Kerry or Bush? The Good Arguments and the Stupid

My old friend Steve Chapman has written a strong case in the Chicago Tribune (requires annoying but simple registration) for casting a vote against George Bush, which is to say, a vote for John Kerry.

Another friend, Dan Griswold, made the case for a reluctant vote for Bush in southern California’s Orange County Register. Both Dan and Steve have been editorial writers for papers, so they know how to marshall their evidence.

This is such a hard election for many of us. I’d be happy to fire Bush, but I’m not pleased about hiring Kerry. The question is, which one would be worse?

Then there’s the other kind of “argument,” the authentically stupid kind that barely qualifies as an argument at all. A good example is from yesterday’s edition of the Guardian, a British paper that expressed openly what a lot of anti-Bush voters (not Steve Chapman, mind you) think, which is that people with whom you disagree should be killed. Since you’re likely to be investigated if you’re in the U.S. and you call for assassinating the president, the Guardian, being located in the U.K., happily took the assignment. Their most recent foray into American politics (before calling for killing the U.S. president) was organizing a letter-writing campaign from left-wing Britons to Ohio registered voters. Since the Guardian editors seem to have been a bit embarrassed by the attention to their call for assassinating George Bush, they’ve pulled it from their web site. I read it before they deleted it, so just so everyone will know what they really think, here it is:

8 Responses to “Kerry or Bush? The Good Arguments and the Stupid”

  1. I was absolutely astonished when I read this. I am a big fan of the Financial Times and the Economist (two, avowedly, conservative publications), and it is discouraging to see a paper of some prestige publish such a disreputable and base editorial. The author has defended it as “humor” but the author is just a disgusting bug no more mindful of sensitivities than the utterly despicable cartoonist Ted Rall.

    I wish the Brits would rise up against such rubbish–particularly as I have fewed Brittons so favorably my entire life; but the increasing reports of anti-American hostilities coming from the Americans living in London and elsewhere leads me to wonder whether more of the folks across the pond don’t feel precisely as this columnist does.

  2. I agree with you that this guy is an idiot and irresponsible.

    Still, I wonder how we can be so self-assured in our criticism when so many of us found no problem with effigies of Hans Blix being eaten by sharks, Michael Moore as a mass murdering suicide bomber and various anti-war actors being pumped with lead and dying gruesome and bloody deaths. Is there really that much of a difference?

    I suspect many conservatives and libertarians wouldn’t have laughed so hard had Rush, Bush, and Coulter been depicted in similar ways.

    BTW, I write this as someone who generally enjoyed “Team America.”

  3. David,

    You make a good point. However, I think that “Team America” poses a completely different setting than The Guardian. I have been laughing at celebrity spoofs–conservative and otherwise–on Saturday Night Live for years; and on South PArk viewers are often exposed to Gory ends.

    This is expected–as it is for The Onion,etc.–but, to echo John Stewart’s recent commentary on Crossfire, the second The Guardian starts looking to Trey PArker and Matt Stone for the standard for appropriateness in serious discourse, there is a major disconnect concerning the mediums those competing sources occupy. If Parker and Stone had made the tale realistic, or, in any way, serious, and had still advocated the deaths of Hans Blix, et al (rather than simply depicting those deaths–often in totally unrealistic ways), I think some limited parallels could be drawn.

    Otherwise, I would state simply, that serious newxs publications should NOT call for assassinations of world leaders because they do not like said leader.

  4. Tom G. Palmer

    David raises an interesting point, but I doubt that I would have had any problems with a puppet of Ann Coulter blowing herself up as a suicide bomber crusading to forcibly convert Muslims to Christianity, as she so famously advocated. Calling for an assassination of someone and portraying people blowing each other up in a parody featuring marionettes do seem different to me. Perhaps I should have mentioned (as I have elsewhere) that Ann Coulter is as loathesome as Michael Moore, perhaps a bit more so. And I might laugh at her puppet caricature being eaten alive by aquarium sucker fish along with Hans Blix, but I doubt that I’d find a newspaper column calling for her execution very amusing.

  5. R. Zigouya

    I really dont understand what the problem is. Forgive my “naivety” or left-wing views, but what this person said is true, no? If not, instead of criticizing the brits anti-bushism, just prove his argumenst wrong. However u want to portray the situation, he is an idiot; “do not misunderestimate me” and so on and so forth. Did you people not watch the debates? Am i the only one who thought he tended to repeat his same 3 or so arguments, and didnt really seem to answer the question 90% of the time…

  6. Tom G. Palmer

    To R. Zigouya,

    My problem was much less with the criticisms of Bush’s debating skills (which criticisms were rather over the top, nonetheless), but with his hope for Bush’s assassination.

    And, by the way, repeating your arguments clearly in ways that people can understand should not be understood as a mistake in debating. I was not impressed with Bush’s skills, but nonetheless….he won.

  7. Erm. Charlie Brooker writes a satirical column for the Tv Guide section of the Guardian, on a Saturday. He writes about tv shows, which – that particular week – happened to be the hugely entertaining US presidential debate (God, it was like chosing between a guy who would shit in your mouth, and a guy who would get his butler to shit in your mouth. The guy who would shit in your mouth won). He is not a political commentator. He writes, entirely, to be angry, and amusing. He generally always succeeds.

    The furore that this column has caused across the water, at least in the brains of comedy right-wing commentators, amuses me greatly.