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A Stinging Rebuke to the Ultra-Centrist

June 3, 2006

Blah!

Just when I had begun to exult in my newly-minted profile as a Centrist, I find that my past sins have come to haunt me.

Rob makes a couple of allegations: 1) putting Deborah White in my "Feces Flingers (D) (Chimpy Haters)" blogroll is going "too far" and describing her site as "Breathless regurgitations of DNC talking points by a nice Christian lady" seems to be "condescendingly demeaning" and gently suggests that I might be ignoring that 2×4 in my eye in the process.

Before I go any further, I’d like to say my description of Robbie as a "bitter friend", although a slight jab at his tendency towards bitterness, was more a play on the idea "bitter enemies". Rob and I, while sharing a deep, long standing non-gay (at least on my part) affection for each other, we do tend to go at it like an old married couple. That’s the Church for you is what I say.

"Chimpy Hater"
Deborah White is different. I don’t know her personally, and except for a few comments on Rob’s old site, I haven’t interacted with her at all. I check her site occasionally at about.com, and I almost always marvel at the simplistic fervor therein. I link to her nevertheless because I think she’s a good representative of a viewpoint I disagree with but concede as cohesive or instructive in some way. Iron sharpens iron and all that.

For some reason, despite his schooling in stand-up comedy, Rob failed to note that The "Chimpy Hater" moniker is  rather tongue-in-cheek, as is the "Sock Puppet" (as in Rovian) for the right. Deborah is proud liberal/progressive Democrat and I think it’s fair to keep her in the (D) group. Chimpy hater? No, not like the Kos kids etc. Perhaps I should but her in the Sea Monkeys (Freaks & Hybrids) section though, because her pro-life stand does make her a bit of an oddity in the Democratic Party. However, because she remains so relentlessly as a partisan Democrat, I think it’s fair to leave her in the (D) column.

I’ll grant that she is pro-life and takes heat for it from her readers, which makes her more complex than the typical "kill chimpy" blogger. For instance, she wrote this recent praise of the President, although it’s a bit backhanded and naive. Good for her for trying to get in a positive word though.

"Breathless Regurgitations"

Looking at her site recently, I see more than a few items that fit my description.

This item basically regurgitates something from Democrats.org. Which is fine, if uninteresting to me. There’s also the unquestioning praise of Congressman Murtha (not to mention Cindy Sheehan, the description of the United States as a "police state", the unending bad news from Iraq etc.

Breathless? That depends on whether you are predisposed to "take the pledge":

Have you taken the pledge yet  to see Al Gore’s global warming film this weekend when it opens nationwide?

Unless you’ve devoted all your attention to American Idol, you know that it’s called "An Inconvenient Truth "
and it was the hot-ticket of both the Sundance Film Festival and the
Cannes Film Festival. And Al Gore, the former Vice President of the US
who used to be parodied as excessively dull, has emerged as a political rock star with charisma, purpose and a growing campaign chest.

I especially love the Update at the end of the call to "support Al"

UPDATE – I was just sent a group-email copy of Al Gore’s promotional tour for the next month. Mark your calendars for these dates… (emphases hers)

Wow! A not only a group email, but a group email copy! Isn’t that special! It wasn’t clear in this post whether the email to "Democratic insiders" was directly sent to her, but she was very exited to pass on the exultation of Dr. Dean.

In principle, I suppose this is no different than quoting Hugh Hewitt, Ace of Spades or anyone else- that’s what the blogosphere tends to do. But I’ve never read any conservative blog that begins with "I got a mass email from Ken Mehlman today for Republican insiders…" nor would I be interested in reading one. That’s what many left commentators have alleged though- that we are all on some sort of Rovian-sock-puppet list that has all the talking points for the week. They’re amazed that principle and reason could lead you to similar conclusions- well, draw you own conclusions from that.

The really amusing/annoying stuff concerns Joe Lieberman. I love this one:

For much of the last five years under the Bush Administration, Joe Lieberman has soundly alienated many Democratic party loyalists with
his wholehearted support of the Iraq War and his lack of partisan
loyalty
on a number of issues including the Iraq War, national security
issues, judicial and other presidential nominatons, and Constitutional
privacy concerns.

