Energion Roundtable Week 5 Responses

Posted By Elgin Hushbeck

In their answers to this week’s Energion Roundtable question, Joel Watts and Bob Cornwall, both thought that Romney made a big error and Obama generally did ok, but neither were completely happy  his actions. Arthur Sido thought both were “off-base.”   

Concerning Romney, Sido wrote, “the entire thing smacked of political opportunism.”   Supposedly Romney’s big error was that he criticized the administration for the statement of the embassy. While Watts calls this “error-filled” and questions Romney’s character, Sido shares my view that “Romney was correct in his substance about the initial response from the State Department.”  

Frankly what I find somewhat strange, (but not surprising) is how Romney is criticized for doing what the administration itself did just a short time later;  how Romney is criticized for politicizing this when Obama also has used the opportunity to criticize Romney.  Let me be clear, I am not critical of them for going after Romney, this is what is done in campaigns.   Rather it is the double standard  that I am criticizing, a double standard that seems to surround Obama, (for example going back to 2008  Sarah Palin was attacked as unqualified, but in fact had more experience than Obama).  To me, the main difference has been that while both were critical of the statements of the embassy,  the administration has tried to lay the blame for protests on the video, as if the video was the core problem, something that becomes increasingly doubtful as time goes on and we learn more.

Given this,  I have to wonder how much of Sido’s view was due to Romney’s statement itself, and how much was in the coordinated efforts of nearly all the press to shape the story into just this direction.  Herein lies a major problem that has plagued the right for decades, and which, so far, they have not been able to effectively address.  It is also a major difference between the left and right.

Let me say up front that these are generalizations, i.e., things that are generally true, but not absolutely true and there will be exceptions on both sides.  But exceptions to a general rule does not disprove the rule, they only demonstrate that the rule is a general one, and not absolute.

With that caveat, the general rule is that while the right tends to demonize policies, the left tends to demonize persons.  For, example, while there are fringe elements of the right that question Obama’s place of birth, or try to claim that he is a secret Muslim, or other such silliness, the mainstream conservative view is that while Obama is a nice guy, he is implementing very bad policies.  Thus the main objections surround things like his passage of the Affordable Care Act, aka, ObamaCare; the rapid growth of Government, the exploding deficit, mismanagement of the economy, etc..  

The left, on the other hand, tend to directly attack the person.  Ford was a klutz; Reagan a dumb actor; Bush 41 was elite and out of touch, etc.  Their favorite attacks have been to call those on the right some combination of stupid, greedy, selfish, and uncaring.  For example,  Reagan,  Quayle, Bush 43, and Palin were all labeled dumb.    To support this we are told about the dumb statements they make, some of which come from SNL, rather than the candidate themselves, but such details really do not matter.  Nor does evidence to the contrary.  Nor is similar evidence ever applied to Democrats.  Obama for example, said he had been in 57 states, and Biden… well there is a very long list of such statements, my favorite being a three letter  word  J-0-B-S. While humorous, I do not take these as indications of intelligence, but the simple mistakes anyone is bound to make.  But for some reasons when Republicans do this, it is somehow much more significant.  

When all else fails, the left goes to the big seven and conservatives are labeled with some combination of sexist, intolerant, xenophobic, homophobic, islamophobic, bigoted, and of course the ever popular racist. When clear evidence of any of this is lacking, which it is because it is not true, this is all justified with talk of code words, and hidden agendas as if the right is some sort of secret society.    

In short those on the right tend to see those on the left as people with good intentions, but with bad policies that don’t work and are often harmful.   Those on the left tend to see those on the right and just bad people.   Look at the number one charge against Romney:  he only cares about the rich.  This, when combined with the media bias,  is why polls consistently show this is a center-right country, but votes for farther to the left than would be expected based on this.

Returning to Romney’s comments I do not believe that it was what Romney objectively said, but how it was subjectively viewed, particularly in the press.  Thus Cornwall spoke of Romney’s “instincts” and what he “seems to have thought.”  This was despite the fact that Romney objectively expressed much the same view as the White House later took, resulting in a charge of dishonestly from Watts.  Cornwall said “Romney showed himself to be ignorant” and “puffs out his chest.”   I am sorry, but while this maybe the coordinated view of the majority of the press coverage, I just do not see any of this in Romney’s actual statement.

I had some agreement and disagreement with a supplement posted by Cornwall.  I believe on the major points we agree; that we are a major power in the world and that isolationism is no longer a viable option and that the resulting decisions we face are very difficult.  While we disagree with many of the details, on the broader question of should we be involved we seem to agree.

One area where I did question Cornwall’s view was with the statement,

“I think that in some ways that innocency has worn off in the intervening years, but there is at least some sense amongst us that we are an innocent nation. That we’re different and special — exceptional — and this leads us at times, as a nation, to fail at self-criticism. We begin to see ourselves as the arm of God. And this poses problems.”

While undoubtedly true at some level, after all no one and no nation is perfect,   I would argue that almost the opposite is true, that rather than failing at self-criticism, that we are instead hyper-critical to the point that at times we fail to see the good that we have done, and could do.    As Bill Bennett put it in his history of America, we should view our history warts and all, and not just the warts.

Sep 20th, 2012

Comments are closed.