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December 28, 2004


One of the raps conservatives got a lot of during the nineties was that we were inordinately fixated on scandal. Why, we were spending all of our time fussing about Whitewater and Loral and, yeahp, perjury and obstruction of justice regarding a "purely private sexual matter."

We weren't engaging on questions of policy; we didn't enter the public dialogue with Bill Clinton and offer solutions which would build bridges to the twenty-first century.

Perhaps some of that rap was well-deserved. I don't know. Clinton did (and still does) seem to me to have been a fairly corrupt guy, economical with the truth, as they say, but perhaps there was a point at which mere scandal-mongering became a proxy for substantive political discussion.

For me, at least, and people like me. Maybe for some people like you, too.

What a difference a change of the President's party makes though, huh?

Let's start with left-wing bloggers. Josh Marshall is supposed to be the cream of the lefty crop. But browse through his past year of blogging. Is there anything but scandal-mongering on his site? How frequently, exactly, does Josh Marshall weigh in on policy question?

Now, I don't trust any politicians, including Republican ones, and I think that it can't hurt to have sharp-eyed critics, ever-eager to pounce, on the left. I confess my enthusiasm for pursuing Republican scandals isn't as high as it probably ought to be, and so, to some extent, people like Marshall are doing some necessary work that I am constitutionally incapable of.


I do seem to remember a time during which a fixation on scandal -- both real and wholly imagined -- was denigrated by those on the left as whining and griping and refusing to simply come to terms with the fact that a popular President was in office, and that policy fights ought to be on actual policy, rather than proxy fights over the scandal-of-the-week.

Josh has weighed in on the emerging Social Security debate in a predictable fashion. His take? The President's coming initiative to convince the American people that Social Security must be changed is rank dishonesty of a scandalous nature.

Where are the Belmont Clubs of the left, I wonder? Where are the considered policy arguments? Not among the best-known lefty blogs, apparently. I'm sure there are a few policy-oriented lefty blogs out there, but they don't seem to get an awful lot of attention.

The Democratic Party seems nearly as fixated on scandal as a proxy for policy disputes. True enough, there will occasionally be a policy position offered, but let's face it, the Democratic Party is primarily interested in attacking Bush. When a leader like Hillary Clinton treads down the same path as certified-moonbat Cynthia McKinney and brandishes an infamous NY Post bearing the slammer "BUSH KNEW," one knows immediately the mindset one is dealing with.

And the media? Well, they seem to follow the Democratic Party's lead, strangely enough. They're currently attempting to bring down Donald Rumsfeld, and, while policy questions do weigh into the mix, they're currently all in a fuss about an "insensitive" truism he uttered and the scandal that condolence letters to soldiers are signed by an Auto-Pen.

Is this serious debate?

A case can be made that this is what out-parties do with their time-- not having much actual political power, they are forced to resort to often-petty sniping from the sidelines.

Trouble is, I don't remember the Republicans getting much of a pass on that basis when Bill Clinton was cleaning our clocks. (And man, did he ever!)

And I'm not quite sure why the media-- previously rather reluctant to follow up on important stories like Clinton's claim he'd never been previously informed about Chinese espionage at Los Alamos, when in fact he proveably had been (and Tim Russert embarassed former Energy Secretary Bill Richardson badly on this point) -- now spends most of its time cracking important stories about "plastic turkeys" and letters signed by Auto-Pen.

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posted by Ace at 03:44 AM

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