The honest and decent side of me would like to say that attacking a president's alcoholic, brain-addled daughters is no way to engage in political debate. On the other hand, it's the president and his supporters who've decided to make his "character" -- his personal qualities and attributes rather than the nitty-gritty policy details -- the centerpiece of the case for his reelection. So, though rarely is the question asked, I think it must be: who raised these two? We know Bush isn't a policy wonk. We know he doesn't work particularly long hours. Fine. In many ways, being a workaholic is not a particularly admirable character trait. But has Bush spent any of his time off spending time with his daughters and trying to instill them with any values? Are they God-fearing Christians like GWB? What is it, exactly, that Laura gave up her high-flying career at the library in order to do?
And yeah, yeah, yeah, they're only 22. But I'm only 23. Rosenfeld's 22, and he's not a lunatic. Ezra's 20, Zoe's 21 -- the Bush twins aren't "kids" in the sense of "people too young to be held accountable for their basic lack of decency and good sense," they're college graduates, they have the vote, they're full-fledged members of American society.
Well I dunno, but this is the sort of thing that requires some sort of linkagery to back up the claim. OK so they aren't public speakers - big deal - but I see no sign that they are alcoholic or brain-addled. Being caught trying to get alcohol as a student is just one of those "there but for the grace of god" things for those who didn't get caught. Although I personally have never been legally underage in the US, had I been a student in the US and not the UK, I can pretty much guarrantee that I'd have been attempting to procure alcohol before my 21st birthday.
I have never been on live TV before an audience of gazillions myself so I have no idea whether or not I'd look like a fool or not. I do recall at about age 20 making an utter fool of myself in my first major public speaking event to an audience of utter strangers. At the time I was neither alcoholic nor brain-addled, just nervous as hell and no one ever thought to blame my revered papa for my cringeingly bad performance.
And then there's "But has Bush spent any of his time off spending time with his daughters and trying to instill them with any values?" Another utterly pointless and utterly unsupported slur. From what I can see from across the pond Bush seems to have done a reasonable job in producing two young ladies with no obvious failings. Since W is apparently not one for tying them up and whipping them if they fail to go to church on Sunday (or otherwise behaving in the manner expected of a fundamentalist nutcase) its hard to say whether he's installed any values into them or not, but I think it is fair to say that Matt's parents seem to have instilled into him a weary cynicsm that one would expect from someone twice his age. Absent any concrete counter evidence, if the Bush daughters are as generically pleasant as they appear in their exposure to date then I'd say he's done a decent job of getting values into them.
Secondly and IMO more critically he shows his complete and utter cluelessness about postwar Europe when he tries to lay into Arnie. He claims that Arnie was misleading if not lying when he said he "and so many others lived in fear of the Soviet boot." because Austria was not behind the Iron curtain. I grew up in England in the 1970s/80s and there was reasonable fear of the "Soviet boot" in England then. Up until the collapse of the Berlin wall many Europeans were worried about possible Soviet invasion. Sure we might have been rescued by American nuclear weapons turning us all into radioactive slag but no one could be sure. For Arnie, growing up at the time of the Hungarian revolt, I have not doubt such fear was even more widespread. Given the bluff that had caused the Soviets to leave Austria in the first place I can see that many people watching crackdowns just across the border (hey Matt you know that in the 19th century there was something called the Austrohungarian Empire - I'll give you two guesses where it was) would justifiably fear that the Soviets might come back again. Fear of the Soviet boot to me is blindingly obviously fear of invasion. If one were Eastern European the phrase would have been "under the Soviet boot".
Then of course poor Matt gets all tetchy when people who understand English point out that socialism is not communism and other similar points of grammar, vocabulary and history.
UPDATE: Jesus H. Christ if I read one more blog post or receive one more email saying I "don't know history" because just as Arnold said Soviet troops did occupy part of Austria I'm going to kill someone. I say that Soviet troops temporarily occupied part of Austria. The point is this: Arnold's speech implies that he grew up in a Communist bloc country and he did not.
Perhaps some Americans are stupid enough that they don't understand the differences between socialist and communist or between "fear of" and "under" but if so then the blame lies on those "Democratic" and "Socialist" regimes consigned to the dustbin of history by another actor turned politician.
Matt Welch didn't much care for Zell Miller's speech which does, I believe, count as the least libertarian address ever delivered by a member of a major American political party. I'd just like to highlight the very worst thing Miller said:
Democrats have been accused -- again and again -- of trying to institute a Starship Troopers theory of governance for having the audacity to question the credibility of a bunch of folks who passionately supported the Vietnam War but only as long as they could conscript someone else to fight it. This from Miller, however, is a simple negation of liberal democracy. One understands what he's talking about, of course, but the implication is that freedom is so precious that we dare not allow it to be exercised. It's an outrage, better suited for Singapore than New York.
Somehow I think Matthew is deficient in his comprehension of Starship Troopers. Perhaps he only saw the movie, the book is of course a paen of libertarian-inspired political thought written by Robert A Heinlein who was a well know libertarian. To say that Zell Miller's comments that it is soldiers who defend Freedom of the Press rather than the writer is anti-libertarian is, ah how can I put it, fisking stupid. Starship Troopers explicitly talks about how and why a veteranocracy could arise. Matthew, albeit unwittigly, seems to illustrate the hypothetical causes rather well.
Matthew is apparently considered one of the brighter lights on the "liberal" side of the blog world in America. If these posts are representative (and a quick scan seems to indicate that its not far off) then no wonder the American left wing is looking so weak. Intellectually there is better debate between the different wings of the right wing.