Debate Odds and Ends

Two good things in Slate today. First, Saletan points out something that should have made every thinking American throw something at their TV: Bush's utter refusal to grapple with Kerry's "truth standard" line--that an American president must present credible evidence to the country and the world before going to war. He didn't try to pretend that the evidence was there or that it wasn't his fault, which would be its own can of worms, but agreeable on principle. He told the world, and the country, to go screw itself for asking for evidence. I know its hardball and the global test line was getting mileage and he wanted to punch it some more, but this is serious business, and he keeps saying it.

Two, Timothy Noah takes Bush to task for his Massachusetts-bashing. The lies and cynicism that allow a President of the United States to get away with trashing a state of the Union like this (imagine if Kerry started slamming Wyoming for using too much federal money) just goes to prove the strong geographic aspect of the sort of argument the argument Tom Frank is making in What's the Matter With Kansas? Namely, the skill of the GOP and the conservative movement at large in creating the mythical liberal beast that is the country's real problem. The long-form version of Bush's Massachusetts-slam goes "You know how they think. Condescendingly. You know what they like. Big government. And you know where they live. Massachusetts!"

The media, for their part, are so snowed by conservative claptrap that no one even thinks to ask whether it's out of line, or at least deeply and viciously divisive, to use an entire, diverse state full of people of many different political persuasions as a euphemism for what's wrong with the country. It's absurd, isn't it?


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