A candle is lit in the partisan darkness

While looking for something else, I encountered this blog entry — written by someone called Ron Chusid — that provided one of those tiny lights of hope in the partisan blogosphere.

This is a person who calls his blog "Liberal Values" (and I am always suspicious of anything with "liberal" or "conservative" in the title) who starts out talking about what a awful right-winger some of his respondents had thought I must be for having said mean stuff about John Edwards, but then goes on to explain that he knows better, that it’s not about me being a beastly Republican — that maybe I’m not that at all! I like this guy.

Here’s the relevant portion of the post:

I’ve previously quoted Brad Warthen, editorial page editor of The State as showing examples of what a phony Edwards is.
Edwards supporters replied here and elsewhere that he was just a right
winger who would attack any Democrat. However this defense didn’t hold
up when I checked for his writings on Obama:

The 23-year-old who still gasps somewhere within me is
convinced that Barack Obama is completely for real when he channels JFK
via Jimmy Carter…
I first spoke to Barack Obama — very briefly, because of cell phone problems while I was traveling through mountains — a month ago. He only wanted to talk about one thing: Clean. He was unveiling his plan
for “the most sweeping ethics reform in history,” — “Closing the
Revolving Door,” “Increasing Public Access to Information,” and other Clean Government 101 stuff.

But with that overflow crowd of college kids providing better
reception than my Treo, I realized that for this candidate, such
yadda-yadda basics were more than just the talking points of that one

Warthen’s writings about Edwards being a phony appear much less
partisan after seeing his comments on Obama and reading of his past
support for Jimmy Carter.

There’s no doubt that Obama has less experience than many others who
have run for president, but he has far more experience than John
Edwards. Obama has also shown that he is far more knowledgeable than
Edwards. Edwards has no business questioning whether anyone else is
qualified to be president.

Party loyalists continue to puzzle me on several levels. First, I don’t understand how intelligent people, such as this writer, can surrender their thought processes to an off-the-shelf set of values — which is what a person seems (to me) to do when he is willing to label his own value set with one brand name or the other. (Admittedly, this guy seems to have thought it out more than most — but he still commits such outrageous errors as supporting that partisan hack who tried to take down my man Joe.)

But beyond that, I really don’t understand why partisans would respond to a post such as the Edwards one by assuming — on the basis of no other evidence — that I’m part of the vast right-wing conspiracy. Excuse me, but wouldn’t it be far more likely — if you really must find ulterior motives — to think that I’m trying to help out one of the Democrats who is running against the guy? That’s who his adversaries are at this moment, people! Is that not obvious?

But no — partisans are so accustomed to spouting the nonsense that all evil comes from those people in that other party, that their conditioning keeps them from perceiving the actual tactical situation that lies before them

Why on Earth is that?

Anyway, this doc, Ron Chusid, seems to be a guy who sees beyond such things, despite the title of his blog. Or maybe I have this impression just because he sees Edwards just the way I do:

These descriptions of Edwards are hardly “right wing talking points”
Dismissing facts you don’t like as “rignt wing talking points” is not a
meaningful analysis.

A problem with the right wing is that they back people like Bush and
Cheney no matter how bad they are for the country. People who are unfit
to be President or Vice President should not be defended just because
they are members of the same party.

At some point we must look at the interests of the country over
party. John Edwards is not qualified to be President. He’s one of the
worst political phonys of either party. This has nothing to do with
ideology but about looking out for the interests of the country.

14 thoughts on “A candle is lit in the partisan darkness

  1. Karen McLeod

    The problem with our 2 party political system is that each party dumbs down their platform to the lowest common denominator. Each wants its platform to offend as few of the faithful as possible. Thus, both parties are afraid to speak truth to power (the voting public). Those that are honest, and speak what they believe to be true (eg. McCain) tend to lose, simply because they will not prostitute their convictions to win votes. And yes, there is a difference between pandering and compromise. Unfortunately, the rabid spinmeisters do their best to keep the public from making that distinction.

