Saturday, June 26, 2010


David Sirota, columnist for Creators Syndicate

David Sirota has an opinion piece in the Denver Post this morning (6/26/2010). It is an excellent example of the use of characterization in promoting our anti-Republican culture.

I’ll provide the complete article, with some of the descriptive phrases in bold italics. Note how the piece begins with a marcato of background information, builds to a crescendo of passionate anti-Republican invective, and then tapers off in a smorzando of euphemisms.

It is music to our culture’s ears:

Sirota: Choosing butter over guns
By David Sirota
Creators Syndicate
Posted: 06/26/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

The last time America found itself in a budget debate pitting domestic priorities against war expenditures, Richard Nixon was in the White House and David Obey was the youngest member of Congress — an antiwar liberal whose insurgent campaign unexpectedly vaulted him into the House seat vacated by the hawkish president's new defense secretary. In those dark days of the late 1960s and early 1970s, as Obey was still learning his way around Washington, it was the guns of Vietnam and the Cold War versus the butter of the Great Society and the War on Poverty — and despite Obey's protests, guns won the day.

"President Nixon issued a call to counterrevolution at home," summed up Time magazine in 1973, noting that while the Republican administration was increasing the Pentagon budget, it was proposing the "abolition or deep cutting of more than 100 federal grant programs that have benefited the unemployed, students, farmers, veterans, small businessmen, the mentally ill and tenants in federally aided housing."

The resulting body bags and cuts to homeland investment were, of course, devastating — which is why it is fitting that Obey is choosing to end his congressional tenure where he started it: presciently on the side of butter in a 21st century reprise of the ancient debate. And this time, the Wisconsin Democrat's seniority puts him in a far more powerful position to press his case.

Over the last decade, Obey has been methodically campaigning against the Iraq war and the endless Afghanistan occupation, saying their rationales are weak, their prosecution inept and their deficit-financed costs unaffordable in the face of unmet domestic needs. For years, he has valiantly championed bills to legislate withdrawal timetables and war surtaxes. Now, with President Obama defiantly pushing a plan to boost Afghan war funding at the potential expense of economic aid on the homefront, Obey has deftly replaced the scalpel strokes of proactive legislation with the blunt force of filibuster.

According to Politico, Obey last week "drew a direct link between war funding and progress on domestic priorities" with his announcement that as Appropriations Committee chairman, he will "withhold action on the war funds until there (is) some resolution on a major economic relief bill extending jobless benefits."

Like clockwork, the move was met with hypocritical hysteria. The same Republican Party that bewails deficits responded with a letter asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to champion the deficit-exploding war funding bill in order to avoid "undermining" the military. Gates, despite having just called for defense spending cuts, obediently complied — and on Republicans' insipid terms that perniciously question war critics' loyalty to our soldiers.

The Nation's Chris Hayes has written that such tripe boils down to "You're either with the war or you are against the troops."

Yes, just as Obey prepares to retire, there are signs that his crusade is winning converts. For instance, Oklahoma Republican Sen. Tom Coburn is using his position on President Obama's deficit commission to focus attention on Pentagon profligacy. Similarly, Politico reports that "key tea party players (are) expressing a willingness to put the Pentagon budget on the chopping block." And rank-and-file congressional Democrats, once cowed by war proponents" saber rattling, are increasingly echoing Obey's rhetoric.

Whether or not the cacophony stops the Pentagon's latest blank check is less important than Obey having finally rekindled an honest discussion about guns and butter. In a storied 41-year career of venerable accomplishments, that is the most profound achievement of all.

I didn’t put the reference in bold italics, but just the mention of Richard Nixon’s name in our culture brings forth the image of a bogeyman. It is like the current referencing of Sarah Palin (Sarah!) or George Bush (BUSH!!).

I realize this is “Opinion” and is rightfully placed in this section of the Denver Post. It’s just that there is Opinion, and then there is Opinion!

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