Saturday, December 10, 2005

DNC vs. RNC: Where is the true dialogue?

I am so disappointed by the lack of dialogue on the issues by our politicians. It seems to me that our political system is much like our justice system. Let me elaborate on that. In a criminal trial courtroom, you have a lawyer for the defense and a lawyer for the prosecution. The idea is that both sides try to convince the jury that their side is correct. In the end, it is hoped that the truth prevails and justice is served. From each lawyer’s perspective though, it can really come down to just winning the case, regardless of the truth. There is a whole arsenal of tricks that the lawyers can use in questioning witnesses. It can come down to strategy and the lawyers’ skillful use of words and argument. It can come down to how much money either side has to buy the right set of skills to shape the jury’s opinion.

Similarly, in the political “courtroom” of the two-party system, you have two sides. Representatives from each side try and convince the public that their side is correct. But, as in the legal system, it can come down to just trying to win and using various tricks and gimmicks to do so. There is no honest searching for the truth. Neither side can admit a mistake because the other side will use it against them through repeated playing of sound bites. Neither side can concede a good point that the other side may have because it will show weakness and give credit to that side. It all becomes about winning. It can come down to how much money either side has to buy and shape public opinion.

Here are two examples from the web sites of the Democratic and Republican national committees. On December 8th the DNC posted an article entitled, “Fact Check: President Bush Said We Can't Win.” The first paragraph says:

Washington, DC - The RNC got it wrong. Today, they falsely claimed that President Bush has always predicted victory in the War on Terror, and argued in a release that "President Bush Never Said We Couldn't Win." In fact, last summer, on the first day of his convention, President Bush told Matt Lauer on NBC's "Today Show" that he didn't think "we can win it."

It goes on to give a portion of the transcript of the show (which was August 31st of 2004) and a quote from a New York Times article. This is part of an ongoing war of words on statements that each side has recently made on whether or not we can win in Iraq. My point here is that I think it is pretty clear that President Bush believes we can accomplish his goals for Iraq. Winning a global war against terrorism is probably not possible in the traditional sense of signing a peace treaty. Yet, the DNC is exploiting the words that Bush said regardless of the fact that we probably all really know what Bush meant.

On the other side, the RNC has exploited recent words used by DNC Chairman Howard Dean. The RNC has released a web ad. The announcement of their ad is shown in a partial screen shot below. It shows Howard Dean with the words “Retreat and Defeat” with a white flag flying. I think that Dean is not suggesting defeat. I am sure he wants the U.S. to accomplish something in Iraq and then get out as soon as possible, sooner rather than later.

In reality, there is great disagreement in this country about why we are in Iraq. However, I believe that, given we are there, the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans want to see some good come of it, with minimal loss of lives, with our troops returning as soon as possible. So, let’s have more debate on those issues, recognizing our common ground.

Links to the web sites:

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