LETTERS

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January 30, 2009

Op-ed only destroys straw man

After reading Henry Phillips’s editorial (“When Right Is Wrong,” 1/27/09) in the last Maroon, I can only assume Mr. Phillips has grown bored of making snowmen and decided to make strawmen instead

After reading Henry Phillips’s editorial (“When Right Is Wrong,” 1/27/09) in the last Maroon, I can only assume Mr. Phillips has grown bored of making snowmen and decided to make strawmen instead. His cavalcade of sloppy reasoning and false assumptions is aimed at criticizing a president—and a political party—that exists only in his head.

Take, for example, his assertion that “Republicans lost much of the black vote by opposing civil-rights legislation essential to our nation’s progress.” I assume he has forgotten that Southern Democrats neutered the Civil Rights Act of 1957, rendering it so ineffective that fewer blacks were voting in the South after its passage than before. He might also forget that 63 percent of Democrats voted to pass the Civil Rights Act of 1964, while 80 percent of Republicans did. By Phillips’s reasoning, Democrats ought to have lost more of the black vote than Republicans did.

Later on, Phillips suggests “George H.W. Bush once said, ‘I’m conservative, but I’m not a nut about it.’ This is a far cry from George W. Bush’s we ain’t gonna regulate nothin’, no matter what that darn Paul Krugman says.” Notice how he is contrasting a direct quote from Bush 41 with an imaginary cornpone phrase he has put in the mouth of Bush 43. Also note how he has managed to miss the dramatic increases in regulation extant under the Bush administration, including (but not limited to) the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, the No Child Left Behind Act, and the PATRIOT Act. Most of these acts are controversial and both sides of the aisle certainly disagree on their merits, but the idea that Bush didn’t “regulate nothin’” is simply ludicrous. Almost as ludicrous as calling the Republican Party unshakably anti-immigration—has Mr. Phillips ever read the Comprehensive Immigration Reform Act or listened to John McCain talk?

He continues by claiming, “[T]oday’s Republican intellectuals come not from Wall Street and economics departments but from Wasilla and Ann Coulter fan clubs,” thus clearly demonstrating he has never read National Review, the Weekly Standard, or Commentary. If he bothered, he might find a host of powerhouse intellectuals espousing the same principles of “low taxes,” “limited spending,” and “a strong national defense” that he claims to seek. He might even learn to criticize individual policies of the Bush administration on these grounds without creating a cowboy caricature of the president and the party.

Brian Hinkle

A.B. 2007