Tuesday, August 14, 2012
As someone who is still a Democrat (though virulently opposed to the party’s radical pro-abortion agenda) I found the following heartening. See the video in the link here. In it, Erskine Bowles, former White House Chief of Staff under President Clinton, and co-chair of President Obama’s Nation Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, praises Paul Ryan:
“I’m telling you this guy is amazing. I always thought I was o.k. with arithmetic. I’m telling you this guy can run circles around me. He is honest. He is straightforward. He is sincere. And the budget he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget and it cut the budget deficit just like we did by $4 trillion.”
The link also provides some of the text of an op-ed piece in the Washington Post in which Mr. Bowles criticizes both Mr. Romney and Mr. Obama for their respective approaches to addressing the nation’s debt crisis through tax and spending policies – Romney for not closing tax loopholes, Obama for not reducing healthcare spending. The entire op-ed is available here.
The tickets of the two parties are now set. By all means, let’s have a serious, adult conversation about the policies advanced by the two sets of candidates. Bowles has showed us how to begin that conversation. This does not mean that any candidate should be somehow immune from criticism. In a society that values freedom of expression how could it be?!
But it does mean that we not demonize candidates, no matter how strongly we disagree with them, and that the criticisms we offer be based on facts. Bowles' example contrasts sharply with that of other Democrats, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz who in “not minc[ing] words” claims that Ryan “would be a nightmare for the middle class” and that he supports legislation that would “ban birth control” (here), and Vice President Joe Biden who in commenting on Romney and Ryan’s approach to banking regulation told a crowd in Danville, Virginia (a town that is 49% African-American) that “They’re gonna put y’all back in chains!” (here at 32:19).
Rep. Schultz and V.P. Biden are of course adults, so maybe the distinction shouldn’t be put in terms of “grown-ups” and “children” since it runs the danger of perpetuating the very discourse we seek to avoid. Perhaps the distinction to draw is one between citizens who have a sincere party affiliation but who wish to engage others in good faith, and those who are hopelessly partisan. The former are most welcome at MOJ. There are plenty of other blogs for the latter.