January 27, 2004
POLITICS: Generally Wrong
Tom Maguire catches a great backtrack in the NY Times from a Wesley Clark spokesman on the General's statements on abortion:
The Clark spokesman, Jamal Simmons . . . described the exchange with The Union-Leader's publisher as "a rhetorical fight with a conservative, right-wing, anti-choice editorial board."
"He was making an effort not to cede any ground on the issue," Mr. Simmons said. "It was an effort to keep from engaging them on the issue of timing. Engaging in this in any other way would be ceding ground to Republicans that perhaps there needs to be other restrictions."
As long as we're making martial analogies, I'd say that the first version of any statement by General Clark is a rhetorical Maginot Line, impressive to his supporters but easily overrun and ultimately indefensible.
Lileks on Clark:
During the interview I heard Saturday he announced his support for progressive taxation, and I perked up: he'd previously noted that he thought "this country was founded on the principle of progressive taxation." Well, he expanded that idea, and said that if you don't believe in progressive taxation, you're not patriotic. The host asked him to repeat himself, and said - not a direct quote, I was in the shower without a pen and paper - "so you're saying that if someone doesn't believe in progressive taxation, they're not patriotic?" And Clark said yes.
I think I know what Clark means: if you love your country you want to help your country, and one way to do that is to pay a higher percentage of your income to the government instead of spending it on "luxuries." (His word.) That's a matter of opinion, of course. Those who favor a flat-rate tax or consumption taxes or other means of raising revenue also love their country; they just have alternate views on the best way to scare up the scratch. But to General Clark, they're unpatriotic. PATRIOTS DON'T BELIEVE IN A FLAT RATE.
So we have a four-star General defining patriotism as your acquiescence to let government remove whatever portion of your salary it desires?
Save me from the militaristic patriotism-defining property confiscators!
And we'll forget the part about it taking us over a hundred years to get around to actually implementing that 'progressive taxation' part that we were founded on (I keep forgetting the actual year that the income tax was foisted upon the masses).