Mike’s Prattle

Miscellaneous

Another example of Rovian nonsense

Posted by Mike on April 16, 2009

The latest editorial by Karl Rove in the Wall Street Journal is one of the better examples of just how inconsistent, misleading and insidious his writing is. I don’t want to reprint the article here, but I do want to address what I feel are the reasons why this article demonstrates how vague language can be used to completely mislead and reframe reality to the sheepherding of a movement.

Rove claims the Tea Party movement is significant, which we can take as his thesis sentence in the first paragraph, so I won’t yet wonder why we have to take his word for it, especially when it’s difficult to estimate the attendance of these events. The first misleading statement:

“Now Americans are reacting to runaway government spending that they were not told about before last year’s election, and which Americans are growing to resent.”

First of all, this statement confuses a general policy statement given during the campaign with the specifics and execution of that policy statement in office. It assumes there is a level at which there is some sort of agreement on what “runaway” spending is, while ignoring the fact that Rove was part of an administration that turned a surplus into a massive deficit. To be in full support of the massive government spending of the last 8 years while decrying it during the first few months is partisanship and no more. Were “Americans” told about the “runaway government spending” that would occur under the Bush administration? Where was the resentment over this? All I see is a concerted effort to whitewash and ignore these figures and to sidestep the fact that the supposed party against government spending supported the president with the highest amount of spending in decades.

And let’s talk about “Americans.” This is part of the constant effort of the right to make it look like the country is in lockstep with the Fox News and Rush Limbaugh-led fringe, despite the fact that the Obama administration approval numbers in just about every poll taken since the election have been in the 60 percentile range. By using this method of defining Americans in this way, you could just as well say Americans are criminals, or Americans are Christians, or Americans are polygamists or Americans are Scientologists. It’s a misleading use of the language because its purpose is to make it seem that the majority of Americans feel the way the author does, which is contradicted, again, by the poll numbers.

“Derided by elitists as phony, the tea-party movement is spontaneous, decentralized, frequently amateurish and sometimes shrill.”

What this sentence does is define beforehand that those who feel the tea-party movement is spontaneous, decentralized, frequently amateurish and sometimes shrill are elitists. It’s a method of demeaning and devaluing those who hold a negative opinion of these tea parties without at all taking into account any arguments for why the tea party may or may not be any of these things. It says, if you have a contrary opinion to this viewpoint you’re an elitist. It predefines a value without debating why it may be true. That is, if you’re not Christian, you’re not truly American, if you agree that the tax on the wealthy should be 39% rather than 36% than you’re quite clearly socialist, if you disagree with any of these things you’re not a patriot, the list goes on. These things might fly with those on the right but anyone with any sense is going to ask you to connect the dots. Exactly why is someone elitist for finding the tea parties any of those qualities? Rove doesn’t say and his readers and followers don’t question this. After all Fox News has been repeating these points over and over to the point where they become tenets of doctrine rather than hypotheses that must be proven with facts.

“The many tax and fee increases enacted or under consideration is angering voters.”

Sloppy. The many tax and fee increases enacted or under consideration are angering some voters. While Rove’s statement in itself isn’t necessarily incorrect, it presupposes that Rove is speaking for some sort of majority when polls continue to indicate that he’s really speaking of a minority, the same minority whose candidate lost in November.

“So far, Mr. Obama has decided to let the Bush tax cuts expire in 2011 and avoid forcing Democrats to take a tough vote. But the tea parties reveal how hard it will be for the president to hide the Democrats’ tax-and-spend tendencies from voters.”

This presupposes the idea that Democrats are actually trying to hide something. How exactly did the Democrats hide spending increases (notice that the word investment never pops up when the right talks spending) in a stimulus bill whose language is actually public? I remember right after the bill passed going through a list of what money was going to what program. Rove writes, with backdoor language, that Democrats are aiming for backdoor taxing and spending, all of which is in clear view. It’s the continual rewriting of the economic debate to continually declare as a tenet of doctrine that government spending (read: investment) can never have a positive effect on the US economy or capitalism.

