Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Felons and Terrorists: Democratic Constituencies?

Gov. Vilsack (D) of Iowa has signed an executive order restoring voting rights to roughly 50,000 ex-felons in Iowa. As you might imagine, conservatives are using this to make outrageous claims about the Democratic Party's base.

Don't ask me why I was listening to Rush Limbaugh today, but I made the mistake of doing so. By pure coincidence, I tuned in right before Mr. Limbaugh launched into a tirade about what Gov. Vilsack had done. He said that Democrats favor the restoration of voting rights because criminals are their biggest constituency. And then he said, with clunky sarcasm, that the Democrats would next be giving voting rights to their "second biggest constituency, terrorists."

I'm not sure why I'm even addressing him, since no one really cares what Rush Limbaugh has to say anymore. Still, any serious conservative should be embarrassed by the use of such intellectually dishonest rhetoric. Terrorists, a Democratic constituency? Give me a break. Even though I believe that Osama bin Laden is better off as a result of Bush's policies (that is, he can achieve his goals - chief among them, recruitment - more easily given the war in Iraq), I'd never suggest that terrorists are a Republican constituency. Bush is doing what he's doing because he honestly thinks it is the way to defeat terrorism. Many Americans happen to disagree with the means, but no one disagrees with the ends. And for Limbaugh or anyone else to suggest otherwise of the Democratic Party is just pathetic. Terrorists don't discriminate between Republicans and Democrats.

Anyway, Limbaugh ended by saying Vilsack acted as he has because "Democrats need every vote they can get." Let me remind him that a Democrat got more votes than his beloved Mr. Bush in 2000; that a Democrat received the votes of over 59 million Americans in 2004 (far more than any previous candidate for president of either party); and that more people have voted for Democratic Senate candidates (99.7 million) than have voted for Republican Senate candidates (97.3 million) in the last three election cycles.

As for Vilsack's executive order, Limbaugh's reaction illustrates why it was such a courageous act. The public is not likely to be sympathetic to any sort of rights for criminals. And if he is contemplating a run for the presidency in 2008, as many think he is, this won't help him (even in Democratic primaries, Mr. Limbaugh). So I tend to think Vilsack was doing the right thing as he sees it and for no other reason. Why can't conservatives like Limbaugh just acknowledge that and argue on the merits?

Speaking of the merits, I think Vilsack did the right thing and I hope to explain why in an upcoming post.

39 Comments:

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous reaganrepublican said...

Imagine that ... a political commentator jumping to a conclusion that plays well to their listeners. Could Al Franken learn a technique or two from Rush? Or is Al's message too depressing to gain an audience outside of the most rabid among us? Is it the message, or the messenger that wins the media ratings? Hint- (it's the message)

I also agree with SKM that Vilsack did the right thing restoring voting rights. These felons did their time. And now it's time to forgive and allow them the opportunity get on with their lives. Which includes the right to vote.

 
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