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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Answering Frank Rich

I don't mind liberal commentators and pundits as long as they make an effective argument. It isn't very much fun to listen and read only those that hold the exact same position as you. In fact, one of my favorite pundits is Marc Lamont Hill who generally holds largely liberal positions. That said, when a pundit makes a partisan argument that is largely dishonest or even misleading they must be exposed and challenged. One of the worst offenders is Frank Rich of the New York Times and his latest column is no exception. While the column largely focuses on perceived deficiencies in McCain's economic policies, Rich can't refuse a jab at his foreign policy to begin with.

In a time of war,” Mr. McCain said last week, “the commander in chief doesn’t get a learning curve.” Fair enough, but he imparted this wisdom in a speech that was almost a year behind Mr. Obama in recognizing Afghanistan as the central front in the war against Al Qaeda. Given that it took the deadliest Taliban suicide bombing in Kabul since 9/11 to get Mr. McCain’s attention, you have to wonder if even General Custer’s learning curve was faster than his.

Mr. McCain still doesn’t understand that we can’t send troops to Afghanistan unless they’re shifted from Iraq. But simple math, to put it charitably, has never been his forte. When it comes to the central front of American anxiety — the economy — his learning curve has flat-lined.

Actually, it is Mr. Rich that doesn't understand. We have lots of troops besides those currently on the battlefield in Afghanistan and Iraq. In fact, we have so many troops that for a year we were able to maintain twenty thousand more troops in Iraq than we do now and still maintain the same presence in Afghanistan. What Mr. Rich does is attempt to continue to perpetrate this liberal myth that Iraq is putting a burden on our military that we can't overcome.

Then, Rich spends the rest of the article taking jabs at McCain's economic policies. He spends several paragraphs attacking Phil Gramm. Gramm is of course an easy target after his very public verbal gaffe. It is a rather ludicrous guilt by association because while he attempts to paint Gramm as economically challenged he doesn't specify very much. This becomes a pattern because Rich spends quite a lot of time bashing McCain's advisors

Mr. McCain made a big show of banishing Mr. Gramm after his whining “gaffe,” but it’s surely at most a temporary suspension. When the candidate said back in January that there’s nobody he knows who is stronger on economic issues than his old Senate pal, he was telling the truth. Left to his own devices — or those of his new No. 1 economic surrogate, Carly Fiorina — Mr. McCain is clueless. Even Arnold Schwarzenegger, a supporter, said that Mr. McCain’s latest panacea for high gas prices, offshore drilling, is snake oil — and then announced his availability to serve as energy czar in an Obama administration.


Ms. Fiorina, the ubiquitous new public face of McCain economic policy, adds nothing to the mix beyond her incessant display of corporate jargon, from “trend lines” to “start-ups.” Before she was fired at Hewlett-Packard, its stock had declined 50 percent during her five-plus years in charge. She missed earning projections — by 23 percent in one quarter — much as she now misrepresents both the Obama and McCain records. This month she said Mr. McCain wanted to require insurance plans to cover birth control medications along with Viagra, when in fact he had voted against it.


Ms. Fiorina received a $42 million payout (half in cash) from H.P., according to a
shareholders’ subsequent lawsuit
. With this inspiring résumé, she now aspires to be Mr. McCain’s running mate. So does the irrepressible Mitt Romney, who actually was a business whiz before serving as Massachusetts’s governor. Beltway wisdom has it that the addition of such a corporate star will remedy Mr. McCain’s fiscal flatulence.

But Mr. Romney, while more plausible than Ms. Fiorina, is hardly what America wants at this desperate time. His leveraged buyout dealings as co-founder of Bain Capital induced plant closings, mass layoffs and outsourcing. If Mr. McCain truly intends to “put our country’s interests” above politics and reach across the aisle to move the nation forward, as he constantly tells us, why not go for a vice president who’s the very best fit for the huge challenges at hand?

Rich says quite a lot there while saying oh so little. First, it appears that folks that were actually responsible for things like payroll, earnings, employees, and corporate health are now the sort of folks that are bad economic advisors. I suppose the sort of advisors that he thinks are best are academics and critics like himself. Anyone's record can be attacked especially when the attacker doesn't have to match their own accomplishments to that of the person they are attacking. I won't defend Ms. Fiorino's term as CEO of Hewlett Packard except to say that the position speaks for itself. Most of Obama's advisors are academics with no history of actually doing anything. Thus, it is more difficult to attack their accomplishment.

