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August 05, 2004

Comments

We ran record deficits, while simultaneously cutting and squeezing services like afterschool programs.

The federal government funds after-school programs? Not in my school district.

We granted tax cuts to the richest 1 percent

Not to mention, the wealthiest 2%, 5%, 10%, 15%...

It is through the truthful exercising of the best of human qualities - respect for others...Our American government has strayed too far from American values.

I suppose all of those "Bush stole the election" and "Bush is a moron" campaigns were planted by the VRWC. Sometimes the Boss is the last to know.

Actually, I agree with much of what he says. He occasionally runs aground when it comes to the facts, but aside from that his major error is blaming the administration for everything that's gone south, unity-wise. If that were in fact true, if the Left were kind, gentle and innocent in this matter, I'd be pulling the D lever in a hot second.

his major error is blaming the administration for everything that's gone south, unity-wise. If that were in fact true, if the Left were kind, gentle and innocent in this matter, I'd be pulling the D lever in a hot second.

You know, I've been beating the Unity Drum for months and months now, but other than hearing GOPers claim "It's not our fault" I've heard little to suggest they're interested in the topic.

I voted for Edwards in the primary, believing he would be our best chance for unity. I endorsed a split ticket, believing that could be a way to achieve unity. I endorsed the idea of Kerry and Bush having a pre-election summit on terrorism as a way to promote unity.

How kind, gentle and innocent does it have to be presented for you Slarti?

More importantly: What's your plan for unity?

You know, I've been beating the Unity Drum for months and months now

Edward, you practically ooze contempt while beating the Unity Drum, so the beat doesn't compel much in the way of dancing. Sorry if that's harsh, but that's the way I see it. If you've turned over a new leaf, it's been very recently.

What's your plan for unity?

I've got no plan, other than maintaining a short memory, grudge-wise. Which keeps me as well prepared for group hugs as anything else I've heard forwarded.

Slarti, it sounds like your plan for unity is to sit back and wait for the other side to want to hug you.

What's yours, Jes?

Edward, you practically ooze contempt while beating the Unity Drum

Really sorry you see it that way. I didn't think endorsing McCain as vice president could be in anyway seen as contemptous. Perhaps you could elaborate.

Let me be clear though. I see no way Bush can unify the country. More than that, I see no indications he cares about doing so. If I'm wrong, please point out where he has.

I gave up on him in this matter. If my not seriously considering voting for him strikes you as contempt, I'd ask you to consider whether you'd vote for someone advocating that your second-class citizenship status be chiselled into the Constitution. Seriously. He's using that to divide people, not unite them.

But pushing that aside. What has he done to unite the country? "It's the left's fault. They won't listen to him. They just want the White House back, so he might as well talk to a brick wall."

No, he might as well try another tactic. He has a chance coming up in August. I'll be listening carefully.

I think many hard left types have showed their willingness at unity by supporting Kerry/Edwards, two men who are hardly representative of The Left. Until some fellow Americans get that, I’ll be waiting for the right-wing rock star who could put Rudyard Kipling’s http://www.wsu.edu:8080/~wldciv/world_civ_reader/world_civ_reader_2/kipling.html ">The White Man's Burden to a cool beat.

Phil: What's yours, Jes?

Oh, it's the same as Slarti's, from the other end - at least, this year. Honest Republicans will have to vote Democrat or deny the values they claim to cherish by voting for Bush. The incompetence and dishonesty of the Bush/Cheney presidency leaves no other option open.

But I confess I doubt that group hugs will happen over this. In 2002, in the French presidential elections, the second round elections left voters with a choice between Chirac and Le Pen. Chirac won handily - but only because decent French voters recognised that however much they might, in the ordinary way of things, despise Chirac, they could not commit the infamy of voting for Le Pen or even abstaining and running the risk that Le Pen might win. It did not make Chirac any more popular or any more loved, and there were no group hugs involved.

