Politics: February 2004 Archives

A friend of mine just presented to me an insightful way of looking at the two major political parties in this country that, in large measure at least, seems correct and even explains a few things. The basic idea is that these large parties have a class structure much like society's class structure. At the top are the people who have the most power and influence, often the ones who get thing done. They don't often have ideological reasons to be in the party but more commonly are loyalists to the party for the sake of the party itself. Their positions are somewhat malleable and sometimes what you might think of as centrist, but they often pander to those lower in the party hierarchy so that they can keep getting votes.

Then there's the middle class of the party, the ones who hold the views that tend to dominate among party thinkers. These are the people who really do the work. The top people just make sure things happen, but the middle class analog does the heavy lifting. These people are often party loyalists but not for the sake of the party. They really believe in the particular views they associate with the party but don't often realize that the people really controlling things from the top don't have the same attitude. These thinkers then construct reasons for the policies that will end up attracting voters to the party. Many of the middle class people end up in elected office or politically appointed positions, but they hardly ever have any long-term influence, even if they do have short runs of being the driving force behind the party's public ideology.

Then you have the party lower class, the average voters who get pandered to. They see the public image of the party in election years doing and saying things they like, often without seeing if those are genuine features of the people they're voting for and often not caring about whether other issues are more important than the two or three they use to choose their candidates. They get the lip service of the party mouthpieces, but they're real concerns usually don't get addressed, and I think it's fair to say that the party movers and shakers care not a whit for them except to do as little as possible to maintain their votes.

No I did a Google search to see if I could find anything on this, but I didn't find much help there. My friend said this is a common enough idea, which he first read in a high school civics book. It was fairly new to me but helped categorize some things I'd long thought and brought other elements into newer perspective. What's interesting is who he said were in each group, and I think he's right. Be prepared to be offended.

Al Sharpton's Christianity

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I'm finally getting back to my comments on the SC debate from last Thursday. I left off commenting halfway through with the foreign policies issues completed. I then read through the remainder of the debate and discovered only one thing worth discussing, so here we go. I'm really wondering about Al Sharpton's Christianity. It doesn't seem to be anything like the Christianity I know, and this has absolutely nothing to do with white churches vs. black churches. Whatever he thinks Christianity is all about seems at best a social gospel version of Christianity, which in effect neuters it and destroys its main point. So far that's not any different from Bono's public presentation of Christianity (at least since U2 became famous). That's just old news, though. A couple things Sharpton said in the debate are bothering me far more than that. He seems, in fact, to be proud to display one of the three biblical characteristics that warrant excommunication (i.e. ceasing to call him a Christian brother) -- persistent and loveless divisiveness.

The independent investigation into the intelligence failure accusations has determined that there's no evidence at all that CIA intelligence was affected by any "perceived or actual political pressure" from the Bush Administration. In fact, it doesn't seem as if there's any evidence that there even was such pressure, never mind that it had any effect.

The only thing they're saying about why there might have been such a failure is that they "relied too heavily on outdated, circumstantial intelligence and on information from unreliable informants."

Richard Kerr, head of the CIA wing of the investigation, said "analysts believed that the evidence supported their judgment."

Yet even two days before the Washington Post published this, Kerry was rambling on about how Bush exaggerated (at least he's stopped with the "Bush lied" mantra, though the fact that he ever said it -- with no evidence -- shows his character).

Update: Captains' Log has more: "both investigations have confirmed the obvious. If you read the newspapers from 1991 forward, the intelligence data on WMDs has remained consistent, and in fact the UN and all of its Security Council members have operated from the same understanding of Saddam's weapons programs. Not only has there been no change in the intelligence, there was no change in the conclusions between the Clinton and Bush II administrations: regime change was the only way the WMD question (and Saddam's oppression and aggression) could be resolved. The only difference was in strategy, and that didn't change until after 9/11. Just before that, Bush and Powell were about to roll out a new plan for "smart sanctions" that would more effectively target Saddam's personal and military interests."

As to why the intelligence might have been so off, he offers this: "Two changes in American intelligence strategies contributed to the problem: the Carter administration's insistence on curtailing human intelligence assets and the Clinton administration's order to refuse association with field assets that don't support our human-rights values, as if the people who present a danger to us only associate with Boy Scouts. On top of that, Senator John Kerry led the fight to cut CIA funding in the 1990s as part of the so-called "peace dividend" (see this for an interesting perspective). You can't tie blinders onto a horse and then beat him for wandering off the road."

Instapundit is collecting a number of good links and quotes on the issue. One is to a balanced discussion by Tacitus of imminence in its relation to the Iraqi threat.

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