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September 29, 2004


James Fallows has commented on this Bush tactic as well.

F'rinstance, Bush's Iraq slogan of given the choice of "taking the word of a madman or defending America," he'd choose "defending America, every time."

Well, those weren't the two choices. Nobody was taking Saddam at his word--there were inspectors on the ground and we had his country contained to the point that he only had control over a third of it.

Does not the Bush II administration remind of the Third Reich leadership--not in terms of activity percisely, but in speech patterns? Bush speeches should be compared to Hitler's speeches, Rumfeld's speeches should be compared with Goreing, and the White House Press releases compared to Goebbels. You start substituting the term 'Terrorists' for 'Jews', 'Democrats' for 'Communists', and 'Business' for the 'Volk', and you think they have the same Copy Editor. lgl


thanks for commenting here. We appreciate new people, but we have a policy--about to be made official in the posting rules--that anyone comparing ANYONE to Nazis or Communists, who are not actually Nazis or Communists, will be banned immediately, no further debate.

I understand there's a question of style behind your observation, but we're pretty much sticklers on maintaining a level of civility here. I don't wish to make an example of your comment by banning you (and would encourage you to stick around if this doesn't offend you, as that's not the intent), AND we haven't officially updated the posting rules yet, but please refrain from any additonal such parallels. The writers here represent the entire spectrum of American politics. We strive for common ground. But we're totally immovable when it comes to maintaining respect and civility. Thanks.

I ask this as a sincere, genuine question to try and understand. How does a Bush supporter reconcile this observation and their own views of this administrations policies and actions? Is this a patently false observation or is this true? Can he have it both ways and still be considered trustworthy? I look at this and say 'duh'! But, clearly my opposite sees these actions and statements and comes to the opposite conclusion. How?

It's really not that much of a mystery ishmael. It's like a marriage. His supporters like him. Mostly because we share beliefs on most things. Add his personable tendencies and he earned our respect and captured our loyalty. So those issues you question. We're in it for the long term. We believe in the tax cuts, we want the government to take less of our earnings. President Bush knows that's the root benefit. And over the long haul, even when world events change the playing field, the root benefit doesn't change. But there are usually multiple reasons for doing good things, and those reasons can be made to fit the circumstances. That's American politics. Same with WOT. Us supporters agree that terrorists must be smoked out and defeated abroad. Again, a long term mission. But over the course of a few years of American politics and world events, sentiments shift and circumstances drift. The root objective is still the same, secure future American generations from jihadists. The political climate flits around like an autumn fly, but we expect President Bush to hang tough. Again, lots of reasons to do what we're doing. So if he has to pull a different one out of the hat every now and then to explain current positions, that's kosher to us. It's truly not having it both ways. It's going with the flow, but staying on course. I don't think the terrorist world thinks we can do it. I hope they're wrong, regardless of how the election goes.

How does a Bush supporter reconcile this observation and their own views of this administrations policies and actions?

Some people (James Lileks comes to mind) just can't seem to believe that things are really as screwed up as they think. They have a desperate need to believe that the Government really is the warm fuzzy lovable bunch of public servants that we learned about in high school civics class. After all, Administration spokescritters are telling us how good things really are; they wouldn't lie, now would they? Indications to the contrary must be disinformation from Dark Forces.

I saw exactly the same reaction during Watergate.

Callmeishmael: All is explained here.

we want the government to take less of our earnings

Less than what? Less than whatever the current amount might happen to be? If we currently had a top rate of 5%, would you want it cut to 3%? Are there any hypothetical situations you can think of where a tax increase would be appropriate?

I don't really understand the idea of "tax cuts" as a general governing philosophy. Wouldn't it make more sense to start by saying what level and kind of taxes you think is optimal, and then determine what has to happen to get there?

We believe in the tax cuts, we want the government to take less of our earnings

There were no tax cuts. There were shifts of taxes from the present into the future where they will be repaid with interest, and the interest rate will almost certainly be greater than the growth rate of GDP, meaning the economy can't grow it's way out of debt. In addition, the rate of spending increased, and this increase was not solely or even predominantly due defense spending. The government will take more of your earnings due to the Bush administration's fiscal recklessness, not less.

It's like a marriage. His supporters like him. Mostly because we share beliefs on most things

Thanks for that honest response, blogbudsman . Having been married once before, I know how devotion to the person sometimes overrides the realistic assessment of foibles and weaknesses. Then I got divorced and my how she changed. ;-)

Still, it is interesting to note the rationale, that as you say, if you believe in the long term benefits of tax cuts, then short term answers can be whatever they may, and who cares. Eye on the prize.

