September 17, 2004

How did we end up with this clown?
Posted by Jon Henke

Sometimes--frequently, even--I am just aghast at the sheer, unadultered bull coming from the Bush campaign - and, specifically, from President Bush.

If you listen carefully to the rhetoric in this campaign, I'm running against a fellow who wants to expand government. We want to expand opportunity for every single citizen of this country.
That's pretty much the same thing on which Bush ran in 2000 - "My opponent trusts government. I trust you."

That's what he said, anyway. Once elected--as the Cato Institute pointed out--Bush became the "Mother of All Big Spenders."

Now, I realize it's nothing new to point out that Bush has all the fiscal discipline of a, er, politician running for reelection. So, instead, let's just point out the hypocrisy of Bush calling Kerry "a fellow who wants to expand government."

In the same speech, Bush advocates:

  • ...expanding Pell Grants...

  • I want to expand community health centers...
Expand = Spend more. A lot more.

Of course, he didn't always use the word "expand". Other times, he said....

  • We've strengthened Medicare, and we're not turning back
"Strengthened" = $400, oops, $551.5 billion in additional spending.

  • So what I'm telling the places like China is you treat us the way we treat you.
"Treat us the way we treat you" = "Fair Trade" = Protectionism = "dismal record on trade"
  • ....in high schools we'll fund early intervention programs to help students at risk
No Child Left Behind = "Bush moves to increase federal spending on education" = +65%


Face it - the only thing Bush can brag about is his comparative conservative advantage over Kerry. And that's akin to saying a tornado is--comparatively--better at home improvement projects than a hurricane.

How did this guy ever get nominated by the Republican Party, and how can we make sure the GOP never does that again?

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Comments

Bush is plainly not a conservative; and in another time, I could see myself punching the chad for Smokin' Joe Lieberman. But Bush is the kind of leader I want until Iran and PRNK are nuked and/or de-nuked, and Syria and the House of Saud either radically change or die.

Posted by: Jumbo at September 17, 2004 11:34 AM

Amen. Amen. Hallelujah.

I cringed when he got the nod, and I'll pinch my nose as I vote for him this November. But your question is of utmost importance: How do we avoid "W II"?

Like Spoons, I'm not a huge fan of W. but unlike him, I still would rather have Bush in office than Kerry. Honestly if it had come to a Lieberman / Gephart ticket, I'd have seriously considered voting D on 11/2 just to show my displeasure.

So, how do we tell the GOP to shape up?

Posted by: Sharp as a Marble at September 17, 2004 11:35 AM

The only way to change the system is to change the system. Bush understands that, which is why he talks up entitlement reforms that could go straight to the heart of the size of government.

Whether he will follow up on that is another matter. But on discretionary spending, he's been awful, and so has Congress.

Posted by: Crank at September 17, 2004 12:03 PM

If Lieberman had run I'd have actually had to decide something. As it is George is the great lesser of two weevils.

How do we stop it from happening again? From now until 2008 we hammer the Republican campaign committees every time they call and ask for a buck or two. Tell em to get back on the conservative government course or we won't be able to tell the difference between the two parties any more.

I love the analogy of the hurricane and the tornado.

(and shouldn't we hide this somewhere where MkUltra can't find it, otherwise he'll get confused...)

Posted by: Looker at September 17, 2004 12:03 PM

"How did this guy ever get nominated by the Republican Party, and how can we make sure the GOP never does that again?"

Never going to happen Jon. Not in the world we live in now. Both parties are going to try and go after the people who "want" things. In order to do that, they have to show they're willing to spend the money.

The only way to get them to even think about changing is if enough votes go to other party candidates. That won't happen as long as those parties continue to put up the people that they've been putting up.

Posted by: Jamie at September 17, 2004 12:22 PM

I like Lieberman too...but...and I hate to bring this up...could Lieberman manage any cooperation from the Islamic world? If there would ever have been fuel for the fire of the already wildly popular "Jew conspiracy" in the Muslim world...

But this is an election, once again, between Dumb and Dumber...

Posted by: Mr. K at September 17, 2004 12:49 PM

I really don't like the fact that party incumbents pretty much automatically get the nomination. Without a conservative challenge, Bush is able to run to the left.

