February 08, 2006

Means and Ends

from - RSA

In a column in The New Republic (which I subscribed to until their hawkish position on the Iraq war became clear), Steven Groopman writes,

In the years since September 11, many liberals seem to have concluded that you're not really opposing Bush's means unless you also scorn his stated ends. That's too bad. Liberals have no chance of winning the national security debate if they dismiss its premises. I think most liberals recognize this, but some are so disgusted with the current administration that they feel compelled to oppose--and to mock--anything with Bush's name on it.

But perhaps this is inevitable. Consider that in dealing with the opposition, Bush and his cronies often adopt a rhetorical strategy that can be summed up in two sentences:

If you support my ends, then you support my means.

and

If you oppose my means, then you oppose my ends.

As examples of the first case, we have almost every instance of Democrats being accused of hypocrisy: "How can you object to the way that the Iraq war is being carried out? You voted to give me the authority." Republican message: if you want a specific result, you must do things my way.

As an example of the second case, think about how Rove et al. are spinning the current NSA wiretapping scandal. If you want to force the President to get warrants, obviously you don't care about listening to terrorists' communications. This is just the latest example of this tactic. For an earlier example, John Kerry was pilloried in the last election as a flipflopper for voting against $87 billion to support U.S. troops in the current war; he'd voted for a version that repealed some of Bush's tax cuts to make it all affordable. The establishment of the Department of Homeland Security was yet another example. Republican message: if you don't like the way we're doing things, you don't care about the result.

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Posted by RSA at February 8, 2006 02:34 PM
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