You’ve got to watch David Brooks, the ‘reasonable conservative’ New York Times columnist. Because if you don’t, he’ll run away with the truth and hide it under a bushel hoping those to his left politically won’t know it’s gone. His latest egregious example of slash and burn journalism is Kerry Off the Leash. Let’s start with likening Kerry to an out of control dog. Not pretty, David and marginally offensive, but kosher I guess in your slash and burn universe.
Now let’s get down to more serious intellectual breakdowns in your story, Mr. B. He contends that Kerry’s “sleazy” attacks against Bush have
managed to squelch any momentum he may have had coming out of the first two debates. Some polls have him stagnant against Bush. More polls show Bush recovering from the debate season and now pulling slightly ahead. The blunt truth is that Kerry is losing the final phase of this campaign.
How do I rebut thee? Let me count the ways: the Bush-Kerry race is virtually a statistical dead heat with Bush perhaps having a whisker of an advantage over Kerry. The race remains where it was after the final debate. Neither Bush nor Kerry have any momentum or advantage against the other. When Brooks uses the loaded term “stagnant,” he hopes to give a forlorn negative connotation to Kerry’s campaign which it certainly doesn’t deserve. If you and your opponent are tied and have been for a week or more that doesn’t mean you’re stagnating. As for Kerry “losing the final phase of the campaign”…pure spin, my man, and you’re grasping at straws.
Brooks characterizes Kerry’s current attacks on Bush as “incompetent, crude and over-the-top.” What is he referring to? For one, Kerry’s accusation that Bush may be considering reintroducing the draft:
The administration, which hasn’t even asked for trivial public sacrifices in a time of war, does not want to bring back the draft. The Pentagon does not want to bring back the draft. The Republican Party does not want to bring back the draft. Given the nature of military technology, it doesn’t make sense to bring back the draft. There may be some in the bureaucracy taking precautions, but it is hard to imagine an attack with less basis in fact.
I’m delighted that Paul Krugman also in today’s Times has pointedly contradicted Brooks by pointing out that if Bush wishes to continue his ‘muscular’ foreign/military policies in a second term, he may have no choice but to turn to a draft:
Those who are worrying about a revived draft are in the same position as those who worried about a return to budget deficits four years ago, when President Bush began pushing through his program of tax cuts. Back then he insisted that he wouldn’t drive the budget into deficit – but those who looked at the facts strongly suspected otherwise. Now he insists that he won’t revive the draft. But the facts suggest that he will.
Mr. Bush’s claim that we don’t need any expansion in our military is patently unrealistic; it ignores the severe stress our Army is already under. And the experience in Iraq shows that pursuing his broader foreign policy doctrine – the “Bush doctrine” of pre-emptive war – would require much larger military forces than we now have.
This leads to the justified suspicion that after the election, Mr. Bush will seek a large expansion in our military, quite possibly through a return of the draft.
Mr. Bush’s assurances that this won’t happen are based on a denial of reality.
Krugman and other commentators have pointed to the fact that the overextended National Guard tours served by many of our reservists in Iraq are a form of “backdoor draft.” So what’s Brooksie getting so hot under the collar about??
The next supposed Kerry “sleaze” is his comment during the debate that Mary Cheney doesn’t believe that her homosexuality is a “choice.” Brooks calls this “an attack” and says further that Kerry was “us[ing] somebody’s daughter to attack the father and his running mate.” What a load of crap, Brooks. Kerry was criticizing Bush’s vacuous response saying he “just didn’t know” if homosexuality was a choice or not. Now, most reasonable persons in the Unitied States including David Brooks know that sexual orientation is NOT a choice. So why does Kerry pointing that out constitute an “over the top” “attack?” Of course it’s not and John Kerry has no business apologizing to anybody about it. So get over it, David, no apology’s coming and none’s called for.
Brooks next decries
Kerry’s attack on the Bush administration’s supposed “ban” on stem cell research. John Edwards’s ludicrous statement that if Kerry was president, people like Christopher Reeve would be able to get up and walk was only the farcical culmination of a series of exaggerations about the possibilities of finding cures for Alzheimer’s and spinal cord injuries.
You’ve got to watch Brooks because he’s fast and loose with the facts. Of course, John Edwards didn’t say what Brooks has him saying. As I recall the debate, Edwards said that if there were free and open stem cell research Christopher Reeve might some day walk. And this of course was an accurate statement (until Reeve died). As for the stem cell “ban,” it is precisely that. When you only allow scientists to perform research in a truncated way and ban them from using all the means at their disposal to combat disease that’s a ban in my book.
To me, Brooks’ column smacks of a certain desire to get a few jabs for your candidate in towards the end of the campaign. Mr. B would sure like to curry favor with his political betters in the Bush campaign, since if Bush wins that’s where his news sources will be coming from over the next four years. I wonder if it might not be Mr. Brooks who’s rather more desperate than John Kerry?