Wednesday, August 24, 2005

What Passes For Discourse

AS part of a mildly heated topical discussion I had with a certain mildly neo-liberal Yankee fan the other day, the subject was raised as to the level to which political discourse has sunk during the Bush administration. The crux of my argument (which is psuedo-scientifically proven below) is that the left doesn't discuss, it SCREAMS. Oh sure, I'll conceed Pat Robertson's latest idiocy as an example of an loose cannon far from the republican mainstream. But then Robertson doesn't head a political party like that pinacle of stability, Howard Dean.

The problem, however, goes beyond the rantings of the stooges you hear in the news. It's on the blogs, in the chat rooms and in the letters to the editor. Any attempt to cogently discuss a political subject is shouted down by the most inane retorts from those whose sole apparent purpose in life is to hate George Bush. My case in point: The following is the entire set of letters published in yesterday's San Francisco Chronicle in response to a recent article about Bush not visiting San Francisco. See if you can spot the arguments being made.
Dueling views of Bush refusal to visit S.F.

Editor -- Regarding the front-page article, "Bush keeps S.F. at bay" (Aug. 21): There are many reasons why President Bush has not visited San Francisco. The least reason is because of protesters.

President Clinton visited the city 23 times, and always was greeted by protesters, and rightly so -- as would President Bush. The real story would be if there were no protesters to oppose the president or his policies.

Fifty-thousand San Francisco Republicans, thousands of independents and even Democrats would welcome Bush if he should visit San Francisco.

Those with family members in the U.S. military, who are defending America and the right of all citizens to protest, would especially welcome him.

San Francisco Republican Party

Editor -- President Bush has no problem sending thousands of young men and women into harm's way for his illegal war in Iraq. But he is too chicken to visit San Francisco.

Well, Bush is not welcome here because of the crimes he is perpetrating on humanity. And he obviously can't handle being faced with the truth.

San Rafael

Editor -- Why would this president feel obligated, when he has much more important places to visit?

A presidential visit is an honor -- and it used to be a thing of honor in this city -- but as former San Francisco Mayor and present Sen. Dianne Feinstein (herself a Democrat) points out, "This is not the city I grew up in."

A city that would refuse to berth the battleship Iowa is no place for the president of the United States to visit. A city that quietly deports the homeless, prohibits guns but allows sex clubs to fester and operate 24 hours a day -- a city where more teachers are fired and more schools close and the population dwindles -- is not a special place for Bush.

A city that makes it its business to make sure gentrification proceeds unchecked and minorities are forced out by outlandish taxes and fees, and where city employees do not even live in the city, is not a special place.

San Francisco has become unfriendly to Americans, and to San Franciscans. It is being effectively turned into an amusement park for outsiders. Nothing can stop this, short of a Republican revolution.

This is not our father's San Francisco.

San Francisco

Editor -- It is no mystery why President Bush refuses to visit San Francisco. He hates us for our freedom.


Editor -- Why should President Bush come to San Francisco? The local media give no credit to his tax reductions restimulating the economy and creating 4 million new jobs. Officials give no credit for his No Child Left Behind program helping improve the test scores and education of our schoolchildren.

He gets no credit for his homeless program contributing to the improvement of our homeless situation. And the Board of Supervisors insults the history of this country and its military, denying the battleship Iowa a place to let citizens better understand the history of our Navy.

No, he should not come. I am happy to see him in Washington, D.C., and Crawford, Texas.

San Francisco
Ok class, which writers discussed why President Bush might not want to take time out of running the world's largest free republic to visit San Francisco? Which writers offered nothing but invective? What does this tell us? Why am I not worried about the left anymore?


KJ said...

Maybe he just can't afford it. I hear it is the most expensive city in the cournty. It might be Bush's first cost cutting effort since he was President.

portia said...


Well, I need a little time to firm up my scientific findings but my take is that there are screamers in both camps, each guilty of name calling, invective remarks and screeching. To think otherwise is balderdash. A cursory look at the NYT's today uncovers this example by a writer in response to MoDO column to day:

Is she really cracked? Maybe. She has put herself in an impossible position. She is in bed with people who sided with Saddam Hussein, who hoped the US would be defeated by the Iraqi army, who see the US as the villain and the insurgency as heroic. In the face of fanatics for whom elections, freedom of speech, gender equality, and religious tolerance are wicked, she is committed to reviling the administration and to demanding the military shield which is Iraq's only chance at a decent future be withdrawn, post-haste. In short, Maureen Dowd is royally skewered. All she has left is righteous indignation, screaming and a half mad clawing at Bush. But it won't do any good. She is under the sheets with left fascists and Islamo-fascists. No amount of writhing and raging against a villainous administration will change that.

Very constructive, and no invective words there, huh? My point was, and is, that for every salutary, mellifluous sounding argument there is some fingernails-on-the-chalkboard screech by a cohort that drowns it out. For every David Brooks there is a bombastic Rush Limbaugh or treason-sliming Ann Coulter launching blanket accusations and inflammatory labels: If you don’t support Bush you (a) support the terrorists, (b) are unpatriotic or (c) my new all-time favorite, a member of the “secular left,” (coined by the soft-spoken Mary Matlin, and no doubt intended to be pejorative.) While I may believe Tom Friedman’s commentary is thoughtful, measured and constructive, you might easily dismiss his words as a ranting diatribe. Human nature no doubt leads one to believe decibels are elevated and words vitriolic when the views expressed are contrary to our own, and as we well know, that predictable state ain’t limited to politics, is it Mr. “Yankees suck” rdr?

spd rdr said...