Posted by: pdq332 at September 17, 2004 12:53 PM

I guess I have to (once again) find someplace else to find out whats going on. I certainly don't come here to hear folks refer to the president as a "clown". I don't care how good you look in pajamas, I'm gone. I've been thrown out of better places than this.

Close the door - there are some closet demo's in here!

Posted by: gerry at September 17, 2004 01:02 PM

Interesting reaction ... but not unexpected. There are those out there on both sides who only want to drink their party's kool-aid and are not interested in opposing or conflicting information.

To each his own. I'm sure gerry is perfectly happy with absolutely everything the Bush administrations has done and would never, ever criticize it, even if he had a legitimate beef.

Its just not done, you see.

Posted by: McQ at September 17, 2004 01:06 PM

As Governor Wallace said, "There's not a dime's worth of difference in the two parties." And we all know what inflation has done to the value of a dime in the last thirty years.

The only way to stop this type of thing from happening is to get out of the GOP.

Since Goldwater, we've been told that if we support the GOP for just one more election, the conservatives will finally grasp the reins of power in the party and we'll have a "conservative" party. And since Goldwater, we've been supporting the GOP. And since Goldwater, the GOP has gone more and more to the left until now we have a guy who is a bigger spender than Bill Clinton.

How long will we continue to be insane enough to keep doing the same old thing expecting different results? Or I should say, how long will you? Because I left the GOP when Pappa Bush was in office.

Posted by: Corbett at September 17, 2004 01:12 PM

Sorry to see you go, Gerry, but I have not been unclear about my political philosophy. I'm a Neolibertarian, and that philosophy does not include an oath of loyalty to the GOP.

If you haven't noticed that before now, you haven't been much of a reader, anyway.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 01:13 PM

Gerry doesn't want Bush called a clown? Clown is clean compared to what he ought to be called. But in the interest of keeping the Gerry's of the world happy, let's just agree to call him something that no one can reasonably disagree with -- socialist.

Posted by: Corbett at September 17, 2004 01:15 PM

Jon -
Dead on. Dead on.

Posted by: Elliot Fladen at September 17, 2004 01:22 PM

How long will we continue to be insane enough to keep doing the same old thing expecting different results? Or I should say, how long will you?
In the last two Presidential elections, I voted the Libertarian Party. (Harry Browne) In this election, I'm not sure what I'll do.

But I haven't been a Republican, so it's not a question of when.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 01:30 PM

Step out of the ivory towers for a second fellows and remember that parties choose candidates they believe can actually win. And while I (a conservative Republican) agree with a number of Libertarian viewpoints, lets face it, no Libertarian Presidential candidate has come close to respectable numbers let alone winning. So, be honest with yourselves and recognize that until the voters embrace a Libertarian agenda you can't expect either party to run a candidate you'll love - and that may never happen.

In the meantime Jon, I think that calling ANY of the candidates names cheapens the analysis and dilutes the effectiveness of your piece. Guys like Gerry turn and walk out and that's a shame. You bring interesting insights to the table. Make your points without the name calling - it doesn't add anything anyway - and you'll reach a wider audience. That's the raison d'etre for the blog isn't it? I've come to expect better of you.

Posted by: Mike at September 17, 2004 01:39 PM

Well, I should point out that I don't either expect or want the GOP to nominate a Libertarian. (although, a moderately electable libertarian--small "l"--would be nice)


re: "clown". My apologies if that offended anybody. Previously on this blog, I'd committed to avoid calling John Kerry names, because I thought it was unnecessary. Perhaps I thought my more-frequent support of Bush made him exempt from that. Perhaps I was just angry, and disappointed at the, face it, nonsense he was claiming.

I'll leave the post as written, but take the advice to heart.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 01:46 PM

The rabid nonsense coming from the left these days, in combo with the policies of Busha nd company makes one wonder what the hell the left is bitching about. He clearly is not the Nazi they make him out to be; they clearly cannot complain about the domestic spending.... not with any integrity anyway, which I grant is a dicey issue when you're talking about Democrats anyway.

Bush has never told us he was anything but a moderate, and his policies prove that out, and thereby make people like Kerry look like the extremists they are.