Bush is a disaster area. In a disaster area, good people of all political persuasions get together to help out. They don't have to love each other or to be converted to each other's points of view. Disaster areas do create a specific kind of unity: in that sense, Bush is indeed a uniter, not a divider.

Asking for unity while the underlying reason for the discontinuity persists isn't going to do anything. So long as a large portion of the country believes that the War on Terrorism is much larger than trying to deal with Al Qaeda, and another large portion believes that the War on Terrorism will involve mostly trying to deal with Al Qaeda--there can't be the kind of unity you are looking for.

So long as a large portion of the country believes that the War on Terrorism is much larger than trying to deal with Al Qaeda, and another large portion believes that the War on Terrorism will involve mostly trying to deal with Al Qaeda--there can't be the kind of unity you are looking for.

You may be right. I hope not though. The threat has two elements. Its ideological source and its more immediate actions against our interests. Clearly, the entire nation can unite behind the need to defeat the second element. I'd suggest to do that though, all such efforts be done unpartisanly (that means no campaign ads for Bush in the middle of Ridge's announcment).

With regard to the large picture, I think it's going to be (and rightly so) a struggle. After all, we're talking about invading other countries. I'd hope we'd debate such things thoroughly.

The zeitgeist is leading me to believe that a near landslide is now probable.

Al Queda has proven to be the best organized and best funded terrorist organization out there. They also have declared war on the US and have proven successful in attackiing our interests and people.
It is right to prioritize our efforts to dismantle their organization.

Slarti, it sounds like your plan for unity is to sit back and wait for the other side to want to hug you.

So? I already want to hug them. But I'm unilateral that way.

"So long as a large portion of the country believes that the War on Terrorism is much larger than trying to deal with Al Qaeda, and another large portion believes that the War on Terrorism will involve mostly trying to deal with Al Qaeda--there can't be the kind of unity you are looking for."

Actually, I think that both sides agree that the War on Terror involves a lot more than trying to deal with al Qaeda. They differ on whether or not that 'more' includes taking out Saddam Hussein, and also on whether, supposing that for this or some other reason the invasion of Iraq was justified, it should have been competently executed.

I didn't think endorsing McCain as vice president could be in anyway seen as contemptous.

Hmmm...maybe I was misconstrued as stating that your ever word oozed contempt. That wasn't my intention.

I see no way Bush can unify the country.

Country-unification ain't in the job description. But if it were, I don't see Kerry as being any more qualified in that area. I mean, a good first step for him would be a DNC-wide demand to tone down the rhetoric, and to be a bit more honest about the whole Iraq situation. But he's got a campaign to run.

a good first step for him would be a DNC-wide demand to tone down the rhetoric,

Did you watch the Democratic Convention? That's PRECISELY what he did.

To be clear: in my earlier comment I did not mean to say that we did not do a good job in taking Baghdad. I was assuming that 'competent execution' would have included competent and realistic planning for the occupation, and providing the troops needed to ensure that those plans could be carried out. Given the absence of any evidence that Saddam Hussein was cooperating with al Qaeda or any other terrorists, toppling him would advance the war on terror only if we ensured that (a) our invasion would not result in either in a state that was likely to allow terrorist activity within its borders, or in a failed state, and (b) it would result either in lower tolerance for terrorism in the Arab world or in greater support for the US, and (c) that the gains in (b) outweighed the opportunity costs of an invasion. All three of these considerations require doing the occupation right.

Note that here I am considering the invasion only as a part of the war on terror, since that was Sebastian's point. I also think that humanitarian and nation-building objectives should have led us to do things differently, but that's another story.

Yes...and just look at the dramatic difference, before and after the call for civility. Why, Kerry actually disowned Michael Moore!

Look, I think it's admirable that you're now hard-over on unity, Edward. I'm going to take it as a given that you mean it, too.

