the notion Americans relate more to Demo ideals along broad stereotypes: Dems favor the laborer, Reps favor business; Dems are more concerned with minority issues than Reps; Dems are more concerned on the environment than Reps, etc. but that is NOT the same as being in sync with the issues.

For example, if you talk in general terms on discrimination or fairness, I bet more Americans polled would lean dem. But look at Pollingreport and others on how gay marriage is viewed: 2 to 1 against it. Does that mean most Americans don't want homosexuals to have certain benefits? Probably not- they just don't want to see it done through marriage. A democratic ideal, but I suspect it is more the Dem party platform for gay marriage (note how JFKerry reads the tea leaves)...

I doubt if national polls about most of our more radically progressive actions in the past century would have passed the polling test. Polls are only of limited value. They reflect how people answered a specific question on a specific day and, as we all know, the way the questions are asked, the alternatives presented, even the order of the questions affects the responses.

Now, look at the two issues that those polls say are on the minds of voters this year - Iraq (and overall terrorism) and the Economy. Both Bush and JFK say we have to stay the course. Bush says we'll do what we have, JFK promises to be out in 4 years, but also says he'll increase the size of the Army and will go to the UN and our allies. Ok, in another poll, most Americans have a negative view of the UN and what do you bet on how they feel about the other 3 Sec Council members - France (please), China (like they'll help), and Russia (a scandal waiting to break on the oil for food)?

#1 - You're assuming the average voter in this country has any idea who the permanent SC members are. I doubt more than 2 out of 10 people stopped on the street could name them. (I doubt if two could.) You're also assuming the average person knows what the SC does. Well, the "average" person on the streets of DC might know, but not many of the people living in Omaha or Cheyenne do.

#2 - The "France (please)" comment exposes your own bias. Beyond awareness of recent jokes about the French, the average person does not, in fact, have some contemptuous view of France. (At least, no more than they do of any "foreign" country. We're shockingly insular.) Yes, France dissed Bush for invading Iraq. Well, cast your mind back a year and count up how many of us were standing there, agreeing with France, okay? Having opposed our invasion of Iraq doesn't do France damage in a lot of our eyes.

UPDATE: I see that the bogeyman that is France is of concern to "average citizens" but only those on the Right. This includes a dire warning against Kerry. One of his major sins? The man actually, gasp! speaks French!

#3 - You're also assuming that the average voter in this country has been following the "oil for food" scandal with breathless anticipation and knows who the players are.

Not to be rude or anything, but I don't think you've done much of a job of expressing what I think your point was, that Kerry doesn't have a decent plan for success in Iraq and that no one believes in what he wants to do.

The economy? Note how most Americans also feel they are overtaxed (okay, so JFK wants targeted tax increase - but that only plays to the class warfare crowd that already is voting Dem - the moderate crowd hears tax increase)..

Tax increases aren't always "class warfare" okay? Governments need taxes. Within reason, I think it's legitimate that them what has more, pays more.

Nor is there anything inherently "undemocratic" in paying for what you get. Arguably, rich people who live in posh neighborhoods and have three more "vacation" homes in other places around the country use a lot more government than the rest of us, between things like their sacrosanct, gated streets, easy access to politicians, and cozy relationships with those passing legislation designed to keep the wealthy's businesses healthy and happy. (No, I'm not ignoring the effect of healthy business on the economy, but the direct benefit to the wealthy is a lot more immediate than the indirect benefit to the less-fortunate.)

We've sent soldiers overseas to die to protect business interests. That's worth a few extra tax dollars.

And I believe Presidents are generally not responsible for job loss OR creation (like what would John Edwards really do - stand in front of the plant as President with troops?), but they get to take the blame or credit..unfortunately, I suspect the economy will be more likely to be up along with the market, especially if oil prices fall, there is no major terror incident domestically, and Iraq trends anywhere near stable.

I think various Administrations can do quite a bit to affect job loss or creation, both in the short-term and for the long-term. Protectionism can protect or create jobs in the short term but might inhibit job growth in the long term. Encouraging legislation that pays USofA corporations government "bonuses" (from workers' tax dollars) for jobs exported to certain, favored countries certainly encourages job loss at home.