I also didn't miss how slyly Rich made Arnold Schwarzenneger the end all and be all of everything on oil drilling. Just because Arnold is against oil drilling, doesn't actually make it a bad idea. It's this sort of anecdotal evidence that is a hallmark of Rich's work. Furthermore, Rich claims that Arnold is a supporter that is also more than willing to serve in an Obama administration. So, what sort of a supporter does that make him exactly?

As for Fiorina's allusion that McCain wanted to cover both birth control and erectile dysfunction, that is a function of lack of communication not a lack of economic understanding. Birth control is a choice. Erectile dysfunction is a condition. Medical insurance should NOT cover a choice but should cover a medical condition. While Fiorina showed a lack of communication, McCain did show an acute understanding of proper insurance that Rich clearly doesn't.

Then, Rich proceeds to lay out the mother of all red herrings.

Romney vs. Bloomberg is not a close contest. Bloomberg L.P. has roughly three times the revenues and employees of Bain & Company, where Mr. Romney ultimately served as chief executive. Mr. Romney rescued the Salt Lake City Olympics while running it in 2002, but Mayor Bloomberg revitalized New York, the nation’s largest metropolis, after the most devastating attack in our history. The city he manages has more than twice the budget of Mr. Romney’s state.

Yes, Mr. Bloomberg is a closet Democrat and an alpha dog who doesn’t want to be a second banana. And his views on gay civil rights and abortion would roil the G.O.P. base. But Mr. Romney shared some of those same views before he flip-flopped, and besides, these are not ordinary times. Millions of Americans are losing their homes and jobs. Whole industries are going belly up. The national crisis at hand, not yesterday’s culture wars, should drive the vice-presidential pick.

I don't doubt that Mr. Bloomberg would be an excellent choice for an economic advisor, however that doesn't make the other two choices any less appropriate. Furthermore, if Bloomberg is really a "closet Democrat" as Rich proclaims, why didn't Obama make him his own economic advisor. Furthermore, there are plenty of other logistical reasons for Bloomberg not being McCain's economic advisor, like most of all that Bloomberg has his own Presidential ambitions.

Finally, Rich perverts McCain's vote against the Bush tax cuts.

But this is fantasy political baseball, not reality. Mr. McCain, sad to say, hung up his old maverick’s spurs the day he embraced the Bush tax cuts he had once opposed as “too tilted to the wealthy.” And Mr. Bloomberg? It’s hard to picture a titan who built
his empire
on computer terminals investing any capital, political or otherwise, in a chief executive who is still learning how to do, as Mr. McCain puts it, “a Google.”

Democrats have fixated themselves with McCain's vote against the Bush tax cuts in 2003. Furthermore, they are fixated with the idea that he opposed them because they were too tilted to the wealthy. Of course, their tilt was of minor concern to McCain. What concerned McCain then was that they were done in the middle of a war and without the benefit of spending cuts. I don't need Google because we have McCain's own words. You will notice that he says,

I cannot AT THIS TIME vote in favor of tax cuts

It appears that to folks like Frank Rich there should be difference in policy positions in a five year time frame. When John McCain opposed the Bush tax cuts in 2003 that was itself a flip flop. McCain has a long record of cutting taxes. His main opposition to the tax cuts was that they weren't met with equal cuts in spending at a time we were in two wars.

Now that McCain doesn't favor their roll back, or a tax increase, during a time of recession, they see that as a flip flop. This sort of distortion of McCain's record cannot be left unchallenged.


Unknown said...

what did you expect from a theater critic? frank wants to get in barry's pants...

Anonymous said...

Frank Rich is a symptom of the illness that is killing the New York Times: bad, heavily biased journalism. The venerable, once proud publication is in the process of a much publicized public act of self destruction because it has become a shill for the far left.
Brian W. Loss

Anonymous said...

I have read some of Frank Rich's columns. They don't seem to make that much sense. It might be wiser to just ignore him and his ramblings.

mike volpe said...

It would be easier to ignore him if he didn't have a megaphone that reached millions. Propaganda is propaganda and when it reaches millions it must be challenged.