As much as I despise the Republican Party and believe that Democrats do a vastly better job of running the government, there is one area where I think the Republicans have it all over the Dems. They are much more convincing on television. When I see Republican politicians on the various political chat shows, I am usually left with little doubt as to where they stand. They speak confidently, and they make their points with a certian amount of forcefulness. The Democrats usually look surprised by whatever question they were just asked and fumble around for some wimpy, half-baked and often incoherent answer.

Of course, this partly represents a difference in character between Republicans and Democrats. The former speak with the confidence of fanatics. Republican politicians are usually people who simply do not care what others have to say, making it easier for them to make their case without fretting about contrary data. Democrats are by nature more open-minded and more willing to think seriously about the views of others. This often comes across as wishy-washiness on televsion.

That said, the Dems really must do a better job of making their case. A good place to start is this video of Hillary Clinton responding to a typical bit of rudeness from an ignorant right-wing mouth-breather. I have taken the liberty of transcribing everything below:

QUESTIONER: Senator Clinton, at a time when the world’s two biggest examples of socialized medicine — Britain and Canada — are moving away from the system, and the people who are in those countries from the lower economic rung, those systems hurt them most, why are you still insisting on moving that system in here, particularly when it will hurt Afircan-American communities more than anybody else?

CLINTON: Oh man, I can’t answer that in thirty seconds. That was a string of misrepresentations about me and the systems in other countries, so I’m going to have to get a little more time on that.

MODERATOR: If you can stay longer!

CLINTON: Number one, I have never advocated socialized medicine, and I hope all the journalists hear that loudly and clearly, because that has been a right-wing attack on me for fifteen years. And it is worng —

QUESTIONER: That’s what universal medicine is.

CLINTON: No, well do you think Medicare is socialized medicine?

QUESTIONER: (pause) To a degree it is.

CLINTON: Well, then you are in a small minority in America, because Medicare has literally saved the lives and saved the resources of countless generations of seniors in our country. And, you know, Medicare is a system that we fund through our paychecks, and yes the government pays the bills, but no governemtn tells you, no government bureaucrat tells you the doctor you have to go to or the hospital you have to go to, and I think you’d be hard-pressed to find very many Americans who wanted to do away with Medicare.

But what we have is a mixed system. We have about three hundred million people in our country and more than forty-five million don’t have insurance. We’ve got about a hundred million plus who are taken care of by Medicare, Medicaid, Veteran’s, Department of Defense, and then we have the rest who get some varying degree of insurance from their employers or they pay for it on themselves in some proportion. And no other country, advanced country, has so many of its citizens without health care, number one. Number two, the outcomes in countries like Canada, Britain, the rest of Europe, Japan, Australia, that have a uniform national system are better on balance than in this country. And I can give you the statistics and you can shake your head —

MODERATOR: We don’t have time for debate.

CLINTON: Well, gee, I love this —

MODERATOR: Sorry.

CLINTON: So why don’t you come talk to my staff, I’m sorry you didn’t say your name so I don’t know who you are. Come introduce yourself to my staff, and we will try to give you some information if you’re interested in being educated instead of being rhetorical.

Zing! If only Democrats always talked like that. It’s worth watching the video too to get the full force of the questioner’s confident rudeness, coupled with Clinton’s contemptuous mannerisms and facial expressions.

Comments

  1. #1 Jonathan Vause
    August 13, 2007

    Can’t say I’m too enthusiastic about it, but this is why the presidency is hers to lose.

  2. #2 Mike O'Risal
    August 13, 2007

    Hillary recently earned a bit of grudging respect from me on another issue near and dear to me, that being science. The full article is here, but my favorite quote was:

    “Scientists have been muzzled, information has been taken off of government-sponsored Web sites, the leaders of our country have dismissed scientific research and advancements,” Clinton said. “There has been a concerted effort against stem cell research, a campaign against evolution. I mean, it has been relentless.”

    Not that everyone doesn’t know this, but I’m glad to hear a politician actually say it out loud and off-script.

  3. #3 Joseph
    August 13, 2007

    If you ignore the irrelevant rhetorical flourishes — I’m sure every health care system ever devised has saved the lives and conserved the resources of some senior citizens — you’ll notice that Hillary Clinton largely conceeds her opponent’s points.

    The government taking money out of everyone’s paycheck and using it to pay for health care for some but not all is, by definition, socialist health care to a degree.

    Or notice her line “the outcomes in countries… that have a uniform national system are better on balance than in this country.” This is just another way of saying that uniform national systems have problems that are different than the problems in our current system.

  4. #4 jeffk
    August 14, 2007

    I’m waiting for the day when a politician can say, “is it ‘socialized’ medicine? I don’t particularly care if you want to call it that or not, the relevant question is “will it work better than our current system” and I believe that it will.”

