John Edwards: miracle healer?
In a fit of hyperbole, John Edwards said last week that if he and Kerry win the election, "people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again." Oh really? In the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer (who is wheelchair-bound) wrote,
In my 25 years in Washington, I have never seen a more loathsome display of demagoguery. Hope is good. False hope is bad. Deliberately, for personal gain, raising false hope in the catastrophically afflicted is despicable.
Mr. Reeve was a great inspiration for disabled people, but the tragedy of his horse-riding accident was compounded when his life ended up being exploited for political purposes. I'll never forget his dramatic appearance at the 1996 Democratic convention, which laid the sentimental groundwork for Bill Clinton's reelection triumph against the sensible but dour Senator Dole. Reeve asked what was meant by all this talk of "family values," and said, "I think it means we are all family. And we all have value." Like Plato (in his Republic) and like the 19th Century Socialist utopians, he saw no harm in seeking to forge a mass-scale community of sharing and equality. Never mind that such a vision clashes so directly with our own political culture!
What about the sexual harrassment allegedly committed by Fox News commentator Bill O'Reilly? It's way too soon to know with any degree of confidence. Just because he fits the stereotype of a "mean-spirited Republican" does not mean he is necessarily guilty, and the same goes for Tom DeLay. As for the latter's troubles, I would hope one side-effect of the recent criticism of him would be to undermine the blatantly partisan redistricting schemes of the kind that he hatched in Texas. Can we hope to reverse the nationwide trend as exemplified by Colorado, Maryland, and Virginia? Both parties share guilt for this.
As a "public service," here are the links to the Web sites cited in last week's "Doonesbury" comic strips. Most of them aim to undermine President Bush's credentials as a conservative. Some of them are up front, making points that I think have validity, while others have a certain aroma of disingenuity, like the "seminar callers" that Rush Limbaugh complains about. To me, the grievances stem from the fundamental liberal-conservative conundrum associated with war that Bruce Porter (1994) called attention to. Even if Garry Trudeau doesn't buy the conservative premises to begin with, thus casting doubt on the sincerity of this bit of campaigning, they are worth reading for open-minded people.
- Monday 10/11/04: theunionleader.com (John Eisenhower)
- Tuesday 10/12/04: poynter.org (dead link?)
- Wednesday 10/13/04: salon.com (Doug Bandow)
- Thursday 10/14/04: journalstar.com (Rep. Doug Bereuter, R-NE)
- Friday 10/15/2004: iconoclast-texas.com
- Saturday 10/16/2004: washingtonpost.com (George Will, last year)