Hey hilzoy,
Don't bring competence into this. Intent is everything.
Why the president addressed "intentions" just the other day:
"My opponent has good intentions, but intentions do not always translate to results."
Oops. Not that quote. I'm sure there's another one around here somewhere.
Here it is: "new GOP refrain of his own: "Results matter."
That's not it either.
Somewhere there's something about "turning the corner" to place where "results matter" but it only comes in the second term or something like that.

Actually, I think the most effective way to bring civility back into government is to re-introduce dueling. Sabers, pistols...that's getting into the pesky details.

If nothing else, the number of career politicians would likely start to dwindle. Which might be a good thing in itself.

When I saw that 'Results Matter' slogan, I nearly died laughing. I mean, which results, exactly, does he have in mind? The fiscal situation? Being the first President to have net job loss since Hoover? The chaos in Iraq? Afghanistan, which we could have and should have done right, slipping into failed-state-hood? Squandering the goodwill we had after 9/11, and wrecking our alliances? Abu Ghraib? (Note to those who say that this is not Bush's fault: remember that what matters is not intentions but results, e.g. the results of naming a Sec. of Defense the results of whose management of the war include this. Whether or not anyone meant for this to happen is irrelevant, ex hypothesi.) The de facto suspension of habeas corpus? Gee, so many possibilities.

GROUP HUG!!

Group hug it is. At any rate, I'm off to a series of meetings, so I won't be able to post any further bits of provocation :)

"Actually, I think that both sides agree that the War on Terror involves a lot more than trying to deal with al Qaeda."

Hmm. I'm not sure I believe that. I'll agree that there is disagreement about whether or not Iraq ought to have been the next step among those who want to think about next steps. But I think much rhetoric surrounding that is not completely honest. Very few people (please notice I do not say none, I say very few) who say that Iraq ought not have been the next step are also willing to say something like--we really should have invaded Iran instead, or we should have invaded Syria. The debate I remember about Iraq was not centered on the relative strategic merits of attacking some other Middle Eastern disaster-area. Much more of it was centered on non-specific 'waiting until we are done in Afghanistan', presumably 5-10 years from now. We don't have that kind of time. For example, we wouldn't have learned so much about the nuclear black market if we had taken that approach.

And no, it isn't only intentions that matter. If I were offered a choice between someone with Bush's intentions and better planning I would jump for it. But so far as I can tell, I am not being offered that. I'm not convinced Kerry is particularly competent. And I worry that any competence he might have would be actively going after a poor goal.

After the reintroduction of dueling, blog thread-posters would be filling emergency rooms throughout the country. Apparently they are only able to wound their opponents and have proven unable to deliver the killer blow despite assertions to the contrary.

"we wouldn't have learned so much about the nuclear black market if we had taken that approach"

We learned the most about the nuclear black market from invading Iraq?

News to me.

"Dramatic evidence from Iran and now Libya reveals a clandestine and sophisticated network stretching from North Korea, Malaysia and China to Russia, Germany and Dubai. Yet one country more than any other stands accused of easing this proliferation. In the network of illegal radioactive trade, all roads point to Pakistan. More precisely, they lead to the Khan Research Laboratories in Kahuta in north Pakistan."

Sorry. Not "the most" but "so much".
Are you talking about yellowcake?

I luv Bruce. I grew up listenin' to the man, on hot, lonely nights, liftin' weights in my garage, dreamin' of bettah things:

At night we rode through the mansions of glory
in suicide machines
Sprung from cages on Highway 9
Chrome-wheeled, fuel injected and steppin' out over the line.

But.........., the man is ignorant about politics and policy. It's no different than if I jumped on stage from the audience to badly strumm 3 chords of "Smoke on the Water" to an unsuspecting audience.