  5. #5 Tyler DiPietro
    August 14, 2007

    “The government taking money out of everyone’s paycheck and using it to pay for health care for some but not all is, by definition, socialist health care to a degree.”

    And your point is…?

    Going by this ridiculously broad definition of “socialism”, our law enforcement apparatus is a “socialist” system. Unless your some kind of anarcho-capitalist, I can’t see why this is even relevant.

    Socialism is a system where the people collectively own their own means of production. A welfare state doesn’t count.

  6. #6 valhar2000
    August 14, 2007

    This is just another way of saying that uniform national systems have problems that are different than the problems in our current system.

    Yes, it is; only it’s not.

    She said that on average those systems are better than the american system. Better. BETTER. Better. Better. You see where I’m going with this?

    And, on the other hand, so what if something is “socialist”? That makes as little sense as arguing that something is “racist”, or “ageist”, or any other label you can slap on things. It is just a non-sequitur. Tell us, instead, what makes it ineffective, unfair, damaging, etc.

  7. #7 Joseph
    August 14, 2007

    I didn’t want to start a massive discussion about health care systems or the “socialist” label. My real point is that that audience of a blog dedicated to debunking creationism and intelligent design should know that political debate is more than punishing your oponent with stinging rhetoric.

  8. #8 csrster
    August 14, 2007

    The phrase “uniform national system” is a bit misleading. Don’t _all_ those countries have mixed systems?

  9. #9 Richard Wein
    August 14, 2007

    I’m a British citizen and resident, and I haven’t seen any sign that Britain is moving away from its “socialized” (if you want to call it that) health system. It’s my understanding that the Blair government greatly increased the funding of the National Health Service. (Some may question whether this additional funding has produced a corresponding improvement in service, but that’s another matter.)

  10. #10 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 14, 2007

    Joseph-

    Punishing your opponent with stinging rhetoric is an important part of political debate, which was one of the main points of the post. As I said, I frequently find that Democrats aren’t forceful enough in expressing their views, which is why I found Clinton’s answer here so refreshing. As for your other points, I think other commenters have addressed them satisfactorily.

  11. #11 realpc
    August 14, 2007

    “The Democrats usually look surprised by whatever question they were just asked and fumble around for some wimpy, half-baked and often incoherent answer.”

    “Democrats are by nature more open-minded and more willing to think seriously about the views of others.”

    You are crazed Jason, absolutely crazed. Being open-minded and thoughtful results in answers that are “half-baked and often incoherent” ????

    If a Republican gave an answer that was “half-baked and often incoherent” you would explain it as typical Republican stupidity. Since when is eloquence a sure sign of close-mindedness?

    It occurs to me that you are probably just a computer program. You can only interpret facts the way you were programmed to interpret them.

  12. #12 Jason Rosenhouse
    August 14, 2007

    realpc-

    Where did I say that eloquence was a sure sign of close-mindedness? For that matter, where did I say that Republicans are eloquent?

    The point was that fanatics always sound very confident and forceful, because they have no awareness of their own limitations and no desire to actually learn the truth of anything. In American politics, fanatics are much more at home in the Republican Party. Democrats are more open to the possibility that their opponents might have a legitimate point and like to think things over before answering. That’s part of the reason they often perform badly on television.

  13. #13 Mike O'Risal
    August 14, 2007

    Jason said:

    Where did I say that eloquence was a sure sign of close-mindedness? For that matter, where did I say that Republicans are eloquent?

    It probably wasn’t you that said it. Realpc undoubtedly heard his magical faerie friends talking to him again.

  14. #14 realpc
    August 15, 2007

    ” fanatics are much more at home in the Republican Party”

    There are many crazed fanatics among the progressive Democrats. Atheists can be every bit as fanatical as any close-minded Christian brickhead.

    The main difference between Democrats and Republicans right now is that Republicans have been in power long enough to screw things up. I think it’s time we give the Democrats a chance to do the same.

  15. #15 Science Avenger
    August 15, 2007

    Fabulous, MSU and CCD in one post. I see you are still making shit up as fast as your little troll fingers can type. Show me an atheist that is as closed-minded as those Christians who believe the earth is 6,000 years old, or those who deny common descent.

    For the uninitiated in translating trollspeak to English, “closedminded” means “doesn’t agree with me”.

  16. #16 Kevin
    August 15, 2007

    I was disappointed in the video. I thought she would show some more cleavage. and shake it a bit.

    I liked the pointing fingers.

    besides that, Democrats do often see more than one side of an issue and stumble when they really need to be clear.

    on the other hand, demos often times just don’t want to say anyting that offends anyone, and so wind up saying nothing.

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