Saturday, October 3, 2009

Rob Harrison, The Gauntlet is Thrown

So, I recently challenged Rob Harrison of The Spyglass blog and Conservatives4Palin to post 10 mistakes or weaknesses he sees in Sarah Palin. I did this because he had recently posted about the hero-worship displayed for Barack Obama, and I retorted that I saw hero-worship aimed at Palin at C4P and in some of his posts. He offered up 4 posts he thought were more pro-Obama, and I'd say that of the 4, about 2.5 of them were actually prObama, but good enough. I imagine praising Obama is at least as painful for Rob as the following was for me.

Now, Rob turned the thrown gauntlet back on me, and challenged me to post about 10 strong characteristics or good decisions of George W. Bush, at which point he would accept my right to challenge him. I think that this is a bit of a cop-out (I'm looking at you Rob), to challenge the challenger, but it was an intriguing idea - to revisit what is to me perhaps the worst presidency in American history and to try to find the diamonds in the steaming mound of poo that was the second Bush presidency.

::cracks knuckles:: Ok, let me begin. These are in the order that they come to me, or that I find them, since this was actually pretty challenging and took some research. I'm sure that had nothing to do with my political views.

1. Bush banned what is often erroneously called partial-birth abortion, or more accurately late-term abortion. I'm not sure what the moral argument in favor of late-term abortion would be.
*Addendum: I sould have had the modifier "healthy" added there somewhere. As Aric pointed out, I think there is an argument for an abortion at any stage where the fetus in question has such projected health complications that meaningful life is impossible. Of course, the rub there is, what is "meaningful"? But if, say, the fetus will have fluid instead of a cerebral cortex, or will never have a functioning heart, etc. Anyway, I ramble.

2. Bush cut taxes. My personal windfall from this cut was about $300, and I remember spending that money on bills that month. I heard that some other people got bigger windfalls, but I'm trying to stick to the positive here and not get all jealous. It was 300 bucks I wouldn't otherwise have had.

3. Bush also raised the child tax credit from $600 to $1000, which I can only imagine benefited families with children after 2003 (I don't have children, but how could it not?). Parents? Was it helpful?

4. In many ways, Bush stuck to his neoconservative guns, and really gave us a very clear view of the America that neoconservatives want to build. That way, we are able to make a clearer decision about what kind of America we want to let them build. By holding to what seem to be his core beliefs and suppositions, Bush was the Elucidator for many of us.

5. I think that in person W probably had a lot of charisma. I read a lot of articles where someone would at some point talk about how this is a guy you'd love to have a beer with. I think that it's hard to fake friendliness long-term, so this is probably true (I say probably because I never met him, nor did any close friends I could ask).

6. Bush's Texas ranch is geo-thermally heated and cooled, off the grid, uses passive solar energy, and has a grey water system. Portions of his home are made from waste-materials from a local quarry. But his private home is, ironically, very eco-friendly.

7. From many accounts, Bush spent his young adulthood snorting coke and binge drinking. He admits to abusing alcohol until he was 40 years old, attributing his stopping drinking to religious conversion. At the very least, I know pretty well how hard it is to get sober after a long time drinking, and there are plenty of people who fail to do so even after a conversion experience.

8. Bush tripled direct humanitarian aid to Africa, and as I recall, increased five-fold the aid we send to Africa to fight the spread of AIDS there. No snarky comment here - this is just a good deed that helped a lot of people. In fact, I will say that this is the best thing that George W. Bush ever did.

9. It seems that Bush worked to limit the damage that Dick Cheney sought to do, and seeing them as they departed office, with Cheney still grumblingly reprehensible and Bush actually able to name some mistakes he had made, was telling. Apparently Cheney considered Bush's second term too dovish, and wanted more warfare and more torture all around. So I'm glad that Bush had the wherewithal to push back and do some Dick Cheney damage control for the rest of the world. If you have to have a monster, it's better to have it on a leash. (And no, Rob, I am constitutionally unable to come up with 10 positives about Cheney - and I challenge anyone who is not a sociopath to do so)

10. Bush fired Rumsfeld - the only decision, I think, that Cheney publicly disagreed with. That was a move that needed to be made.