Would it be better to have another Reagan? Sure. But given the state of politics in the country today... the center being so far to the left as a baseline... electing a true rightist is nigh on impossible. (And BTW, I dont think Buchanan qualifies as a rightist either but rather a a populist,regardless WHAT he says of himself.)

Let's focus on reality, shall we? Who on the rght would both satisfy that itch of yours, and be electable, as well?


Posted by: Bithead at September 17, 2004 01:52 PM

While the administration's -- and Congress's -- lack of fiscal discipline is worisome, Bush on the whole seems vastly more supportive of free enterpise than just about any Democrat. And that is a plus in his favor. Moreover, had there not been a recession, 9/11 and two wars, the fiscal picture would presumably be quite different. If Bush, in a second term, can make progress on partially privatizing social security, that will be another plus in his favor. That said, the fiscal problems have been exacerbated by a guns-and-butter approach. One can only hope (and this may be fatuous) that in a second term he will learn how to veto bills that are fiscally irresponsible.

Posted by: Frank Wilson at September 17, 2004 01:57 PM

Of course, it doesn't matter how fiscally conservative a President is or isn't if Congress is full of... creatures who don't understand how, let alone how desirable it is, to do a budget starting from zero dollars.

It doesn't help that Bush hasn't vetoed a single bill, but I place much more blame on the men and women who write the spending bills he signs.

And where is Frist's spine, anyway?

Posted by: Dave at September 17, 2004 02:01 PM

Would it have helped if you said, "He may be a clown, but he's OUR clown!".

Realistically - no one is going to consider upsetting the apple cart just now anyway. Bithead's right.

Posted by: looker at September 17, 2004 02:31 PM

Maybe you guys can identify some of the key components of what you call neolibertarianism?

This government is not fiscally conservative, to be sure. To me it does not even look fiscally responsible...and there is more that I generally don't like, but still dislike the Reps less than I do the Dems.


Posted by: Mr. K at September 17, 2004 02:58 PM

For anyone to call Bush a clown as compared, say, to Howard Dean or John Kerry, is abysmally ignorant.

If you folks want a clown in office, stay home November 2 and wake up the next morning with President-elect Kerry and Vice-President-elect Edwards. You will pine for the likes of Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter, I tell you.

Posted by: Varmus Shaloof at September 17, 2004 03:31 PM

Varmus: perhaps you'll note that I wrote that Bush has a "comparative conservative advantage over Kerry".

...which seems to address the point you made.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 03:34 PM

will you clowns please define "neolibertarianism"?

Posted by: Mr. K at September 17, 2004 03:46 PM

Bush and the GOP are against nationalizing healthcare, support welfare reform, against business unfriendly enviromental regulations, against costly Kyoto proposals, supports tort reform, supports private social security accounts, supports income tax cuts, supports reducing the death tax and supports reduction of capital gains tax and supports continuing a tax free internet. I hope that most peoples problem is not that the government should not spend money on education, senior assistance , infrastructure and the military but rather that it is spent unwisely.

Posted by: Dman at September 17, 2004 03:48 PM

will you clowns please define "neolibertarianism"?

We've written some about it before. You can find some of those posts by clicking here.

The short version is "pragmatic domestic libertarian, hawk on defense". I also like calling it "Hobbesian libertarianism". It is, essentially, a person who wants a less government intrusion, rather than more, but who is pragmatic about it, rather than ideologically rigid. We're not going to repeal the laws of human nature, so we can only find good policy alternatives, rather than a wholesale revolution. (which never happens unless there is a crisis, anyway)

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 03:59 PM

McQ Posted This in response to my earlier post:

"To each his own. I'm sure gerry is perfectly happy with absolutely everything the Bush administrations has done and would never, ever criticize it, even if he had a legitimate beef.

Its just not done, you see."

and John Henke Posted this:
"Sorry to see you go, Gerry, but I have not been unclear about my political philosophy. I'm a Neolibertarian, and that philosophy does not include an oath of loyalty to the GOP.

If you haven't noticed that before now, you haven't been much of a reader, anyway."