Write the songs that made you famous, Bruce, and sing for you're worth 'till you cain't no more -- but on politics, please, for Godsake's, STFU:)

OK, I misspoke in my last post: I was actually off to prepare for the meetings, but that took less time than expected. So: Sebastian: you're right, of course, that most people on the left (if my impressions are accurate) did not advocate invading some other country instead of Iraq. But that doesn't mean that we thought that we should only go after al Qaeda. There is lots of room between the claim that we should do more than that and the conclusion that we should invade some country. One might, for instance, accept (as I do) the idea that the long-term solution to the problem of terrorism must involve fundamental changes in the Middle East while rejecting the idea that invasion is a good way to achieve those changes in any case but Afghanistan. (I mean: invasion now, under present circumstances.) Afghanistan is special, I think, because we had an obvious and compelling justification for invading it in response to 9/11. This matters not only because being justified always matters, but because the obviousness of our justification translates into our invasion being seen as more legitimate within the Middle East itself, and thus less likely to strengthen views of the US that make terrorist groups more appealing in that part of the world. By contrast, imho, any other invasion would strengthen those views, and would therefore impose costs on us, in terms of the war on terror, that would have to be outweighed before invasion could be seen as a good idea.

Every liberal I know thinks that we should have invaded Afghanistan; that we should deploy every means available to disrupt not just al Qaeda but any international terrorist group we can find; and that real transformation in the Middle East is absolutely necessary. The difference is on the question: is invading Iraq (or Syria, or Iran) a good way to achieve this transformation? Or rather: given that any such invasion will produce some sort of major change in the region, will they change things for the better? And if so, will these improvements be sufficient to outweigh the costs of the invasion -- both the costs in lives and money and the opportunity costs? We tend to think not, and would have sought other mens for achieving the same fundamental goal.

Should be:

"sing for all you're worth.." D'oh!

Also, on the unity front above; Michael Moore's movie shattered any and all possible unity. It's more of a street brawl.

It's no different than if I jumped on stage from the audience to badly strumm 3 chords of "Smoke on the Water" to an unsuspecting audience.

It's a little different. Springsteen's allowed to have a political opinion and voice it. I suspect you'd be breaking the law by jumping up on stage (as much as I'd want to see that, mind you).

If being ignorant about politics and policy meant folks should not voice their opinions, however, there'd be a lot fewer comments and posts across the blogosphere (yes, yes, yes, myself included).

Michael Moore's movie shattered any and all possible unity.

Ahh...so that's what did it.

Duly noted.

Fast Eddie,

Nice try, but, he ain't just "merely voicin' an opinion" -- he got the NY Times op-ed space, because (a) he is famous and (b) he is liberal.

I, on the otherhand, got the stage because I was:(a) bold, (b) agile, and (c) drunk:)


Navy Davy
"But.........., the man is ignorant about politics and policy. It's no different than if I jumped on stage from the audience to badly strumm 3 chords of "Smoke on the Water" to an unsuspecting audience."

Actually it's no different than you expressing your political opinion here or anywhere else. His qualifications like yours doesn't need much more than: 'American citizen' (although 'registered voter' also helps in the area of credibility).

Hilzoy

"This matters not only because being justified always matters, but because the obviousness of our justification translates into our invasion being seen as more legitimate within the Middle East itself, and thus less likely to strengthen views of the US that make terrorist groups more appealing in that part of the world."

Right on! Right on!

"Drunk" and "agile" don't go well together. Except for subjectively, which is why "Hey y'all, watch this!" frequently is followed by a trip to the emergency room.

Navy Davy
"he got the NY Times op-ed space, because (a) he is famous and (b) he is liberal."

He got the op-ed space because he is an accomplished communicator who is listened to by millions. I think you'll see articles throughout the press concerning this so don't try to act as though the NYT is liberal and therefore published his letter. FOXNews would have as well because "The BOSS taking a political stand" is news. The kind that sells papers.

I heard Milli Vanilli's agent is shopping an op-ed letter but I don't know if it's from a liberal or conservative slant.

C-Sick,

"The BOSS taking a political stand" is news."

