Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Prager on Not Voting for Kerry

Town Hall can always be counted on to provide the latest in cartoon right-wing commentary. And one of the very worst in a very bad lot is Dennis Prager. It is not just that his arguments are consistently shallow, poorly-reasoned, and mostly fact-free. After all, the ability to make such arguments with a straight face is a required credential for Town Hall columnists. What distinguishes Prager is that he fancies himself quite the intellectual.

Here's his latest column, in which he explains to his readers why he will not be voting for John Kerry. He offers five reasons. We consider them in order:

1. John Kerry was described by Lynne Cheney as “not a good man” after Kerry used the Cheney daughter's sexual orientation to score political points. She may be right. As William Safire writes, “The sleazier purpose of the Kerry-Edwards spotlight on Mary Cheney is to confuse and dismay Bush supporters who believe that same-sex marriage is wrong, to suggest that Bush is as 'soft on same-sex' as Kerry is, and thereby to reduce a Bush core constituency's eagerness to go to the polls.” Even the press, Safire notes, has respected Mary Cheney's right to privacy.

The number one reason on his list is Kerry's reference to Mary Cheney! First,it should be noted that Kerry said nothing negative about Mary Cheney. Recall that Kerry's remark came in response to a question about whether homosexuality was a choice. Bush said he didn't know. It was obvious from Bush's response that he considers homosexuals to be some sort of metaphysical abstraction. No one who has ever known a gay person would hesitate for a second to say that of course it's not a choice. So Kerry tried to put a human face on the issue by pointing out that the daughter of his vice-president was gay. Kerry, as he often does, expressed himself awkwardly. But the insinuation that Kerry had some sinister motive for bringing it up is nothing more than a desperate Republican smear to distract attention from Bush's dismal debate performances.

We should also point out that on several occasions the Cheneys themselves have talked publicly about their daughter's homosexuality. Add to that the fact that Mary Cheney is very much out of the closet, and the fact that when Republican senate candidate Alan Keyes referred to Mary Cheney as a &lduqo;selfish hedonist”, we heard nary a peep from the Cheneys.

As for Safire, apparently he thinks that there is a large contingent of ignorant bigots in the Republican base who will become “confused and dismayed” by learning that the vice-president has a gay daughter. Like maybe Bush can't really support an anti-gay marriage amendment since, after all, he chose a vice-president who has a gay daughter. Apparently I have a higher opinion of the typical Republican than Safire does.

2. John Edwards, Kerry's choice as his running mate, is a trial lawyer who has made a fortune suing hospitals. Like many in his profession, he has made America a worse country. However, even more of his character was revealed when he said after the death of Christopher Reeve, “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.”

Reason number two is something Kerry's running-mate said! The idea of a rabidly right-wing radio talk-show host criticizing members of another porfession for hurting the country is a bit rich. It's especially rich when you consider that for every frivolous lawsuit that somehow manages to find its way into a courtroom, there are about a dozen in which people who were injured as the result of corporate negligence get some measure of justice.

And does anyone really believe that Prager's statement about Edwards getting rich by suing hospitals is based on a careful analysis of the merits of Edwards' trials? Or do you think maybe he's just repeating an RNC talking-point?

Edwards' statement about people walking out of their wheelchairs is certainly excessive, but a political campaign is hardly the time for subtlety. (After all, every time Kerry has tried to say something slightly nuanced he's been pilloried and ridiculed for it.) Edwards' statement is far less outrageous than the sort of bald-faced lies Bush and Cheney have been willing to engage in: like the idea that Kerry is proposing a government take-over of health-care or that Saddam Hussein had some connection to 9/11.

3. Normally even partisan observers of elections say nothing about the wives of presidential candidates. Aside from propriety -- the families of candidates should remain off-limits to political attacks -- every wife of every presidential candidate and of every president in living memory has been an asset to the country. It brings me no joy to say that Teresa Heinz Kerry is not worthy of being the first lady of the United States of America. From her public utterances -- such as young American men and women dying in Iraq because of American “greed for oil” -- and her many years of financial support for radical groups, it is clear to me and many others that this woman does not particularly care for this country. Her primary identity is that of world citizen, and her values are those of France and anti-American Europe.

Come on, this is just getting pathetic. This obviously doesn't merit any response, except to point out Prager's conflation of criticizing the war in Iraq with not particularly caring for this country.

4. John Kerry represents the Party of Michael Moore. This America-hating Marxist was given a place of honor at the Democratic Party Convention in Boston, seated next to Jimmy Carter, a former Democratic president who said that Moore's Goebbels-like propaganda film “Fahrenheit 9/11” was one of his two favorite films.

It has been wisely said that when you are confronted with someone who likens his opponents to Nazis you know you are dealing with a crank. Leaving aside the considerable merits of Moore's film (is it permissable in Prager's world to think that Moore made a lot of valid points in his film, but also overplayed his hand at times?), saying that Kerry represents the party of Michael Moore is meaningless partisan hackery.

The fact is that Moore voted for Nader in 2000 and was very hostile to the Democrats then. He's only supporting Kerry this time around out of revulsion for Bush, not out of any great love for Kerry. How does Kerry's supposed allegiance to Michael Moore translate into specific policy positions?

The fact is that Prager is not interested in making a reasoned argument for anything. He cares only about throwing around empty talking points and right-wing buzzwords.

5. A vote for John Kerry is a vote for Michael Moore, the ACLU, Ted Kennedy, trial lawyers, George Soros, the leftist academics who morally confuse generations of young Americans, and for Dan Rather, CBS News, and nearly the entire news complex that daily presents a proctologist's view of America. A vote for John Kerry is a vote for Jesse Jackson, whom Kerry has named a top adviser; and for Al Sharpton, with whom Kerry campaigns; for Sean Penn and his Hollywood world; and for the passionately pro-Kerry MTV, the greatest destroyer of young people's minds and souls in American history. And a vote for John Kerry is a vote for the countries that have abandoned us and against the countries that are helping us.

See previous point.

This is what passes for sensible commentary from the right. The Town Hall website is maintained by The Heritage Foundation, which is a perfectly mainstream group among conservatives. The columnists represented there are not wingnuts reviled by the more sensible members of the Republican party. They are the mainstream of the Republican party.


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