August 11, 2003

What is Rall Smoking?

I know I should know better than to read Td Rall's columns, but I did anyway. In all honesty, this one is less annoying than most. However, this jumped out at me:

As Democrats decide which approach to take against George W. Bush, a right-wing extremist whose agenda makes Barry Goldwater look tame by comparison, they should carefully consider recent history. A moderate nominee like Lieberman might have been a safe bet against Bush's father, but he's extremely unlikely to beat his radical son.

Without getting into Rall's "Rule of Ideological Balance," which strikes me as dubious, I would ask, where, exactly, is the evidence tht Bush is a "right-wing extremist"?

How about:

  • Upping steel tariffs?

  • Pushing the expansion of the reach and scope of the federal government's role in public education?

  • Supporting the biggest increase in medicare since the Great Society (i.e., including prescription drugs)?

  • Signing the campaign finance reform bill?

    Ah, yes, GWB, radical right-winger.

    Granted, he supports tax cuts, is pro-life and his foreign policy represents a substantial departure from the recent past (but I am not sure that it qualifies as "right-wing" per se). He is conservative on many issues, but is hardly an arch-conservative. He isn't for example, in the Reagan mold in terms of the size and scope of the federal government.

    A more reasonable assessment of Bush can be found in a recent David Broder column (commented on by OTB last week).


    Posted by Steven Taylor at August 11, 2003 10:11 AM | TrackBack
  • Comments

    Honestly, I think "radical right winger" is now a code word for "Evangelical Christian." It's the only explanation I can come up with, as Bush has in many ways been disappointing for those of us who actually are conservative.

    Posted by: James Joyner at August 11, 2003 10:14 AM

    I think you are correct.

    Posted by: Steven at August 11, 2003 10:19 AM

    There is no such thing as 'RightWing Christian'. Christians believe in tithe(tax), good works, found schools, all 'group' eg. Collectivist=Left solutions to social problems. Just what is Individualist=Right about all of that?

    'RightWing' and 'Conservative' are just pejoratives to the lefties.

    Consider that the radical agenda of the National Socialist German Workers Party(NAZI's) 'changed' Germany in a political overthrow and yet was labeled 'RightWing' or 'Conservative'...

    Just how is the overthrow of a government not change but rather 'conservative'?

    Just how is the imposition of collectivist ideology of the National Socialists suddenly individualist?


    Posted by: DANEgerus at August 11, 2003 02:12 PM

    Other issues aside for the moment, it is the case that the preponderance of evangelical Christians tend to vote Republican.

    However, you are correct: the term is used pejoratively in this context.

    Posted by: Steven at August 11, 2003 02:20 PM

    Ted Rall is one of the four horsepersons of the ideopocalypse. Al Gore is a right-wing conservative to him.

    Posted by: bryan at August 11, 2003 02:45 PM

    Oh, Jaysus. Where to begin?

    First off, Steven, our intrepid Asst. Poli Sci Prof, seems to forget evangelical Christians aren't a monolithic group. Certain so-called evangelical Christians--typlified by Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson--do tend to be hardcore Repugs. However, black evangelical Christians tend to be overwhelmingly Democrat.

    Second, does Steven wish to lump Bush in with intolerant bigots like Falwell and Robertson? Be my guest.

    But back to Steven's thesis Bush isn't a rightwing extremist. He bases this upon 4 issues:

    - Tariffs on Steel: It's questionable that free trade v. protections is even a rightwing/leftwing issue. Politicians on both sides of the aisle tend to be very protective of those industries in their districts. Regardless, it should be noted Bush chose to protect an industry in an area which is crucial that he win to have a chance in 2004 (WV and PA). Note Bush refused to bail out airlines.

    -Education: Give me a break. What Bush is doing is trying to kill off public schools.

    --Medicare: See above. Bush's plan is to privatize healthcare insurance as well as push the costs off on to senior citizens. Another giveaway to big business.

    --Campaign Finance: Bush signed the bill because it was politically expedient to do so. He signed it after saying he thought it was unconstitutional and giving support to GOP efforts to defeat it.

    Posted by: JadeGold at August 11, 2003 03:05 PM

    BTW, a clue: the term 'rightwing extremist' isn't a code word for 'evangelical Christian.'

    It's a code word for 'brain-damaged chimpanzee.'

    Signed, A Liberal

    Posted by: JadeGold at August 11, 2003 03:14 PM

    Methinks Jade's been shrooming with Ted.

    Steven, honestly though, friends don't let friends read Ted Rall ;-)

    Posted by: Matthew at August 11, 2003 04:00 PM

    Suppose you answer for Hekyll and Jeckyll Steven and James Joyner, Matthew:

    If Bush is an 'evangelical Christian' (secret codeword for rightwing extremist), is he closer to Jerry Falwell or T.D. Jakes?

    Posted by: JadeGold at August 11, 2003 04:10 PM

    Bush is indeed a extremist on the notion of foreign policy. The Bush doctrine is a radical departure from accepted norms of foreign policy since the Treaty of Westphalia (mid-17th century). Ashcroft's Justice Department has shown breathtaking disregard for the constitution. Not your ordinary AG who tries to grab power in bits and pieces. Whether you agree with these things or not, they are certainly radical changes. While it may not be "conservative" in the accepted sense, they are certainly extreme. I've often said the far right and far left are much closer to each other than either is to the center-left or center-right.

    His position on tax cuts and abortion are mainline conservative. His federalization of education is indeed antithetical to the supposed conservative calls for less federal government. But the extremism of his foreign policy and the war against civil liberties overshadows much else. I'm not much concerned if Bill Gates does or doesn't get a tax break. I am concerned if the administration's extremism provokes the rest of the world, including our longtime friends and allies, into hating or mistrusting us.

    Posted by: Brian at August 11, 2003 05:57 PM

    Concerning the comment by one of your readers (and George Will): let's be serious. The suggestion that since the Nazis called themselves National Socialists that made the actual socialists is laughable. Does your reader seriously suggest that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (the North) is truly democratic just because it's name says so? What about Pol Pot's Democratic Kampuchea?

    Hitler's main domestic political enemies that he targeted were the socialists, the social democrats and the communists. So it's not entirely unreasonable to think that someone who targeted primarily left-wingers might have been a right-winger.

    Besides, is the label left- or right-winger really relevant in the case of such evil? Was the right-wing extremist (in most people's opinions) Hitler really much different than the left-wing extremist Stalin? Was Pinochet that much different than Castro? Of course not.

    As I said above, the extremes are much closer to each other than to the centers. Extremism is extremism and which kind of extremism (left or right) is pretty much irrelevant. Does anyone waste their time arguing if Saddam was a leftist or a rightist? No. He was a butcher and in which "direction" doesn't especially matter.

    Posted by: Brian at August 11, 2003 06:05 PM

    Don't forget Saddam's Republican Guard.

    Wait a minute. That's why they put up such little resistance--they had "other priorities."

    Posted by: JadeGold at August 11, 2003 06:36 PM

    Jade Gold,

    Fallwell and Robertson don't really classify themselves as evangelicals, neither do most evangelicals. Robertson considers himself more charismatic, Fallwell more fundamentalist.

    Posted by: bryan at August 12, 2003 07:50 AM


    Within any denomination, there often exists many flavors. I don't believe Robertson and Falwell would not consider themselves to be evangelical Christians.

    Doing a simple search on 'Google' on either man and 'evangelical Christian' should provide ample evidence of my belief.

    Posted by: JadeGold at August 12, 2003 10:12 AM
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