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Debate on Tim Russert highlights the differences between left and right
Published on October 12, 2003 By Draginol In Politics

Last night on Tim Russert (CNBC) Tucker Carlson and Al Franken battled it out. If you get a chance, look for it as they repeat the show regularly. It really highlights the difference between American conservatives and liberals.

I would argue most people on the left would certainly have no problem having Franken be one of their champions. He's quite intelligent, witty, full of "facts", and at least on paper, makes seemingly compelling arguments. I would even go as far as to say that those on the left, who watched the show, would argue that Franken more than held his own against the young conservative, Tucker Carlson.

Similarly, those of us who fall right of center would probably have no problem with Tucker Carlson generally representing the right's point of view. He's articulate, witty, intelligent, and decent.

Which is why the on-air battle, which became surprisingly belligerent, between Tucker and Franken was so revealing of both sides.

Here are some of the bullet points of that engagement:

  • In Franken's universe, liberals make mistakes, conservatives lie. That is, conservatives never misspeak or commit an error. Instead, those things are considered lies. If it turns out that there were no significant WMD in Iraq, it isn't that Bush/Blair were mistaken, no, they "lied to us" about the war. By contrast, the left, who loudly claimed that hundreds of thousands of people would die in an invasion weren't lying, they were mistaken. When challenged on this and asked for names of dishonest liberals he has to go back to LBJ. LBJ? Hello?? Clinton? Franken just dismissed that as a sex thing apparently forgetting the various justifications for attacking countries during the Lewinski scandal (remember the Sudan "chemical weapons plant" that got bombed which turned out to be nothing of the sort, apparently Franken's memory on liberal "mistakes" is pretty short term). It was on this point Tucker scored his home run. By demonstrating the tendency of Franken and people like him to paint mistakes by opponents as lies rather than honest mistakes, Franken, unintentionally I suspect, made his irrational hatred of his opponents clear.  From that point on, everything Franken said was fatally weakened. How can you trust someone who is this partisan?


  • Tucker doesn't like partisans. Specifically, he doesn't like people who will twist facts to meet a pre-determined outcome. In short, Tucker doesn't like behavior like that of Al Franken.  Tucker believes that people like Franken and Moore marginalize themselves because they are incapable of influencing the mainstream or their opponents. He believes that because he feels the left's arguments are so over the top and often obviously not in line with reality that non-partisans will reject them.


  • Franken, like many liberals, has fallen into the trap of playing games with statistics that he thinks bolsters his case but in actuality discredit him because they fail the test of common sense. For example, Franken likes to argue that if Bush had been our only President that no jobs ever created. Gee, how witty. Tucker didn't hide his disgust over these kinds of witticisms. Can Franken name a single piece of legislation that either Bush President supported that he feels caused job loss? Any? Franken argues against people. Tucker argues against principles. Rather than pointing out a policy of one of the Bush's that he feels caused such job loss, he attacks people personally.


  • Tucker is a conservative because, simply, he doesn't like people telling him how he should live. He believes Americans should make their own decisions and live with the consequences of those decisions. He's a conservative because he wants the government to leave us alone. "I already had a mommy, I don't need another one."


  • Franken, like many liberal commenters, demonstrates a depth of intelligence, but a shallowness of understanding.  After Tucker made an eloquent statement on why he's a conservative, Franken's reason for being liberal was essentially a list of anti-Bush talking points. No statements of principle. Just a listing of specific issue talking points that have nothing to do with any set of principles. And usually they're incredibly disingenuous talking points.


  • Franken really likes to let statistics (especially ones he's manipulated) do his talking. "You can't argue with the numbers..." he says as he tries to say that Bush I and II have not created any jobs. Except that his numbers don't actually argue a case at all. That's because Franken seems to lack the depth to argue against a principle or policy. He argues against people.  What is it he believes Bush did to cause job loss?


  • Tucker counters that sort of talking point nonsense by pointing out that it's not convincing. It may fire up other partisans but it's just intellectually dishonest. Which I totally agree with. I mean come on, only a total partisan would blame the current economic sluggishness on George W. Bush.


