Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Column 6: Desperation Escalated

Desperation Escalated
by Ed Gurowitz

Last week I pointed to the Bush campaign’s use of the “Big Lie,” a venerable propaganda technique that maintains that if a distortion or untruth is big enough, repeated often enough and loudly enough, people will believe it is true, as evidence of growing desperation on the Right with the election getting closer and still a dead heat. This week that desperation has escalated into (a) bigger lies and (b) ad hominem attacks.

The Republican campaign continues to rely on lies and half-truths in its TV campaign. Not just the (non-existent) WMD’s and (extremely questionable) Al Qaeda – Iraq link, but now characterizing Senator Kerry’s private coverage health proposal, as a government takeover of health care! I have emphasized in these columns making a clear delineation between facts and opinions – I have tried, notwithstanding some readers’ seemingly selective perception, to make clear when I was stating my opinion and when I was stating what I believe to be facts. There is, of course a middle ground where we may argue about whether something is a fact or not, and that is why we value freedom of speech and a free interchange of views. It is, however, a verifiable fact that Senator Kerry’s plan is a private-based plan, and the ads that say otherwise can only be seen as a falsehood. In my opinion, this is a sign of increasing desperation on the part of the Bush campaign.

Bush’s use of “Liberal” as an epithet to attack Kerry is almost laughable given that about half of the voting population identifies itself by that label – in general the Bush campaign’s ad hominem attacks have been weak and half-hearted. Likewise a local man “attacked” me on Sunday as “Incline’s Michael Moore,” a comparison that I don't’ think is particularly apt, nor do I consider it particularly insulting. He goes on to accuse me of pomposity, miscategorizing, distorting, and lying, his evidence for which is that I quote accurately from the 9/11 Commission report, but do not take into account some very arguable interpretations of some comments in that report. The gentleman is entitled to interpret these as he wishes, but that does not make his interpretations the truth or mine lies.

The point is this – the Right, going back to Joe McCarthy and Alger Hiss, has operated on the principles that if the truth doesn’t support your view, attack the person who speaks the truth, and if you’re going to attack, go for the kill. I have steered clear of ad hominem arguments in this column and will continue to do so. One of my most basic ethical principles (WARNING: WHAT FOLLOWS IS A LIBERAL VIEW. SENSITIVE CONSERVATIVES SHOULD SKIP TO THE NEXT SENTENCE) is to grant to others the same good intentions that I grant to myself, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. So I believe that Bush, Rumsfeld, and even Ashcroft are all, in Antony’s words, honorable men and will continue to address their policies and statements. If the gentleman who wrote the letter in Sunday’s paper can find nothing else but to call me names, I must assume they can’t find anything substantive in what I say to address.

One other note: Some readers of this column have asked me about endorsements in local races, and I’ve given that question a lot of thought. In a community this small it is inevitable that people whom I know, like, and respect personally will be on other sides of various local issues from me. That being the case, I am loath to make public endorsements for IVGID Trustee or the Fire Board, because I don’t want to publicly slight or seem to insult people who are my friends. Also, these offices are and should be non-partisan, and are not easily amenable in my view to the same left/right political analysis as national, state, and even county issues, so in next week’s column (the last before the election) I will address some State, and County races and maybe the propositions.

No comments: