A Key Example of What is Wrong with Politics
In a call with reporters, [former Sen. JIm Talent (R-MO)] slammed Santorum for his Medicare Part D vote, calling it a “big expansion of a federal entitlement.” Asked by a reporter how he could criticize Santorum for taking the same position, Talent offered up only a general defense of his tenure in the Senate.
“I’d be happy, if I was running against Rick, to compare my record to his because I think it’s stronger in a whole lot of respects,” he said. “But he’s running against Governor Romney and the point is that Mitt Romney has a whole lot more comprehensively conservative record than Rick does.”
This is typical insofar as it illustrate the way political argument happens all too frequently in US politics. The goal here is to attack Santorum on something that the base doesn’t like (spending on social programs) and that can’t be attributed to his opponent (since Romney wasn’t in Congress)—in other words, it is cheap point-scoring. What it isn’t, however, is honest argumentation. It isn’t about principle or policy, it is about trying to find some sound-bitey attack on a political opponent. Never mind that the attacker voted for the bill. Never mind that the bill in question was the initiative of a GOP president and that a GOP congressional leadership rammed it through Congress.
All that matters is that it can be used in the moment to attack someone.
Too bad it is clear that only a handful (if that) of politicos actually have a coherent view of policy.
This is nothing new, and it is hardly a surprise. Nonetheless it remains a frustrating spectacle.