Um, No. The Boss reading, say, "Dawn to Decadence" by Jacques Barzun would be news:)

Writing a book review of such would be really big news.

Left-wing platitudes on NY Times Op-ed page is "olds"

Slarti,

Drunk and agile are my friends! You are raining on my parade:)

Those of you who think entertainers should butt out of politics must then think that Ronald Reagan should never have become an outspoken advocate for conservatism and against communism, right?

"Every liberal I know thinks that we should have invaded Afghanistan; that we should deploy every means available to disrupt not just al Qaeda but any international terrorist group we can find". I'll ignore for the moment the massive protests in Europe against the Afghanistan invasion because I think the proper focus is on what Americans think.

But, 'every means available' apparently does not including invasion and if the history of the international community is any guide probably does not include sanctions.

Which unfortunately means leaving us with very few, if any, major tools in dealing with Middle Eastern states who want to support terrorism or want to cooperate with terrorists while pretending to cooperate with us (and this may include Pakistan of course). This is especially true since most EU countries (major economic actors in the Middle East) don't seem interested in 'fundamental changes' you think are needed in the middle east. And while I can't speak for you particularly, most liberals in the US seem intensely wedded to the idea that we need to have major cooperation from the EU countries in any effort in the Middle East. This leaves us with very few options for change, even in a 25-50 year range--much less the 5-10 year range that we is the longest we are likely to have before one of the many terrorists groups get a hold of a nuke if there isn't major change in say Iran or Syria. Are we going it alone on fundamental change in the Middle East? What tools are we using since both sanctions (see the EU position on Iran despite declared intentions to circumvent the NPT) and war seem to be off the table?

"We tend to think not, and would have sought other mens for achieving the same fundamental goal."

Yes you tend to think not. Except in the national debate those means are typically not articulated. And when they are, they tend to have a much larger time frame (50-100 years) than I think we can spend dealing with the problem. And that brings us right back to the divide we were talking about at the beginning.

Those of you who think entertainers should butt out of politics must then think that Ronald Reagan should never have become an outspoken advocate for conservatism and against communism, right?

Distinction: Reagan ran and won. Call me when Bruce runs and wins.

"It's no different than if I jumped on stage from the audience to badly strumm 3 chords of "Smoke on the Water" to an unsuspecting audience."

You're the Bruce Springsteen of politics and policy? Let me mull that one over. There's something incredibly insightful and hilarious waiting in there somewhere, but I can't figure it out.

"Distinction: Reagan ran and won. Call me when Bruce runs and wins."

Post facto. If we'd held to your policy that entertainers ought shut up about politics, he never would have had the chance to win.

Sebastian
I don't want to re-argue the reasons to invade Iraq but I can guarantee you that we do not have the troops, money or will to occupy the entire Middle East (or Iraq indefinitely) AND fight a War on Terror that includes the EU, the Phillipines, Africa and even the United States. We can't even keep a handle on Afghanistan for gosh sakes. Why not? Priorities.

But.........., the man is ignorant about politics and policy. It's no different than if I jumped on stage from the audience to badly strumm 3 chords of "Smoke on the Water" to an unsuspecting audience.

Nonsense. Artists, particularly musicians, have a long history of political commentary. It is, in fact, a very necessary function that much art performs. Edward's comment in his post sums it up nicely:

Now the same debate rages each time this happens. Depending on which side the artists take (yours or the opposition's), opinions change about the appropriateness/relevance of artists' ideas on political races, but since the time of Aristophanes, artists have used their work to influence change in politics, so the only real question is the first one: which side the artists take.

Whether or not a person thinks a given entertainer should open their mouth about politics is a pretty good channel marker for how they feel about the issue the artist is bringing up. Assertions that the artist in question doesn't know anything about ____ are red herrings: chances are that the artist knows as much about the issue as the average voter or canvasser, yet voters are given the power to vote on the issues they allegedly know nothing about, and canvassers go door-to-door and stop passers-by to spread the same kind of advocacy the artist does.

