Sunday, September 24, 2006

Richards vs. Keenan

I watched the Butte debate between Burns and Tester this a.m., and I came out wishing that Bob Keenan and Paul Richards had been slugging it out instead. Keenan, at least, would have given us honest talk about the government's pitiful record on deficit spending, and Richards would have made sense about Iraq.

Instead we get Burns hypothesizing that we will grow our way out of the deficit, just the way Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan did it. Except, of course, that what Kennedy and Reagan did didn't work. Tax cuts were followed by revenue increases, to be sure, but that didn't stop deficits from growing. Now, with a wildly expensive war going on, we get deficits piled upon deficits, with no end in sight.

And from Tester we get - what exactly? - about Iraq. I don't hear him flip-flopping, the way Republicans claim they do. I just don't hear any clear position at all. Richards would have pointed out that, if in fact the war in Iraq is leading to more terrorism, not less, then "stay the course" is not only expensive and impractical, it's downright stupid. We need a change of course, and fast. Creating the first pro-torture presidential administration in U.S. history isn't going to get the job done.

So we get a lame, watered-down debate, a greatest-hits edition of sound bites and conventional wisdom. I'm holding out for Keenan-Richards.

UPDATE: Interesting comments below about the merits of staying and leaving Iraq. This month's Harper's magazine has a plan by George McGovern and William R. Polk on how to get out of the war. I'm not expert enough to judge the merits of the plan, but what strikes me is that it is at least a plan. Why can't we get a plan from our own government? All we get are "stay the course" and "cut and run," neither of which makes any sense. Everybody knows we have to leave Iraq sometime -- my grandkids may have to fight there, but their grandkids won't -- so why not plan for it? And why not have that discussion in a public forum among representatives chosen by the people to stand up for our interests -- say, Congress, for example?

17 comments:

Steve T. said...

Best debate review I've seen.

But then again, I am a cynic.

MontanaJen said...

hmmm - well, hopefully one day there will be a couple of candidates that fulfulls your inflated need for entertainment fed by television affiliate scriptwriters, but for now you'll have to suffer through the 'boring' debate on issues between a corrupt incumbent and a straight talker who is more concerned about what's good for America than spitting out quotable quips in ten words or less on how to fix the world.

Anonymous said...

Must be a slow day there at the Outterpost! Pretty stupid comments I'd say. I would suggest that with just a wee bit of effort, one could ascertain Tester's position on Iraq. But debates now days are NOT designed for indepth analysis of issues. I wonder, what makes you even think that they are?

LK

David said...

Mtjen,
I would love to sit through a in-depth debate on issues. Geez, that would be a pleasure. Never happen, though.

LK,
OK, smart guy, so what is his position on Iraq? To get out "as soon as possible"? Not a living soul opposes that, depending on what you mean by "possible."

DMerriman said...

While I wouldn't describe either of them as a 'statesman', I was considerably less than impressed with Conrad. That, coupled with his rather doubious ads going after Tester, has me to the point that short of Tester killing somebody with an axe between now and the election, he's going to get my vote.
I'm not a 'party' voter, either --- what matters to me is where the candidates stand on issues, and I figure Tester has Conrad on that count, too.

Eric said...

David, even though I'll be accused of parroting GOP talking points, I think you're position on the war in Iraq is wrong.

I don't think you acknowledge just how serious the war on terror is.

There is a part of the Muslim world, that I call fanatic, who have one goal, which is to destroy all western civilization.

I'm truly curious as to where you think we should oppose these terrorists. Here? Or in their own land?

Or do you think that if we leave the middle East, and let Israel bomb Syria that we'll be safe?

Do you think we should go back to the Clinton-era where he was afraid to go after the terrorists just because he loathed the military?

Ed Kemmick said...

Eric: You're not just parroting GOP talking points, you're going beyond them. Clinton didn't go after terrorists because he loathed the military? If you're just inventing that idea to rile people up, it tells me you're not serious. If you really believe it, how could any reasonable person attempt to respond?

David said...

Eric,
I opposed the war in Iraq precisely because I think the war on terror is a serious matter. Saddam just wasn't a significant part of it. Bin Laden's vision of a just world included Saddam no more than it included Bush. Saddam was a secular dictator, almost universally distrusted and reviled, with no long-term interests but his own.

I think we have to oppose terrorists where they are -- in hundreds of back rooms and cubbyholes, in tiny cells of small-time operators nursing grandiose plans. Fighting them on their own ground isn't as exciting as invading an irrelevant country, but I don't see any other way to get them.

Assuming that we could simply throw down flypaper in Iraq and expect terrorists to blindly adhere to it never made any sense. It would work only if terrorists were as dumb as flies. Turns out they aren't.

Eric said...

Ed, I can't get in Clintons head, so I can only guess.

I truly believe that Clintons inaction only encouraged terrorists to keep attacking us. And they did.

David, you forget that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism.

It was the 14 UN resolutions that Hussein ignored, and the way he manipulated weapons inspectors, and convinced the world that he had WMD's and that he was willing to use them. He had already proved he was capable of aggression, and there was no reason to doubt him.

