When Party Trumps Policy

Might the man from Texas be the worst president our nation has seen since Herbert Hoover?

To be fair, he came into office with the odds stacked against him. His predecessor was a youthful, charismatic leader whose following seemed more like that of a rock star than a politician. And the nation was coming off years of peace and prosperity. In many respects, he had nowhere to go but down. Nonetheless, consider the following:

He took office under circumstances that some consider suspicious, even treacherous.

Many argue that he cynically used goodwill the nation bestowed upon him in the wake of national tragedy to lead us into an unpopular and unwinnable war.

He expanded the scope of the federal government in ways no one could have foreseen, adding new roles for everything from education to Medicare, even as the cost of the war spiraled out of control. Many feel his final legacy will be one of bloated government and fiscal bankruptcy.

Furthermore, his determination to do things his way, combined with disdain for detractors, has earned him a reputation for being petulant and insular. Not exactly traits we might hope for in a president.

Now, I suppose a few readers are wondering what this is doing under a Republican banner. Some are probably outraged, while others are shouting a big, old, “Amen, brother.” But what if I said that I’m talking about Lyndon Johnson, not George W. Bush?

Interesting, huh? Many of the things people despise about George Bush are the same things many didn’t like about LBJ. Yet, I’d be willing to make a sizable wager that there is very little overlap among the two groups of detractors. Why is that? Is it because we agree more with one man’s policies than the other’s? Or is it because we identify more with one man’s party?

To be sure, plenty of liberals turned against LBJ as his term wore on, just as many conservatives have come to question George W. Bush. Still, the sad truth is that too many people fall in line behind one politician or another for no reason other than he or she is a Democrat or a Republican. But we do ourselves a disservice when we ascribe more importance to party than to policy, because we ignore what works and what doesn’t.

For example, many believe the U.S. prospered under Bill Clinton because he raised taxes, a liberal approach. Yet he also signed off on free trade, welfare reform and cuts in capital gains taxes, all considered conservative ideas. So was it liberal or conservative policies that spurred the economy and eliminated deficits? To too many Americans, it doesn’t matter. But it should, because it’s policy, not party that counts.

Many of us – both left and right (myself included) – should spend a bit more time critiquing our own beliefs and biases and less time blindly defending them. Conversely, we should consider the merits of opposing viewpoints rather than dismissing them out-of-hand. Such critical thinking is necessary if we hope to meet the challenges we face in the years ahead. But we won’t be able to do that until we put less emphasis on Right and Left and more on right and wrong.

Posted by Paul Szydlowski at January 26, 2006 11:53 AM
Comments
Comment #117020

Paul,

Long before LBJ gained the White House he had political capital to spend.

The question should be;

What were Bush, the candidate’s, claim to fame other than being an ex-President’s son, running a losing campaign for his father against a lunatic, and an unknown Governor from Arkansas, and trading Sammy Sosa?
This candidate, on his first weekend running for office, raised more money than any party candidate ever. If that doesn’t raise some serious questions, I don’t know what would.

Posted by: Rocky at January 26, 2006 12:21 PM
Comment #117037
And the nation was coming off years of peace and prosperity.

Coming off of prosperity? The mid-to-late 60’s were more prosperous than the early 60’s. And regarding the Vietnam War, we were already there ON THE GROUND when Johnson took office. He didn’t start the conflict from scratch; he expanded it. Liberals have not forgotten that Iraq was and is a war of choice. (Afghanistan is a different story.)

He took office under circumstances that some consider suspicious, even treacherous.

Besides Oliver Stone and company, can you name one well-known (and hopefully respected) figure who believes LBJ was behind the Kennedy Assassination? While there are conspiracy theorists out there regarding the Florida Recount, no one doubts that Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 election.

He expanded the scope of the federal government in ways no one could have foreseen, adding new roles for everything from education to Medicare, even as the cost of the war spiraled out of control. Many feel his final legacy will be one of bloated government and fiscal bankruptcy.

