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James Boyce Headshot

Note To Dramatic Democrats. Please. Stop.

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If there's one thing that people in the real world hate, it's the tit-for-tat, back and forth bullshit that inside-the-beltway geniuses place on the pedestal of "political dialogue." The rest of the world has a much simpler phrase for the practice: pure crap.

The exchange on Anderson Cooper's show following the State of the Union last week between J.C. Watts and Rahm Emmanuel made the all-time D.C. Schoolyard Spat Hall of Fame. J.C. actually wanted to send Rahm to bed without his dinner and Rahm offered to get J.C. a copy of Bush's new budget first thing the next morning. Political debate? Hardly. Missed Democratic opportunity? Absolutely.

Rahm blew the chance to make an irrefutable point: the Republicans passed legislation last week raising the interest rates on student loans on July 1st. The new interest rates on some student loans will now be over 8%, fact. These rate increases will negatively impact the millions of American families who rely on student loans to send their kids to school, fact. The increased revenue to the government is beyond miniscule in its non-impact on the federal deficit, fact. While this act is in keeping with one of the primary goals of the Medusa (the end of government assistance) it is fundamentally neither compassionate nor conservative, opinion.

Instead of pinning Watts down on a truly odious piece of legislation, Rahm went for the hyperbolic jugular just like Governor Kaine had before him and claimed that the Republicans were cutting student loans. Watts slithered right through this small opening and went on the attack.

Now don't get me wrong. I fully recognize the precious few real people watch the State of the Union and furthermore, I am not aware of a single real person who watchd the shows that follow with people talking about the talk. But if any normal people happened to stumble upon this show, they would have thought they saw two competiting views being debated when with a touch of restraint, Rahm could have shown that this was clearly a one-sided issue. This is a pattern and a trap that Democrats love to follow and then fall into.

By exaggerating, they create an opening. By creating an opening, they make a debate out of what should not even be a topic of discussion. The lights fade. The protagonists pat themselves on their backs and their staffers smile at their boss's witty retorts. Meanwhile the public throws up their hands, or just throws up.

I also saw this Democratic penchant from a Universalist minister of all people recently. From the pulpit no less, she started off well, describing Rupert Murdoch as evil. But then she hastened to add that his conservative propaganda machine reaches over six and a half billion people every day. She paused for emphasis and added "every single day." I have no idea what her next point was because I was calculating that she was off by billions of people, billions. Again, she had a valid point on media consolidation and its effect on the truth but she lost me, and many others, with her wild exaggeration.

Let's face it. What the neoconservative majority in Washington truly wants to do and is actively doing is bad enough. Expose covert CIA agents? Check. Aim to overturn Roe vs. Wade? Check. End the wall between Church and State? Check. Drill in the Artic Wildlife Refuge, increase the debt ceiling, raise Medicare premiums and cut taxes for multi-millionaires? Check, check, check and check.

Trust me, with all of that going for them and for us, we don't need to exaggerate a thing.