Not agreeing, but more enlightened and appreciative of your response.


The example you gave is a false dichotomy, closely linked to the straw-man, but not justification by unfalsifiable hypotheses.

Bush deploys false dichotomies and straw-men almost every time he speaks in public, but they are fairly common logical fallacies that most public speakers use. Bush's use of justification by unfalsifiable hypotheses is a key part of his signature style.

It is an indication of his view of politics as a pure game. Before po-mo politics most folks thought that there needed to be some balance between good policies and good politics. They thought that bad policies and their bad effects would eventually become a political liability to the policymaker. Bush has changed all that fairly dramatically and is in the process of proving that politics and policies, or politics and leadership as Edward has it, have very little to do with each other.

kenB - "Wouldn't it make more sense to start by saying what level and kind of taxes you think is optimal, and then determine what has to happen to get there?"

You know that wouldn't be half bad kenB. Of course the Taxman is as old as the Prostitute. Love the cartoon, "Line #1, What you earned. Line #2, That's what you owe". Your argument is as good as any, but somewhere toward closing the deal we need to control spending on both sides of the aisle. The idea that constituents are hungry chicks stretching their helpless beaks skyward toward our motherly elected officials with their jowls packed full of worms should appear repulsive to this panel in many ways.

I've often wondered, too, what is the level of taxation desired by the Republican Party?

The highest marginal rate in the early 1950s was @91%. It fell to 70% for years; to the low 30% level under Reagan, went up a bit under Reagan and up a bit more (39.5%) under Clinton. (This is a rough summary).

Yet, the degree of agitation for lower rates never lessens, and, in fact, a histogram of marginal rates versus harsh rhetoric over time would show that the lower the rate goes, the more angry Republicans become.

Besides, the low single digit rates in place when the IRS was formed were met with howling outrage.

So ask I you, in my left-wing whiny sort of way, whaddya want to pay?

Actually, my approach is: "Shut up and pay your taxes or I'll take the rate to zero and you won't even get to build that $100 billion missile defense system you don't want to adequately test."

Now, I know the honest answer from Republicans is:
"We believe the tax system should reflect in mirror image the literal words of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, which means no Federal income tax, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Medicaid, and a little shack on the Potomac manned by a poorly paid private contractor who collects the odd tariff now and again. Oh, and forget government borrowing, too,
Unless we decide to rebuy Louisiana."

But you can't have candidates running around saying that. They would get 9% of the vote and retire to a Republican think tank to think up more clever ways of bankrupting the government.

Instead, we have huge tax cuts which erode the revenue stream of the U.S. Government (anyone want to argue pointlessly again that all tax cuts increase revenues?), tremendous spending increases, mostly on homeland security, Iraq, and cynical vote-getting programs like the Medicare drug benefit, etc, all of which could be paid for if someone would just ...

...raise my taxes. A $100 billion dollar malfunctioning missile system and torture at Abu Gharib and the cost of the military trials for the perpetrators (well, some of them) is bad enough. But that it all contributes to financial ruin for the Federal government as well is, I don't know, terrible genius.

Come on. I want to pay for it. Make me do it.

Me too, make me pay too!

Hey, I have a question about the "no comparing to Communists" rule that I just saw the moderator post, above on this thread. I understand that being compared to Nazis is horribly insulting, I support Godwin's Law. But I have never seen it extended to Communism before. How do you say "X shows similar characteristics to such-and-such institution of a totalitarian state" without having at least Stalinist Russia to compare to? I don't know in any great detail the history of any non-facist, non-communist totalitarian states. I'm not sure there were any.

I am NOT trolling. But how does one say "this is what totalitarian states do, not what we should be doing"? Totalitarianism is exactly what most people debating long-term policy questions are concerned about. Haven't you just removed the only possible source of data?

trilobite: the rule hasn't been formulated yet, so I am just speculating about its possible eventual content. However, I think the idea might be not just to rule out Nazi comparisons, but to rule out unsubstantiated claims to the effect either that all Republicans are fascists, or that all Democrats are communists, etc. I at least will advocate for a construction of 'unsubstantiated' that allows any claim presented with supporting evidence, but excludes claims like, 'As we all know, leftists are communists/conservatives are fascists' (where the alleged support is "what we all know", and "we" turns out to be "people who think an awful lot like me".) My main reason for supporting such a rule would be that while such claims, when presented with evidence, can be very interesting and should obviously be allowed, when presented without evidence they tend to be just inflammatory. Plus, they get old fast.

Just my opinion, though, and I can easily be outvoted. And I am open to persuasion.

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