Fiscal bankruptcy? LBJ balanced the budget in his final year. Education and Medicare? Head Start (perhaps you have other programs to include in that list) and Medicare BOTH WORK. Compare that to “No Child Left Behind” which appears to be little more than mandated testing (I’m open to hearing other aspects of it), and Bush’s Prescription Drug legislation, which seems to be causing seniors to lose coverage more than gain coverage.

Still, the sad truth is that too many people fall in line behind one politician or another for no reason other than he or she is a Democrat or a Republican. But we do ourselves a disservice when we ascribe more importance to party than to policy, because we ignore what works and what doesn’t.

You will be hard pressed to find a Liberal today who supports Johnson’s Vietnam policy, and at the time he lost many as his administration marched on, to the point where he was challenged for the Democratic nomination soley on the basis of the Vietnam War. But foreign policy is the only area I can think of where Liberals significantly part company with the Johnson administration. In almost every other major area — civil rights, education, and health care come to mind off the top of my head — Liberals saw the Johnson administration as a great plus to the country’s needs. Compare that to today’s conservatives who are so angst ridden over problems like Federal spending under Bush (the fiscal discipline crowd crows in the background), the libertarians (who are starting to speak out about domestic surveillence). About the only group Bush firmly has is the “religious right,” who had a hand in getting him to drop the Miers nomination.

Posted by: Steve K at January 26, 2006 12:43 PM
Comment #117039

Paul -

Wow… that makes sense. Thanks for stating that. I think we all deserve better than the leadership we’ve seen - and that covers a very long period of time. American is an amazing country… shouldn’t we demand leadership that is equal to that?

Posted by: tony at January 26, 2006 12:45 PM
Comment #117043

Paul, brilliantly stated. Excellent article. Thank you.

Focusing on what works, instead of ideology, political philosophy, and scoring derogatory points, is precisely what America needs. But, as you so aptly point out, elections are conducted by fans in the stands of the two teams in the arena, where party win is everything, and pragmatism is nothing if it fails to distinguish one team from the other.

That is why I and so many others are working to reach the 48% of eligible voters who don’t vote, and motivate them to the polls to register their objection to this political sports mentality that is ruining our nation’s present and future. If we are not successful, we will end up with a political victor and a defeated democracy and nation.

Posted by: David R. Remer at January 26, 2006 12:50 PM
Comment #117045

Paul,
Good article. There is a lot to compare and contract with LBJ & Bush. The overall point, that liberals supported LBJ because of party affiliation, doesn’t hold up. Liberals turned against LBJ and supported Eugene McCarthy. Hubert Humphrey, “The Happy Warrior,” won the Democratic nomination by promising to stay in Vietnam. Nixon promised a secret plan that would get the US out of Vietnam.

Liberals supported Bush on Afghanistan, but opposed him on the invasion of Iraq. A quick scan of the Senators who voted against the Resolution on Iraq shows the opponents were liberal Democrats.

Clinton was not a liberal- or ata any rate, he was willing to jettison liberal leanings in order to ‘get it done.’ Clinton was extremely pragmatic, sometimes to the frustration of both right and left. Despite, or because of, this pragmatism Clinton was phenomenally successful in using his organizational, political, and campaigning skills to implement policies.

I cannot let pass one notable contrast between LBJ and Bush on domestic spending. LBJ spent money with the purpose of eradicating poverty. Great strides were made in this area. As near as I can tell, the money squandered by Bush and the Republicans has accomplished… well… nothing at all.

Posted by: phx8 at January 26, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #117046

Paul,

Good post, we must seperate party loyalty from what’s good for this nation.

I can’t wait for someone to opine that:
a) because you can assign unscaled adjectives between Bush and Johnson, and
b) even those adjectives are horrific traits for a leader of any country, and
c) even though those comparisons rapidly collapse under scrutiny,
that those comparisons justify continued support of Bush and excoriation of liberals.

Posted by: Dave at January 26, 2006 12:54 PM
Comment #117063

phx8 wrote:

Liberals turned against LBJ and supported Eugene McCarthy. Hubert Humphrey, ‘The Happy Warrior,’ won the Democratic nomination by promising to stay in Vietnam.

Hubert Humphrey won the Democratic nomination in 1968 but did not win a single primary leading up to the nomination. He won the nomination by gathering the delegates who were selected outside the primary process (which is one reason why in 72 he did so poorly — the delegate selection process changed drastically).

