Tuesday, October 07, 2003

It's a Battle of Wits with J.D. Hayworth!

I decided to take a swipe back at J.D. Hayworth for his column last Sunday in response to my Sept. 21 column. What's weird is that to my surprise, three separate people (all unknown to me) sent in and had lengthy letters to the editor published attacking J.D.'s reasoning about the "link" between Saddam and 9/11 this past week, so this column is a bit of piling on. But any day when you can make light of Hayworth and Marianne Jennings is a good day by my standards.

It's not a good headline, and entirely misses the 'wingers-attack-our-patriotism-because-they-can't-(or-won't)-argue-with-our-logic point, but such is life and/or editing.

BTW, Rep. Hayworth has taken down the Saddam-as-threat question from his website; you now can vote on driver's licenses for undocumented aliens. If you want to, go ahead here. It's certainly good public policy to screw up Internet polls, and anyway, as taxpayers, you're paying for it.

Don't forget to contribute to Catholic Social Services and/or Jewish Family & Children's Services; you can get the addresses in this entry (scroll down to just above Tribune headline).

East Valley Tribune, Oct. 5, 2003

I got under Rep. J.D. Hayworth’s smaller-but-still-commodious skin by noting that the very day he wrote claiming a connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11, President Bush finally said that there wasn’t a connection between Saddam Hussein and Sept. 11.

Hayworth argues that he meant something entirely different than what President Bush or Time magazine in 2003 or I mean by “linking” Saddam to Sept. 11. It’s a very idiosyncratic definition -- like President Clinton’s personal definition of sex. I guess to Hayworth, it all depends on what the meaning of “link” is. (And don’t forget Clinton used fancy language to hide an affair; Hayworth is using slippery syntax to justify a war.)

Hayworth can’t “link” Saddam to Sept. 11 with actual evidence, or because the hijackers were Iraqis, or got assistance or direction from Saddam. Instead, it’s a “historical inevitability” argument, a series of less-than-ironclad assumptions that if Saddam hadn’t invaded Kuwait, then the U.S. wouldn’t have troops in Saudi Arabia, which wouldn’t have outraged Osama bin Laden, who wouldn’t have declared jihad against America.

This decade-long historical inevitability argument has two problems. First, why stop at 10 years? Saddam wouldn’t have invaded Kuwait if the U.S. hadn’t “tilted” toward Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, which followed the Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the Shah, who wouldn’t have ruled Iran if the CIA hadn’t overthrown Mossadegh in 1954. You can ride this so-called reasoning back to the British Protectorate or stop short when Donald Rumsfeld met with Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war -- there’s no clear finish line.

Second, we can test the logic of Hayworth’s argument today, and it flunks. We’ve liberated Iraq from Saddam and U.S. troops are leaving Saudi Arabia. Thus, both of the inevitable and inexorable preconditions to Sept. 11, in the Hayworthian view, no longer exist. So why isn’t the war on terrorism over?

Hayworth’s claims crumble upon inspection. Maybe another operation limited his ability to digest more than one thought at a time? Or maybe the point isn’t to find some “connection,” however remote, between Saddam and Sept. 11, but rather to wave the bloody flag, bully his opponents, and attack their patriotism.

I certainly enjoy a good political food fight, and weekly I experiment to see what jokes and japes our rather tolerant editor will allow in print. But I’m paired with Marianne Jennings, so it’s not like decorum and respect for one’s adversaries are core values of the Tribune Opinion pages. Still, I don’t accuse my opponents of hating America.

Unfortunately for all of us, Hayworth does. He’s not relying on evidence, or logic, but instead yells that anybody who disagrees with him is essentially a traitor. Of course we Americans must pay $10,000 per month for business school for dozens of Iraqis, or give them radios and satellite phones at $6,000 apiece, and anybody who questions how Hayworth wants to spend that money is a “Saddam-lover.” (At least the oft-criticized midnight basketball programs provided Americans with jobs.) It’s an emotional appeal, because Hayworth won’t justify this stuff rationally.

Actually, wouldn’t real America-haters support policies that would eliminate 3.3 million jobs; turn a huge surplus into trillion-dollar structural deficits; pin down virtually all remaining active U.S. forces in a difficult nation-building program; starve our infrastructure while building Iraq’s instead; push millions more Americans into poverty and out of health insurance; and shift tax burdens from those making more than $200,000 annually to those making less? And they’d do those things while attacking the patriotism of opponents pointing out those uncomfortable truths.

For a guy who loves to dish it out, Hayworth sure hates to take it. So why’d he need that operation?

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