  2. Colin Mincy

    Excuse me, but one liberal’s voice supporting your weak assessment that John Edwards is phony with lukewarm evidence is not a legitimate defense. The article still reeks, and you’d be smart to quit referenceing it so we don’t have to be reminded of your lapse of journalistic wisdom.
    I’m not an Edwards supporter who is wounded by any criticism of him. It’s the unfair, less legitimate nonsense that really gets the dander up. Some say, its part of the territory, and candidates open themselves up to this by being in the public eye. In some venues, the artcile about Edwards being a phony would be perfectly appopriate, but not in the State, one of the South’s gem newspapers for over 100 years.

  3. bud

    Brad, as someone who has read your editorials and blog postings for many years I can attest that you are not a member of the vast right-wing conspiracy. You don’t need to convince me of that. But since you brought it up I think it’s entirely within the rules to point out how you do come across. You certainly are a patriotic American who wants only what’s best for your country and that people who live in it. You also believe Americans should assist those in other countries to have a better life. And you’ve formulated your own particular brand of philosophy to address those goals.
    As a liberal I believe government should play a role in helping other people to achieve a modicum level of prosperity. I don’t believe, however, that government should play a military role in the lives of people who live in other countries or attempt to regulate what people do with their money or bodies.
    Conservatives on the other hand oppose government intervention in domestic economic affairs but support military intervention overseas and want to regulate or ban what people do here (video poker, pot smoking, adult book stores, etc.). Libertarians want government out of all these activities. Ron Paul is the prototype libertarian.
    Brad, you support government intervention in all activities. To you, conservatives, liberals and especially libertarians are partisans. And you’re right. We view the world as needing government intervention in some areas but not other, not because we blindly support party labels but rather because we feel our chosen party best represents our own particular point of view. I know of virtually no one who subscribes entirely to either party’s platform in it’s entirety. I for one would stand out as a good Republican on the issue of affirmative action and a few others. But I feel strongly that the Democratic party is best for the country and I tend to vote that way. Republicans for the most part seem out of touch with reality to me and that may come across as partisan. Well so be it. I make no appologies.
    So Brad, there you have it. To me you are just as partisan as I am. The only difference is I embrace my partisanship while you live in denial. And that is something that I just don’t understand.

  4. Brad Warthen

    bud, I don’t see you as a partisan.
    And I know something you can’t possibly know, no matter how much of myself I reveal — I am not a partisan.
    The only possible reason I can see for you repeatedly asserting that I am a liar is to be a pain in the arse. You know that nothing you could say would be more insulting to me, because you know the way I feel about partisanship. So you insist upon tapping this one spot, ad nauseam.
    There is no way that I can see this as a good-faith effort to engage in purposeful and constructive dialogue on this blog. That’s why, when you post a comment that has no other point than to tap that spot again — a particularly malicious act by the lights of your host — I don’t approve it for publication.
    I hope that with this note, I have made my position clear. And please don’t try to parse it to find some “real” meaning that is unstated.
    I mean what I say. I have no other purpose in what I say beyond communicating what I have said. Unless I am employing irony — which is usually too heavy-handed to be missed (years of newspaper work have trained me that subtlety just leads to miscommunication) — that is always the case.

  5. weldon VII

    All this talk of Edwards reminds me: What do you call a lawyer looking for a bar with just the right atmosphere?
    An ambience chaser.