Save New Hampshire, the primaries were won by anti-war Democrats — McCarthy or (Robert) Kennedy. THAT was the indicatation that the Liberal wing of the Democratic party had moved decisively against Johnson, and it was solely on the basis of Vietnam.

Posted by: Steve K at January 26, 2006 1:23 PM
Comment #117081

Excellent post, Paul!

One point - I truly believe that Johnson should have been charged with murder of American soliers. The Token Gulf resolution was illegal,and was never supported by Congress.

I also tend to believe that our invasion of Iraq was illegal. It would follow that I also tend to believe that Bush II is also a murderer of American soldiers.

I know this is sounds very extreme, but Bush’s Administration should have checked more carefully before invading Iraq.

America was not and should never have been a country known for invasion of other countries. Now that Bush has defintely over-stepped his boundaries, (wiretaps, torture, kidnapping of American citizens and sending them to foreign countries, etc.) I can only condemn him as well.

Just a thought…

Posted by: Linda H. at January 26, 2006 2:11 PM
Comment #117099

Very nice piece, Paul Szydlowski,

But you forgot one similarity: Lying to the American people.
We now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that LBJ lied about the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Likewise Bush lying about Saddam’s nuclear capabilities and his links to Al Qaeda to get us to start a pre-emptive war on Iraq.
Steve K and phx8 did a great job of pointing out the dissimilarities between the two.

Many of us – both left and right (myself included) – should spend a bit more time critiquing our own beliefs and biases and less time blindly defending them. Conversely, we should consider the merits of opposing viewpoints rather than dismissing them out-of-hand. Such critical thinking is necessary if we hope to meet the challenges we face in the years ahead. But we won’t be able to do that until we put less emphasis on Right and Left and more on right and wrong.

Perfectly said, and completely free of BS. Well done, sir.

Posted by: Adrienne at January 26, 2006 2:41 PM
Comment #117157

Paul S,

Here’s the difference: LBJ didn’t go into the wrong country to fight his war on a smattering of bad intelligence (lies more accurately that America out of despiration for belief are willing to swallow).

What George Dubya did was take a country—not being over run by communist but was a totalitarian nation (or even stalinist, that I concur with) at prospective peace for the most part, and turned it into a never ending bloodbath that we may not get out of for six to eight years.

B) we were attacked on our soil beforehand PLUS when we went there we were already involved in another war directly against the Taliban and made up a bunch of lies (which we are now excusively calling just “Bad intelligence”) to attack a nation that boywonder Dubya thought hurt his father politically. WE stuck our heads into a hornets nest and the only way out may become theocracy or outright civil war.

We are being attacked not because someone follows the theory of communism but because they want their country back as we are the actual insurgeants really—they live there, so what does that make us? Look up the definition of insurgeant sometime. We are now practically Roman-styled occupiers engaging in colonialism.

They attack with gunfire we attack their guns with missiles blowing up streets and buildings creating more fighters. Their ideology in Iraq is to get us out of their country, not communism will assist the proletariat greatly, thus we should sacrifice. they want us out of their backyard much like we ourselves wanted the British out of ours. We went from Americans to Tories under George W. Bush.

Posted by: Fred Sanford at January 26, 2006 4:25 PM
Comment #117192

My gosh you people sure can rewrite history. First you have to assume that Kennedy, and Clinton were all of the things that Paul S. said they were. Kennedy left our guys on the beach in Cuba, and
starting the war that took 50,000 American servicemen, and women. Also if Kennedy were facing anyone but Kruchev, in October of 62, we’d all be speaking russian now. Clinton ran so fast from the terrorists that they killed our people all over the world, which led up to and includes 9-11. Clinton attacked Iraq, killed some cleaning people in some building with a cruise missle, and sent our troops into Kosovo, a religous war. If anyone in history should be concidered a murderer of soldiers, marines,sailors, etc, it should be these two. But I won’t say that because I’m not a looney, that would even concider that as a rational thought.

