Stories by Jay Gatsby

Jay Gatsby is the pseudonym of a writer resident in New York City.

Dems Running Against Bush, Again

August 5th, 2010 at 7:49 am 14 Comments

Greg Sargent recently wrote on The Washington Post’s “Plum Line” blog: “Democrats have lately been banging away harder than ever at the message that a vote for Republicans this fall is a vote for none other than George W. Bush.” Amazing—this new tack by the party in power could render 2010 the third straight election cycle in which Democrats run against George W. Bush. Yet it’s Republicans who are said to be bereft of ideas.

But maybe the real problem is that Democrats have too many ideas – unpopular ones?

So while Republicans are debating a rollout of a Contract with America style agenda in September, Democrats are now preparing for an idea-free attempt to tie their opposition to the Bush years.

President Obama himself recently said of Republicans at an Atlanta fundraiser, “(They) don’t have a single idea that’s different from George W. Bush’s ideas. Not one. Instead, they’re betting on amnesia.” Well which is it, Mr. President? Do Republicans lack for ideas, or are they too infatuated with ideas deemed inadequate? The Democratic leadership knows that a campaign vague on specifics can be a successful one. Their aim now is to characterize their opponent not as lacking for ideas, but as promulgating ideas more unpopular than their own. When it comes to their most recent electoral victories, Democrats certainly aren’t betting on amnesia. A campaign against President Bush has proven a strategy that works—but that doesn’t make it an idea.

Palin Repudiates Racism, Racially

July 15th, 2010 at 10:35 am 33 Comments

Responding – fairly – to the NAACP’s false charge of “racism” in the Tea Party movement, remedy Sarah Palin could not resist an extra jab at our “half black” president.

Full disclosure, I myself share our President’s racial makeup. I am biracial, though I must admit to preferring El Rushbo’s designation of “Halfrican-American”. I was present on the Capitol lawn on the weekend of the passage of Obamacare, a firsthand witness to this silent majority’s recent awakening (not as a participant, just as a coincidental visitor). Though predominantly white, the self-proclaimed tea partiers were also calm, measured, and unfailingly polite.

Media reports claim that the protest degenerated into despicable vitriol directed at Democratic lawmakers, and more specifically members of the Congressional Black Caucus. No video evidence exists of racial slurs being hurled at Congressman John Lewis, and some are skeptical that the incident happened as reported.  It should also be said that the House leadership’s marching of black lawmakers through the fray was an absurdly transparent ploy, a laughable contrivance befitting the equation of the healthcare legislation to the Civil Rights Act. Yet despite the display’s questionable motives, it was perhaps successful in eliciting deplorable sentiment from stray participants.

The resolution passed this weekend by the NAACP treads the same ground, only this time the yahoo lunging for the bait happens to be a former nominee for Vice-President. Appearing on Hannity, Sarah Palin called on President Obama to denounce the NAACP in the wake of its resolution. There’s no question that the organization’s current incarnation is a liberal cudgel. A recent Washington Post article described black voters’ ambivalence toward this year’s midterm elections, and surely the NAACP is looking to galvanize the bloc by casting “us versus them” battle lines. However, instead of holding forth on the intellectual merits of objecting to the President’s agenda, Sarah Palin has fallen into the trap of answering cries of racism, defending the honor of her ideological compatriots by impossibly trying to prove a negative.

New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote recently that politics is not about winning arguments, but about deciding which arguments to have. Fairly or not, the tea party and its sympathizers cannot win the racism argument when the lines of our political discourse cast themselves on one side, and the nation’s first black president on the other. That they seem susceptible to believing this is a winnable argument shows not that they are being out-argued, but that they are being outsmarted. Like Wile E. Coyote, they risk chasing the Road Runner off a cliff. Once they realize it and look down, they will inevitably fall.