Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Specific Instances of Pure Demagoguery

Ronald Reagan once said, “Demagoguery: The journalist Burnham wrote that, when operating on a Democrat Politician, not even the most skilled surgeon can separate living from demagogic tissue, without causing the death of the patient.”

In ancient times the word Demagogue simply meant someone who was a champion of the people or popular causes. In our world today, it has come to mean one who seeks to gain power by appealing to irrational fears or prejudices, and/or making false claims and promises.

In the last week, Mike Beebe and Bill Halter have shown that the journalist Burnham had them pegged. Their strategy seems to be to throw as many false claims as possible about their opponents out there. It does not matter if the accusations are accurate, or if it is even an issue that falls under the purview of the office which they seek. The only thing that matters is that they hit people’s fear buttons, rational or not. They know people tend to vote defensively. They want to arouse irrational fears in people to scare them into voting against their opponent, just in case some of the charges might be true. In short, they are demagogues in the modern sense of the word.

Unfortunately, there are not a lot of Burnhams left in the mainstream media. Most of us are on the net, and our audience is limited. Demagogues can pull off their strategy if the “watchdogs” of the press shrug off outrageous claims from one side while meticulously scrutinizing every move of the other.

Let me give you specific instances of pure demagoguery from Beebe and Halter.

(continued, click Wednesday below and scroll down for rest of article or if sent straight here just scroll down)


Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Bear in mind that everything I am writing to you about has occurred within the last week or so. All the falshoods, all the misrepresentations, and all the appeals to irrational fears have come from Beebe and Halter in the brief space of a single week or so. Can they keep this volumn of libelous demogoguery up every week until the election?

We will start with Attorney General Beebe and his staff. Beebe's official campaign spokesman, Zac Wright, falsely asserted that Hutchinson opposed eliminating the grocery tax: "Wright in turn accused Hutchinson of previously opposing a cut in the sales tax on groceries." ("Beebe 'paying lip service' on tax, foe says," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 8/15/2006)

Hutchinson fired back, "There is only one candidate in this race who has ever opposed eliminating the grocery tax, and that is Mike Beebe. My record for cutting taxes is clear, and open to the public. If Mr. Beebe can cite one example in which I opposed eliminating the grocery tax, then he needs to produce it. Otherwise, he should apologize and set the record straight."

So far, no cite of when Hutchinson supposedly opposed the tax, nor any apology has been forth coming.

But that comes on the heels of two other examples.

One was included in a mass mailing to voters in which Beebe falsely claimed that Hutchinson opposed raising the minimum wage in Arkansas. Hutchinson is on record supporting raising the minimum wage in Arkansas. ("Even In a Campaign…Honesty is Still the Best Policy," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette editorial, 7/27/2006). Now he is running commercials that still imply that he is the one supporting the minimum wage increase.

The focus on the issue is even more irrational in that the wage increase has already passed and will take effect before the election. The outcome of the election will have absolutely no outcome on the issue on which they are campaigning. Demagoguery.

Another case was a news release issued by Beebe criticizing the Department of Homeland Security and falsely asserting that the department had cut funding for a program at the Pine Bluff Arsenal, which was not the case. Hutchinson is the former Undersecretary of Homeland Security. ("Beebe Got Facts on Arsenal Program Wrong, Hutchinson Says," Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, 8/8/2006)

All this has caused the even normally tacturn Hutchinson to bristle, "At some point, Mr. Beebe's credibility becomes a real issue in this campaign. It's one thing to want to contrast the positions between us. I encourage that. There are many stark differences between him and me – from our positions on local schools to property rights to the sanctity of life. But it's something else entirely to make false comments, and I urge Mr. Beebe to keep this campaign honest."

6:39 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

Bill Halter's attacks on Jim Holt are, if possible, even more bizarre and Demagogic than Beebe's.

Recently Halter's spokesman, Bud Jackson from Virginia, sent out an attack fax in Halter's name that ended, "I disagree with Jim Holt and his allies and their belief that Social Security should be eliminated. Social Security provides benefits to roughly 540,000 Arkansans and is a vital part of our state. As Lt. Governor, I will continue to fight to protect Social Security.”

Pure demagoguery. He takes one thin strand of fact and uses it to weave an outrageous fiction. The only truth in the whole fax was that the Constitution Party thinks social security should be phased out (while protecting those dependent on it). That does not matter because A) Holt is not a member of the Constitution Party. B) Halter is lying when he claims that this is Holt's position. Holt's position is just the opposite of what Halter claims it is, and C) Even if it were Holt's position it is an appeal to irrational fears to make an issue out of a federal program that the Lt. Governor of Arkansas can have zero effect on.

His claims that "as Lt. Governor" he will "fight to protect social security" are nothing more than contemptable demagoguery springing from a belief that the people are too ignorant to know that his promises cannot be kept from the position of power that he seeks.

Halter also demagogued on the minimum wage issue. Holt's lone senate protest vote against it means nothing except that he understands economics and votes his conscience. In other words, Holt is NOT a demagogue. He is willing to vote against something that 84% of the people want if he believes it is wrong. Nevertheless, the wage increased passed and will go into effect before the election.

All right, one more example, then I have to get to work.

In another attack fax Halter made a string of accusations, each one prefaced with the sing-song phrase "Where was Jim?". This was to cover the fact that Halter would not come out against homosexuals as foster parents. When he finally issued a statement on his position, it was so full of loopholes and evasions as to be meaningless. Halter got burned on that one, so he came back with a bunch of stuff like this...

"Where was Jim? - In his six years in the State Legislature, Jim Holt did not introduce one bill to improve our state’s foster care system."

Holt calmly replied, "Actually, we co-wrote the law establishing the State's Sex Offender website, authored the law for attorneys to receive a Governor's Award for Pro-Bono work for low income adoptions, and co-authored the bill to ban homosexual adoption and foster parents in 2005 - Plus, as stated previously, we've been in the trenches.

As to my legislative ability: as a legislator, I had the foresight to sponsor a bill to prevent adoption by homosexuals which even Halter now says will probably pass. I was moving in the direction of the people as has been proven by the national debate when I sponsored legislation to prevent illegal aliens from obtaining state benefits, a law that has now been passed in other states and probably will eventually pass in Arkansas. I was also moving with the people when I wrote a bill on ethics. It is not my fault that the legislative body was behind the people's will in this matter."

So we have a guy (Halter) who has lived outside of Arkansas for the last 27 years having his guy in Virgina send out a FAX asking "Where was Jim?".

Where was Jim? Holt has been right here in Arkansas. Where was Halter? We have a guy (Halter) who is so enamoured of the homosexual rights lobby that he won't even come out (no pun intended) in favor of a law protecting children from homosexuals using the power of the state to gain access to young children through adoption or foster parenting. Then he has the nerve to claim that father of nine Holt has done nothing for foster children in the legislature when the truth is just the opposite. Holt has a respectable record on such issues in the legislature while Halter has no experience, no record, and no accomplishments in this area.

If the media does not call them on their outrageous demagoging, I look for a long, nauseating campaign season. Halter and Beebe are hoping that the people only hear the charges, but don't listen to the facts. They are betting on the ignorance of the people of Arkanas. Let's hope they lose that bet.

7:20 AM, August 16, 2006  
Blogger Mark Moore (Moderator) said...

What has Holt done for children in foster parenting or adoption situations? He was in the trenches. He was a couselor at Youth Bridge! While Halter was raking in big bucks sitting on the boards of some bad corporate citizens and getting rich while their stockholders lost money, Holt was working directly with the very children that Halter is just talking about.

7:25 AM, August 16, 2006  
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