I should state up front that Center for American Progress blogger Matt Yglesias doesn’t think very much of me. I’ve avoided commenting on him as of late, partly out of compassion, and partly because I’m sure he doesn’t read “replacement-level pundits” anyway.
But alas, his tears, they sustain me. I can’t refrain from commenting on this blog post about Democratic Senate candidate Jack Conway’s bizarre ad attacking Rand Paul’s religion:
This ad has the virtue—not that common in politics—of being accurate. It also has the virtue of raising actual policy issues about the consequences of Paul’s position on tax reform. It’s true that the implication that unorthodox religious belief should disqualify one from office is ugly, but it’s an implication that I think is extremely common in American politics. Joe Lieberman ran around the country 10 years ago slandering atheists and Mitt Romney did much the same in his effort to make Mormonism acceptable to the GOP’s Christian base voters.
If you watch Conway’s ad, it attacks Paul’s Christianity by saying he worshiped “a false God” known as “Aqua Buddha.” Hey, folks: No serious person thinks that Rand Paul professed genuine religious devotion to his bong.
The best part has to be Yglesias’ comment on the ad as a true statement on Paul’s tax policy. Did the Aqua Buddha ad make you think about tax policy? Here it is, in case you haven’t seen it.
Hmmm… very educational. I think I just learned that Rand Paul is a godless heathen who wants to dodge taxes on the false idols he worships or something. Then again, Yglesias does explicitly advocate lying for political gain, so maybe it’s all part of the game.
Yglesias then makes a bizarre pivot:
At any rate, what I find most striking about the Conway-related outrage is the lack of outrage over the torrent of xenophobic China-bashing ads we’ve seen from candidates of both parties throughout this campaign season. Accusing one’s opponent of transferring economic opportunities from the United States to China (sometimes India) is a major feature of a huge number of 2010 campaigns. These attacks tend to be factually misleading, and also promote the widespread by definitely wrong misconception that the US and China are engaged in a zero-sum contest for prosperity.</p>
I’d like to put the best construction on this and note that Yglesias is expressing a degree of independence from his fellow CAP apparatchiks, who cooked up the smear that the Chamber of Commerce is spending foreign money in elections. But then he goes on to show that he is still enthralled with the Potemkin-village visit that he and several other liberal journalists took recently at the expense of China-United States Exchange Foundation:
What’s more, even granting the factual and analytic premises of these ads their ethics is clearly mistaken. If it was the case that the US and China face zero-sum competition for economic resources, transferring resources from rich America to poor China would be morally praiseworthy.
Morally praiseworthy? Huh? I’m as much in favor of free trade as the next guy, but primarily because it benefits us. Is our government intended to promote American economic interests, or is it an international charity aimed at propping up an evil, despotic government?
And more importantly, if it is a charity, would Rand Paul approve of giving such a charity tax-exempt status? Let me clear my mind and consult Aqua Buddha for an answer.