The bottom line: what people who complain about uppity entertainers object to is that these people have fame and name recognition, and are using it to advocate for a cause with which the complainer disagrees.

Hey, speaking of Afghanistan!

This occured to me over my bowl of cereal this morning. For those who believe that the perception of America among the terrorists as not being weak and easily cowed is very important (and I count myself among that group), how much worse would it be to have America continue to make a disaster of Afghanistan and be perceived as ineffectual and beatable?

I humbly request that all VRWC members take your boy Bush aside and ask that he talk more about Afghanistan. A lot more. And get the press involved. And stop earmarking billions of Iraq War budget for this or that pet project and instead divert it to the country that's turning into a war torn kleptocracy (again).

"how much worse would it be to have America continue to make a disaster of Afghanistan and be perceived as ineffectual and beatable?"

A) this reasoning applies equally to leaving Iraq.

B) ...continue to make a disaster of Afghanistan? By the accounts I have seen Afghanistan is no paradise, but quite possibly better off than it has been in decades. Sheesh, look at its starting point.

C) this poses an interesting question for liberals too. If you contend that Afghanistan is a disaster, and if you argue that European countries are interested in fully participating in the War on Terrorism--but not Iraq of course--why is it that there are so few NATO troops in Afghanistan and so little European money going to Afghanistan? Isn't Afghanistan supposed to be the clear case? Why does France keep blocking an increase of NATO troops in Afghanistan?

Catsy
Don't you know...veterans who never served next to John Kerry have a duty to speak about his service but musicians...not so much.

For some reason in a free speach environment I learned to turn the channel; turn off the tv; etc. so now when people speak up I already know I have a choice to listen to them or not.
My guess is more people will listen to Bruce than to the swift boat captains.

Sebastian
This administration only has 20,000 troops in Afghanistan. Again, Priorities.
Our allies have been pushed to partcipate elsewhere would be my observation.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

"Heroin trafficking has long been the main source of funds for local warlords' private armies, which thwart Karzai's attempts to expand his authority beyond Kabul. But the drug trade is becoming even more dangerous: U.S. and British counterterrorism experts say al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies are increasingly financing operations with opium sales."

Sebastian:

And no, it isn't only intentions that matter. If I were offered a choice between someone with Bush's intentions and better planning I would jump for it. But so far as I can tell, I am not being offered that. I'm not convinced Kerry is particularly competent. And I worry that any competence he might have would be actively going after a poor goal.

So Sebastian, you choose to stick with the clearly incompetent but allegeldy good intentioned. May you never be in charge of a business with that mind set.

If you actually care about the War on Terror as you profess, the best that you can say for Bush on this score is that he invaded the wrong country (Iraq) for the allegedly right reasons, but screwed up even that allegedly well intentioned but mistaken act.

I may cut some slack for my children for such behavior, but not adults. Why conservatives do for Bush is sad commentary on placing party loyalty first.

Sebastian:

And no, it isn't only intentions that matter. If I were offered a choice between someone with Bush's intentions and better planning I would jump for it. But so far as I can tell, I am not being offered that. I'm not convinced Kerry is particularly competent. And I worry that any competence he might have would be actively going after a poor goal.

So Sebastian, you choose to stick with the clearly incompetent but allegeldy good intentioned. May you never be in charge of a business with that mind set.

If you actually care about the War on Terror as you profess, the best that you can say for Bush on this score is that he invaded the wrong country (Iraq) for the allegedly right reasons, but screwed up even that allegedly well intentioned but mistaken act.

I may cut some slack for my children for such behavior, but not adults. Why conservatives do for Bush is sad commentary on placing party loyalty first.

Sorry for double post -- I was given an error message on the first post.

Dmbeaster, re "So Sebastian, you choose to stick with the clearly incompetent but allegeldy good intentioned."