I like a lot of partisanship, we are in a desperate struggle for the minds of the American people. Who’s apathy is growing day by day. If you think the Christian right is a powerful block of voters, just look to the minority population that has been pushed down into poverty, and kept there by the same guy that espoused “The Great Society”, LBJ. People voting blindly for Democrats just because they owe them for a system of poverty, and welfare, that was thought up in some cigarsmoke filled backroom of the Johnson whitehouse. I am not a conspiracy kook either, but I do have to believe that this was a big part of the “benifits” Johnson had in mind when he created this bloated beuracracy. A dependant class poor beholding to the welfare benifactors of this country, the Democrats.
Give me polarization, give me a battle for the hearts, and minds. Just because we sit here and pat ourselves on the back for being so enlightend, is not going to change the fact that the differences between liberals, and conseratives are too far apart, for any common ground. All I know is if yiou stand in the middle of the road, you will get run over.

Posted by: phil d. at January 26, 2006 5:14 PM
Comment #117204

Great post Paul!

The problem with the discussion today, as you correctly point out, is that party affiliation trumps policy. The primary result is that Democrats who have a problem with Bush’s policies are dismissed as partisan critics.

I always thought of myself as an independent or conservative democrat. I voted for Bush Sr. the first time. I think you could say that as late as ‘92, presidential elections were about policies first.

I think everything changed when Clinton’s first legislative initiative was about gays in the military and then when he put Hillary in charge of the health care initiative and later when he passed Republican policies as his own and seemingly broke some unwritten rule.

I remember that there was not partisan hatred of Clinton at first, more questions than anything. It developed some time towards the end of his first year in office. I think at that point in time, Rush Limbaugh’s attacks on the radio took hold and the Gingrich revolution began and things have never been the same since.

Posted by: CPAdams at January 26, 2006 6:01 PM
Comment #117209

Phil D,

The Bay of Pigs Invasion was The Eisenhower Administration’s contingency plan originally. It was carried out and somehow got fouled up.

Also you are saying that coming into the White House and cutting counter terrorism budgets in 2000 was justified? The blame for 9-11 lands in many laps, sir. The dems will say it is Saudi connections to Bush family and funding Mujahadeen in afghanistan and the right will say primarily what you said with Clinton.

I agree with your assessment of their having been socialized poverty which makes me “middle of the road” how exactly am I going to get “run over”? (I hate jingoisms even out of Clinton’s mouth) However I do agree and even today there is a quasi-marxist presense in the inner cities with groups like Nation of Islam (look at their real platform sometime)and even to other civic organizations, that doesn’t make you a kook. But quasi-socialism has sort of always permeated there. Even before the days of Paul Robeson it was a communist feeding ground as many American black civic leaders genuinely saw communism/socialism as a possible way up or out (with exception to King where there was no mention of it).

Posted by: Sanford at January 26, 2006 6:10 PM
Comment #117213

HEY, Phil D,

If you are going to talk about the past, let’s talk about all of it - before there was socialized poverty there was plain old poverty and institutionalized disenfranchisement.

It is dishonest and outright foul and disgusting to talk about the days before welfare without talking about the days before the Civil Rights Act and Brown v Board of Ed.

“just look to the minority population that has been pushed down into poverty, and kept there by the same guy that espoused “The Great Society”, LBJ”

I’m sorry Phil D, I didn’t realize that minorities in America were living the American dream before LBJ, especially those in the inner cities. I guess the riots in Watts and Newark must have been started by wealthy blacks and the poor, inner city French and British immigrants.

Posted by: CPAdams at January 26, 2006 6:27 PM
Comment #117237

CPA,
Outstanding point! Context is everything. Terrific comment.

Posted by: phx8 at January 26, 2006 7:25 PM
Comment #117241

Sanford

MLK had for his right hand man a person named Hunter Pitts “Jack” O’dell. Jack was a member of the CPUSA.

Posted by: tomh at January 26, 2006 7:43 PM
Comment #117245

CP Adams,

Here’s what I see putting blacks in one single neighborhood and then in no way servicing those neighborhoods. It was corrupt, the schools were and in many areas still are crumbling, drop out rates are extremely high, the living conditions in places like the South Side of Chicago and West Philly are damn near scary. We treated the whole area like a plantation we didn’t have think about centralizing all the problems to one area then neglecting the hell out of it.

