19 September 2007

[pdx_politik] Be Careful Whose Water You Carry

954. I hesitate to be encouraged by recent events; government by character asassination in America has a proven history of success, and people en masse seem to have an entirely too apt ability to buy what they've been sold around here lately.

But it's hard not to be cheered just a little noting that two recently-attempted public displays of such have fallen flat as the absolutely tone-deaf attempts that they were. There is a possiblilty that we, as a group, are getting less credulous–a possiblilty–and that is reason for optimism. They remain notable for who was willing to advance the slur.

The first one happened with the "Merkley Voted for the War" meme, which Steve Novick regrettably signed on to. The overarching truth of the situation is that the political culture of this day (remember, the country is being run by bullies) means that one is pretty much forced to adopt some stance on the Iraq conflict in order to survive as a politician. In the specific Merkley's vote in support of HR 2 was apparently inspired by a sincere desire to show support for the troops, rather than approval of the Iraq war. It seems beyond unfair to hold someone accountable for a Hobsonian choice that they were required to make. That's the political culture today; the Colbert joke question "George W. Bush–great President, or greatest President" is rooted in a sad reality we all had better start to recognize. Regardless of Novick's personal feelings on our current foreign policy, he should have known better than that, because to this unenlightened prole, it sure looked like he was willing to hitch his star to a dishonorable talking point.

Sad, because Novick is admirable in so very many ways.

Similarly, if we give Bob Ball the benefit of the doubt (and I suspect that some may indeed not) that he was airing a concern that he was sincerely worried about in matters of propriety between Sam Adams and Beau Breedlove, we find ourselves wondering why he would carry forward such a rumor. Rumors like that are pointy and poisonous things, as Ball himself has discovered; that blowback has turned out to be a bee-yotch. You'd best check them out thoroughly if you can, and if you can't, it'd be better left alone.

The hoped-for Goldschmidt effect didn't happen, because the facts showed that it was an adult just helping some young person come to terms in a positive way with who he was (and this blog and this author are not scared of gays, if one hasn't figured out by now). Moreover, we are significantly cheered that the public discussion on this has centered on the creditiblity of the people and issues involved rather than the inherent gayness of the situation. It doesn't matter that Sam is gay (and indeed hasn't for quite a long time now); it matters even less that Ball is gay. What matters is that Ball seems, to this unenlightened prole, to have gone after Sam Adams on a seek and destroy mission that backfired–as it should have.

When I was but a neat thing, one of life's lessons Mama impressed upon me was how evil forwarding rumors is. Even if you're right, spreading rumors marks the spreader as much as the spreaded; people will always suspect you afterwards.

Bombs always throw shrapnel. Best that you not drop them.

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6 comments:

maloney said...

These two events are simply not comparable.

Merkley did vote for H. Res. 2, and critiquing his stance is a legitimate campaign issue.

Bob Ball is simply spreading false rumors about Sam Adams in an attempt to hurt the reputation of a potential political rival.

To conflate the two very different issues is out right intellectual dishonesty.

Torrid said...

"the political culture of this day (remember, the country is being run by bullies) means that one is pretty much forced to adopt some stance on the Iraq conflict in order to survive as a politician."

Is that really your answer? Sometimes you have to cower before bullies in order to keep your (non-full-time) career?

I see now what kind of Democrat you're looking for in the Senate. I figure we've got our fill of those guys already, though.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Maloney:

Merkley did vote for H. Res. 2, and critiquing his stance is a legitimate campaign issue.

Then make it a complete critique. Fair is fair. What about the fact that HR 2 was nonbinding? What about Merkley's stated intention that his vote was meant to express support for the troops, not the war? What about his current opposition to the war?

Taoiseach at Beaver Boundary suggest that the "Merkley voted for the war" concept is an opposition talking point. I'm prone to agree.

Bob Ball is simply spreading false rumors about Sam Adams in an attempt to hurt the reputation of a potential political rival.

I'm in complete agreement with you there. It would be foolish to look at it as anything else as bald character asassination.

To conflate the two very different issues is out right intellectual dishonesty

No conflation here. I see what I think are common motifs. My view are my own. I was not dishonest about them.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Torrid:

Is that really your answer? Sometimes you have to cower before bullies in order to keep your (non-full-time) career

No, my comment was that the conventional wisdom held that to oppose any sort of thing that could be seen as supporting the troops was politically foolish, quite possibly suicidal.

