Friday, January 28, 2011


Here's a quote from the most moderate candidate among all those being mentioned for the 2012 Republican presidential nominations:

"This president and his fellow travelers in Washington fundamentally don't understand America," Romney said [as quoted in last week's TIME]. "They don't understand what it is that makes this nation so successful, so powerful, so good."

That's a moderate Republican talking, and it shows precisely one of the main things that is wrong and has been wrong about any kind of "partisanship"—"bi" or otherwise—in our country.

It's a time honored old rightwing trick to not argue policy or the merits of policies, but instead to just question the nativist or nationalist credentials of their opponents and accuse them of not being "American" enough, as if, number one only the right has the definitive take on what makes "America" America, and an "American" and American, but number two, that no one's motives are pure except for theirs.

The fact that a moderate Republican feels it necessary to use McCarthy era terminology ("fellow travelers" being the McCarthy era term for those who weren't "card carrying Communists" but who supposedly sympathized with them, as in supported the struggle for civil rights for non-whites, etc.) and to actually state that our democratically elected president "fundamentally doesn't understand America" or what makes it "so successful, so powerful, so good"—as if only he and his fellow Republicans know that—is not just smug and self-righteous, it's not true.

Now any reasonable person knows this, just by using logic. How could a president who has more experience outside the country, and as an outsider within the country, not in fact "understand America" better than any previous president? He's seen and experienced it more widely and from more perspectives than any politician in the modern age, if not ever.

The one area of "America" where he hasn't had personal experience is in the military. But otherwise, he knows what it's like to be a poor "American" a "middle-class" American and a rich American. Romney only knows what it's like to be rich.

Obama knows what it's like to be a "white American" and a "black American" as well as a "half white half black American" as some have called him. He knows what it's like to be a victim and target of racism (probably now more than ever) and to transcend it. He knows what it's like to achieve success on brains and hard work alone, unlike Romney and many other Republicans who inherited wealth and spots at elite schools rather than earned it as Obama did.

I could go on endlessly. But I just wanted to point out that this kind of simplistic, propagandistic use of language to portray your opponent as not just "other" but as incapable of even understanding his own country...well, in not just being confined to the fringe right anymore, it makes real political dialogue pretty difficult if not impossible.

Here are two examples of how the left posits arguments for their perspective using reason based on facts:

The first is Paul Krugman's response to the Republican response to Obama's State of the Union address, and the second Jon Stewart's response to someone on the left using hyperbole to make a point and the hypocritical response from the right to that (you have to watch it for a while before he gets to the main point), if you haven't already seen them.


Connie said...

I *LOVE* Jon Stewart. Last night's show with his response to Chris Mathews' response to this was a wonderful example of clarity in the face of obfuscation.

Tim said...

I think it's ridiculous to say that anyone "understands America" or "understands what makes this country great." It's just another flag pin on the lapel.

Lally said...

I hear ya Connie, but I think you meant his response to Bill O'Reilly, no?

JIm said...

We are at crucial time in US history. Previous administrations and Obama and the Democrats have run us up to 14 Tillion in debt and plan on adding another 5trillion in the next 2 years. Conservatives believe that America's economy and the viability of the republic hang in the balance. Conservatives will hopefully cut spending and government to save the republic. We are very close to going the way of Greece, Ireland and the liberal governed states of America. We do not necessarily have to achieve balance in one year, but we do have to bend the trend line to fiscal sanity in the forseeable future.

Connie said...

Right - O'Reilly - senior moment!

Loyeen said...


I was in middle of working on my taxes and decided to take a break. I just watched the Jon Stewart clip. It was great!!! Thanks I needed that. Have a great weekend. Loyeern

AlamedaTom said...

Lal: I record The Daily show every evening and watch it the next day. I remember this take very well because I was roaring with delight. Seeing it again makes me realize what a great talent Stewart is. The touches like the Linzer Tort, origami,and home permanent were genius. He brings it day after day.

~ Willy

Lally said...

He does indeed. And thank God!