Socialism and a lack of any services to those communities caused that. And it was whites who brought it about to centralize a problem and then forget about it. Remember Nixon that was a republican and the progressiveness he showed also tried in some ways to give that socialism experiment a chance. Republicans on the hill were not above it.

Yes there was poverty before but whites centralized blacks in quasi-communist living fascilities (still do) and abandoned them in every way. Treating them like the white man’s burden to which we give them less opportunities to even grow up without violence and drugs constantly in their own surroundings. Have you ever seen tye hell we’ve made in these neglected neighborhoods it’s deplorable what people in those areas have to live with as an environment.

I cannot say that dropping blacks of and trying to forget they exist is the best thing I’ve ever heard. Either service those communities and make them work or do something else but this is horrible—there is no defending it in it’s entirity.

Posted by: Sanford at January 26, 2006 7:47 PM
Comment #117246

TomH,

I meant giving some voice to the communist movement there was none and O’dell is exactly what I’m talking about as blacks seeing communism as a means up or out. We can’t say King was communist even by association as it was quite prevalent in black communities anyway.

Posted by: Sanford at January 26, 2006 7:53 PM
Comment #117255

Sanford

O’Dell was not the only Red working with King. There were a large number, even much of the leadership of SCLC. Also King considered himself a Marxist.

Posted by: tomh at January 26, 2006 8:01 PM
Comment #117260

Steve K,

I feel I should point out one tiny discrepancy in your first post and perhaps educate a few other people while I’m at it.

The current Iraqi conflict is NOT a new war that George W started. The current war is simply an extension of the first war, which his father actually started by setting an ultimatum that was ignored by the Iraqi leadership.

You see, at the end of the first war, an armistice was declared, simply a cease fire with terms. This is why George W did not need the Senate’s approval to “begin” a second war. The second round of the first war began when Iraq failed to comply with the terms of the armistice, such as shoot at our patrol aircraft and fly military aircraft in no-fly zones. The actual reason we are there today is the same reason we were there in the early 90’s; the invasion of Kuwait, Saddam’s use of chemical warfare tactics and others. We re-invaded Iraq because they had failed to comply with nearly all of the key terms laid out in the armistice. Possession of WMD’s was simply one of many. So, even though we never found WMD’s does not mean the war was unjustified.

So, finally my point is that George W had troops ON THE GROUND when he took office, just like LBJ. I do concede that troop levels were significantly lower, but one cannot compare those figures since advances in technology have decreased our need for manpower.

Posted by: Mark H at January 26, 2006 8:09 PM
Comment #117279

Thanks to everyone for the feedback. If nothing else, I was hoping to get people thinking. I realize the comparisons require a stretch, but they were for illustration purposes.

As for taking off the blinders, I’ll give you a personal example: As a conservative, I am biased toward lower taxes and do believe lower tax rates can increase revenue in the long run - but only to a point. For example, if we lowered tax rates to zero, revenues would obviously disappear. Revenues would also decline if we lowered them to 1 percent (unless they spurred the economy to grow about 30-fold, which is physically impossible since we can’t work that hard or productively). So even if you believe lower tax rates increase revenues, you have to accept that there’s a point where that’s no longer true.

Now we can argue over where that point is, or that spending should be cut as well so we wouldn’t need as much in taxes, but we cannot just blindly argue that lower taxes automatically means more revenue.

All I’m hoping is that we can all question something we hold to be so true that we won’t even consider that we might be wrong - because chances are, given that we’re human, we probably are.

Thanks again, everyone.

Posted by: Paul Szydlowski at January 26, 2006 9:04 PM
Comment #117293

Paul Szydlowski,

Good article and a very important message.

It’s hard to be objective without removing the partisan blinders.

And we had better start soon getting a handle on these seriously pressing problems before it is too late (if it isn’t already).

What we have cooking now is a recipe for disaster.