  • Franken, working hard to be a two-dimensional characterture of the left, even lamely brought in the whole "top 1% are getting most of the tax cuts." Which, to a non-partisan with an ounce of common sense would indicate that the top 1% must be paying the vast majority of taxes. But Franken is addicted to playing with statistics as much as his most reviled opponents. As a percent of taxes cut, the middle class benefited most. But in raw dollars, sure, the top few percent benefited the most because they pay the most.  In a country in which 60% of the population pays nearly 100% of the taxes with the top 10% of the wealthiest people paying 90% of the taxes, it's pretty hard to have any tax cut that doesn't benefit those people. Franken demonstrated clearly that in the name of petty partisanship he'd stoop to saying essentially  "nearly half the population got no tax cut at all!" (because they don't pay taxes, they can't actually get a tax cut).  Which Tucker's point held true: Partisan crap like this won't convince anyone. It'll just make other partisans of your kind jump up and down. Franken, like Moore, is the kind of guy who would write a book arguing for 4 day work weeks and say "People already take off Friday in huge numbers anyway. 20% of sick days are on Friday alone!" (think about that for a second).

And so they battled it out on the air. In my view, Tucker not only came across as more convincing, he came across as more decent. Franken seemed full of anger and hate and carried an irrational dislike of his opponents. He even labeled Bush on air as "radically right wing". Yea right, the guy who wants to give prescription drugs is a "Radical" right winger. Get a grip.

The exchange really, for me, showed just how intellectually bankrupt the left has become. Franken, reduced to just parroting talking points put together by others seemed unable to think on his feet.  Bereft of any philosophical political ideals, Franken is forced into playing games with statistics that even a below average blogger could fisk.

I must say, I was truly disappointed with Franken. About half way through the exchange I realized that Franken is not much different than a mediocre left wing blogger on the net. That is, he offered no more insight than the typical venomous spew that can regularly be seen in the comments area on a blog site.  He's become popular either because his SNL fame overwhelmingly carried him or the left has become so incapacitated that they have no vigor left to put forth a set of basic principles worth fighting for.

Comments (Page 2)
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on Nov 05, 2003
One comment , the US does not have a left. Trust me guys, the Democrates are not left, Pseudo Left, but not left, Close to the centre, very bleeding heart, but very soft,.
on Nov 30, 2003
I'll admit that I am a fan of Franken, but I did agree with you when you said that he argued against people, not principals. The only thing I do have to say is that both my liberal and conservative friends are becoming increasingly aware of Bush's leaning towards the radical right. And by radical right, I wish to point out that I mean the hyper-fundamentalism that has speared an otherwise tolerable presidency. Typically the radical right stands for Christianity above all other religions, and this is clearly something that Bush supports. So radical is his fundamentalism, in fact, that to continue in the same faith-based vain would truly result in a more Libertarian government. This is the thing that scares liberals (partisans and non alike) more than any sort of Republican president.
on Jan 17, 2005
Oh, dear.... When will it occur to the 51% of the country that voting for a guy who can't even complete a coherent sentence (instead of a decorated albeit unexpressive war hero) isn't exactly the best way to show one's patriotism? I am disgusted that windbags like Tucker Carlson continue to draw supporters from under the rocks. Obviously, I'm a liberal--although I'll tell you right now that I've often spoke out against the likes of Michael Moore (I'm also a college teacher, and I regularly have my students analyze Moore's blatant errors and manipulations). However, facts are facts. So, dear conservatives, let's look at the FACTS. Brave American soldiers are dying by the hundreds; Iraqi civilians are dying by the thousands; Al Qaeda has a far GREATER grip on the region than before; Bush, Rumsfeld, and even Colon Powell (whom I previously greatly admired) argued that they knew EXACTLY where to find WMD, but haven't found a single thing. This is more than just a simple "oops". People are dying. Your sons, your neighbors' sons, are getting blown to ribbons. Every day. And still, "conservatives" say all is well, the country isn't owed an apology, Bush just made an honest mistake, we must support our brave troops by keeping them exactly where they are. Bush, the smug bastard, even pins medals on the chests of those who have betrayed this great country worse than anyone since the cabinet of Ulyssys Grant. My friends, we are living in Biblical times. Anyone who can't see that... well, I'm afraid you're hopeless. Rail all you want against the "liberals" who ended slavery, promoted civil rights, opposed genocide, and (by the way) founded this country to begin with. It doesn't matter. You're too scared to see the facts, too wrapped up in your own inferiority complexes to see how dangerous your own party has actually become. No, liberals aren't perfect. Far from it. I for one had/have huge problems with Clinton for what he did in terms of infidelity and purgury... but I can't imagine anyone with even a quarter of a brain trying to imply that Clinton's sins are equal to Bush and Co. systematically lying to the nation, the world, saying not only that they THOUGHT Hussein had weapons but that they KNEW he did AND EXACTLY WHERE THEY WERE, only to blow the crap out of countless people and come up with.... nothing. Face it... Conservatives are the modern equivalent of Romans. Sooner or later, if they're left in charge, the Visigoths will march.
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