But first . . .

BILL

Landy Christensen: ‘I’m surprised that you would even consider printing that garbage.’

☞ Once in a while I think it’s helpful. Both to remind those of us who disagree with Bill what passionate opposition we face . . . and perhaps to cause some of who disagree with us but are more thoughtful than Bill (as most are) to wonder why Bill agrees with them.

Having Bill on their side obviously does not prove them wrong. And I would not suggest they are wrong on every single thing. But still.

John Kasley: ‘It’s a potent reminder how important it is to vote. I’ll bet Bill votes.’

David: ‘I hope Bill does not count himself as a ‘compassionate’ conservative.’

George from Alabama: ‘I have to hear this mindset each workday. Actually, Bill’s political opinions are on no higher plane than a rabid sport fan’s: Conservatism is simply the ‘team’ he chose to cheer for.’

☞ Go, Green Bay!

Actually, you make a good point. The country is almost splitting into two increasingly antagonistic teams. We desperately need to find more common ground, conduct more civil, reasoned discourse.

Chad: ‘Maybe it’s just me, but Bill seems angry.’

☞ You want angry? How about Keith Olbermann on the Chris Wallace / Clinton interview. Click here to see it. It will make Bill’s head explode. But as angry as it is – and earnest – it’s clear that a lot of thought went into it.

A DIFFERENT BILL

A different Bill writes: ‘I voted for Bush, but I am now: Disappointed in my president. Disillusioned by the war in Iraq (I think we were mislead). Open minded, but still very nervous of depending on a Democrat to defend my family from terror threats. Yes, I voted for Bush – but don’t ridicule me; instead extend a hand and show me why the Democratic Party offers more. I was in favor of Iraq – don’t tell me how foolish I was – think about why I felt so strongly. Don’t just tell me what the Republicans are doing wrong; tell me what Democrats will do right. Don’t convince me I was wrong in the past; convince me you have a plan to go from this point forward, and you’ll be amazed. People like me (and not the closed-minded fringe like yesterday’s opposing point of view) are the voters that can make the difference in the next election – but I need to see less piling on and more substance to vote democratic.’

This Bill, I think, is dead on. We make a terrible mistake when we ridicule people who don’t see things our way. My sense is that we don’t actually do this as much as they think – they keep hearing, from Rush Limbaugh and others, that we ridicule them, yet I don’t remember Bill Clinton or Al Gore or John Kerry (or Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi) doing a lot of ridiculing. And I hope my own continuous sharp criticism of the current Republican leadership does not often cross the line to ridicule of Republicans generally. (Ridiculing a few specific Republicans is all but irresistible. But Jon Stewart does it so much better than I ever could.)

To the extent we do cross that line, it’s dumb and we need to do better.

As to Different Bill’s specific points, I think most people actually do know the kinds of things Democrats favor domestically. Democrats will work much harder for affordable health care, college loans, safer coal mines, cleaner water, a hike in the minimum wage, a more effective FEMA, less government intrusion in personal decisions, a sustainable environment . . . all that. (And as Bill Winter, a marine running for Congress in Colorado, is fond of saying: think of some of the things we liberals gave America that you like – like weekends. And the 40-hour work week. And an end to slavery, and public education, and women’s suffrage, and Social Security, and the Family and Medical Leave Act. Liberals did all that.)

But Different Bill’s main concern seems to be terrorism. And my own view is that if Al Gore had been in the White House, he would have taken the ‘tremendous’ ‘immediate’ threat of Bin Laden with utmost seriousness and very possibly killed him before 9/11 could have happened. He would surely not have taken a month vacation after getting an August 6 briefing titled ‘Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the U.S.’

I think the same kind of liberal Democrats who beat Hitler and took very tough action in Japan . . . the same kind who faced down Khrushchev over Cuba and Berlin . . . the same kind who deposed Slobodan Milosovich . . . and the same kind who were fighting terrorism only to see that effort ratcheted down and redirected toward Iraq – read Richard Clarke’s book, read Paul O’Neill’s book, read Bob Woodward’s book – those same kind of patriotic, tough Democrats would exercise better judgment than the current Administration has, and would find more effective ways to use what’s left of our strength to protect America. Strength is only as good as the strategic thinking behind it. The strategic thinking of this Administration has been abysmal, has weakened us terribly, and made us less safe.

And one final thing. Just by not being the Republican Party, the Democrats will have a leg up in keeping us safe. That’s because, whether you think it is fair or not, much of the rest of the world yearns for America to ‘reboot.’ We will be stronger if we have more of the world back on our side. Even if we wound up doing exactly what the Bush team would have done, it would be better received and better supported coming from people who had worked hard to retire the Bush team.

We need you, Different Bill, and will welcome you with open arms.

And now, finally . . .

TAKE A FEW WEEKS TO TEACH ENGLISH IN CHINA

Jesse: ‘Just got back from a trip to China and wanted to catch up on the columns I missed. How come your archives don’t have anything later than June ’06?’

Me: ‘Because they are shown in European date format – 06 means 2006, not June. Thanks for your interest.’

Jesse: ‘Well, duh. Thanks.’

Me: ‘How was China?’

Jesse: ‘Memorable. Taught 140 Chinese grad students English for three weeks, for an outfit called Teach for Friendship. Wouldn’t trade the experience. If any of your readers want to work their butt off for a pittance, they might look into it. I got paid 5000 RMB and brought most of it home. My neighborhood Wells Fargo charged a mere 15% to change it into dollars.’

 

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