Posted by: d.a.n at January 26, 2006 9:41 PM
Comment #117332

Paul,My Grandfather was a Democrat,and said no matter what he would always vote Democrat.My Father was a Democrat and a Union member until he saw the Union was a Special Interest Group and came to realize that catering to special interests is not good for all Americans.I on my own came to the same conclusion.He became a Republican I decide to back the one with the interests best for America.Last Election we both voted for Bush.I will look at what the candidate stands for and will vote for the one closest to my beliefs,but no more do I believe what is said unless his record backs it up.

Posted by: RDAVIDC at January 27, 2006 12:33 AM
Comment #117463

Paul-
In the end, it is not party, but behavior that matters. Read The Best and The Brightest, and the similarities between LBJ and W will be downright chilling.

I would say that this similarity in leadership styles, with the secretive, bubbled-in siege mentality, counts for most of our problems in fighting this war. Both men hated to get bad news or hear things that contradicted their beliefs about how things needed to be handled. Both men took the unfortunate stance of expanding their enemies from the ones we were fighting on the battlefield, to include the press and the dissenters on the war.

Both men created massive new entitlements while fighting expensive wars, and refusing to raise taxes to cover those expenses.

As for those who say the war was already ongoing, I would say that this fits the Iraq war, too. What LBJ did was use the dubious Gulf of Tonkin incident to justify a full scale military effort. This begins what Americans typically mean when they talk of the Vietnam War. Before that, we had a counterinsurgency running, but not a full scale war going.

I’m not saying that the Iraq war is exactly like Vietnam, but many of the mistakes of thinking and policy bear eerie similarity and signify a truly disturbing fact: we did not learn our lesson there, that of being willing to fight when the circumstances call for it, but being very scrupulous about why one goes in.

We Americans cannot afford to take the extremes of hawkishness and dovishness, because neither believing in war as a primary weapon of foreign policy or believing that peace is desirable at all costs has served us well this past century. America needs to develop better judgment, and learn from the nightmares of our past.

RDAVIDC-
I’m really sorry if you went to the Republican party looking for somebody who didn’t cater to special interests.

As for Beliefs, I’ve heard enough of them to last me a lifetime. What I want to know, is what this fellow’s record is, and have folks prospered under such leadership

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2006 7:51 AM
Comment #117465
The current Iraqi conflict is NOT a new war that George W started. The current war is simply an extension of the first war

I don’t agree with you at all here, Mark. Don’t you remember all those victory parades in 1991? Why would we have a victory parade if the war wasn’t over? Also Gulf War I was about Kuwait. Gulf War II was about Terrorism.

Posted by: Steve K at January 27, 2006 8:00 AM
Comment #117483

Sanford,

I was not defending inner city projects. My point was that LBJ did not created them. I am originally from the Bronx and my family came through Washington Heights and Harlem from the 50’s through the 70’s.

I was saying that welfare programs did not create the problems faced in these areas. These areas were already poor and predominantly Black or Hispanic before LBJ. If we must to point to a root cause (which I resist because I believe problems are not that simple), blame it on Eisenhower.

Ike championed the interstate highway system, which led to the development of suburbs, the exodus of employers to the suburbs, and ultimately, the inner cities filled with people lacking the education and household income to follow those jobs to the suburbs.

By the time projects were being developed, it was Nixon, not LBJ, who was in office(if you can, read Forest Hills Diary by Mario Cuomo, an inside look at the creation of one of the first low income housing projects in NYC).

The point of this discussion was that policies matter more than partisanship. Agree.

Posted by: CPAdams at January 27, 2006 9:27 AM
Comment #117518

Excellent article, Paul. I’m not going to quibble over the GW/LBJ comparison, I agree with the general point.

The problem with the discussion today, as you correctly point out, is that party affiliation trumps policy. The primary result is that Democrats who have a problem with Bush’s policies are dismissed as partisan critics.

Exactly, CPAdams. Questioning a president’s policies is not a partisan attack, it’s an American privilage and duty.

Posted by: American Pundit at January 27, 2006 10:19 AM
Comment #117525
I was saying that welfare programs did not create the problems faced in these areas. These areas were already poor and predominantly Black or Hispanic before LBJ. If we must to point to a root cause (which I resist because I believe problems are not that simple), blame it on Eisenhower.

