Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Pretense of Fairness

Writing for New York Magazine, Jonathan Chait--who lives to point out mistakes by conservative thinkers--compares the upcoming Presidential contest to that of 2004, which involved George Bush and John Kerry. On the surface, he has a fair point, at least as far as Romney and Kerry go:
Incumbent president with middling approval ratings faces rich guy from Massachusetts with a reputation for flip-flopping.
Fair enough. Romney and Kerry are both rich and from Massachusetts. Of course, Romney made his fortune while Kerry married it. Romney has never served in DC; Kerry had been there--in office--for decades. But okay, they're still similar.

From there, Chait goes on to detail various other "items" that he believes have reversed themselves, when it comes to which side is doing what and which side is complaining about it. For instance, there's the campaigning the President is now doing at tax payer expense (though his staff insist he's not actually campaigning, wink-wink). There's been a little heat from the Right about that, even though in 2004 Bush was doing pretty much the same thing.

But then, Chait suggests that complaints from the Right about the "enemies list" on the President's website are also hypocritical. And why? Well, because George Soros was targeted by Republicans in 2004:
In 2004, Bush had put together a powerful fund-raising network, and Democrats were dependent on large donations from outside groups. Republicans attacked the Democratic donors. The donors felt it was outrageous they should be attacked. (Large donor George Soros: “I have been demonized by the Bush campaign.”) 
Now, of course, Republican billionaires are making huge donations, Democrats are attacking them, and the GOP billionaires and conservative pundits are waxing hysterical over the unfairness of the poor billionaires enduring public criticism.
He notes a few other things, and then concludes with the following:
It does seem that, at least so far, the Republican Party has a greater capacity than the Democrats to generate outrage over something they find perfectly fair when their side is doing the same or worse.
And with those words, Chait proves himself to be nothing but a partisan hack pretending to be fair, feigning an attempt at even-handedness. Why do I say that? Well, the names cited by the Obama website are not necessarily billionaires, at all. And even if some of them happen to be such, none of them are George Soros, a man who is hardly just a simple donor to campaigns. Soros has been an active and public participant in the political process for quite some time, since well before 2004. Yet, Chait would have us believe that he is no different than someone who is just raising money for a candidate they support, someone who was--until named by the Obama campaign--largely anonymous.

Hey, if Chait wants to compare attacks on Soros with attacks on, say, Donald Trump, great. Those are at least comparable. But suggesting that sliming Romney donors then tweeting out their names is qualitatively the same--or possibly worse--as criticizing the actions and policy positions of a major political figure like Soros is nonsense.

So what we really have here is a journalist who likes to pretend he's not in the tank for one side, who uses a deeply flawed analogy in place of actual evidence. In short, a tool.

Cheers, all.

No comments:

Post a Comment