Friday, January 16, 2004
Bush Derangement Syndrome sufferers: New York Times columnist Paul Krugman has identified fellow sufferers of BDS in today's screed masquerading as a political column.
Krugman outs presidential candidate Wesley Clark in The New York Times as an acute BDS sufferer.
[E]arlier this week, Wesley Clark had some strong words about the state of the nation. "I think we're at risk with our democracy," he said. "I think we're dealing with the most closed, imperialistic, nastiest administration in living memory. They even put Richard Nixon to shame."
Well, it's a less-nutty comparison than Bush=Hitler, but it's still nutty. This is the "nastiest" administration in living memory? So, the president has sexually assaulted women and then smeared them when the charges became public? Imperialistic? Talk about butchering the language.
In other words, the general gets it: he understands that America is facing what Kevin Phillips, in his remarkable new book, "American Dynasty," calls a "Machiavellian moment." Among other things, this tells us that General Clark and Howard Dean, whatever they may say in the heat of the nomination fight, are on the same side of the great Democratic divide.
The General's got it: BDS.
Krugman gets one thing right, there is a great Democratic divide -- between those who, frankly, are nuts, and those who aren't.
The real division in the race for the Democratic nomination is between those who are willing to question not just the policies but also the honesty and the motives of the people running our country, and those who aren't.
Honesty, motives and patriotism. That's what it comes down to. You have Democrats like Sen. Ted Kennedy, Dean and Clark who claim that Bush went to war and sacrificed American soldiers for political gain (which is just nuts -- because it's extremely risky and foolish.)
Krugman claims that it will be impossible for Democrats to run a "positive" campaign because President Bush is a meanie and will prohibit businesses from giving money to Democrats.
One is that the Democratic candidate, no matter how business-friendly, will not be able to get lots of corporate contributions, as Clinton did. In the Clinton era, a Democrat could still raise a lot of money from business, partly because there really are liberal businessmen, partly because donors wanted to hedge their bets. But these days the Republicans control all three branches of government and exercise that control ruthlessly. Even corporate types who have grave misgivings about the Bush administration — a much larger group than you might think — are afraid to give money to Democrats.
Memo to Paul Krugman: Corporations are banned from contributing money directly to candidates. The BCRA also banned corporations from "electioneering communications," aka issue ads. Democrats won't be getting money from big business, but Bush won't be getting any either -- because it's illegal.
Krugman then goes back to make a discredited charge against President Bush, but phrases it in a subtle fashion so the reader gets the feeling that Bush is dirty, but without the details.
. For example, some have said that the intense scrutiny of Mr. Dean's Vermont record is what every governor who runs for president faces. No, it isn't. I've looked at press coverage of questions surrounding Mr. Bush's tenure in Austin, like the investment of state university funds with Republican donors; he got a free pass during the 2000 campaign.
What's this about Bush and state university funds? Well, it's about UTIMCO -- and it's much ado about nothing.
So what's the answer? A Democratic candidate will have a chance of winning only if he has an energized base, willing to contribute money in many small donations, willing to contribute their own time, willing to stand up for the candidate in the face of smear tactics and unfair coverage.
That doesn't mean that the Democratic candidate has to be a radical — which is a good thing for the party, since all of the candidates are actually quite moderate. In fact, what the party needs is a candidate who inspires the base enough to get out the message that he isn't a radical — and that Mr. Bush is.
It's all a matter of perspective. To Krugman, of course all of these guys are moderates. (Kucinich and Sharpton included? Probably.) To the broader spectrum of American political thought, however, these guys are no moderates.
Some related links: Both Don Luskin and Q and O have more worthwhile Krugmania.