Ike championed the interstate highway system, which led to the development of suburbs, the exodus of employers to the suburbs, and ultimately, the inner cities filled with people lacking the education and household income to follow those jobs to the suburbs.

Good point, CP. Suburbanization had the nasty side effected of segregating people in this country economically (and by extension, racially, although that has been changing).

Prior to suburbanization, residential areas were much more “mixed” economically. Even in very wealthy areas, the poor often lived in carriage houses or similar arrangements, and their children attended the same schools as the children of the middle class (and wealthy, if they weren’t sent to private school). This did wonders for the integration of the different economic groups. But since the automobile and then the superhighway, as you point out, everything has become segregated: schools, shopping, recreation, you name it. It explains why New York City remains one of the better integrated major cities in the country. And the classes know each other, and, I would argue, are more tolerant of each other than in other places (Although I make no claim that things are perfect).

People today do not know how “The Other America” (to use Harrington’s term) lives. There is too much stereotyping of the poor. We rarely see them on TV except when they get in trouble with the law. This is just not a true picture of how the poor and near-poor live. I see people getting on my bus every day paying a cash fare, when I know they could save money if they could afford a monthly pass or some other bulk discount ticket. But the only reason I can think of why they pay cash is they simply cannot afford to dish out $20 to buy a week’s worth of bus fare.

Posted by: Steve K at January 27, 2006 10:43 AM
Comment #117604

phx8 wrote

I cannot let pass one notable contrast between LBJ and Bush on domestic spending. LBJ spent money with the purpose of eradicating poverty. Great strides were made in this area.


Please tell us all of the ‘great strides’ made by LBJ in his war on poverty. While you’re at it, please tell us all of the great strides you have pesonally made in the war on poverty. Tell us all how you have personally helped any of those “unfortunate souls” to become law abiding citizens capable of feeding and clothing themselves and removing their burden from society. Also, since you love links to stats, give us all the statistics on how many poor there were before the great society and how many remain now. Please use percentages so as not to confuse your fellow liberals. Since you have been quick to call others morons, here is something to chew on:


Liberal elites tend to cluster themselves in the biggest cities, coastal blue states, and if marooned in a red state, liberal enclaves like Austin, Texas, Missoula, Montana, Lawrence, Kansas, and Moscow, Idaho. Ensconced in their turf, they feel free to utter casual epithets directed at the President, Republicans, or conservatives in general, as if no person worthy of respect would dare to disagree.

Care to tell us of your own graduation from Yale and Harvard? They don’t throw your diploma in the window as you drive by like they do at some state schools.

I would never refer to you as an ‘elite’ But just this once I’ll try. If you were once a history teacher as you claim, I have a few history lessons on the middle east for you. Care to jump in the fray?

“When intellectuals argue with drunks or morons, bystanders cannot tell who is whom.”

Arguing with persons who use flawed logic is difficult but sometimes needed. Are there any cheerleaders out there? I just need to hear things like “great post’ and ‘I agree’ I
promise to respond with…Thanks! and you too! ha ha

Bush Supreme Court nominees. 2 Liberals 0.

I realize attacking the messenger is frowned upon, but so should name calling of any kind.


See you in a real blog sometime.

Posted by: V.O.R. at January 27, 2006 3:32 PM
Comment #117645

V.O.R.-
You’re asking for a doctoral study practically. Will it suffice to say that we don’t have the kind of poverty you see in third world countries? Republicans respond to our claims about increasing poverty by citing the high standard of living of the poor in this country, so why can’t we cite it right back to say that such legislation made something of a difference? I would argue, however, that the way LBJ and Bush pay for their respective programs has more to do with their economic consequences than the fact they are taking this on in this fashion. Entitlements are no simple or safe form of economic policy. They can, though, have positive effects if they are properly chosen and executed.

Truth is, for many reasons, the mix of political demographics is not homogenous. There is one problem, though, and you’re reading through one aspect of it right now: isolation no longer means so much in this day and age. Speed of travel, instantaneous communication, and the collective forum of the internet are changing the shape of how the demographics shift and change.

As for your crack about diplomas, I would advise you to keep yourself more respectful in your rhetoric. The policy of this site is quite clear.

