Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, November 03, 2003  

It's unavoidable that the Democrats will be running against the President--as much as for their own coherent platform. Runs against incumbents are always to some degree a referendum on that person's performance. This year, though, the press are quicker to finger Dems for sullied motives. Even with failures mounting, Bush's nimbus as war leader remains partially intact. So if the Dems want to beat Bush on his record, I'd recommend crafting a message that doesn't attack him personally, but which encompasses his failures as a whole. How about calling his policies irresponsible?

It's essentiallly a way of calling him out without making it personal. Tax cuts for the wealthy? Not a corrupt giveaway to his powerful political patrons; irresponsible because they failed to benefit those who needed help in a down economy and cost too much for the little effect they may have had. The invasion of Iraq and the failure to have any plan for reconstruction? Not the imperial designs of a megalomanic; irresponsible because it did not target the heart of terrorism and has now committed the US to a costly reconstruction while the remaining problem--terrorism--festers beyond our reach.

Have a look at today's news. Irresponsible doesn't seem like a bad adjective.

Bush's Merit Pay Plan Is Stalled in Congress
It looks as though the White House has failed to get the job done this year in promoting its proposed Human Capital Performance Fund. The fund, announced early this year as part of President Bush's 2004 budget plan, was supposed to provide $500 million that agencies could tap to award higher raises to their best workers....

Critics, including lawmakers from both parties, said Bush's fund was unlikely to provide federal workers much of an incentive for good performance. Even if fully funded, it would represent only 0.5 percent of the overall civilian payroll of about $100 billion.

Box Cutters Found On More Planes
Box cutters were found on US Airways planes in Boston and Philadelphia on Tuesday, and federal officials said they were investigating how the tools made it on board. It was the second such discovery on U.S. aircraft in less than a month.

The Clean Air Wake
Folks in the general counsel's office at the Environmental Protection Agency had a fun Halloween party Thursday. It was billed as a wake for the Clean Air Act.

Acting General Counsel Lisa Jaeger wasn't around, but we're told that about five dozen career staff from the counsel's office and from around the building attended the seventh floor event.

There were wanted posters everywhere of Jeffrey R. Holmstead, assistant administrator for air and radiation, sporting a mustache. The posters said: "Wanted: suspected in the untimely death of C.A. Adams. [CAA is the common shorthand for the Clean Air Act] Reward: $27,500 per violation per day." Those are the penalties for violations of the CAA.

Threats Overstated by Bush Official, Critics Contend
The Bush administration's point man on nonproliferation has exaggerated the threat posed by Syria, Libya and Cuba in an effort to build the case that strong action is needed to prevent them from developing weapons of mass destruction, former intelligence officials and independent experts say.

With news like this, "irresponsible" seems like a fairly sober, objective criticism. I'll avoid giving the after-the-colon analysis on each point--it seems obvious. Pointing out that the policies are irresponsible has two handy rhetorical advantages. It leads naturally to the faults of the policies and what better policies would be. It's a criticism with an imbedded solution, and it avoids personal attacks, keeping the discussion on the policies. As voters look for a reason to abandon the failed polices of the White House, they'll want this kind of clear, impersonal appeal. Responsibility is a great device.

posted by Jeff | 8:31 AM |
Blogroll and Links