It pains to say, but anyone during those times who did anything that could be manipulated as "not supporting the troops" seemed quite often to be seen as on the losing end of an election.

It's been said by many that the system is broken. It is, and in this wise, its a system that makes doing the right and principled thing is too expensive. I'm not happy that politicians today have to do the pragmatic thing, but that's just the way things are.

It's an observation of mine.

I see now what kind of Democrat you're looking for in the Senate

Well, no you don't; not unless you can read my mind. I happen to like Jeff Merkley a lot; he's the state rep from my district and he's a good and smart fellow. If Steve Novick wins the primary, then he's my man. I'm hoping Merkley wins, of course, but I don't doubt the commitment of any of them.

I do wish Steve hadn't used a convenient opposition talking point, however. He could have taken a more high-road approach, and he didn't, and that makes me sad, as a voter and a citizen.

maloney said...

My issue with Merkley's vote on H.Res.2 is not that he "voted for the war," it's that he chose the "safe" vote over what I think was the "right" vote.

This issue, that of H.Res.2 has been discussed ad nauseum here and here as well as in other venues, so I'm not really interested about rehashing this "fully" right now.

My concern is that Jeff Merkley is willing to get suckered into voting for things for appearances over his own convictions. He stood up during the vote and gave a speech, yes, but he ended up voting "yes." I feel like he was trying to have it both ways, as it were, and I think he should have voted no with the 5 other Democrats who voted no, and rejected the Republican garbage altogether.

Here's the text of the Resolution, along with some commentary from me:

Whereas the dictatorship of Iraq has continued to develop weapons of mass destruction in violation of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441;

Demonstrated as not being true, even at the point that we invaded and began the occupation.

and

Whereas the dictator Saddam Hussein has demonstrated a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction against neighboring nations and the citizens of Iraq;


Which we gave him to fight against Iran and took place 15 years prior to this invasion, in 1988. Not that that makes Hussein a "good guy," but it's a justification using something that happened pre-Persian Gulf...

and

Whereas Saddam Hussein threatens the Middle East and the global economy with the threat to use weapons of mass destruction; now, therefore,


False. You can, i suppose, technically threaten to use weapons you don't have, but those "threats" should be taken with a good dose of sodium chloride.

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Seventy-second Legislative Assembly:

(1) Acknowledge the courage of President George W. Bush, the President's cabinet and the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States, and express our support for the victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power;


Courage of George Bush and the Cabinet? No thanks. Even with the "support" line thrown in there, it's mostly garbage. Notice the "men and women of the Armed Forces" are buried in the middle of Bush's courage and our then-forthcoming "victorious removal of Saddam Hussein from power." (which has worked out so well...)

and

(2) Praise the courage, dedication, professionalism and sacrifices of the men and women of the Armed Forces of the United States and their families in the defense of freedom.


And here's the trap. And Merkley fell for it. Merkley could have stood up and said, "I praise the courage, dedication, professionalism, and sacrifices of our Armed Forces, but I will not vote, even symbolically, in support of an action that is not justified and does not have any bearing on our freedom and unnecessarily puts American lives in jeopardy."

Something like that.

Samuel John Klein Portlandiensis said...

Well, for what it's worth, I think he did the "safe" thing over the right thing too. I can't really disagree with your reasoning nor the points you made.

My point is that anyone adopting the "Jeff voted for the war" meme is helping along what began as a opposition talking point. At the time, if memory serves, a few prominent local conservative online personalities got a whole lot of happiness out of the fact that Steve was going after him about this, and I can't help but notice over the last six years that opposition memes about this were willingly used to defame people. I thought it weakening of Democrats overall rather than making any one Democrat strong enough to win.

Do I wish Jeff had voted differently? Sure. What I've read about the vox pop lately certainly suggests that opposing the war on principle is a lot more popular than we thought it was back when Jeff cast that vote.

But we've got Smith still in office and whoever gets through the primary needs our support. On the way to that primary we, I think, need to do better than agreeing with what the opposition says about our candidates.

I'm a big believer that the perfect is the enemy of the good. I'd like to vote for the Merkley that should have maybe voted "no" on that nonbinding resolution. The Merkley that exists, however, has come out unequivocally against the war, I believe him, and that suits me.

Anyone who wants to read anything into my intellect and wants in a candidate is welcome to do so, of course. I can't stop you. I just ask that you be civil (though you will hopefully note that, unlike some, I tend not to automatically delete mean comments that don't agree with me. I'm not afraid of people who disagree with me)