As for Supreme Court Nominees, I think the greatest obstacle to a nominee’s confirmation nowadays are the religious right in your own party. We Democrats, at the moment, can get railroaded every time, so long as you folks maintain party discipline.

As for Real blogs, evidently you thought this one real enough to post a response here. Sorry that there isn’t so many of the “great posts” and “agrees” as you see other places, but here the opposition on both sides comes in fast, so there’s not a lot of time for that sort of echo chamber stuff to persist. People are too busy actually discussing things.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at January 27, 2006 5:39 PM
Comment #117769

Paul

I like what you said. The answers to our problems don’t lie in blind faith to ideology, party, or personality. Men and women of good will, clear vision, and higher purpose need to talk to each other with open ears. Yes, the poor need to be fed, but yes, too, the taxpayers’ money needs to be wisely and efficiently spent. The country needs protecting, but the civil rights must be respected. Crime must be dealt with through prosecution, but underlying social causes must be addressed as well. Yes, abortion is something to be avoided, but yes, too, we must work to reduce the number of women who seek it.

We must continue to improve our country. I know we can do it because as a society, we are resourceful, intelligent, and wealthy, and when we decide to do something all together, it gets done. Again, Paul, thank you for that reminder.

Posted by: Mental Wimp at January 28, 2006 1:30 AM
Comment #117847

Stephen Daugherty

The rhetoric was intended for PHX8 who called Bush a moron in a previous post. The backslapping was a dig at the liberals falling all over themselves patting each other when one of them agrees with something another has written. All my main points were aimed at discussion, the minor ones and various jabs were done to prove a point. Read it again, you’ll see the subtleties. No offense meant to you or those serious about discussion. I can play along with anyone here. To say that some post here just to irritate, is obvious by the posts of a few regulars. Some just say anything to get a reaction. Also, it was a subtle effort by me to play their game. The blog comment was meant to get the exact reaction it did. I respect anyone who can discuss things without resorting to calling someone else a moron. Others posting here in the past have been booted for such words, it seems some are kept because they are regular posters. If someone wanted to keep posting from various computers, or used a ghost IP,well, it isn’t that hard. I could send out five posts from around the world in the next few minutes. I assume no one wants to play those games. No need. I’ll play by the rules if others do the same. I have read this blog for a while, and will post now and then. Thanks for the reply.

I am not nor will I ever be a member of the republican party, nor will you ever meet someone less interested in any religion than I. Religion in almost every form defeats individualism and breeds collectivism. If that sounds like John Galt speaking, nice work out of you.

I have been to over 80 countries in the past 15 years, and have backpacked through almost all of them. For the most part,the poor in America live like kings in comparison. I have slept on the ground with Africans in a dung hut that had no windows, on South American ground with porters on the Inca Trail, in a communal family room in Tibet with the cooking stove used for heat, in a bungalow in Laos that cost 50 cents a night, and many other places too numerous to mention here. These people were happy and did not have their hands out. They welcomed me, but did not look to me for their salvation. What bothers me most about the so called poor here, is they expect to be cared for by others. It has become a way of life that is anathema to everything I stand for. I will lend a helping hand, but I will not create a lifestyle that is generational. What really bothers me is the advocates for the poor using class warfare to speak for others. They sit in their comfy chair and type, and think they are helping. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Dems have used the poor as pawns for generations. All the way back to FDR. A PHD on this topic? It’s been done, and I won’t write another here. The truth is the truth, anything else is just belief. We can argue over the truth, but that does not change what it is. Perceptions? Looking through rose colored glasses?

Next time…….

Posted by: V.O.R. at January 28, 2006 9:19 AM
Comment #119656

I think you’re absolutely right. the lack of a strong 2-party system has sent the republicans into a state of complacency about everything (the war, immigration, etc.) and has made the democratic party nothing more than the opposition party to everything the republicans want. it all comes back to accountability, even pres. bush’s st. of union speech on tues. seemed hollow and uninsipired. We have to do more to hold our leaders accountable before the status quo makes it even worse.

Posted by: Aaron at February 2, 2006 1:54 PM
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