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Category: Politics

Andrew Sullivan has a couple

Andrew Sullivan has a couple of entries in the last few days discussing a NYT piece on Colin Powell. Doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Does Powell disagree with Bush a lot? Yes, obviously. Is Powell well-liked? Yes. Is the article slanted? Oh, sure.

But really. When I read “a Republican administration supposedly eager to demonstrate its commitment to compassionate conservatism,” it is fairly obvious to me that the author, Todd Purdum, is implying that the administration is not actually eager to commit to compassionate conservatism — they just want to look like they are. Powell (Purdum thinks) symbolizes compassionate conservatism, and thus his presence in the administration indicates a committment which isn’t actually there.

That belief may or may not be valid, but the meaning of the sentence is far clearer than the accuracy of its suppositions. Despite this, Sullivan asks, “So is Todd Purdum saying that the administration doesn’t even want to appear to be eager to be seen as compassionately conservative?” I can’t figure out that reading. It literally makes no sense to me. No, you dork; he’s saying that the administration wants to appear eager while not actually being eager.

On third read-through, I see the problem. Sullivan read the original text, and mentally inserted the word “appear” in there somewhere. Then he pretended that “supposedly” modified “appear,” instead of “demonstrate.” Nice work if you can get it.

So, what’s Powell done to deserve all this wrath? Been praised by liberals? Horrors. The ideological divide persists partially because commentators on both sides make a nice living off it; there is war because who can imagine any other way of life? And once again attention to more substantitive issues than the choice between an elephant and a donkey is directed elsewhere.

Operation TIPS Cruises Onward

So this I just don’t get. Say you’re John Ashcroft, and you come up with a plan to do such and such. You properly sponsor a bill to allow the appropriate federal department to carry out that plan (among other plans; it’s a big bill). The House takes a look at the legislation and modifies the portion of it dealing with your clever plan. They feel you should not carry out your plan.

Is it not wrong to say “Well, they didn’t understand us, we’re going to go ahead with it anyhow.”? I mean, this is the checks and balances thing, here. The legislative branch does get to say “We don’t think that’s a good idea.” It’s sort of how the entire system works.

The trend I see — and note that I’m not calling these guys evil — is an imperial Presidency; they appear to feel that they are trustworthy people who should be given the power to do what’s right for us. I firmly believe that Bush and Ashcroft are trying to do what’s right for us in their minds. I suspect they just don’t get that some people don’t trust them.

When you think of it that way, it makes more sense. Sure, some of these bills would permit horrendous abuses of power. But Bush knows he wouldn’t ever abuse the power, so what’s the worry? I think it’s crippling to assume that Bush’s goal is to abuse power; it hampers communication. He’d probably do some of the things I consider abusive, but in many cases the things that strike me as abusive might well strike him as abusive as well. Mostly he seems to want freedom to do what he wants without pesky oversight.

Doesn’t make me any happier about a lot of the legislation he’s proposed, though.