Friday, February 04, 2005

GOP Bars Democrats From Bush Speech in North Dakota

Perhaps we should refer to the Bush administration as supporters of "Sweet 'N Low" politics.

The president has removed dissenting voices from his cabinet, like Colin Powell and Paul O'Neill, creating an artificial bubble of loyalists and yes men (and women). He boasts about not reading newspapers, instead referring to a briefing of cherry-picked items that support administration policy. The administration pays to send out "video news releases" created by a public relations firm and designed to replace real television news stories, and it has paid conservative "journalists" to tout its programs, creating an artificial cheering section in newspapers where independent thought might otherwise have been heard. It uses various methods, such as loyalty oaths, to artificially create audiences of supporters for Bush speeches.

The latest example of the latter gambit came Feb. 3 in Fargo, N.D., where the president was touting artificial numbers supporting his Social Security privatization plan.

According to the Fargo Forum*, two sources involved in ticket distribution confirmed that 42 area residents had been placed on a list of those barred from hearing the president speak at North Dakota State University's Bison Sports Arena.

The list was supplied to workers at two Fargo sites, along with tickets and other forms citizens were asked to fill out upon receiving them (a.k.a. "loyalty oaths"). People who handed out tickets had copies of the list at their tables to determine if anyone should be denied access, both sources told the Forum.

The 42 people included Fargo City Commissioner Linda Coates (a Democrat), and a host of letter writers to the Forum, on topics ranging from gay rights to criticism of Bush or the war in Iraq.


***

If you only surround yourself with people that agree with you, how can you learn?

It's understandable that the president wants to rally the nation behind his policies, such as Social Security privatization. But if he and his administration have to squash dissenting voices -- never hear them, let alone consider them -- to succeed, doesn't that call into question whether the policies are sound?

A policy as controversial as Social Security privatization must withstand the rigors of debate, not thrust upon a nation without consensus. Not only is it more sound policy, but it is far less polarizing, at a time when the nation is clearly divided.

* With thanks to talkingpointsmemo.com

12 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have yet to hear a rational explanation for why it is a bad thing for a sitting President to appoint to his Cabinet people that disagree with him. I suppose that if it were truly a good thing to do, that Presidents throughout history would have surrounded themselves with members of the other party, opponents if you will.

If Linda Coates is not heard in this forum, is her voice being squashed? Can she not freely speak her mind to the papers, the media, etc ... ? Do you really believe that the opponents voices are being squashed? Seems to me that the NY Times, the Washington Post, the nightly news, etc... do a wonderful job of presenting the other side.

2:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Presidents frequently put politicians from the other party, or who can offer different views, in their cabinets.

Clinton, for example, put Republican William Cohen in his cabinet. Kennedy and Johnson couldn't have been further apart within the Democratic Party when they teamed in 1960.

I agree with JABBS that Bush only wants people who agree with him. I think that's a weakness -- as if he's afraid that his ideas won't stand up to debate.

And no president has ever barred people from hearing them speak -- short of those who pose a physical threat. He's treating Democrats like terrorists, and that's sad.

10:58 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

I don't think it's an issue of free speech, as Anonymous #1 tries to spin it. Yes, of course there are outlets where people can express dissent, but doesn't it worry you that our President is never exposed to any opinion except his own (albeit echoed back from others)?

I personally find it downright scary that he might be wrong about something and there will be no one around him to point it out, to make the opposing argument - in short, to disagree. No human being is that infallible - he is just some politician who got slightly more than half the votes last November, not the Pope.

Or perhaps this is all part of the faith-based culture. Don't ask any questions, just trust in the Almighty's infinite wisdom, eh? Well, here's the problem: Dubya is about as far from infallible as anyone can be.

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The idea is to find the best people possible for a presidential cabinet. Bush has subbed in with a bunch of yes men.

And as far as the speech goes -- Bush is president of all the people, not the hand-selected among us.

10:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose Mineta and Tenet were knuckle dragging neocon's hell bent on taking over the world, or some other random fantasy routinely attributed to President Bush. I love how liberals discard facts that do not conveniently fit within the context of their debate.