  6. Ron Chusid

    Thanks for the link to Liberal Values. It appears we agree on most of the material here. We both have similar views of Edwards, and I assume you have no disagreement with me arguing that you do not appear to be a partisan right wing hack (as you have been called on my blog.). I do have one objection to your post.
    You cay, “First, I don’t understand how intelligent people, such as this writer, can surrender their thought processes to an off-the-shelf set of values — which is what a person seems (to me) to do when he is willing to label his own value set with one brand name or the other.”
    Note that II use liberal in the broad historical sense, as well as considering its European meaning, as opposed to using the label to limit views to one “brand.” Just as those commenting on my blog are being unfair to you in labeling you a right wing hack for criticizing John Edwards, I believe you are being unfair in characterizing my blog based upon the title along as opposed to the content. The example under discussion here demonstrates that I’m not locked into one “brand” and am willing to consider the matter on its merit. The same is true of other issues where I sometimes depart from the views common in the liberal blogosphere.
    Actually there are times when I’ve regretted having such a label in the blog. This would spare me meaningless arguments where someone says I’m saying something which varies from their idea of liberal thought, as opposed to arguing on the merits of the argument. On the other hand, it is helpful for a small blog as I receive a huge number of hits from Google searches for “liberal view” of various issues. This does not lock me into any particular views or prevent me from presenting my own views on any issue, even if they vary from liberal orthodoxy.

  7. Brad Warthen

    Welcome, Dr. Chusid — and I accept service. The more I look at your blog, the more I see that you use “liberal” in the true, global sense (as in “liberal democracy”), rather than the petty partisan sense that unfortunately is overwhelmingly dominant in our domestic discourse.
    I hope I am not the first to say, I thank you for that.

  8. bud

    “… but he still commits such outrageous errors as supporting that partisan hack who tried to take down my man Joe.)”
    The so-called “partisan hack” you refer to has a name. His name is Ned Lamont and he’s an honorable and decent American with good intentions. Whether you agree or disagree with his stands on the policies he is anything but a partisan hack. Since you consider the term “partisan” to be the most heinous of all crimes for a politician I have to view this comment as nothing more than a damnable, slanderous insult. You owe Mr. Lamont an appology.

  9. bud

    I did not recall the man’s name.
    First you insult a fine man (Ned Lamont) by calling him the worst possible thing (by your own admission) that you can – a partisan. Then you joke about it (appypolly-loggy). Now you cavalierly acknowledge you have so little respect for Mr. Lamont thay you were simply too lazy to look up his name. Apparently it was much easier to just call him a partisan hack and hope nobody would catch the hypocricy. That’s something I’d expect from Rush Limbaugh. Just answer this one question: Why can’t you use Mr. Lamont’s name? The very fact that you didn’t know his name suggests that you don’t know anything about him other than he opposes the Iraq occupation. After all, you’d find it offensive to see someone who talks about that POW dude from Arizona or that war-mongering senator from Connecticut or that “never been married” senator from South Carolina. You’re doing EXACTLY what you get so incensed about others doing. That is, labeling a man that you don’t agree with on one and only one issue. On this post you are completely out of line with your own philosophy and somebody needed to point it out.

  10. Brad Warthen

    Actually, bud, I didn’t identify him with any issue, other than the issue of partisanship. He was the party guy; my guy was not. That’s what I was referring to, and — to remind those who have forgotten the topic — the original context: I was expressing my disappointment that Dr. Chusid apparently preferred the party nominee to Joe. The nominee could have been Ned or Fred or Suzy; it had nothing to do with my point.
    And excuse ME for having a bit of fun with your spelling of “appology,” which immediately put me in mind of the Nadsat word.
    Lighten up, bud. None of this calls for so much indignation.

  11. bud

    Brad, I’m not really offended. I’m just trying to make a point. The MoveOn folks had a bit of fun with General Petraeus name. The right-wing spin machine went into full gear with their propaganda. I don’t really think the Limbaugh’s and Hannity’s of the world were particularly offended by the MoveOn piece but they saw an opportunity and they struck. That is what they do. Whenever they sense an opening they strike. They are very good at that. (They did the same thing with your Edwards is a phony piece. Edwards polls very well against all the GOP candidates and they thought your article gave them an opportunity to go on the offensive.) Give them a tiny opening and they attack. The GOP is very good at putting people on the defensive in order to deflect criticism away from the main points. Clearly the MoveOn piece was not as offensive at it was portrayed. Whether the GOP counterattack against MoveOn worked remains to be seen.

  12. bill

    “It’s funny how the colors of the real world only seem really real when you viddy them on the screen.”

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