August 29, 2004
So which is it?

It annoys me when a political campaign tries to have it both ways. Of course, all political campaigns try to have it both ways, and this is nothing new. But it still annoys me.

Today I'm going to point out one particular annoying aspect of one of the presidential campaigns. There are many other examples to use, from any campaign you choose. But here I go:

When you think of Senator Ted Kennedy, what do you think of? Well, aside from the alcoholism, womanizing, intellectual bankruptcy, Chappaquidic, his many dead brothers and nephews, and the family fortune built upon bootleg liquor and other illegal connections, I mean. When you think of Senator Kennedy, what do you think of his politics?

If you're at all like me, you probably think of him as not merely a liberal, but a staunch liberal. Somewhat of a neo-socialist on certain matters (socialized medicine, various welfare programs, affirmative action, etc.). Staunch in that he holds the line firmly. He is unabashed about his position. You know where he stands, and he stands firmly on the left, and that's that -- non-negotiable.

Now, this may or may not be true, but it is, nonetheless, what many folks (including myself) think of first when they think of the politics of Ted Kennedy.

So, if somebody says that there's someone even more liberal than Kennedy, what would you think of that person? That they are even, er, stauncher? That they lean even further to the left? That their views are even more firm, even less negotiable, perhaps?

That's what I would think.

Now let's suppose that a campaign described a candidate as a flip-flopper. What would you think that means? That they are *not* staunch, perhaps? That they do not consistently lean either to the left or to the right? Rather, that they are sometimes left-leaning and sometimes right-leaning? That their views are hard to pin down, perhaps? In fact, that their views might be open to negotiation?

That's what I would think.

So, then. Let's connect the dots. When the Bush campaign refers to Senator John Kerry as even more liberal than Senator Kennedy and, at the same time, as a flip-flopper... which is it? Is he a neo-socialist? Or is he a moderate? Is he a hard-liner commie symp, or a wishy-washy middle-of-the-roader? Is it possible to be both at the same time?

I remember a poster from one of my grade school classrooms (from when I was a student, not from when I was a teacher) that featured a quote from Garfield. The cartoon cat, not the President.

Garfield said: "If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em."

Posted by on August 29, 2004 12:17 PM in the following Department(s): Tidbits III

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