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"America has two great dominant strands of political thought - conservatism, which, at its very best, draws lines that should not be crossed; and progressivism, which, at its very best, breaks down barriers that should never have been erected." -- Bill Clinton, Dedication of the Clinton Presidential Library, November 2004

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Thursday, November 02, 2006


political filtering

posted by Aziz P. at Thursday, November 02, 2006 permalink View blog reactions
Frank Schaeffer is a highly-respected conservative columnist for the Dallas Morning News. In his own words, he's "a Christian, a writer, a military parent and a registered Republican." He has now decided to leave the GOP:

I was disgusted by an e-mail I just received that's being circulated by campaign supporters of Republican George Allen, who's trying to retain his Senate seat in Virginia.

The message goes like this: "First, it was the Catholic priests, then it was Mark Foley, and now Jim Webb, whose sleazy novels discuss sex between very young teenagers. ... Hmmm, sounds like a perverted pedophile to me! Pass the word that we do not need any more pedophiles in office."Democrat James Webb is a war hero and former Marine, wounded in Vietnam and winner of the Navy Cross. He was writing about class and military issues long before me and has articulated the issue of how the elites have dropped the ball on military service in his classic novel Fields of Fire. By the way, that's a book Tom Wolfe calls "the greatest of the Vietnam novels."
enough is enough. I've had it with Republican smears.

The Webb e-mail is the embodiment of the cynical Republican strategists, some of whom must know the difference between fiction and nonfiction. Was Agatha Christie a murderer because she wrote about murder?
The Bible has masturbation scenes, rape, pedophilia and God's favorite man – King David – warming himself with a young virgin in his old age. He's the same man God tells us committed murder after he indulged his peeping Tom fantasies.
My wife and I have reached the tipping point. We plan to go to town hall to dump our Republican voter registration and reregister as independents. I don't care anymore what party someone is in. These days, what I care about is what they're made of.

Wartime demands leaders with character and moral authority. The political party smearing Mr. Webb proves it has neither.

The smearing of Jim Webb is truly grotesque. RedState, which features guest posts by Speaker Hastert, goes all-out on Webb calling him a pervert and comparing him to John Mark Karr.

And why? What did Webb write in his book that has these so-called conservatives, standards-bearers of the GOP all, swooning with distaste? Radley Balko explains:

I just did an Amazon search on the passage in Webb’s book. It isn’t the least bit titillating. It’s in the context of an American in an exotic, backward, remote part of a foreign land. The penis-kissing scene baffles and bewilders the Americans. It is clearly not a “fellating.” It is not a depiction of pedophelia. It’s very obviously scene painting, and the shock and oddity of the act adds to the lead characters’ sense that they’re out-of-place.

Of course, that hasn’t stopped the right wing blogosphere from gleefully calling Webb a pedophile.

This is really despicable on the part of the Allen campaign. It’s little more than a celebration of ignorance, isolation, and fear. It’s a bald attempt to deflect the Foley scandal, not to mention Allen’s own ethnically insensitive missteps in this campaign.

Let’s summarize: While George Allen was discovering his love for the Confederacy in Southern California and at the University of Virginia, Jim Webb was fighting the war in Vietnam, finding himself wholly immersed in a completely foreign culture. Webb was obviously rather profoundly affected by that experience. Because he chose to write about it, in a series of books that have won widespread praise from politicians, from fellow Vietnam vets, and from literary critics.

The Allen campaign is already paying a price for its audacious smear attempt. And keep in mind that George Allen in one of the frontrunners for the '08 GOP presidential nomination!

As the GOP leadership and leading stars continue to cater to extremists, solid and decent people like Schaeffer will continue to leave the party in droves. What they will leave behind will be a party even further bereft of the voices of moderation, so the cycle continues.


George Allen isn't a front runner anymore for '08. Most conservatives I know are fed up with Allen and already assume that his chances are gone completely.


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About Nation-Building

Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.