Or look at Abortion. The polls show almost a split between illegal/other limited cases vs. doctor/woman. But the impression from the NOW/NARAL type organizations is that even middle of the road positions (ie. parental notification) is extreme and will put us on the road to back alleys and coat hangers. Now, in balance, the NRA takes that all or nothing attitude too (which is why I won't join in spite of owning firearms) - but the polls show the country is a more supportive of gun rights and thus the perception is not the same.

"Parental notification" will put us back on the road to coat hangers and back alleys. Do you think a 14 year-old girl gives a damn what you or George Bush thinks of her pregnancy? Don't be ridiculous.

She cares about her immediate social circle and that's all. And a large part of that is her immediate family…her parents.

Given the choice between having to tell her parents and take whatever the consequences are, and going to a back alley, a lot of girls are going to choose the back alley.

"Of course, having the truth on your side doesn't hurt, and a cadre of media-savvy, progressive spokespersons must be developed to vociferously counter conservatives' disinformation, character assassination and spurious statistics"

Yes, because Al Gore screaming like a lunatic and Michael Moore are not exactly helping. Look, you had the model in Bill Clinton. Heck, I even voted for him - twice! My disappointment with him (besides not firing Janet Reno - but we got something just as bad in Ashcroft) is that he let his personal weaknesses interfere with the great opportunity he had for real change. And now the Democrats have abandoned that model for Kerry? At least Dean said this is what I believe in now take it or leave it. The bad thing for Kerry is Clinton's upcoming book tour will show more what the Democratic party is lacking than being anti-Bush) - but then again, the conspiracy theorist in me thinks it's all about Hillary in 2008 anyway.

Al Gore "screaming like a lunatic"? I think you may be confusing Gore with Dean, not that either of them has "screamed" like a "lunatic." I don't personally have any objection to seeing some passion displayed by politicians in this country.

Michael Moore, whatever I think of him, is an asset. The Right has Limbaugh, Coulter, Noonan, Horowitz, and a host of other lunatics of their own out there shouting lies, half-truths, and unfounded accusations day after day. Michael Moore is no worse than they are and he's a darned sight better than most of them.

Seems to me she should have actually READ Sun-Tzu as opposed to cherry-picking a quote.

Well, I agree with that, but I've been guilty of doing the same thing myself.

Posted by Anne at June 9, 2004 11:55 AM

Anne -

You write:
Polls are only of limited value. They reflect how people answered a specific question on a specific day and, as we all know, the way the questions are asked, the alternatives presented, even the order of the questions affects the responses.

But recall the article you referenced used polling data to suppor the claim more people had "democractic" ideals. So, are not to believe the basis for the author's central point?

You write: The "France (please)" comment exposes your own bias. Beyond awareness of recent jokes about the French, the average person does not, in fact, have some contemptuous view of France.

Anne - I speak French (well, I read it better) and have spent time over in NATO HQs. The French did more than disagree with our position - they actively engaged in efforts to sabotage our attempts to use the UN. Now, if you opposed the war, you may support that - but I would argue from a long-term perspective of maintaining alliances, the French move was counter-productive. Disagree - Yes. Do not provide any resources - Yes. Even vote against..but to actively campaign against - not the wisest move.

And as for the average person not remember (especially relative to other countries) - I bet if you ask people about the "Freedom Fries vs. French fries" issue, you'll get a better than average recognition on the reasons behind that campaign.

Again, my point was there is basically no difference between Bush and Kerry's position vis-a-vis Iraq..except a more formal recognition by Kerry to be "more multilateral" and use the UN..and really, do you think the "average" voter believes the UN is the solution?

Side rant - I think we should move the UN..it would be much more effective if we put the UN HQs in, let's say..Palestine..with suboffices in the Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, etc..

You write
Tax increases aren't always "class warfare" okay? Governments need taxes. Within reason, I think it's legitimate that them what has more, pays more.

