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Opening Arguments

Room for debate

"Can't see the forest for the trees" political analysis -- here's Franklin College's journalism directorJohn Krull  on the Lugar-Mourdock race:


The brutal truth about this Senate race is that all three of the leading candidates occupy similar ground in the ideological landscape. They all are conservatives who distrust government’s ability to intercede on behalf of anyone or anything but business interests.

They share the same reverence for market forces that monks in the Middle Age did for miracles.

All of them are to the right of Richard Nixon, who as president proposed a guaranteed minimum income for all American families.

The American politician who trotted out an idea like that now would be branded both a Communist and an atheist — and those would be the nicest things said.

Given that the differences dividing Lugar, Mourdock and Donnelly on the big issues of the day are only ones of degree, their campaigns have to find other ways to make distinctions.

[. . .]

The rest of the country may be treated to a robust argument about what the federal government’s role should be in regard to health care, about how important the deficit really is and what role government should play in regard to minimizing the worst effects of economic turbulence.

These are sweeping historic questions that call for great vision and powerful arguments. It will be a grand debate, one that will be writ large in the histories of our time.

Here in Indiana, though, we won’t get much of that debate.

Instead, we’ll get a steady diet of sniping about hotel bills and office hours. And those will be the high points.

Someone who thinks Richard Nixon was a conservative has no business trying to divine the nuances of rightwing thought -- hell, anyone could be to the right of the self-described "pragmatic idealist" who gave us revenue sharing and the EPA. And someone with such obvious contempt for capitalism -- pitying the poor delusional souls who "have reverence for market forces that monks in the Middle Age did for miracles" -- might not be the best suited to explain the role of Washington in the economy.

I heard this same sort of stuff yesterday on "Indiana Week in Review," the analysis of Hoosier news coming from an Indianapolis TV station and broadcast here on public TV. Instead of discussing the issues that are important but too complicated for us simple-minded voters, such as the debt and the Middle East and the economy, the candidates are going on about this residency issue because it's easy and straightforward and we can get it through our thick heads.

Phew. Maybe the debate about the deficit and debt isn't as robust as it could be, but it's out there. God almighty, the size and scope of the federal governmnt is the raison d'etre of the Mourdock campaign. I've also heard Mourdock go into some of the financial specifics of the "taming of the beast" he'd undertake -- which is what you'd expect from someone as good with numbers as the state treasurer.

So, let's explain to all these expert commenators what makes the residency issue, as simple as it is, a good symbolic argument for Mourdock's Washington-out-of-control theme. Washington got that way because people go there and stay too long and get sucked into the cozy culture of federal power and lose touch with the values of the people back home who sent them there. What better way to illustrate that than point out the need of the senator to stay in hotel rooms when he comes home? Saying that such is common practice, as the author does, describes the situation; it doesn't justify it.


Mon, 04/02/2012 - 1:52pm

Do you really think that Mourdock (what a great movie-villain name!) would shrink the federal government? No he wouldn't. He'd simply cut services to the poor and middle classes to fund lower taxes for the rich and a fatter Pentagon budget. We elected a bunch of Tea Partyers in 2010, and they've been a disaster for Republicans.

Furthermore, if your biggest complaint about Nixon is that he didn't hate poor people enough, you've overlooked a few things. Watergate and Vietnam come to my mide. (Yes, I know he didn't start the Vietnam War. But he lied about his "secret plan" to end it.)

Mon, 04/02/2012 - 6:51pm


When I got of the Navy in 1986, I took a bus ride from Olongapo, Philippines to Clark Air Force base for my MAC flight home.  Going through many villages I noticed to what the extent of their luxury was.  I only saw rusted Coca-Cola signs.

Poor is a relative world.  High, low, hot, cold, hard, soft, poor and rich.  All relative words.  They mean different things to different people.

We have the wealthiest poor people in the world.  During our heat waves, have we ever lost over ten thousand people like what recently happened in France?

Why should people of any means in this country become or continue to be slaves of the so-called poor?  "Guilt" will only go so far.  There are no laws that require someone to produce.  What if the people of any means slowed down or stopped so that there would be nothing to loot?  You appear to dislike people of means and feel with their loss the world would be better.

The Tea Partyers were a disaster for the Republicans.  They were also a disaster for the Democrats.

Mon, 04/02/2012 - 9:28pm

Sounds like Franlin Colleges' John Krull  would be happy to have Senator Barack Obama running for office in Indiana.   Perhaps he should relocate three hours west?