Other than though, Lieberman is pretty liberal. But if what animates you most is opposition to the War, Joe’s gotta go! So what if he’s one of the few fig leaves the party has to convince people the Democrats are serious about fighting the war on terror? So what if his support for the war is derived from his Jewish faith?

I don’t get it. One one hand she praises Lieberman for his "integrity and independence of thought". But if he comes back from Iraq with some good news, she has this to say:

This week, though, Lieberman, one of the Bush Administration fiercest
hawk supporters of the War in Iraq and who has made 4 trips to Iraq in
17 months, almost seems to be thumbing his nose at the Democratic Party
as it prepares for crucial 2006 elections with fervent hopes of
capturing many new seats in Congress.

Never mind if what he says is true: how will it affect the mid-terms? That’s the important question a Christian should ask!

But hey, I’m a partisan guy and I understand that point of view. And I understand she’s on the other side of the aisle. But I don’t understand the complete unwillingness to examine the tactics and integrity of her own anti-war heroes; I don’t see a willingness to grapple with the fact that even with all the casualties, there are more people alive in Iraq today than if Sadaam was still around to fill his mass graves, not to mention the fact that UN Sanctions were responsible for the death of 500,000 Iraqi children. She’s the one who is into the idea of avoiding causing any death above all other considerations, not me.

I could be missing something- I don’t read her site that often. Correct me if I’m wrong.

My all time favorite, and I promise this is the last example, is how she describes the news of Lieberman’s run-off election:

The liberal blogosphere is jubilant over this stinging rebuke to ultra-centrist Senator Joe Lieberman.

Ultra-centrist. Ultra-centrist! I was on the floor. That just says it all: whoever is not with me is against me in a ultra-way. Ultra-hilarious.

I’ll break bread with her any day, but I find her political views too often simplistic, misguided and full of hobgoblins.
She also drips with a matronly condescension that I find particularly
nauseating. It’s like she’s the personification of the the feminized,
nanny-state liberal- only her political philosophy "flows from Jesus".
Not that I think she’s a bad person or anything!! Just a very nice,
earnest person who has a lot of first principles that differ with mine,
despite our shared faith. She would probably  say something the same
about me. If honest, she might say I nauseate her too. Well boo hoo.

Should I say this to her personally just because she’s a Christian? Perhaps. What would she say do President Bush to his face? Does that make a difference?

Oh, yes. Although it’s true she had this take-down of Howard Dean a while back,
it has the flavor of a woman scorned as much as a defense of the integrity of Conservative Christians. She’s offended by his remark that the Republican party is "pretty much a white conservative party", finding it "thoughtless" and "demeaning" because it "stereotypes"… but is truly offended because she feels "excluded" from her own party. I know how she feels! It’s a big problem.

Then she goes on further to say that the Democratic party "reflects the teachings of Jesus", and concedes that Dean may be well right, but it just won’t play to the voters. It’s not that the allegations are untrue, it’s just that mentioning what may very well be the facts is divisive!  So the "religious bigotry" she accuses him of is not so much a problem with characterizing Republicans as racist, but for not recognizing that Christians can be good Democrats too! How dare he insinuate that a Christian might have to be one of those racist Republicans! Shut that pie hole, Guv’nor.

Think I’m too harsh and uncharitable? Perhaps. But consider this, from her liveblogging of the 2004 SOTU:

Talk Like a Democrat, Act Like a Republican: In the SOTU, President Bush cited with praise and admiration Martin Luther King, Jr., Coretta Scott King,
and Democratic Presidents Bill Clinton and Franklin D. Roosevelt. How
many Republican presidents and leaders did he cite? One, Abraham
Lincoln, who lived 150 years ago and would surely be a Democrat today.

