Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The Deconstruction of LJ Ulrich

Last week, I had a side note on one of my blog posts about how impressed I was with DA columnist LJ Ulrich's ability to be balanced in his commentary. I was impressed with his writing, and even though it came from a liberal perspective, it didn't sound ideological at all. In fact, it sounded incredibly fair. Knowing full well that he is the president of WVU's Young Democrats, I openly praised his ability to do sensible commentary that didn't attempt to alienate anyone.

All apologies to Ulrich, but I have to take that back.

In today's issue of the DA, Ulrich had an editorial entitled "Can We Trust the President on Social Security?" I dove into the column eagerly, fully expecting to find the slightly left, yet persuasive writer that I had applauded before. Instead, I found a partisan hack job of an article that was farther left than anything ever written by Steve Nicholas, and (believe it or not) more ideological than former columnist and ultra-conservative Ben Helsley's writings. I won't attack Ulrich's opinion, as everyone is entitled to one. I also won't try to force my own opinion on Social Security. Instead, I'm going to do what I always do and give some constructive criticism to how Ulrich wrote the piece. In other words, I'm going to point out why this belongs less in the DA and more in a Dean rally. And yes, I'm going line by line. (If you want to read his editorial next to my blog, just go to the DA's website and look in the Feb 08 2005 issue under Opinions.)

Ulrich starts by asking why we would believe that Social Security is going to collapse. I refuse to give my opinion on this portion; instead, go to FactCheck.org and see what they have to say about it. Now that you're back here, you know that Social Security really does need work to be paying out the way it is now. No, there's no immediate danger, but something has to change, like it or not. At this point, Ulrich is still thinking. Within a few words, however, he starts spewing. "Spewing" is when anyone who is into politics shuts out any theories contrary to their own (which, therefore, stops thought) and launches into a tirade of their party's talking points. We all have done it at least once in our lives, but to do it in print is beyond reproach.

For anyone who doesn't have time to look at the editorial, I'll quote the next portion:
This is the president, after all, who failed to mention the words "Osama bin Laden" and "WMDs" in his State of the Union (talk about being accountable); who no longer preaches about a war on terror, but on spreading liberty and freedom across the globe (is that sturdy leadership?); and who dropped his crusade for a gay marriage amendment when it was politically convenient (how does it feel to be used like a cheap whore?).
Like I said, I'm going line by line.

The minute the Osama line hit, I felt sick. It's hilarious to me that the left is suddenly criticizing Bush for NOT mentioning Osama and WMDs, because just a few months ago, the same people were shouting "Liar!" when WMDs were mentioned, and a few on the extreme left were wondering if Osama Bin Laden was a construct that was already either a.) dead or b.) in jail. Something tells me the president was sick of being called a liar, which is why the WMD reference didn't happen. The OBL reference would have been redundant, considering that the price on his head recently doubled to $50,000,000. But now that the conspiracy theory didn't stick, the Democrats have decided that Bush is a failure for not catching Osama. You know how the left always asks the right if they would go fight in Iraq, seeing how they support the war? I can't help wondering what would happen if the right asked the left to go into the mountainous Afghanistan/Pakistan border and catch bin Laden themselves. Enough already.

When the war on terror line came into view, I was irked. Is it sturdy leadership to spread liberty and freedom across the globe, rather than fight a war on terror? Yes, because if terror is extinguished, then liberty and freedom can spread. Oh, wait...you must think that Bush is an imperialist who wants to take over Iran and North Korea (even though you supported Kerry, who wanted to do so and said we should during the debates), and once they're done with, the world! Spare me.

When the gay marriage line danced across my eyes, I wasn't really upset anymore. In fact, I started laughing. Yes, the Boston Globe ran an article today about how conservatives are worried that Bush's push for Social Security reform will weaken his stance on a gay marriage amendment. Simply put, you can't just "push through" an amendment to the US Constitution, because it takes a lot more than a majority vote to ratify one. I think Bush is being realistic about what he can get passed at the moment; to put it bluntly, he doesn't have nearly enough support from socially liberal Republicans and Democrats to get a ban on gay marriage, so that needs to be on the back-burner right now. He's hardly "dropp[ing] his crusade" out of convenience. But when Ulrich asked pro-Bush people how it felt "to be used like a cheap whore," I was laughing to the point of tears. He was no longer spewing for the sake of spewing; as a matter of fact, he was spewing in an effort to convince, which is futile. I could keep going line by line, but I think that even a reasonable Democrat could find this hysterical. Read the rest while I comment on a few key portions.

Later on, Ulrich mentions a leaked internal memo to the president's staff. The memo urges the staff to emphasize that "we are on an unsustainable course." This is good, because, frankly, we are, and people need to get the facts. For some reason, Ulrich sees this memo as a form of brainwashing, prompting him to ask, "Who feels like sheep?" Well, nobody, unless you count the dyed-in-the-wool liberals that already support your position.

The coup de grace is when Ulrich brings out the sheep motif again, saying, "Don't forget even the Christian right, who [Bush] baited and lulled and used like sheep to win re-election last fall." Maybe Ulrich doesn't understand why a Christian conservative would vote for Bush. It's really very simple: he's a man of great faith, and that's exactly the kind of man that the Christian right wants in office. I mean, he must be a Christian, because the left is always complaining about his inability to separate church and state. Am I right? Oh yeah...that's not what you want me or any of his other supporters to believe. You want to question his faith and tell everyone how he used God to gain re-election. Just quit while you're ahead; that didn't work when Kerry was running, and it definitely won't work now. If Bush had a (D) next to his name, you'd be bowing to him. Open your eyes and find a middle ground.

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