Mike the Mad Biologist

I See Stupid People: the David Broder Edition

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My grandmother used to say that if you didn’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all. She did not say, “You should lie and make stuff up.” Which leads us to one of David Broder’s most inexplicable columns yet. Broder, in his column about recently deceased former President Gerald Ford, writes:

Many of those alumni who first exercised real power under Ford remained active in government. For all that he has borrowed from Ronald Reagan, President Bush owes the greatest debt to three stalwarts of economic and national security policy inherited from Ford — Vice President Cheney and former defense secretary Don Rumsfeld, both former chiefs of staff to Ford, and former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, Ford’s chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

He’s joking, right? Cheney got everything wrong, not only in Iraq, but before the first Gulf War, when he proposed the strategically brilliant idea of dropping an airborne division in northern Iraq. Unlike Cheney, the rest of the military establish had heard of Arnhem, and scuttled that idea. Cheney also has the distinction of voting against Head Start:

Asked this week why he voted against Head Start when he was in Congress in the 1980’s, Dick Cheney said he was “motivated by a concern for fiscal responsibility in an era when the nation did not have the projected surpluses it now has.”

“I would not vote against Head Start today,” Mr. Cheney, the expected Republican vice presidential candidate, said this week. When later pressed about some of his votes in Congress, he underlined the point that the Reagan era of the 1980’s was a time “when we had huge budget deficits, no money and when we really had to be concerned about federal spending.”

One can easily understand why Mr. Cheney might have worried about fiscal responsibility as a congressman in the deficit-ridden 1980’s. But it’s pretty hard to swallow his claim that such concerns were why he was one of only a handful of legislators to oppose improving education opportunities for poor children.

In the early 80’s, the Head Start program cost about $1 billion a year. That’s small potatoes compared with Ronald Reagan’s 1981 tax reduction act, which cost $870 billion over its first five years. Yet while Mr. Cheney says he saw the tiny Head Start program as unaffordable, he was able to put aside any fiscal doubts he may have harbored and enthusiastically support President Reagan’s budget-busting tax plan. He voiced no objection to the measure’s hundreds of billions of dollars in tax subsidies for oil companies, utilities, railroads and other corporate interests.

Mr. Cheney also happily voted for Mr. Reagan’s big increases in defense spending, which grew from $134 billion in 1980 to $273 billion by 1986 — almost a 50 percent increase adjusted for inflation.

The upshot of these Cheney-supported policies was to triple the budget deficit between 1980 and 1986, bringing it to its highest level as a share of the economy since the end of World War II….

…put another way, if the choice is between welfare for the rich and opportunities for the needy, Dick Cheney’s record makes it pretty clear where he stands. By choosing him, Mr. Bush may have clarified his own stance as well.

Well served, indeed. (He’s also good at shooting people in the face too…). What kind of moral universe does David Broder live in, such that he could call Cheney a “stalwart?” Now can we impeach the media?

An aside: Commenting on Rumsfeld is not even worthy of snark.

Comments

  1. #1 llewelly
    December 29, 2006

    Gerald Ford, who believes strongly in Heaven and Hell, has told several of his celebrity golf partners that: “I know I will go to Hell, because I pardoned Richard Nixon.”

    Hunter S. Thompson, from his 1994 eulogy for Richard Nixon.
    (From memory – my apology for any errors.)

    The press gushed all over themselves when Richard Nixon died as well (with a few exceptions like the above). Gerald Ford, of course, denied any regrets – much less expectations of going to Hell – for his pardoning of Nixon. Hunter said he was ‘only kidding’ .

  2. #2 wolfe
    December 29, 2006

    I respectfully think you’re wrong on this one.

    Broder is clearly using stalwart as a noun. Glancing at dictionary.com, we see that the applicable definition is clearly “a steadfast or uncompromising partisan”. (The other alternatives are “a physically stalwart person”, or “a conservative Republican in the 1870’s especially one opposed to civil service and other reforms”).

    Stalwart seems a completely appropriate word choice to me for those three men, whatever one may think of their policies, and their policies are clearly a substantial portion of the current administration’s policies at present.

    But leaving that aside, I note you quote the NY Times (via Common Dreams) as referring to Head Start as a “tiny” program.

    At least a billion a year in the 80’s, and nearly $7 billion a year now, with over 80 billion spent since 1965 is tiny?

    Yikes. Massive boosts to defense spending on the right, and lots of “tiny” programs for both the left and right all add up.

    -wolfe

  3. #3 friedland
    December 31, 2006

    The act, which isn’t even of their own will, of dying, seems to be the paramount event in the lives of most dead presidents.
    In death they suddenly are resurrected as intelligent, humanitarian, people of significant contributions to society, beyond reproach and worthy of libraries, book memoirs and biographies, and boring documentaries, one for the right, and one for the left.
    If never born, their achievements would be more accurately described by their obits, rather than their lives.
    One advantage, in death, others lie for them, they merely lie in state.
    Can’t wait to read some upcoming paens to pains.

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