Monday, October 26, 2009

Corroding America

The Hill reports today that Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), in an interview with Newsmax magazine, said the President is “corrosive to the . . . pillars of our country – to markets, private enterprise, individual responsibility, freedom and liberty.”

To describe any public figure as “corrosive” to the “pillars of our country” cannot be dismissed as mere political rhetoric. Such an attack is—and can only be viewed as—a sweeping broadside designed to undermine the President and establish him as an “other.” If there were any question remaining whether Rep. Pawlenty would seek the 2012 Republican nomination, he has now disabused America of it.

It is, though, disingenuous (and, potentially, dangerous) for Gov. Pawlenty to describe President Obama as “corrosive” to such things as “markets, private enterprise, individual responsibility, freedom and liberty.” Indeed, were the nonsensical accusations of socialism not treated as reasonable, honest concerns by news organizations, remarks like Pawlenty’s would be laughable. Unfortunately, as we have seen over the course of the last several months, such ridiculousness must be refuted.

Under the banner of the free market, fiscal responsibility, freedom and liberty, Pawlenty seeks the nomination of a Republican party responsible for cutting taxes while engaging in incredibly reckless, unwarranted and voluntary deficit spending (see, e.g., Operation Iraqi Freedom). Pawlenty seeks the nomination of a Republican party responsible for corporate welfare both through no-bid contracts (see, e.g., Haliburton) and through the Troubled Asset Relief Program (yes, passed by a Democratic Congress but orchestrated, signed, and necessitated by a Republican administration). Pawlenty seeks the nomination of a Republican party responsible for the Patriot Act, Warrantless Wire Tapping, Free-Speech Zones, and eight of the most damaging years to the Constitution.

Pawlenty thus desires the mantle of a party more aptly described by his anti-Obama abuse than the target of said abuse. In short, Pawlenty will not only prove to ultimately be corrosive to America, he represents a party that has proven itself already corrosive to America, its values, its primacy, its national security, and its economy.


Brett S said...


Colin said...

Ben, I am glad to see your stand against corporate welfare and support for civil liberties and fiscal responsibility. Those who have spent us into oblivion, disregarded the constitution and used the power of the federal government to enrich corporations have truly corroded the country.

However, can't almost all of this also be said about the Democratic party? Is not Obama dispensing corporate welfare to the auto industry? Are not the same civil liberty restrictions still in place? Are we not staring the face of trillion dollar deficits?

What is truly remarkable is how Democrats excoriated Republicans for their behavior in recent years -- and are now busy doing the same thing (or some cases, like the deficit, even outdoing Republicans). Republicans set the bar pretty low, and yet Democrats are somehow managing to move it even lower.

It's all quite remarkable.

Oh, and when did the Republican party become sole owners of the Patriot Act? How many Democrats voted against that again?

Ben said...

Colin, that misses the point entirely. Pawlenty is being a hypocrite. While I wish the Obama Administration would move more swiftly in reversing 8 years of Bush administration depradations, he has done a remarkable amount of good already. NPR provided an apt illustration this morning with a story on fallen service men and women returning to Dover AFB, an inconceivable story during the Bush administration.

As for the Patriot Act, the Republican party owns that, my friend. They owned it when they ram-rodded it through Congress days after 9/11. And they double-downed on it when they pilloried any Democrat who opposed it as "wanting the terrorists to win" in 2002 and 2004.

Colin said...

How is Pawlenty being hypocritical? Has he supported that which he criticizes? I admit to not being terribly familiar with his record, so who knows, maybe he doesn't practice what he preaches, but it seems right now the only thing he is guilty of is being selective in his criticism.

While I'm glad that pictures of dead servicemen are now available to be reported on, this hardly strikes me as a dramatic rollback on the part of the Obama Administration.

As for the Patriot Act, it seems that if Dems really had a problem with it they could have at least voted against it. After all, the stimulus package was ramrodded through Congress earlier this year but that didn't prevent Republicans from voting against it.

All but Russ Feingold voted for the Patriot Act in the Senate and a full 70% of Dems voted for it in the House, so I don't think it is terribly unfair to describe the legislation as bipartisan. Furthermore, didn't the Obama Administration push for renewal of the Act earlier this year rather than let it expire? Is that not ownership?

It makes me take a rather dim view of Democrats when they vote for the Patriot Act, then express their opposition to it after the fact, then vote to continue it after given power.

Ben said...

I think there is a serious case study to be made comparing the Patriot Act and the Stimulus Package, the differences between party discipline and damn the opposition attitude between the Republicans in 2001 and the Democrats in 2009, to say nothing of the willingness to question the patriotism and dedication to the nation the opposition serves.

That is all to say that the comparison you draw is, well, in apt. First, the stimulus was not ramrodded in the manner that the Patriot Act was -- this is evidenced by the shrinking of the Stimulus package in an effort to earn bi-partisan support only to be snookered by the Republicans, who, as you point out, did not vote for it. Second, no one has seriously entertained the notion that not voting for the Stimulus package would render you in league with, say, terrorists -- nor has an elected Democrat hinted that such an identity might be possible (you might compare this with, say, Cheney).

The Patriot Act is an abonmination. I agree absolutely that it should be eviscerated. It is a black mark on this nation. But your depiction of how it came about and why it stays as if political coercion were not a real force defies credulity.

Colin said...

Well, I have to say it seems a rather weak defense of the Democrats that the prospect of being called out by Dick Cheney was enough to cow them. Didn't stop Russ Feingold though (to his credit) and a few dozen House members, including 3 Republicans, from voting the measure down.

It's also worth noting that when the Patriot Act came up for renewal 5 years later in 2006 that 35 of 45 Democratic senators voted for its reauthorization.

This notion that the Patriot Act is the exclusive province of Republicans, when Democrats have continued to go along with it and are pushing for reauthorization again under a Democratic administration, strikes me as rather strained logic.

Ben said...

I think your facts about the reauthorization are wrong - it was reauthorized under Pres. Bush but not since. If you've something to show me in this regard, I'd like to read it.

As far as your characterization about being called out by Dick Cheney - you've either forgotten the political climate in this country before 2005-2006 or you're choosing to ignore it.