Let’s just be honest here. Some economists think spending works, some think it doesn’t. That’s the facts. Aspirin doesn’t make everyone’s headaches go away, pest control doesn’t necessarily always kill every cockroach, and the sky during the day isn’t always cerulean, so how can one say that spending is always bad? We can’t. But again, Rove’s method is to overgeneralize, to make it seem to his audience that there’s a majority viewpoint in what he says, when little could be farther from the truth. Instead a conspiracy must be at foot, as the secret agenda of quickly turning the country into some sort of parody of communism, fascism, Naziism or whatever the latest fearmongering tactic of the Limbaughs and Becks of the day is now being revealed to you. It’s all meant to evoke the Antichrist, the flag of the USSR, and all those things the right fear. Anything anti-doctrine is the harbinger of doom.

“Mr. Obama plans to boost federal spending 25% while nearly tripling the national debt over 10 years. Americans know that this kind of spending will have economic consequences, including new taxes being imposed by the new progressives.”

Obama must have superpowers. In 3 months he’s already ensured that he’ll be continuing to damage the economy for two years after he could possibly even be in office. To me this is similar to evangelical reasoning which says that when good things happen to you it’s the blessing of God, but when bad things happen to you it’s because you’re a sinner. When the economy is bad it’s definitely the fault of a democract, but when it’s good, it’s because of something Reagan originally did or the delayed effects of a Bush policy. After all we don’t need to wait and see if Obama’s policies work because we’ve already predefined them as socialist or fascist which means even if they do work it’s preordained to be “unAmerican.” And I don’t even have to go into the plans of Obama to actually cut the deficit by a certain point.

“It hasn’t gotten a ton of attention, but people are fed up with the complexity of their tax code and ready to do something about it.”

Didn’t Obama actually mention the same thing, like YESTERDAY? Could Rove even give him the credit of saying such a thing?

“The 2009 Tax Foundation survey…”

Read: surveys that support a viewpoint I hold are fair game, but those, like the ones that show great support for the Obama administration, can just be duly ignored. That’s the issue with polls though, you can pretty much pick and choose not only the polls you want to use but the data within the polls. It can be true for instance that in a poll for what taxes people want are going to show a low number at the same time that a poll showing the approval of a president who wants to raise taxes and spend money can be high. One does not predispose the other. 

“But to tap into that constituency Republicans will have to link lower taxes to money in voters’ pockets, and economic growth and jobs. They must explain why the GOP approach will lead to greater prosperity. Such arguments are not self-executing. They require leaders to make them, time and again, as Reagan once did.”

More importantly than linking an idea with approach is linking an approach with reality. A 3% tax cut for the wealthy did not trickle down and lead to  greater prosperity for the middle and lower classes over the last eight years. Surely there were other factors involved but that’s just the problem with stating economic ideas as doctrine. A trickle down theory can not operate outside of a box, it has to operate in tandem with a multitude of factors that all influence each other. This, it would seem, would lead to the idea that sometimes different approaches work and sometimes they don’t. The problem is that some of these different approaches are now being demonized by the right as “the other.” That is, if your approach adjusts a tax bracket, we hop all the way along the spectrum to the extreme side and start calling people names like “socialist” and “fascist.” If moving the tax bracket three percent during the Clinton years did not lead to the New Socialist Republic of the United States then, why would it do so now? Why isn’t the 36% tax bracked for the wealthy ALREADY socialist?

My memory isn’t that short. Clinton left with a surplus. Bush with a deficit. That only got there from spending. For a man who was literally part of this spending to be trying to hawk this bullshit about spending being a bad thing is truly hypocrisy of the highest order. That he’s still demeaning the English language and bending the facts on WSJ, Fox News and elsewhere while Bush has virtually been exiled by those who want to quickly forget who got us into this mess is a blight on the thinking human being who would add this man to the list of true believers, idealists and conmen of the past who think that might means right and that a statement of doctrine is somehow magically a fact.

“But political movements are often a reaction against aggressive overreach by those in power. “

These tea parties are somehow significant, but the election of Obama on the heels of an administration who practically defined “aggressive overreach by those in power?” is what, a footnote?

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