Sunday, July 29, 2007

The great thinkers...

The Washington Post gives you an article from the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, Anne-Marie Slaughter. It's a pretty good example of various tendencies among Those Who Know Better Than You.

The second paragraph is self promotion--the Democratic candidates will need to appoint cabinet members after all--while after that it is attacks on media commentators, bloggers, and officials who are not sufficiently "bipartisan". Michael Lind in the Nation and Tony Smith in the Washington Post both criticized her ideas (which includes her at least initial support for the Iraq War), and therefore she has decided they aren't sufficiently bipartisan. They are both left of center. She also attacks right of center John Bolton, the former ambassador to the UN under Bush, for criticizing the administration for dealing with North Korea.

I agree some commentators/blogs/politicians are over the top and contribute nothing to the debate, but isn't critiquing important policy decisions on important topics such as Iraq and North Korea allowed anymore? Both the Lind* and Smith pieces were rather moderately phrased, hardly "vitriol", but by calling it such without addressing their arguments she marginalizes their views. (I don't fully agree with their views, but that doesn't make them unreasonable in my book). One wonders if Lind, Smith, or Bolton would have their argumentation style blasted--and fundamentally she is attacking style since she cannot bother to attack their substance--if they agreed with her views...

The first paragraph to me is the most interesting. She praises how Bush "started" reaching across the aisle in the failed immigration bill. Aside from showing exactly how politically ignorant she is, given Bush was pushing his *guest* worker program since he took office, it demonstrates that the interests of those in power (and as a Dean at an Ivy League university she is in power) very often coincide. Calls for bipartisanship along with the smearing ideological opponents; when that happens it's often to the detriment of you, even when it seems like a debate among policy wonks. A topic will be declared off limits and those outside of the officially declared appropriate view will be declared irrational, mean spirited, partisan, etc. while the desired policy is shoved through. When you can't get anyone in power from any side of the ideological spectrum to address a topic you're in trouble. Luckily, that trick doesn't seem to work anymore. At the end of her own article--where she calls on readers to spam the inboxes of those "partisans" who take views she doesn't like--the commenters certainly give their positions on her article, and they're less than, um, "bipartisan".

*The Nation only gives an excerpt; you have access to a subscription or Lexis to read it.
**Matthew Yglesias also has a helpful definition of the word partisan for Slaughter's benefit.

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