Ira Steven Behr on Republicans

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Ira Steven Behr was responsible for some of the best Star Trek episodes ever produced, particularly in Deep Space Nine, which he eventually became the head writer for. I have tremendous respect for him as a writer. I have to wonder, though, about one statement he made in this interview. When asked what super power he would want, he responded, "In addition to the ones I already have? I've been blessed with so many that I would feel like a Republican to ask for more."

I've been trying to figure out what he could possibly mean by this. Even if he's working with some nasty and uncharitable stereotype of Republicans, what could it be that Republicans are supposed to be like that even remotely resembles having super powers and asking for more super powers? If anyone has any ideas, I'm really curious, because this just makes no sense to me.


The comment is a little mean-spirited for me, but I don't have much trouble understanding what he's up to. It's really about President Bush and the Bush administration; the intended characterization of Republicans will be something like, President Bush is already extremely powerful, but he wants even MORE power to violate civil liberties, ignore international law, sidestep statutory limitations, etc.

President Bush is the face of the GOP, so an unfavorable idea about the President and his policies can easily turn into a stereotype of his party.

By the way, your comments behave a little oddly for me. My first try posting a comment very often results in this message:

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When I get this message, I have not already left a comment. I usually just try again, and it works.

I'm aware of the comment problem. That message is supposed to say that you need to enter the security code again. It's really a force-preview and should give some message related to that, but it gives the error message for some other problem that no longer happens. I'm not sure how to fix it, though.

So you think it's a pun on the word 'powers'? That hadn't occurred to me, mostly because I can't imagine identifying the Bush Administration with Republicans. He's clearly the party leader in one important sense, but many Republicans don't even consider him a real Republican because of spending issues. If he had said that he would feel like Bush or Cheney or Karl Rove or something, that interpretation might have occurred to me, but it seems like a real stretch. A good writer like Behr is usually a little more clear than that.

I should also say that I did see one obvious pun that made no sense, not on 'powers' alone but on 'super powers', as in the most powerful countries in the world. But the U.S. is a super power. It doesn't have super powers. And Republicans aren't trying to gain any.

Of course the Bush administration is identified with Republicans. It may not be identified with *conservatives*, but of course the administration is completely composed of Republicans.

His comparison may be inexact, as are all comparisons, but I see him as saying that asking for more powers is acting like a Republican. It doesn't have to be superpowers exactly.

Of course it's not completely composed of Republicans. One of Bush's cabinet members is a loyal Democrat, and there are probably other more minor officials who are probably somewhat conservative but might not be Republicans.

But even ignoring that, your point is logically fallacious. Even if the administration is entirely Republican, Behr's statement (if Jonathan's interpretation is correct) assumes that the administration is indicative of Republicans, not just that it's composed entirely of Republicans. There are plenty of groups composed entirely of Republicans that aren't indicative or Republicans (e.g. the Log Cabin Republicans, who are in favor of gay rights).

It's not that his comparison is inexact. It's completely inapt. Republicans have long stood for minimal federal government except in certain key areas (though defense is one of them). Whether he is right to do so or not, Bush has reversed that in a number of key areas, thus alienating much of his base.

"One of Bush's cabinet members is a loyal Democrat,.." Didn't know that. Thanks.

"..your point is logically fallacious." There isn't a logical implication here. If your point is that not all Republicans agree with all of Bush's actions, of course. But it is not silly to identify the administration policies with the policies of the Republican party, as Behr is doing. They are the leaders of the party.

"Republicans have long stood for minimal federal government..." Some Republicans once stood for limited government. They may not have been indicative of all Republicans:-) In any case, those days are long past. Do you see House and Senate Republicans voting against the expansion of the federal government?

The Republican senators have certainly raised issues in the Alito hearings about separation of powers. They're not all with the president on this. But my point is that one administration currently in power is not indicative of Republicans, just of the Republicans who happen to be in the government, in particular in the executive branch of the government. Most Republicans are simply voters, and it's pretty unfair to assume that something extremely controversial about this current administration is representative of Republicans in general.

So, are you having trouble accepting that Behr is using "Rebulicans" to mean "the leaders of the Republican party (in particular, the Bush administration)" in the same way the John uses "the Jews" to mean, "the Jewish leaders (in particular the Pharasees and scribes)"?

It's not the usual convention in English. In John, you have a whole book to provide context. We don't have that here.

It seemed obvious to me upon first reading that that was how Behr was using it. And that was with minimal context. Perhaps it is convention among Democrats and liberals (or perhaps I should say Democrats and liberals who talk about politics frequently and publically--I wouldn't want to lump ALL Democrats and liberals together or cause any misunderstanding here) to use "Republicans" in this manner (though, of course, we don't always mean it in this manner).

As I said, my biggest obstacle to understanding this was not thinking of this as a pun on 'powers' but on 'super powers', which really does make no sense. I just wasn't thinking beyond that.

I also wasn't sure when this interview had taken place, and the issue in question wasn't really at the level it's at until the NSA stuff got leaked (strategically just before the Alito hearings, I might add). It's not that people didn't think of Bush as power-grabbing, but it's become his defining characteristic to the majority on the left, whereas before it was just one thing among many. I was trying to think of something more general, partly for that reason.

But I do think it's not fair game to do this sort of thing. It would be like saying Democrats are in favor of discrimination because Clinton came up with "don't ask, don't tell", one of his most criticized policies. I just can't imagine someone trying to defend such a charge as fair.

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