Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Resonding to Reader Responses (From Other Websites)

Andrew Sullivan approvingly posted an e-mail he recieved. I never really understood this practice, particularly the many political bloggers handle it. I mean, if you get an e-mail that is essentially just a confirmation of your prejudices (and this e-mail is an excellent example of this) by one other person, why do you feel the need to post it? To distance yourself from the opinions that are expressed while still endorsing them? To show that you are not insane and at least one other creature in the universe agrees with you? Or is it just a creepy form of ego tripping? Anyhow, the e-mail is full of holes (which makes it all the more likely that Andrew Sullivan is a sad, sad man, who writes letters to himself) and ought to be thoroughly torn apart:

I honestly don't know how to respond to the all the plaudits raining down on the oratory of John Edwards from conservatives who ought to know better. Watching him, I saw in him the worst traits of Clinton all over again. The demonization of those with honest policy differences, and the casting of those disagreements in moral terms, the encouragement to voters to think of themselves as victims of malevolent right-wing forces, to believe that only government programs can save them from market-induced destitution. Ok, the first three of those charges, with some slight variations (replace "right wing forces" with god-hating gays or whatever other bogey man you wish, for instance), could easily be levelled with greater accuracy against the President and his party. The Fourth charge of knee-jerk statism is absurd, Clinton introduce many market based policies (hell, that was the whole point of the New Democrats), like NAFTA (speaking of which, the last Republican to pass a multilateral trade treaty was Ike). So, this first section is basically all garbage, especially because the writer did mention any of Clinton's more obvious flaws, possibly because Edwards does not appear to share them.

His comments were directed at people in my middle-income bracket. I've always thought of myself as an independent person that can manage my own affairs and pay my way through the world by purchasing the goods and services that I need. I'm not rich, but I have more than enough money to pay for the basic necessities and afford a few extra material comforts while I'm at it, yet Edwards seems to think that I'm one paycheck away from the poorhouse, and that if he doesn't reach down to me and lift me up from my condition of incipient bondage, I'll be scraping to survive until I die. Well I don't need Edwards condescending pity, and I resent the insinuation that I need him to save me from the big, bad world... For the record, I'm no Grover Norquist flat-tax disciple. Fiscally, I'd say I'm a moderate, and some wealth redistribution doesn't bother me one bit. It's just that this guy is an opportunistic snake-oil merchant if I've ever seen one. I don't know what Brooks, Marshall et al are seeing that I'm not. He makes me physically ill."

Ah, and now here is the reader throws in their own personal story, a Horatio Alger tale of rugged individualism which conclusively proves that anyone interested in helping the disadvantaged and improving the lives of oridnary Americans much be some sort of huckster and the welfare state is an evil sham meant to enslave mankind. Naturally, there are tons of things wrong here. First of all, how much is this person really making? They insinuate that they are middle class, that does not mean a damn thing. For all we know, this could be one of those jerks that thinks pulling down "only" $200k a year is being "middle class". Anyhow, the letter writer never considered the possibility that Senator Edwards was not talking directly to them (hell, I bet this guy never thought anything was not about him). Is it possible that Edwards is talking about the millions living in poverty, the tens of millions more that are living just above the poverty line and families in highly precarious personal situations? Impossible, clearly, it is all about this one guy....and of course, Andrew Sullivan.

Update: To add to the ridiculousness of the letter writer/Andrew Sullivan's criticism of Edwards, this post appears right over a link on Sullivan's blog to a lengthy Time article the Nannyism of George W. Bush. Hmmm. When Bush wants to muck around with people's private lives and rescue them from the evils of personal immorality, I suppose that isn't as nearly as bad as when John Edwards talks about reducing the finacial burdens on the middle class.


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