Because, you know, the only way to care about Black people is to guide them towards government programs that foster dependency on the State, increase Fatherlessness or just abort them in unconcionable numbers. Only Democrats care about the poor because only their ideas are accepted as compassionate. Perhaps by that logic, Lincoln would be a democrat today. Just like JFK might be considered a Repulican my defending freedom and lowering taxes.

If Deborah finds my assesment offensive, I’ll be happy to change it. But I think it’s fair, and meant in a congenial iron-sharpens-iron way. Hopefully this diatribe helps clarify where I’m coming from. If I’ve missed and hit flesh, I apologize.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Rufus T. Flinger permalink
    June 4, 2006 12:23 am

    Hey Dave:

    So, your criticism seemed bunched in a few topics, and I wanted to point out things that struck me as inaccurate. A key area where Rob’s criticisms ring true is in your description of “Breathless regurgitation of Democratic talking points…” as condescending and somewhat coming across as a double standard on your part.

    You write:

    “That’s what many left commentators have alleged though- that we are all on some sort of Rovian-sock-puppet list that has all the talking points for the week. They’re amazed that principle and reason could lead you to similar conclusions.”

    But when Deb comes to many conclusions (but by your admission on abortion etc, not all) that align with the DNC, you don’t seem to give her the same thing you want for yourself, the acknowledgement that she may have used “principle and reason” to come to those “similar conclusions.” Instead, it’s about “breathless regurgitation of DNC talking points.”

    A few other things that struck me as incorrect:

    You criticized her writing articles about other peoples criticism of Leiberman, and you read a lot more into “ultra-centrist” than I did. I didn’t see this in there at all: “That just says it all: whoever is not with me is against me in a ultra-way.” In fact, when I read her site I’m not even sure if she is opposed to Joementum, or if she is just reporting on the actual strong dislike of Joe from many in the party, who feel that Joe moved beyond bipartisanship (finding principled common ground) into questionable positions on a number of fronts seperate than his stance on the War.

    (But if for the sake of argument, say she was dinging Leiberman out of her own opposition to his job performance in the Senate, then that speaks to Deb NOT breathlessly taking the party line, as the Senate Minority Leader Reid has come out seeking support for Joe keeping his seat, as have other prominent Dems like Barack Obama)

    You criticized her for quoting from and calling attention to DNC Democratic mailings… You wrote:

    “But I’ve never read any conservative blog that begins with “I got a mass email from Ken Mehlman today for Republican insiders…”

    Well, ten minutes of Googling brought me these that seemed pretty much direct feeds from Mr. Mehlman directly into these conservative blog postings:

    POWERLINE:
    “Ken Mehlman gets it
    RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman spoke with bloggers this afternoon about the excellent web video his committee is running in response to the revisionist history surrounding our decision to go to war in Iraq…”

    http://powerlineblog.com/archives/012273.php

    REALCLEAR POLITICS:
    “Dispatches From The SRLC
    I’m in Memphis covering the Southern Republican Leadership Conference and will be filing dispatches throughout the weekend. I’m just about to head over to the Peabody Hotel for the opening session to hear a number of speeches, including one by RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman.”

    http://www.realclearpolitics.com/blog/2006/03/dispatches_from_the_srlc.html

    HUGH HEWITT:
    “Ken Mehlman started the show off today by reviewing the stats on the GeorgeWBush.com internet campaign. It dwarfs the DeanforAmerica effort, though the media smitten with Dean have been profligate in publishing the stories about the Dean web effort. Of course Mehlman wants more, because the unregulated money from the left will be huge in 2004. So sign up to be a volunteer team leader here.

    http://www.hughhewitt.com/old_site/cgi-bin/calendar.pl?month=12&year=2003&view=Event&event_id=300

    TOWNHALL:
    “Mehlman conference call
    Oct 31 2005 04:18 PM By TimChapman

    On the call now…
    Mehlman: “Alito is the most experienced nominee in 70 years…”
    I asked Mehlman if he thought Democrats could mount a successful filibuster. He thinks it is unlikely, given the fact that 2 of the Gang of 14 have already declared their opposition to a filibuster in this case. But we will have to wait and see if Democrats in the Gang of 14 think this is an extraordinary circumstance.”

