Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sowell Strikes Again--Out.

The Constructive Curmudgeon, Denver Seminary professor and vociferous advocate of all things Conservative, does not love McCain, but he despises Obama so much that he will uncritically and enthusiastically publish just about anything intended to tear Obama's character apart. He did it again, drawing his readers' attention to an article by the unreliable Thomas Sowell.

Prof. Sowell's Record Versus Rhetoric is a perfect, albeit disheartening, example of disgraceful framing and dishonest spin. Of course, it drew hundreds of mostly positive comments from his indoctrinated readers.

One paragraph into his opinion, Sowell says this:
The issue that is raised most often is her relative lack of experience and the fact that she would be "a heartbeat away from the presidency" if Senator John McCain were elected.

Perhaps this was true when Sarah Palin was announced as McCain's running mate, when most people knew little or nothing of her. But questions about her knowledge, her intellectual competence, her fitness for the job, and even her character has emerged soon after that trump anything that was initially said about her experience. Experience is no longer the prevalent issue, and many conservatives have censored McCain's decision to select Palin as his running mate.

It gets worse, much worse.
Sarah Palin's record is on the record, while whole years of Barack Obama's life are engulfed in fog, and he has had to explain away one after another of the astounding and vile people he has not merely "associated" with but has had political alliances with, and to whom he has directed the taxpayers' money and other money.

This paragraph can only be accepted as truthful if one chooses to ignore the ample and available evidence against Sowell's statements. For example, saying that "whole years of Barack Obama's life are engulfed in fog" ignores the fact that Barack Obama has been subjected to fierce scrutiny for the last two years, which have been filled by his politically-motivated adversaries with the repetition of already debunked accusations.

Sarah Palin, on the other hand, has come to the stage of national politics less than two months ago. Only time will tell what, if anything, she is hiding from public scrutiny. Considering the many distressing details of her political career that have emerged in only the last six weeks, the outlook's not good. We can only assume there would be plenty more to frown on in the next 22 months.

Even more despicable is Sowell's talking point, straight from the RNC and the McCain campaign, that Obama has associated with, and had political alliances with, "vile people." Sowell leaves his further accusation that Obama has "directed taxpayer's money" to vile people unsubstantiated, of course. Why? Because most people of average intellect and an unbiased mind would be loath to agree that ACORN is a group of vile people. It is a group whose goal is to help the poor and the disenfranchised. But Sowell's strength does not consist in substantiating his accusations. Evidently, he'd rather rely on sophistry and innuendos, so all's well in his corner.

Next Sowell says:
Sarah Palin has had executive experience-- and the White House is the executive branch of government. We don't have to judge her by her rhetoric because she has a record.

Yes, indeed, we don't have to judge her by her rhetoric, because that would not reflect well on her.

As for judging her by her record, remember that President Bush also came from the executive branch of the Texas government (he was Governor, just like Palin). Who wants to argue with me that experience in the executive branch of state government is a good indicator of suitability for the White House, after the last eight years?

In any case, I've always been of the opinion that experience is an overrated indicator of a person's ability and suitability for a job. Experience is mainly a measure of time spent doing something, not of the judgment that one is endowed with. This goes for Sowell as well. I am sure he has more experience at writing than I do, but look at the arguments he made in his article.

On Obama's record, Sowell has this to say instead:
he voted "present" innumerable times instead of taking a stand one way or the other on tough issues.

Sowell is, not to mince words, dishonest: "innumerable times" tries to convey the idea of Obama's irresponsibility. The facts? According to the Associated Press:
Obama acknowledges that over nearly eight years in the Illinois Senate, he voted "present" 129 times. That was out of roughly 4,000 votes he cast, so those "presents" amounted to about one of every 31 votes in his legislative career.

So Sowell fails to mention that the "innumerable times" he refers to amounts to 3% of Obama's total votes in the Illinois legislature. Even if that were a valid measure of responsibility, consider for example that McCain has missed 50% more votes in the 110th Congress than Sen. Johnson of South Dakota, who recently returned to the Senate after suffering a brain hemorrage on Dec 13, 2006.

Sowell continues:
"Clean up the mess in Washington"? He was part of the mess in Chicago and lined up with the Daley machine against reformers.

His reference to Chicago style politics? It should be clear by now that all a dishonest man like Sowell can do is resort to unsubstantiated/unsubstantiable "guilt by association" and to ad-hominem attacks, as he does right in his next paragraph:
He is also part of the mess in Washington, not only with numerous earmarks, but also as the Senate's second largest recipient of money from Fannie Mae, and someone whose campaign has this year sought the advice of disgraced former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, who was at the heart of the sub-prime crisis.

The Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac mess is so large that to say that one man (in Sowell's example Franklin Raines) was at the heart of the mess (implying he was responsible for it) is misleading at best.

Given what we know about Sowell from just this one article, we can assume the claim is not only misleading but dishonestly motivated. For example, he fails to mention that even deeper at the heart of the mess we're in was Phil Gramm. (If you are interested in understanding how, just click the previous link.)

Gramm's associations with McCain? Until recently, he was the most senior economic advisor to McCain's campaign, and its co-chair, but he was forced to step down last July in the wake of these super-intelligent comments that he made just days before resigning: "You've heard of mental depression; this is a mental recession," and "We have sort of become a nation of whiners." Yes, Gramm really nailed the problem that he, to quote Sowell, "was at the heart of". But since Sowell does not live in one of McCain's seven glass houses, he can throw stones on McCain' behalf.

Sowell then tries to explain the reason why Palin gets negative coverage (hate, as the Constructive Curmudgeon describes it in customary academic fashion) as opposed to Obama's positive coverage in the media. This is how he does it:
One reason of course is that Senator Obama is ideologically much closer to the views of the media than is Governor Palin.

Let's pretend he did not use the lame "appeal to victimhood", and move on. Sowell then says:
More than that, her whole life has been outside the realm familiar to the intelligentsia of the media. She didn't go to the big-name colleges and imbibe the heady atmosphere that leaves so many feeling that they are special folks. She doesn't talk the way they talk or think the way they think.

In other words, she is better than Obama because, unlike Obama, she does not have a degree from Columbia University, because she is not a magna cum laude Harvard graduate, because she has not taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Her folksiness (not that it is by any means contrived) and her humble academic record, in Sowell's warped mind, is why the media elite renders a negative opinion of Palin, when they in fact should be charmed by the fact that her stated foreign policy qualification include being able to see Russia from Alaska's shore, or the fact that she cannot name a single newspaper or article that contributed to her foreign policy views. But those, according to Sowell and to the authors of Republican talking points, are "gotcha" questions. Is Sowell's assessment disingenuous? Yessireebob, you betcha!

Sowell concludes his fantasy-land, ad-hominem laden opinion piece with the following, enlightening paragraph:
Whatever the shortcomings of John McCain and Sarah Palin, [...] they have not spent decades working with people who hate America.

Aside from McCain's own association with G. Gordon Liddy and Palin's support for the Alaska Independence Party, the trouble is that lately both Republican candidates and their campaign have spent a lot of time instilling hostility and even hatred for Americans whose ideas differ from theirs.

I will leave it to Sowell to explain how that is not graver than the trumped-up charges he offers against Obama.

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