Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Attacking the Messengers

As Peter points out, E.J. Dionne is not exactly helping raise the level of discourse in Washington. Abortion is not the only issue at hand. He just seems to brook no criticism of the Obama administration whatsoever. He declares:

In a remarkably partisan op-ed in The Post last Thursday, Marc A. Thiessen, who was a speechwriter for former president George W. Bush, declared flatly: “If Obama weakens any of the defenses Bush put in place and terrorists strike our country again, Americans will hold Obama responsible — and the Democratic Party could find itself unelectable for a generation.”

This is dangerous, both substantively and politically, and it suggests that some of Bush’s loyalists will continue to politicize issues related to terrorism in their efforts to vindicate the former president’s legacy.

Why is this “dangerous”? It seems a rather pedestrian statement of political reality. If the Obama team removes structures or changes policies that have kept Americans safe there will be a terrible price to pay. If FISA is amended and a terrorist communication is missed, resulting in American deaths, won’t politicians of both parties be looking for someone to blame? Should a released Guantanamo prisoner mastermind an attack on American soil there will be an outcry. Indeed, that is why many don’t expect the Obama team to really change much at all. The risks are too great.

But Dionne doesn’t stop at national security. He ignores the observations of many observers (including his own editors, who noted that the stimulus plan is filled with non-stimulative, spending junk) and attacks Rep. Jeb Hansarling (R-Tex) who makes this very same, rather obvious point. Dionne doesn’t much care that, from the Post’s editorial board to John McCain, many people are disturbed by the level of pork and the increased long-term spending commitments entailed in a bill supposedly designed to help jump-start the economy. But Dionne says Hansarling is just one of many Republicans placing “bets on the prospect that Obama’s policies will fail.” Perhaps they are raising well-founded policy objections and trying to ensure the bill actually adheres to its stated goal.

It seems odd that Dionne feels so compelled to race to the new administration’s rescue with such ferocity. Taking umbrage at the existence of criticism and attacking the critics’ motives suggest an unwillingness to engage arguments on their merits. Worse, it smacks of the same sort of intellectual contempt for political opponents of which Dionne often accused the Bush team of displaying. Perhaps we can get back to a respectful debate revolving around the merits of the proposed measures. But, then, it’s so much easier to attack the critics.


Join the discussion…

Are you a subscriber? Log in to comment »

Not a subscriber? Join the discussion today, subscribe to Commentary »





Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.