    You criticized Deb for not being hard enough on Dean for his “White Christian Party” comment, for her giving him a demerit on a technicality but not really going after him for “characterizing Republicans as racists…”

    Ironically that itself — the idea that Dean was characterizing Republicans as Racist — is itself a GOP talking point. And not an accurate one.

    Here it is the original talking point from the GOP.com, “Dean’s statements weren’t misspeaking, they were ‘GOP vilification’ and ‘hateful rhetoric.'” Or as you put it, “characterizing Republicans as racist..”

    Well, when you hear the whole question and answer in context, Howard was answering a question about Asian involvement in the Democratic Party Leadership and how to broaden minority involvement in that.

    Here is the audio of the quote with the previously missing context in place.

    Howard then responded with the quote that when taken in context is clearly about the GOP leadership being monolithic, but then later said that their were exceptions — a few, but not many – in the GOP leadership.
    He went on to talk about how Dems also need to do better at cultivating over time broad based leadership, and a long term commitment to build a diverse group of Dem leaders.

    He was not talking about ALL Republicans, he was talking about how well both parties compared factually at thieir leaderhip levels encouraging and involving a broad ethnic and religious grouping of Amercians. And technically he was accurate.

    Look at at this link to how few R’s there are on this page in the first 3 categories of blacks, Hispanics or Asians in the Congress or Senate.

    Even if you wanted to say “how does this apply to the constituency of the party not just the leaders?” Howard was still technically correct.

    “SCHNEIDER: Technically, once again, Dean may have been right. Among all of the self-described Republicans interviewed by the CNN/”USA Today”/Gallup poll this year, a whopping 82 percent are white Christians.”
    http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0506/08/asb.01.html

    But as Deb said, he still should have been criticized for making a politically dumb statement that allowed GOP talking points like the one you repeated to occur.

    Lastly, you criticized her for the statement that if Lincoln were alive today he’d be a Democrat, and somehow twisted that statement to imply this:

    “Because, you know, the only way to care about Black people is to guide them towards government programs that foster dependency on the State, increase Fatherlessness or just abort them in unconcionable numbers. Only Democrats care about the poor because only their ideas are accepted as compassionate.”

    That strikes me as a pretty wacky reading into what she said. (And also somewhat of a repetition of GOP talking points that are a caricature of actual Democratic domestic policies)

    Lincoln wound’t fit well at all in today’s Republican party for reasons completely unrelated to issues of poverty.

    He was a loyal, vocal and ardent member of the Whig party throughout his time as a Congressman and considered himself a key disciple of Henry Clay, only leaving the Whig party only when the party itself dissolved.

    The Whig party under Clay was very focused on things that would make modern day Repubs wince: big Government Federal programs, on a weakening of the Executive Power in favor of the Congressional branch. Whigs and Lincoln were both for protectionist tariffs protecting the US from global trade effects. Lincoln as President created the inheritance tax that Bush has tried to weaken or kill, and upped income taxes repeatedly to pay for the war deficits.

    In Congress Lincoln risked his political career in denouncing the US involvement in the Mexican American War in a very Murtha or Feingold like way…and opposed the war as one launched on false pretenses. Lincoln signed a resolution saying that the war “was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by the President.”

    And in his second term he didn’t run technically as a Republican at all but rather as technically a member of the “National Union Party” — a newly formed group made up of moderate Republicans and Democrats. And he ran with a Democrat, Andrew Johnson as his VP.

    That said, I doubt Abe would fit into the current Democrat mold neatly either…but where he would find most comfortable in the modern two party set up (if anywhere) is a matter of opinion. But Deb’s opinion is valid and not reactionary, knee jerk or “breathless.”

    OK. That’s more than enough, sorry if it went on a bit longish…

    (In honor of the topic, returning to my old pen name)

    Rufus T. Flinger, Out.