There, Rob. The gauntlet, for the second time, is thrown to you. It was painful to find these diamonds, but find them I did.

And so it is clear to everyone, I will copy and paste my original challenge, and put it in italics no less. Then all shall see whether Rob picks up the gauntlet in turn. ::maniacal laughter::

Rob, I have a challenge. I dare you to post ten mistakes, or more deliciously, flaws of Sarah Palin. Reading your blog, the impression I get is that there is nothing that Palin can do that is wrong, and nothing that Obama can do that is right - at best, only tactically correct, or maybe impressive, but not *right*. I'm curious if this is really your operating assumption :)

Next, I *double* *dog* dare you to post the mistakes/flaws post to Conservatives4Palin. See, my theory is that hero-worship is just part of politics, and my guess is that it is just as operative with Palin supporters as it is with Obama supporters. If proven wrong, I would count that as a huge feather in the cap of the Palin crowd.

Often you bring "liberals" to task for failing to point out the mistakes of 'our own'. I could easily find ten things I disagree with about Palin which I could characterize as flaws - I'm curious how balanced, or nuanced, your view of her is.

Enjoy :)

If Rob can live up to the double-dog dare on top of the single-dog dare, and post the 10 flaws or mistakes to Conservatives4Palin, then we will see if he will return with an even greater challenge for yours truly.


And Rob, in reference to our comment-thread conversation, I read some more of Conservatives 4 Palin, and we'll probably have to agree to disagree. I think that where you feel the blog is writing facts and analysis and working to push back against an anti-Palin bias, I see a lot of hero-worship. The Joan of Arc of Alaska? At least it made me grin. I'll agree that Obama-worship is stronger, and perhaps even more egregious with its messianic overtones, but it is far from unique.


Doug Hagler said...

It occurred to me - I don't know if it is clear, but I am doing this tongue-in-cheek and having fun with it. This is the internet, though, and often that isn't apparent in text. But regardless, all the talk of gauntlet-throwing and so on is intended to be humorous, at least to me.

Aric Clark said...

#8 is definitely the best thing he did - and better than any president before him (or since - yet). So that is something.

On #1 I suggest you read this for starters. Late-term abortion is widely misrepresented.

Doug Hagler said...

I dunno. I don't think I'm misrepresenting. Maybe I should've added that I think that a terminal diagnosis is a moral argument for a late-term abortion. I believe the legislation only banned third-trimester abortions, and the information these families were getting in the stories occurred in the second trimester.

There's a grey area around viability that is basically impossible to legislate, and even viability is dependent on technology. At some point, a blastocyst might be technically viable in an artificial womb or something.

I mean, where would the cut-off point be for a justifiable late-term abortion of a fetus that had serious life-threatening health problems predicted? A 10% survival chance? 50%? 80%?

And on the other hand, when is this fetus a person? An unanswerable question for me, but an approachable one. For me, the third trimester is just too close to the personhood horizon to terminate. Though I definitely see the argument for a case-by-case system to look at serious health complications and that kind of thing. I mean, sometimes nature just messes up and it isn't anyone's fault.

Aric Clark said...

The point of those testimonies, is that late-term abortion is already illegal in all but a few places and where it is legal it is highly highly regulated so that it is effectively on a case by case basis and if u read those testimonies there are some excruciatingly difficult situations which I doubt anyone could give an easy answer too. Late term abortion is probably the least problematic form, because it is the least likely to be elective. It is not a form of birthcontrol. It is only used in rare and terrifyingly ugly situations.

Alan said...

There's a difference between promising to send huge amounts of aid to Africa to fight AIDS and actually sending it. Last time I looked, the amount *actually sent* was only a fraction of what was promised by the Bush administration.

Promises are easy to make and while I appreciate the promise, you know what they say about good intentions.

Doug Hagler said...

Hey man, I tried. This wasn't easy.