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Piling on the Westover column

As you've probably already noticed, Captain Fishsticks Craig Westover recently wrote another column defending Michele Bachmann, this one in response to Karl Bremer's Pioneer Press editorial that pointed out the stone-cold fact that Michele Bachmann has accepted $50,000 in contributions from a group that wants to "end government involvement in education." Dump Bachmann has already weighed in at length on Westover's column and the problems with it.

I have a simpler problem with the column: Craig Westover fails to hold Michele Bachmann accountable and demand a clear statement of her position on education. Of course, we shouldn't be surprised, because this tactic follows a unique Westoverian pattern. In his columns on the emergency contraceptives issue and Bachmann's (lack of a) stance on them, Westover attacked "DFLers" and other Bachmann detractors while failing to be intellectually honest and holding Bachmann's feet to the fire. Those columns never answered the essential question: Does Michele Bachmann support the availability and use of emergency contraceptives such as Plan B? Similarly, in this column, Westover attacks Bremer for using "guilt by association" and claims an attempt to "politically nail" Bachmann-- then changes the subject completely. The telling line is this one:

The gist of Bremer's harangue is that it is somehow inconsistent for Bachmann to say that public education is "her number one issue" and accept campaign contributions from individuals who have signed the proclamation of the Alliance for the Separation of School and State, which favors "ending government involvement in education."

Hmm. Yes, that seems "somehow inconsistent" to me. I can't think of a single way that those two facts would be consistent. Thus the question asked by Karl Bremer is a reasonable one: is Michele Bachmann for or against public education? Does she support the abolition of public education? What is her plan on education?

Westover's column answers none of these questions. It fails to address them completely. Whether or not you agree with his ideas in the rest of the column, it is intellectually dishonest for Westover to smear Bachmann's critics, who are asking reasonable questions, and not demand, or even look for, an answer from the candidate herself, or even to acknowledge that, based on the facts, their questions are relevant and substantial.

In short, the "principled conservative" Westover, who uses his support of gay marriage as a way to "prove" that he doesn't walk the GOP party line, has become yet another partisan hack. There's nothing wrong with partisan hackery, as this site has been known to dabble in that illustrious field occasionally. But at least I am up-front about it. Westover is not. Why does the Pioneer Press continue to publish the writings of this GOP hack and represent them as somehow transcending partisan discourse?

Comments

I think Craig Westover's support of gay marriage is a principled position. He supports it on conservative grounds - not liberal ones.

He also disagrees with Republican leaders on a number of other issues - he opposed the stadium boondoggle, opposes light rail (both issues that the Governor supports).

He's got a blind spot for Michele Bachmann. I'm not sure why. And he spins for her with the best of them.

I respect Craig's position on gay marriage. I think it is sound and logical-- the only position that anyone, gay or straight, Christian or Muslim or nonreligious, liberal or conservative, could come to after thinking it through: that everyone deserves the same rights under the law. Call it marriage, call it civil unions, what have you, to divorce the religious question from the legal one: it just makes sense.

He can get away with disagreeing with some Republicans (there is bipartisan support for both light rail and stadiums) on the issues, but when it comes down to it, he is a Party man all the way. He's not going to ask the tough questions of the Republican candidate. When she's attacked, he has two responses, both of which he demonstrates in the latest column: first, attack the messenger; second, change the subject.

[1] Craig along with Russ Fiengold is the only public person I have seen present a sane and non-evasive view on the gay marriage issue.

[2] Karl's question was, "She says education is her number one issue, but is she for it or against it." Westover did what he frequently does. He ducked the question - as Bachmann does on Plan B, and other contraception matters.

[3] Watch Craig enough and you will see him take a comment and focus on only one part, sometimes a minor part, where he feels comfortable, and duck a direct confrontation over the main idea.

[4] Craig does no editing of comments, and is responsive and will quickly and thoughtfully answer email. He is less the provocative pundit there than in his posting and countercommentary.

[5] He gives Bachmann a free pass.

[6] On the Bremer item, he ultimately turned the thread to vouchers; indicating perhaps where Bachmann, once she stops ducking the education issue, may come from.

[7] The Jundts, sponsors of the Bush visit, in Wayzata and not in MN 6, are tight with Gonzaga, a Jesuit university in Spokane, WA [go 'zags]. To me that fits the voucher slant, as the Catholic and evangelical Christian schools have a common purpose in wanting secular government tax dollars diverted to subsidize them, contra to the Establishment clause [as I read it].

[8] Bachmann taking aid from a master fundraiser in the Jesuit Catholic wing of the GOP religious tent implies to me a conscious alliance aimed at unseparating church and state, to the fiscal advantage of the church; and everyone should weigh that most carefully. Bachmann has a somewhat prominent mention of a Tim LaHaye endorsement on her webpage, so we have the wholly-whacked-out rapturists on one end of that spectrum, and traditional Roman Catholicism on the other; with the specific Bachmann flavor in between, probably closer to LaHaye.

[9] Bachmann, with Jungbauer in the state senate sponsored a bill to teach craationism/ID as a required part of any science curriculum teaching the "controversial" theory, evolution.

[10] per:
http://home.att.net/~midnightflyer/madison.html
James Madison, with wisdom:

"The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe with blood for centuries.

"Strongly guarded as is the separation between Religion and Government in the Constitution of the United States, the danger of encroachment by Ecclesiastical Bodies may be llustrated by precedents already furnished in their short history."

Forgot, the last Madison quote: Source:"Detached Memorandum", 1823

Short history for certain, at that time.

Also forgot, on the religious right spectrum, we have a Baptist born again president, who has moved to privitize welfare via the Department of Faith approach to "charity" vs. "entitlement."

Bachmann favors privatizing Social Security, and a combined privitizing-churchifying of an educational system (not without faults but) which has kept our nation for over two centuries from falling into despotism or rampant bigotry, and instead helped move generally in opposite directions.

What is with this Westover clown anyway? Westover is to rational thought what fish sticks is to fresh salmon.