Sunday Thoughts

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Lessee ... gay mariage, check; Haiti, don't care; Nader, check; Super Tuesday, don't care. Blah.

All of these things are interesting, I suppose, but most of them have been done to death for now.

Well, at least there was Elizabeth Bumiller of the New York Times. In yesterday's debate, she proved to be -- bar none -- the worst panelist in a presidential or primary debate that I've ever had the misfortune to witness.

She interrupted candidate and fellow panelist alike, multiple times. She was browbeating Kerry over whether or not he was a liberal, without defining what the term even meant. She actually took personal offense when Sharpton went on his regular "you're not giving me as much time as the top two candidates" rant, and responded with, "Well, I'm not going to be addressed like this." Yes you will, Ms. Bumiller, and what's more, you'll like it!

She was utterly ridiculous, and I expect CBS (co-sponsor of the debate with the Times) will ask that she not participate next time.

Speaking of Kerry being a liberal, when I heard he was the "most liberal" Senator according to National Journal vote rankings, my first and immediate thought was: on what basis is a given vote judged to be liberal? And sure enough, Kerry noted in his answer to Ms. Bumiller that his vote against the Medicare bill was "liberal." Kerry also complained his vote against tax cuts was "liberal."

I think voting against the tax cut was liberal. But who am I to say that? There's certainly a fiscally conservative case to be made for Kerry's vote. And even moreso for the vote against the Medicare plan: I have absolutely no doubts that if the Congress and President were Democrats, and the exact same bill were voted on and signed, that it would have been called a liberal bill (of course, I also have no doubts that Kerry would have voted for it, and many Republicans who voted for it would have voted against it).

Similarly, many people call Bush a far-right conservative, yet his steel tariffs, high spending on social programs, immigration reform, and more simply aren't right-wing policies.

In summary, I'd like to thank Ms. Bumiller for demonstrating -- unintentionally -- how inane political labels usually are.

While we're on voting records, Kerry's continues to be distorted. I said long before Iowa that it was ridiculous to say Kerry was against funding for our troops in Iraq just because he voted against the actual bill that was eventually signed by the President: Kerry said at the time he wanted the funding to go through, but wanted to pay for it in another way.

When asked on Face the Nation would he have voted for it if his vote had been the deciding one ... it became obvious the interviewer didn't really understand the point, which is sad for a journalist who had been covering DC politics since before I was born. If Kerry had been the deciding vote, then he would have had the power to change the funding to make it acceptable to him, and he would have then voted for the modified bill. That's how legislatures work.

Similarly, Kerry's been slammed all over the place for voting against this weapons program or that one. I'd wager a lot of fiscal conservatives voted against some of those too (setting aside, for a moment, the fact that many of those no votes were on one bill).

I've said it before and I'll say it again: a no vote does not mean you disagree with the principles of a given bill. Legislators vote against bills all the time, for many reasons, such as -- but not limited to -- too much pork, too much in one bill (you like part of the bill, but not all of it), improper or insufficient funding, favor of a different bill that does the same thing but in a better way, etc.

When you vote for something, you throw your complete support to it. You may have other reasons for voting for it, but in the end, it is your name on the bill, and you own that action. It is unacceptable to say later, "I voted for it, but I didn't like it." If you don't like it, don't vote for it. Edwards does a good job of owning his vote, and I respect him for that.

But while you still own your vote if it was No, that doesn't mean you were against what's in the bill, and to assume that is about as nonsensical as assuming that someone is liberal just because a vote is characterized as such by a DC insider's journal.

That said, I do think Kerry is a fancy-pants liberal, but I wouldn't dare try to quantify that. I have too much interest in being not stupid.

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<pudge/*> (pronounced "PudgeGlob") is thousands of posts over many years by Pudge.

"It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

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This page contains a single entry by pudge published on March 1, 2004 1:24 PM.

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