My post said:

"I guess I have to (once again) find someplace else to find out whats going on. I certainly don't come here to hear folks refer to the president as a "clown". I don't care how good you look in pajamas, I'm gone. I've been thrown out of better places than this."

Can you folks not read or understand what you read? What I commented on was your need to refer to the president as a "clown".

Your responses disappointed me - I thought you guys had an intelligent blog here. Well - so much for that. I spend a lot of time out here in no man's land - most of it just reading, and I find you guys are probably just a little too impressed with yourselves.

Posted by: Gerry at September 17, 2004 07:35 PM

Gerry: In that particular comment, I was largely responding to this sentence of yours:

there are some closet demo's in here!

My assumption was/is that you believed the harsh criticism of Bush meant I was being a "demo[crat]".

If that's incorrect, my apologies.

You should also note that, in a later response, I wrote:

re: "clown". My apologies if that offended anybody. Previously on this blog, I'd committed to avoid calling John Kerry names, because I thought it was unnecessary. Perhaps I thought my more-frequent support of Bush made him exempt from that. Perhaps I was just angry, and disappointed at the, face it, nonsense he was claiming.

I'll leave the post as written, but take the advice to heart.
I hope that addresses your misgivings.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 17, 2004 07:48 PM

Gerry:

Since we're quoting:

I guess I have to (once again) find someplace else to find out whats going on. I certainly don't come here to hear folks refer to the president as a "clown".

I don't know about you, but that says to me "no criticism is acceptable".

Where'd I go wrong?

Posted by: McQ at September 17, 2004 07:52 PM

Jon, I don't confuse name calling with criticism. I did note your "apologies if I offended anybody" but what is accomplished by apologizing to me for your calling the President a "clown"? You did not offend me.

and

McQ, how does my objection to Jon's name calling mean "no criticism is acceptable" ??

Do you actually think that name calling is the same as criticism ?? Usually serious criticism is seen as such by an intelligent person. But name calling is almost always used in a derogatory sense.

Posted by: Gerry at September 17, 2004 08:33 PM

Gerry: I didn't interpret your comment to be about name calling, hence the reaction. If I misinterpreted your point, then I apologize.

Posted by: McQ at September 17, 2004 09:26 PM

You did not offend me.
Then I'm really not sure what you're after here.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 18, 2004 06:12 AM

Then I'm really not sure what you're after here.

Presumably he doesn't think calling the president a "clown" constitutes criticism and is instead mere silly name calling. Criticize the president all you like, but calling him a "clown" is disrespectful to the office. One can hope for more respect to be shown without being "offended" per se.

Of course, I'm not Gerry so I may be misunderstanding his complaint.

Posted by: Lance Jonn Romanoff at September 18, 2004 08:11 AM

That certainly seems to be his gist, but I've already addressed the 'clown' aspect, there's no shortage of legit criticism in the post, and he said he wasn't offended by 'clown'.

Now, perhaps he's offended on behalf of the President. If so, I'd (again) direct him to my previous remarks on the topic a bit earlier in this thread.

At any rate, I've already addressed it to my satisfaction, and I don't intend to address anything further unless it is related to the substance of the post.

Posted by: Jon Henke at September 18, 2004 08:35 AM

McQ: "Then I'm really not sure what you're after here".

What I was after when I came to this site was a REASONED conversation about issues. Not the typical DNC type of name-calling. I know where to go to get that kind of tripe. The impression I got when I found this site was that it looked like a site that was what I was looking for. Professional appearance, back and forth discussion of the issues, updated frequently. I am not going to waste my time at a place where "criticisms" are punctuated by name calling. So I thought I would make a post and see what came out. I really don't care what your political views are so long as you present a reasoned argument.

Here's what I got:

McQ's response(an attempt to insult me):
"Interesting reaction...but not unexpected.There are those out there on both sides who only want to drink their party's kool-aid and are not interested in opposing or conflicting information."

Corbett"s response (another attempt to insult me): "Gerry doesn't want Bush called a clown? Clown is clean compared to what he ought to be called. But in the interest of keeping the Gerry's of the world happy, let's just agree to call him something that no one can reasonably disagree with -- socialist."