The same critics of the war today, like John Kerry, Hillary Clinton, and the rest of them all believed Hussein too. If you'd like I can post up what they were saying in 2002.

Lastly, do you think we would be safer today, or that the world would be better off if President Bush had followed Clintons example and done nothing?

David said...

Come on, Eric, do you think a single soul in this country cares about U.N. resolutions? Even the U.N. doesn't care about U.N. resolutions. Those resolutions had nothing to do with this war.

Saddam attempted two acts of aggression outside his borders: against Iran (with our quiet support) and against Kuwait. He got his butt kicked both times. From '91 on, his military power did nothing but decline. Mexico is more dangerous to us.

As for WMD, yes, a lot of people thought he had them. And, as you may recall, UN inspectors were in Iraq looking for them when Bush decided to go to war. The inspectors didn't find them, and neither did we. When the inspectors were ordered out was when I decided this war was foolish and irresponsible.

Your final question is an interesting one: Would we be better off with a president who did nothing or one who did the wrong thing? It's a tough call, but I choose the former. Better to keep the president out of the whole question and let the cops handle it than to muck around in pointless wars.

Ed Kemmick said...

Eric, you're not making sense. First you support the war in Iraq because we have to fight the terrorists "in their own land." Then you state categorically that the war in Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism. Did I miss something

Eric said...

Ed there's still confusion between the war on terror and the war in Iraq.

David was talking about the war in Iraq, so I reminded him why we are there.

And David, exactly what 'cops' would you have go after the terror groups? Saddam Hussein maybe? The Taliban?

dekwkg said...

War in Iraq was not about terrorism. Any thinking person now knows that there was no connection between Saddam and terrorism. Of course, there is now a connection between terrorism and Iraq. Even the Repub leaders know we are in a bind--that is why you don't see their children and grandchildren volunteering to go Iraq. Geez, what a mess--and it has only cost us $318 billion so far, according to Burns' office.

billings resident said...

9/11 set off what I thought was a huge man hunt--get Bin Laden. Instead, all we have gotten is Afghanistan (which is slipping away--back to the Taliban and a dang fine crop of poppies for heroin) and Iraq in which we are trying to prop up a government at the costs of $200 million per day. Eventually, it will split into the kurds, sunnis and shiites. Democracy as we view it will be long gone. Geez, what a mess.

Anonymous said...

Here's what I'D like to see. Fairness. That's all. Just simple fairness. Everyone (including Dave apparently) buys into the notion that somehow, somewhere, Tester must justify his idea to leave Iraq. In other words, Tester is, to quote the Rethug camp, all in favor of a "cut and run" policy. Well, cut and run sounds pretty damn good to Burns' policy of "stay and win"! Why isn't Connie's idea of stay and win being given the scrutiny of cut and run?! Come ON, fellas! Let's hold Burns accountable here! If Tester must show a timetable for withdrawl, why shouldn't Burns be forced to show a timetable for stay and win?! THAT, my friends, is the question! Someone needs to corner Burns and NOT let him escape with senseless platitudes about freedom. PEOPLE ARE DYING OUT THERE! And we OWE and explanation to the dead! Just WHY are they dying for stay and win? SPECIFICALLY AND IN GREAT DETAIL! Hold this buffoon accountable. It's not being done. All eyes are on Tester and cut and run. That's flat wrong. Make BURNS explain stay and win, since the costs of his ideas are much greater.

LK

Mark T said...

Amazing how bought in y'all are. Even the cynical newspapermen are parroting the Administratiion lines. Seems we are there for whatever the current reason they give us is. They wouldn't lie to us, would they?

What if we went there for oil, have built 14 bases to keep ourselves there, have no plan to leave becuase we have no intention of leaving ... are putting on a facade of democracy but are ruling with iron fist behind the scenes ... what if, my dear wide-eyed idealist buddies - what if, gasp, they lie. They lie! And then you believe! That's the two-step method of reporting in this country.

Chuck Rightmire said...

I tried to post this the other day, but it didn't take. Don't know what I did wrong. Anyway, I'll say again as I have said since 2001, the Afghanistan adventure was right and done wrong, the Baghdad adventure was wrong and done wrong. In Afghanistan we should have had a quick strike and taken out the terrorist training camps and then gotten out. We should never have been in Iraq as it had no WMD and had not, apparently, violated the UN resolutions. Hussain kept saying he had none and the UN couldn't find any. Anyway, if he violated the UN resolutions the UN should have acted if they wanted the institution to mean anything. Our actions just demeaned the UN, which may be what the emperor in DC wanted all along. Now we are studying an all-out bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities, which experts cited by The Week say will happen if Iran doesn't crumble on nuclear development in about a year and certainly before Baby Bush leaves office. And we now face a certain a-test in Korea. Wonder if the Korean leader will use Seoul as his test site? In the meantime, we need a senator who will quit groveling before Bush and stand up for our protections, including an end to the Patriot Act. It makes me feel even less safe than our so called war on the criminals called terrorists.