I think you're confusing my personal positions with what I was attempting to explain. I agree with you on progressive income taxes; however, that is not the issue. Again, you directed us to an article that used POLLS to support its claim..the polls show most people think they are overtaxed - hence, the PERCEPTION is that tax increases are often reflective of "populist" and "class warfare" rhetoric. Do I think tax increases are class warfare? No..but again, I'm trying to explain that the author is failing to understand why there is a gap between people's ideals and how they actually vote..and I'm claiming it's the policy prescriptions often advocated by the majority of Democrats are not the right ones to take advantage of the fact (I'm taking that as a given) that more people individually lean toward democratic ideals.

You write: think various Administrations can do quite a bit to affect job loss or creation, both in the short-term and for the long-term. Protectionism can protect or create jobs in the short term but might inhibit job growth in the long term. Encouraging legislation that pays USofA corporations government "bonuses" (from workers' tax dollars) for jobs exported to certain, favored countries certainly encourages job loss at home.

These are all legislative actions..Yes, the President can propose, but in the end, that's Congress doing the deed. Hence, my point - but I agree, from a perception standpoint, the President can rattle off all kinds of positions and people may believe the President actually can implement them.

You write - "Parental notification" will put us back on the road to coat hangers and back alleys.

The NRA tells me that the assault weapons ban will lead to destroying the 2d amendment - do you believe that too?

Anne - again, I'm not getting into a policy debate with you based on my personal beliefs - my point was the polls tend to show the nation is divided on the OVERALL issue of abortion..Now, you may discount the polls (but you seem to use them to support positions in other posts), but I'm back to my central thesis that taking extreme (and I would submit to you that for most people, they consider allowing their daughter to have a medical procedure done to her without at least one parent's consent is extreme) policy positions doesn't help bridge that gap between how people believe and how they vote.

Your response to my post is basically a defense of the correctness of the policy - but that's not what my post was about - I'm not arguing for or against abortion or parental notification - I'm arguing that taking the "offensive" in policy actions without understanding the mindset of the people you need to support your candidates is not the path to regaining control of the White House or Congress.

And this relates to the next section:

Al Gore "screaming like a lunatic"? I think you may be confusing Gore with Dean, not that either of them has "screamed" like a "lunatic."

ANNE - the reaction of the press and most people to Dean's post-Iowa speech was not favorable - will you at least concede that? And if you heard Gore's talk about a month ago, he was doing a pretty good imitation..Now, as you note, you consider that "passion."

"I don't personally have any objection to seeing some passion displayed by politicians in this country."

And I don't disagree - but Goldwater said something to the effect of extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice - and the country pretty much told him No Thanks.

Michael Moore, whatever I think of him, is an asset. The Right has Limbaugh, Coulter, Noonan, Horowitz, and a host of other lunatics of their own out there shouting lies, half-truths, and unfounded accusations day after day. Michael Moore is no worse than they are and he's a darned sight better than most of them.

Ok, again, I'm not debating you on who is more "truthful" - because frankly, they all pick and choose and spin..because they make their money playing to their audience..

But most of the folks in the right are on talk radio..and you don't see them (or on cable news shows..and well, most of the people who watch those shows are generally already decided in their overall positions)..I suspect Micheal Moore would probably be more effective if he stuck with talk radio..and not because of his physical appearance - it's because hearing the "I told you sos" and "Here's what you should think" and "Here's why the folks on the other sides are pieces of crap" - which BOTH sides say - is less appealing when it's told to you in person (unless you happen to agree with it) as opposed to via a more anonymous medium.

For example, look at when the Reps tried to impeach Clinton and actually had to stand in front of cameras..that turned a lot of people off..even if they felt Clinton had done something wrong..

So, I'm back to my main point....I'd ask you consider my post not as a debate over the specific policy issues, but in the light of the perception people have between the positions they may hold individually and the policy positions advocated by the democratic party..and in the context of the points made by the author and the polls she asked to look at in making her claim (which I suspect she didn't look at beyond the first one)...

Posted by Col Steve at June 13, 2004 12:07 AM