Mike's response (a voice of reason): "In the meantime Jon, I think that calling ANY of the candidates names cheapens the analysis and dilutes the effectiveness of your piece. Guys like Gerry turn and walk out and that's a shame. You bring interesting insights to the table. Make your points without the name calling - it doesn't add anything anyway - and you'll reach a wider audience. That's the raison d'etre for the blog isn't it? I've come to expect better of you."

So you guys can resort to name calling and call it criticism. You can try to cleverly ridicule or insult people who make comments that you don't like. And you can try to claim those who post opposing opinions are ill-informed,don't get it, or did not understand your "clarifying comments".

Mike's comment is the most intelligent and to the point that I've seen on this "CLOWN" issue.

You guys ought to

1. Thank Mike
2. Read and understand what he said.
3. Lose the urge to insult or ridicule.
4. Lose the need to use name calling as a tactic.


Posted by: Gerry at September 18, 2004 12:05 PM

Gerry:

A) I didn't say "Then I'm really not sure what you're after here".

B) After Mike said why he said Jon said:


re: "clown". My apologies if that offended anybody. Previously on this blog, I'd committed to avoid calling John Kerry names, because I thought it was unnecessary. Perhaps I thought my more-frequent support of Bush made him exempt from that. Perhaps I was just angry, and disappointed at the, face it, nonsense he was claiming.

C) After you made it clear you were offended by the use of the word 'clown' and weren't opposed to criticism of Bush I said:

I didn't interpret your comment to be about name calling, hence the reaction. If I misinterpreted your point, then I apologize.

All I can assume is if you read them you ignored them since your latest is nonresponsive to them.

Why is that?

Posted by: McQ at September 18, 2004 02:41 PM

Hey McQ,

I need to move on, so let me clear this up.

My original post was:

I guess I have to (once again) find someplace else to find out whats going on. I certainly don't come here to hear folks refer to the president as a "clown". I don't care how good you look in pajamas, I'm gone. I've been thrown out of better places than this.
Close the door - there are some closet demo's in here!
Posted by gerry at September 17, 2004 01:02 PM


Now line by line, I interpret my comments:

1. I guess I have to (once again) find someplace else to find out what’s going on.

Interpretation: I often surf the internet for sites where people are discussing issues that are important to me. When I find a site that seems to hit the mark, I will add it to my favorites and visit the site again. Sometimes, after paying a number of visits to a site, I realize I have made a mistake and the site really isn’t what I’m looking for and so I must look somewhere else. In my estimation, QandO is a site such as that - at least for me.

2. I certainly don't come here to hear folks refer to the president as a "clown".

Interpretation: I don’t frequent sites that resort to name calling because I’ve learned that people who can’t put together a reasonable argument, typically resort to name calling (an empty attempt at criticism) and allow it and therefore encourage it on their site. I am not persuaded by name-calling.


3. I don't care how good you look in pajamas, I'm gone.

Interpretation: When I came to your site, I found it had a nice presentation, there appeared a back and forth discussion of the issues, and was frequently updated. In addition, your site has lots of nice links. Unfortunately, since I come here for the content, when the content doesn’t hold me here I will leave. Nobody questioned the pajama comment, so I guess it was understood for what it was.

4. I've been thrown out of better places than this.

Interpretation: Don’t feel I need to explain this.


5. Close the door - there are some closet demo's in here!

Interpretation: In this political season, I’ve seen a general tendency for mostly democrat (or left wing) speakers that are so angry that they cannot even put forth a rational comment and end up lacing their speech with slurs, slanders, slime, and insults. So I threw in the “closet demo” comment. Well, if the shoe fits, wear it.

Hopefully, that helps you understand “what I was here after”.

Comments:

I’ve seen that you and Jon have apologized several times - Acknowledged.

When you (or your site) refer to the President of the United States as a “clown”, you have not offended me. You may have turned me off, but I’m not offended.

I always differentiate between name-calling and criticism. I don’t think those terms are interchangeable.

That being said, I will go now. I've enjoyed the back and forth, but I've spent too much time already explaining myself.

Posted by: Gerry at September 18, 2004 09:39 PM

Good. I'm glad you're going Gerry.
I think you're all losers anyway.

Posted by: Varmus Shaloof at September 22, 2004 06:55 PM