Wednesday, September 22, 2004
There are two pieces in the NYT that need responding to. The first is from the purportedly liberal Nicholas Kristoff. He appropriately criticizes the campaign for being too negative, but then in typical media fashion decides to spread the blame around. Sure, he says, the Republicans are naughty, and they should stop it. But so should Michael Moore. And Kerry should stop "demagoguing on trade." There are a number of major flaws in Kristoff's reasoning. First of all, most of the attacks against Bush happen to be true, while nearly all of the attacks on Kerry happen to be false. This is not a matter of personal opinion or partisanship. You can say that harping on Bush's National Guard Service is a cheap shot, but it is scarcely commensurable with the blatant fabrications of the Swift Boat Vets. But this is the mainstream media, and they really aren't interested in facts anymore.
Secondly, there is a difference between Michael Moore, a marginal figure in the Democratic Party (I believe he supported Nader last time), and the ENTIRE REPUBLICAN PARTY. The RNC in NY was an orchestrated attack on Kerry, whereas Bush was mentioned only indirectly at the DNC, and then usually on policy grounds. The Republican National Convention was one big festival of lies and personal attacks. Once again, Kristoff is equating incommensurables.
Thirdly, on this "demagoguery" on free trade. This is the typical media elite belief that there is only one intellectually respectable side to trade questions (but look at this). Like immigration, it is very difficult for the opposing side to even get a hearing in the public forum. This is particularly frustrating for me because on both issues I remain ambivalent. I have never been able to reach a conclusion on the matter in part because there is little honest public debate about it- anyone who criticizes what I find to be the suspicious arguments of the elite view tends to be dismissed as a demagogue or barbarian. While it is true that there are few jobs that have been LOST to outsourcing, it is also true (though seldom mentioned) that most of the NEW jobs being created by U.S. companies are being created overseas. Hence our jobless recovery. But this opinion clashes with the dominant elite view, so it is dimissed. As usual, the concerns of the unwashed masses are ignored. (Am I shrill today or what?)
Enough on Kristoff. The other matter we should be aware of is the proposed reduction in public housing funds (see here). The cuts are targetted to the northeast, and particularly New York. This is just appalling. New York housing prices are absurd, as are the assumptions behind the proposed cuts. What is most ridiculous is that the Republicans, who have barely left town, are once again sticking it to New York, and to a region of the country dominated by Democrats. Apparently Republicans are all for welfare, as long as it is red state welfare financed by the blues. I have yet to find a counter-example among Democrats: they never shift the burden onto red states to the benefit of blue. Those people really are shameless.