Arianna Huffington - Too tough on the Democrats? Too much "red meat" regarding Republicans? - By Alex Hammer

Disclosures: I've had two articles published at The Huffington Post Off The Bus.

Arianna is a Facebook friend, and we've had a little bit of nice online correspondence. I've worked on a limited and volunteer basis with some of the management of OffTheBus.com, The Huffington Post's citizen journalism initiative, to try to assist the project's development.

Arianna Huffington - Too tough on the Democrats?

In her most recent blog post of December 10, entitled Arianna Huffington: Democrats Need To Admit They Have A Problem: They Are Addicted to Backing Down, Arianna states in part:
"It's shocking that any American lawmaker -- of either party -- would go along with state-sanctioned torture. But it's not shocking when you realize it's just part of a long line of Democratic "acquiescence." From the outright support of the war authorization (sorry, Hillary, we all know what the bill was about) to the latest surrender on war funding, Republicans know Democrats will bluster...and then cave. So of course they're taking "increasingly hard-lined positions.""

On this initial point of torture I would agree. There are certain issues which, if one is to maintain any real semblance of integrity and serve as a steward for civilized action in the rule of law that one must take a stand. Although I haven't followed recent developments of this issue (and thus am taking Arianna's description of the Democrat's position on it at face value) torture would clearly seem to be one such signature issue.

Go Arianna.

Later in the piece she continues:
"And that's the point. The Republican aren't going to change. If the disastrous foreign policy the U.S. has pursued for seven years is going to change, it's going to have to be because Democrats force it to change....

Memo to Oprah: while you're on the campaign trail, maybe you can facilitate an intervention. How about you and Dr. Phil show up at the next debate and haul the Democratic frontrunners and the Congressional leadership off to spinal rehab?"

Here Arianna and I begin to diverge somewhat. I realize that this excerpt (especially the Oprah part) may or may not just be cutesy language, at least in part, but let's look at additional recent material.

Arianna Huffington - Too much "red meat" regarding Republicans?

Other recent posts (not a surprise, perhaps) by Ms. Huffington on The Huffington Post contain a frontal assault on Republican actions and behaviors:
Dec. 6 - HuffPost's "The Bush Years" Posters: A Powerful Political Stocking Stuffer
"Three weeks ago, we launched HuffPost's Posterizing the Modern GOP project to graphically capturing the lunacy of the Bush years."

Dec. 6 - Huckabee Tries to Shoot the Messenger, But Wounds His Campaign Instead
"The way that Mike Huckabee has handled the furor caused by the Huffington Post's coverage of his role in the release of Wayne Dumond, a serial rapist who went on to rape and kill at least one other woman, has been very revealing. And troubling."

Nov. 28 - Karl Rove's Shameless, Remorseless, Soulless Attempt to Rewrite History
"Too political? For Karl Rove? That's like saying something was too bloody for Count Dracula."

I'm no Republican apologist. I am an independent and I abhor some of the things that have been done by the Bush Administration etc. as described by many (also back in May 2006 I wrote Hammer Calls For Impeachment Proceedings Investigating Actions of President George Bush, a request to look into impeachment hearings to see whether that would be warranted, not a call to necessarily hold them per se, much less a call to impeach), but I also abhor something else.

I really dislike it, and think it is a fundamental problem of our government and society:

That would be partisanship.

Partisanship 101
In one prior writing, The Problem With Moral Victories, I wrote in part:
"We’re being antagonistic for the other’s own good or for the good of the state (Note: I was discussing my home state of Maine) we tell ourselves. And more than that, if we didn’t oppose strongly the other side would get a foothold and win out. We have an obligation to oppose.

But then we get stalemate. Or if one side has the numbers or leverage they get more of their things through but the other side certainly isn’t a partner and the populace becomes disenfranchised from all the rancor and lack of bipartisan results and tunes out or jumps on both sides - majority and minority - and says politicians are as good as lawyers or used car salesmen (with apologies to those professions also, no one should be stereotyped in a blanketed manner).

And we relish in moral victories. What we prevented the other side from accomplishing becomes more prominent and a source of pride than what we individually (or collaboratively with the other side) would have been able to produce in terms of positive effects. It’s that famous “politics of destruction”. It may seem easier to tear down than build up, and possibly more fun. But while it takes great skill to build a beautiful building, any bulldozer can demolish it in short order."


"There is a famous story of a hand that said that it wasn’t going to feed food to the mouth, because the mouth got all the pleasure of eating and the hand did all this unrewarded work! So it stopped out of stubbornness, wouldn’t listen to reason and the person starved. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face!"

I'm not talking about allowing oneself to be steamrolled. One can be fiercely determined without ever being abrasive, or name-calling, or condescending.

Force, while I wouldn't rule it out in all instances, can be counterproductive, leading to retaliation, defensivesiveness, passive-aggressiveness, etc.

Take your pick of these famous sayings:

"An eye for an eye leaves the entire world blind"

"We must make sure that when we fight monsters that we do not become monsters ourselves"


"Violence is the last bastion of the incompetent". Like a frustrated parent that may hit their child to "behave", sometimes when we do not know more effective solutions one might turn to short term fixes that can also bring long term baggage.

Not that there aren't any bullies also in the world, I recognize.

And one more:

"We have met the enemy, and it is us"

In Red Meat I write in part:
"The candidates become gladiators for our drives and desires. We love to, on the one side, see the Republicans taken down a notch. And boy that Hillary is tough. I think some Republican Administrations have been arrogant, and I don’t mind, in some respects, them being taken down a notch as well. But in some areas areas I am conservative and I also don’t believe that these types of attacks - though they feel good - really service our country.

And boy that Rove, he sure is good (”boy genius” is one of his nicknames). I’m being sarcastic. Rove has been immensely effective (although not recently) it appears, by supplementing brainpower with ruthlessness. That’s not what our country needs."

I know that there are a substantial amount of, for example, Independents in this country, but we in my opinion shouldn't complain about the politicians we elect when they do the things that they said that they would do (in large or small measure) were we to elect them.

We say that we want higher quality programs on TV, but then we collectively watch (and thus reinforce) junk.

On the whole I somewhat prefer Democrats to Republicans (although on some issues I am more in the Republican group, realize both groups are far from homogeneous), as I am not a relativist that believes that anything is as good as anything else. I couldn't criticize Ms. Huffington for her writing, who I admire as a writing and business and political talent, without looking at the context within our greater society that allows and in fact may foster such particular tone of expression (and Arianna is much much more tame in her writing than some).

In sum, I'd also like to see the Democrats have more backbone. But without the read meat.

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