Thursday, July 12, 2007

I Love Joel Stein

I think he's one of the funniest newspaper columnists out there, and in last Friday's column for the Los Angeles Times, he combined humor with a healthy dose of scathing political reality. Here's just a sample:

STOP BLAMING George Bush. "He lied to us." "He tricked us." Suddenly everyone — Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, all of my friends — is claiming to have been a dove who was bamboozled by the cleverness of our president. When "American Idol" drops to a 30% approval rating, I predict you all also will claim that Paula Abdul outsmarted you into watching two hours of karaoke each week.

Most Americans can't locate Britain on a map, but I'm supposed to believe that back in January of 2003, everyone became an honorary member of the Council on Foreign Relations and followed the details of reports of yellowcake from Niger? I don't think so. Even now, I'm pretty sure that if the Cheesecake Factory put "Yellowcake from Niger" on the menu, people would order it.

If Joel weren't already married, I might want to have 10,000 of his babies. I even got excited at the news that he was supposed to be co-teaching a workshop called "How to Give a Blowjob." But sadly, the stuffed shirts at the Times decreed that was not to be.

In all seriousness, this column got me thinking about whether I really ever want to support any presidential candidate — even someone who "apologized" — who voted to authorize the Iraq invasion. Any excusemaking in that regard is a big, steaming pile of bullshit — but an especially deadly, immoral, and repugnant pile.


Huntington said...

I disagree, but not strongly. I like to hope that if I were, say, a first-term senator from New York with what might be called a lot of leftist-seeming baggage and a substantial (but electorally vital) constituency that thought I was anti-Israel because I once smiled at Yasser Arafat's wife, I might have voted against the invasion, but maybe not. I'm inclined to give Hillary a pass on the vote, and I don't expect any more of a mea culpa than what we've gotten.

But I don't feel great about it, and won't be sorry if Obama gets the nomination. I think maybe it's time to move on and see what plans all the candidates have for getting us out of this horrendous mess.

Joe said...

I think the gist of this is that I would agree with Joel Stein in saying, "Don't give me any of this 'I was duped!' crap." Like you once said in a post to The American People: "You weren't SOLD a bill of goods, you BOUGHT a bill of goods with your eyes open."

I realize this isn't politically practical, but I'd rather hear Hillary or Edwards say, "You know, let me just say that voting for that invasion was a bad decision. Period."

Then, of course, we'd be treated to another campaign season of "you've got more waffles than a House of Pancakes," but at least it would feel less disingenuous to me, and I'm the only voter that matters, after all...

The Angry Young Man said...

I'm with Joe on this one. Until we start holding our politicians accountable for their actions nothing is ever going to change.

Huntington said...

OK, so it isn't politically practical, but you still want them to do it? Their only purpose is to get elected, and you can bet they've focus-grouped their answers to this question to within four significant figures.

I'm sorry, but I guess in this case, if it comes down to what you (or Stein, or I) would "like" to hear versus them saying whatever it takes to avoid a Giuliani or Romney or Brownback administration, then I'm afraid I have to choose the latter.

Salty Miss Jill said...

This is completely off-topic...but thanks for the link to your BCN photos, via Junk Thief. Fantastic! I was just there two weeks ago...and I agree with you...I'd move there in a heartbeat, too. :)

Love your blog! xoSMJ

Joe said...

versus them saying whatever it takes

So where do you draw the line about saying whatever it takes, if you do? Or will you just know it when you see it?

I haven't decided to withhold support of either Hillary or Edwards. I guess it's just that it finally took a piece of humor to make me deeply consider how stupid that whole congressional vote was... and even 'stupider' for people to just make excuses for it. I need to read the full text of Edwards's "apology," but I almost think a lack of comment (or did Hillary actually overtly "refuse to apologize"? see, I don't even know...) is almost better than trying to backpedal and claim one was "duped" by the Bush Administration's "convincing" argument.

And yes, the problem is now how to solve the situation we have at present. Past actions, though, cast doubt for me on what a candidate's future actions will be whenever faced with a "whatever it takes to...[fill in the blank]" situation.

Huntington said...

I guess I will know it when I see it. I was appalled by both senators' votes at the time, but a "yes" vote was common enough at the time that to banish from all future positive consideration anyone who cast one seems counterproductive.

Doubt will be constant when dealing with something as huge as the presidency. One of Obama's pluses seems to be his lack of a negative record, but that's only because he's been in the Senate for 2 1/2 years, and hasn't had time to do anything to sow doubts. Again, I'll be satisfied if he's the nominee, but I still think both Clinton and Edwards have better qualifications based on their records, with Hillary of course far in the lead.

copperred said...

It's so funny watching US politics play out from abroad. It's a bit disconcerting to see the local newspaper discussing fundraising in America, but amusing still.

This week is Almedalsveckan in Sweden, which is a week a year when all the politicians and parties discuss their policies and their plans, and it's not election season for three more years. I try to imagine what they would have said, had they joined the coalition, but to even think of them thinking about it is ridiculous.

Americans suffer the malady all large, populous, geographically spread nations do: they have little to no care, desire or knowledge of the outside world. The Germans are often a bit the same, at least compared to many smaller European countries. Unless the US either shrinks, or evens out its wealth disparities so more people leave the country, there won't be any change in things.

I don't know what to think of the current crop, but I do think people who voted for the resolution should quit quibbling with the "Well I didn't vote for THAT or THIS WAR", and just say "I made a mistake, I apologize and I live with that mistake every day."

The Angry Young Man said...

"Their only purpose is to get elected"

Are you even serious? Mebbe this is the problem, H. Mebbe they should worry less about getting elected and more about doing their god damned jobs. Now you know one of the biggest reasons why I HATE Nancy Pelosi. Fuck, mang, I'll RUN Screwless Sheehan's campaign! Anything to annoy La Pelosi! ANYTHING!!!

Huntington said...

AYM, sorry to burst your cherry, but that's how elective politics works in a winner-take-all system with campaigns financed with private money. Where do you think you're living?

The Angry Young Man said...

Huntington, you entirely miss the point behind elective politics. If the sole purpose is what you cynically suggest, then democracy is a complete and utter waste of time and should be quickly and efficiently tossed upon the ash heap. No point pretending that those governing us are doing so with our consent if in fact that simply not the case.

Huntington said...

That would be true if "elective politics" as its currently practiced in the U.S. (especially federally) and "democracy" bore any resemblance to one another. My point is that the system as it's currently constituted rewards - no, requires - constant fundraising, lowest-common-denominator rhetoric, and action calculated to please those with money. Some fairly simple and straightforward changes (that would be fought tooth-and-nail by those who got and hold on to power via the status quo) would go a long way to fixing things. You know as well as I do what those are. Democracy can be dandy (though it's only one leg of the three-legged stool of good government, as California's daffy initiative process shows), but what we've got now isn't democracy; it's compulsive solicitation to bribery.

Huntington said...

(By "compulsive," of course I mean "compulsory.")