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July 30, 2011


Judis overstates his criticisms. E.g. he wrote

Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority.

"Insurrectionary" is strong charge if taken literally. Here, that word as well as the phrase "threatened disorder" just mean that the Republican didn't always do what the Democrats wanted them to. I don't know of any laws the Republicans have flouted.

Judis wrote:

From 1995 to 2001, when the GOP controlled Congress and Democrats controlled the White House, the Republicans shut down the government, ambushed the president and his Cabinet with intrusive investigations into corruption—many of them mind-bogglingly trivial—and eventually tried to impeach President Bill Clinton on the most frivolous of grounds.

In fact, government was shut down because of lack of agreement between Clinton and Congress. Either side could have kept government open by accepting the other side's terms. Anyhow, the shutdown was no big deal.

Judis doesn't say which Congressional investigations constituted "ambush". In fact the investigations exposed real wrongdoing.

The Republicans didn't just try to impeach Bill Clinton; they did impeach him. The primary grounds were perjury, which is a felony. Clinton voluntarily gave up his law license in order to avoid prosecution for perjury.

Judis wrote:

If there is an earlier American precedent for today’s Republican Party, it is the antebellum Southern Democrats of John Calhoun who threatened to nullify, or disregard, federal legislation they objected to, and who later led the fight to secede from the union over slavery.

Of course, it was the Republicans who ended slavery and the Democrats who tried to preserve it. I know of no legislation that today's Republicans have threatened to nullify or disregard.

I suppose Judis needed these hyperbolic attacks on Republicans, since his column criticized Obama. The liberal pundit rule is that criticism of Obama can never stand alone It must be matched with criticism of the other side.

President Obama's Approval Rate declined faster than President Bush's. President Bush's was around 50% at the 2004 election. It first declined to 40% 8/9-16/2005 -- about 4 1/2 years after his first term inauguration. President Obama is currently at 40% -- only 2 1/2 years into his term.


Of course, ratings can go up as well as down. Mr. Obama's popularity might improve in time for the 2012 election. Perhaps Brendan could tell us the fate of past Presidents who had low positive ratings 2 1/2 years into their first term.

When Reagan was president, the published polls didn't even have a choice for those of us with very negative ratings of him. Same thing for a poll a few months after he left office. So I finally wrote Gallup and complained. Of course, they defended the validity of their polls. But a few months after that they came out with a poll on Reagan and Carter, with a full range of choices. Reagan and Carter got about the same number of favorable ratings. But while few people disliked Carter very much, many people disliked Reagan a whole lot. But we weren't allowed to know that while Reagan was president.

BTW a couple of posts back, Brendan linked to a bogus chart supposedly showing that Bush was responsible for most of Obama's deficits. I overlooked the fact that the chart had been prepared by the White House.

I don't know which is sadder:

1. At a moment of economic crisis, the tax-payer supported White House devoted their energies to blaming George Bush for the problem. They should be working on solving the crisis. Instead of spending time and effort to create this nonsense, the White House could have come up with specific proposals to deal with the debt limit.

2. The formerly great New York Times reprinted this piece of propaganda as news.

3. Even though Brendan has the expertise to understand the chart's flaws, and even though he should have been suspicious because the chart was created by the White House, Brendan nevertheless reprinted it uncritically. Brendan is an expert in false beliefs. Yet, he himself is not immune from the human failing of believing what one wants to believe.

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