  2. June 4, 2006 6:03 pm

    Yes, I find the following description of my About.com/NYT to be offensive and condescending in its dismissive and sexist tone: “Breathless regurgitations of Democratic talking points by a nice Christian lady.” That offends me.

    I actually follow precious few of the Democratic talking points….very few, indeed. There are liberal factions that don’t consider me liberal enough, pro-women enough, pro-gay enough, and my pro-life stance is hardly popular, either. (Yes, I am apparently anti-war enough.) So there are no breathless “regurgitations.” And hey….you don’t even know if I’m nice!:) (Some would heartily disagree with that characterization!)

    Your dissection of a handful of my words was interesting, though, and not offensive. A little silly at times, but not offensive. (Yes, I received the normal Democratic group email from Howard Dean. So what? How else should he communicate? My reporting of it was honest, designed to not build me up beyond reality.)

    It DOES seem that my gender is the real issue for you. (You use the following terms or phrases….”she’s the personification of the the feminized, nanny-state”; “it has the flavor of a woman scorned”; “She also drips with a matronly condescension”; and “a nice Christian lady”. You repeatedly use gender-based terms to dismiss my writings. Just an observation…..

    (Oh, and you find something positive to say about every male liberal under the “Feces Flinger” category.)

    But this dialogue, and the comments from Tim Chambers, are certainly food for thought. And I appreciate that.

    Deborah White
    US Liberals at About.com
    A New York Times Company

  3. June 5, 2006 11:42 am

    Hi Count, Rob, Tim, and Deborah,

    This is a very honest piece in explaining how Deborah is perceived by Dave. I can understand how the label alone may sound demeaning to Rob, Tim, and Deborah, but I also applaud Dave for being clear in why he perceives Deborah the way he does.

    The first time I read Deborah, I thought I was reading Molly Ivins. I tried again; Molly Ivins again. A third time; still Molly Ivins. Since no human could possibly parrot Ivins three times without a serious mental condition and since Rob does respect Deborah, my perception must be based on Deborah’s writing style as much as it is based on her opinions.

    For most every issue, there is a bell shaped curve of opinion. Republicans and Democrats each have their own bell shaped curve. Dave, Rob, and I rarely fall in the hump of any bell. I don’t know why Rob would accuse Dave of repeating talking points, but perhaps there is something I missed. However, there is nothing wrong with being in the hump of the Bell and advocating hump positions if that is where you belong and what you believe. Most people, most advocates, and most partisans belong right in the middle of the hump. Deborah need not apologize for holding a majority of the main positions of her party.

    The hump of the Democrat bell that Deborah believes and advocates sounds thoughtless to those of us not inclined towards Democrat positions. This hump may include some thought, but it still sounds thoughtless to those of us who are not Deborah’s audience anyway. The personal attacks on President Bush, the hate of conservatives, and the ridicule of Republicans is unnecessary, but does seem to represent the hump of the bell for Democrats. Perhaps Deborah should reconsider the tone of her writing if she wants to appeal to non-hump-democrats and perhaps Rob should reconsider some of his consistency and statements in attacking Hugh Hewitt while defending Deborah White.

  4. June 5, 2006 2:36 pm

    Mr. Smith,

    My writing at About.com is not designed to specifically appeal to anyone or any group. It’s designed to express my viewpoint, since that’s what I’ve specifically been hired, supported, paid and encouraged to do. So there is no reason to “reconsider the tone of her writing if she wants to appeal to non-hump-democrats.”

    I can’t recall having ever read a Molly Ivins’ column…..but I may now seek them out. She sounds intriguing. 🙂

    What this sounds like is a basic difference in partisan viewpoints. And of course, our right to hold different viewpoints is the heart and soul of democracy.

    Deborah White
    US Liberals at About.com
    A New York Times Company

  5. June 7, 2006 4:56 pm

    “Serious mental condition”? Ah, the joys of civil discourse.

  6. June 7, 2006 7:38 pm

    “Serious mental condition”? Ah, the joys of civil discourse

    I meant serious mental disorder not condition. Ah, the pains of getting descriptions correct.

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