Liberals vs Conservatives

Here’s an interesting take on the battle between both ends of the political spectrum from a reader of Andrew Sullivan’s blog. Bottom line? Liberals are stuck in the 60s, while conservatives are stuck in the 70s.

Both sides are often saddled with their dogmas, and then the news media repeats these differences over and over again in 2 minute clips intended to offer “analysis.” It hurts the discourse in this country, and it’s boring as hell . . .

  

Debating the Drug War

Many are mocking the GOP presidential debate scheduled for tonight. Sure, we won’t have many of the major candidates, but as Andrew Sullivan points out, we now have a second libertarian candidate in the race – former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson. Last week he was interviewed on HuffPo, and here’s his take on the war on drugs:

So going back to 1999, I came to the conclusion… that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition-related, not use-related. That’s not to discount the problems with use and abuse, but that ought to be the focus. So in 1999, I advocated then, I advocate it now. Legalize marijuana. Control it, regulate it, tax it. It’s never going to be legal to smoke pot, become impaired, get behind the wheel of a car, do harm to others. It’s never going to be legal for kids to smoke pot or buy pot. And under which scenario is it going to be easier for kids to smoke pot or buy pot? The situation that exists today, where it’s virtually available anywhere, and the person that sells pot also sells harder drugs? Or a situation where to purchase it, you would have to produce an ID in a controlled environment, like alcohol, to be able to buy it. I think you can make the case that it would be harder to buy it, in that controlled environment.

When it comes to all the other drugs – [marijuana] is the only drug that I’m advocating legalizing – but when it comes to all the other drugs, I think what we ought to really be concentrating on are harm reduction strategies – the things that we really care about, which is reducing death, disease, crime, corruption – in a nutshell, it is looking at the drug problem first as a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue.

So here we have the border violence with Mexico. 28,000 deaths south of the border over the last four years. I believe that if we legalize marijuana 75% of that border violence goes away, because that’s the estimate of the drug cartel’s activities that revolve around the drug trade. The drug trade – prohibition – these are disputes that are being played out with guns, rather than the courts. Control this stuff, regulate this stuff, take the money out of drugs, and so goes the violence.

Hat tipAndrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald

As Greenwald points out, anything that shines a light on the stupidity of the drug war is a good thing. In many ways, the GOP debates will be a joke, particularly if the confederacy of dunces makes an appearance. But with Johnson and Ron Paul in the race, we have two credible voices who will challenge right wing orthodoxy. Remember four years ago when Ron Paul repeatedly called out Rudy Giuliani’s bullshit?

We need to have this debate on drugs. President Obama is way too distracted with other things to spend political capital in this area. Hopefully he will address it in his second term, and that will be easier the more we hear from people like Paul and Johnson.

  

The politics of the tax cut deal

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 07: U.S. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference at the White House briefing room December 7, 2010 in Washington, DC. Obama held a news conference after he had announced a deal with Republicans to temporarily extend Bush-era tax cuts to Americans in all tax brackets. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Liberals are attacking President Obama on many fronts regarding the tax cut deal. They don’t like the deal itself, and many are also alleging that it’s stupid politics – he should have held out for a better deal.

Andrew Sullivan has a different take, explaining how a fight with his liberal critics actually helps him. Also, the deal itself will likely stimulate the economy, and a better economy helps his re-election prospects. I agree with Andrew.

  

Why are some conservatives still supporting Sarah Palin?

Despite Sarah Palin’s horrific performance in interviews, and her simplistic answers in the debate, many conservatives are still defending her.

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting theory explaining this phenomenon.

What I think has happened to some otherwise very brilliant and perceptive people is that they have become so hostile to “liberal pundits” or “Hollywood liberals”, that their reactions are really reactions not to Palin herself but to those criticizing her and the selection of her. These people are anti-anti-Palin and if forced to be pro-Palin, they’d have a very hard time explaining it. Actually, Camille is pro-Obama, so she doesn’t have to go that far. But just because liberals are annoying and Hollywood liberals make you want to vomit doesn’t mean Palin is qualified to be vice-president. Look: Tim Robbins is about the only person who could make me support McCain. But I’m not stupid enough to let my loathing of idiotic Hollywood liberals affect my judgment of this farce of a veep candidate.

I don’t think Palin is dumb; she is just proudly ignorant, a cynical opportunist and a pathological liar.

This makes sense. In the heat of a campaign, people get very emotional about supporting their own side. It makes it very difficult to acknowledge the obvious – that Sarah Palin is a joke of a candidate. Perhaps when the election is over many conservatives will sober up and acknowledge this as well. On the other hand, some are talking about Sarah Palin in 2012. Of course this is silly. She would never survive a protracted primary season. But this is the best thing that could happen to the Democrats, though it might not be the best thing for the country. If the GOP loses this year, they will need to rebuild the party, and they’ll need to do it with qualified candidates who can enunciate a governing philosophy for our times from the conservative perspective. Sarah Palin cannot do this.

Regardless of who is in power, we need a robust party in opposition to keep the ruling party honest. The Democrats didn’t live up to this responsibility in the run-up to the Iraq War.

  

Reactions

Andrew’s take:

It was a deeply substantive speech, full of policy detail, full of people other than the candidate, centered overwhelmingly on domestic economic anxiety. It was a liberal speech, more unabashedly, unashamedly liberal than any Democratic acceptance speech since the great era of American liberalism. But it made the case for that liberalism – in the context of the decline of the American dream, and the rise of cynicism and the collapse of cultural unity. His ability to portray that liberalism as a patriotic, unifying, ennobling tradition makes him the most lethal and remarkable Democratic figure since John F Kennedy.

What he didn’t do was give an airy, abstract, dreamy confection of rhetoric. The McCain campaign set Obama up as a celebrity airhead, a Paris Hilton of wealth and elitism. And he let them portray him that way, and let them over-reach, and let them punch him again and again … and then he turned around and destroyed them. If the Rove Republicans thought they were playing with a patsy, they just got a reality check.

  

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