No. I am saying that if forced to choose between someone going actively in the wrong direction, and someone who is going in the right direction but not doing so ideally, I choose the later. I reitirate that I am not being given a choice between two men going in the right direction such that I can evaluate purely on the basis of which one is more competent to implement the plans needed to go in that direction.

And I don't even agree that Iraq was divorced from the War on Terror, so there we are.

Navy Davy: Distinction: Reagan ran and won. Call me when Bruce runs and wins.

Bruce has to win the presidency of his labor union before he can openly participate in politics?


I don't complain about "uppity entertainers", but I do think that it's silly to give op-ed space to people who happen to be famous but have no relevant credentials for the subject of their essay. While it's true that entertainers have a long history of political commentary, they usually do it on their own nickel. Why should the NYT pass over non-famous but more informed contributions just to give the Boss one more platform that he doesn't need?

Why should the NYT pass over non-famous but more informed contributions just to give the Boss one more platform that he doesn't need?

That's a good question.

I wanted this thread to be a parsing of his text (if you're gonna play on the op-ed page, you'd better be prepared for the fisk). Slarti did a nice job on it, but somehow the tangents proved more enticing.

No doubt his popularity translated into something more "newsworthy" for the NYT (if Little Richard were touring on a Vote For Change tour, I doubt he'd have gotten the space). But then again Bruce does represent a unique, very American vision. He's right that his songs have always been about our values and dreams, so in a way perhaps he's always been writing opinion pieces.

Bruce has to win the presidency of his labor union before he can openly participate in politics?

Why not sumptin' smaller, like, I dunno, Dog-Catcher?:)

For the record, you made the comparison between the Boss and the Gipper.

I don't complain about "uppity entertainers", but I do think that it's silly to give op-ed space to people who happen to be famous but have no relevant credentials for the subject of their essay.

Newspapers do it all the time. They're called "journalists", and rare is the one who actually has credentials for the subject on which they opine. In fact, unlike Bruce, they are usually actually /paid/ for their uncredentialed opinions.

The NYT got a deal.

Navy Davy: Why not sumptin' smaller, like, I dunno, Dog-Catcher?:)

For the record, you made the comparison between the Boss and the Gipper.

Okay, I'm pretty dense, so you are going to have to spell it out for me. Why is it okay for Reagan to turn activist prior to running for public office, but not okay for Springsteen? Or, alternatively, why is the comparison invalid?

Okay, I'm pretty dense,..

Well, don't be so hard on yourself:) (pun intended)

Roughly,

1. Ronald Reagan earned the right to speak publically on public issues by: (1) educating himself, (2) running for office and (3)winning.

2. Bruce Springsteen is a great singer.

Obviously, Bruce can speak his mind -- free country and all. But, NY Times real estate is prime, and Bruce is undeserving of such space.

"relevant credentials for the subject of their essay"

Bruce Springsteen has proven himself as a great American communicator and his credentials and abilities are evidenced by the fact that people have been buying his albums in the millions for over 25 years.
Have you ever gotten the idea that he was say - Canadian - from his songs? No? His essay isn't strong on specific details perhaps because he feels the country, his country, the country who's people he writes songs about and sings about everyday - are on the wrong track. No need to cite specific legislation or intiatives. Big picture - wrong track.

Carsick:

My problem is I don't think Springsteen's opinions on politics (as opposed to his opinions on music) are terribly valuable. The thought behind putting Springsteen's opinions on the OpEd page depend on the following logic:

1. Bruce is entitled to his opinions.
2. Bruce is a famous (and good) musician.
3. Because Bruce is a famous (and good) musician his opinions on politics are informed and insightful.

Just because he knows music, does not mean he knows politics. He certainly can speak about anything he wants, but his credibility on politics is much less than his credibility in the area of music. But hey, if you want to use Springsteen as your intellectual guide on matters of geo-politics while I pay closer heed to Bernard Lewis, by all means feel free to do so.

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