Even were this not true, who gives a shit? Win an election and appoint your own people. You should be please that President Bush is appointing idiots that support his idiotic positions, as this will clearly lead to a political disaster for the Republicans, and will enable electoral success for the Dems in the next election cycle.

The fact is, that diversity of opinion has never been and will never be a defining characteristic of a Presidential Cabinet. And, the lack of diversity of opinion is only highlighted when the media has a chance to crack at Republicans.

11:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just liberals whining again. Bush won and he can choose his cabinet so long as the choices are reasonably qualified. There will be another chance for change in the next presidential election when the democrats, sad to say, will likely do everything possible to lose once again.

The dems should focus on presenting a message for change. and that message cannot just be 'Bush is wrong'. It has to be what to do that is right. I, for one, will be waiting.

Ya know, and this will tick off every liberal here, Bush still has a chance of leaving an amazing legacy. Just a chance, but still a chance. If Iran situation is defused, NKorea gets no worse, Israel and Palestine reach any form of peaceful coexistence, Iraq has elected officials and less violence, and Apghanistan is better off than before......and Libya is defused, Syria put on notice, Saudi Arabia making some reforms. Well, you get the message. If some of this happens, BUsh's legacy could be one for the ages. Of course, it could go the other way as well.

In this regard, I am rooting for Bush. Who here can say the same?

2:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't believe some of the above blog posts.

Do you really think it's a good idea for Bush to shut himself off to anyone who disagrees with him? Do you really think that's in the best interest of the country?

This has to do with Powell or Mineta or Tenet or O'Neill or Ridge. This has to do with the idea that this president is interested in an agenda, and if the facts get in the way, he doesn't want to know about it.

It's almost as if the conservatives here and elsewhere are convinced that dissent is un-American. I suppose you all were screaming from the rafters during the 1990s, when the Gingrich revolution tried to shut down Congress rather than work with Clinton?

2:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dissent is completely american. that is why this blog exists. However, in much the same way that you can choose what you want to hear, listen to, read, associate with.....Bush has that choice as well. While I think it is pretty good to have dissenting opinions, it is not imperative within his cabinet. And to suggest that BUsh truly does not hear or read or even know about dissenting views is saturday night live fodder. we live in a society of big mouths. i cant go fifteen minutes without hearing views i think are ridiculous. C'mon already.

Bush does not live in a white bubble. It is a house. and he does go outside here and then.

6:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The comment about Bush receiving his information in a daily briefing, rather than from newspapers or television, has come from Bush himself. You can look it up.

From conservative website NewsMax.com:

Tuesday, Sept. 23, 2003
Why Bush Doesn't Read the Papers

When asked by Fox News anchorman Brit Hume during an exclusive interview how he gets the news, the president said he glances at the headlines "just to get the kind of flavor for what's moving." But "I rarely read the stories." ... This, he said, has been his practice since taking office.

10:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, from FoxNews.com (9/17/03):

Bush reiterated that he doesn't read newspapers and prefers getting the news -- without opinion, he said -- from White House chief of staff Andrew Card and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.

10:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

For lack of a nicer way to say it, you have to be an absolute freaking mental midget to think that a sitting President of the US never hears the opposition viewpoint to his positions. Either that or you are just willfully ignorant.

One's ability to hear opposition is in no way related directly to appointing a Cabinet, though one would think that it is a time honored tradition to appoint a multitude of political opponents. Notice how the posters above flat out ignored the fact that there are and have been people that do not walk lock step with the President on his Cabinet.

Please continue the petty partisanship, and please continue to try to marginalize your party. Having said that, a strong and loyal opposition is healthy, so I hope one emerges soon.

12:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems to me that if the president himself said that he doesn't read newspapers, we should accept that as fact -- not some liberal myth.

And let's be real about the "moderates" in Bush's cabinet -- they've all been axed. Powell, O'Neill, Ridge -- all gone. All potential dissenting voices have been silenced.

This is a president who believes he is right, and isn't interested in hearing anyone tell him otherwise. That's bad policy, and especially dangerous in these times.

1:04 PM  

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