The Rice Thresher, Vol. 92, No. 10, Ed. 1 Friday, October 29, 2004 Page: 4 of 20
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THE RICE THRESHER OPINION FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22,2004
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AND a UNIf££> AMERICA j
Election 2004: Too much mud, too much fighting, too few facts
Recently I received an angry, flame-throwing
e-mail from someone upset over my statement
that the United States has not found any wea[>-
ons of mass destruction in Iraq. In misspelled
and profanity-laced prose, he told
at me to gel my facts straight, as if
it were un-American — or worse,
liberal — to believe that there were
no WMD in Iraq.
But facts are facts. You can-
not argue the existence of WMI)
on liberal or conservative lines.
U.S. troops did find a few shells
of sarin and mustard gas. But the
leftover duds not are indicative of
a current program, and they are
not, in any way, the massive WMI)
stockpiles that were used to justify
We did not invade Iraq because of a few
potential shells of chemical weapons. We went
into Iraq because of the purported existence
of a massive, hidden nuclear, biological and
chemical program, not to mention "unmanned
aerial vehicles that could be used to disperse
chemical or biological weapons."
Bush's own chief weapons inspector,
David Kay, said, "Iraq did not have a large,
ongoing, centrally controlled chemical weap-
ons program after 1991." U.S. inspectors
themselves recognize that Iraq
had "no stockpile, no productions
land 1 no program to do produc-
tion."The list goes on, but there is
only one conclusion: The original
WMD justification for invading
Iraq was false.
But to the individual who sent
me an e-mail, these facts do not
matter. Supporting the invasion of
Iraq is the right wing position, and
opposing the invasion is the left
wing position. By this measure, my
position was left wing, and to this
individual, the left wing is wrong.
1 wonder why in the United States facts
can be disregarded merely because of sup-
posed political leaning. Cable news is a great
example. Every show seems the same. There
is an issue, and someone from the "left" ar-
gues with someone on the "right" about it.
Nothing is resolved; no point is made.
News channels should provide news and
leave opinions to the opinion page. " 11 anility
and Colmes," "Crossfire" and similar shows
claim they provide a service because a balanced
debate is sure to reveal the truth and call out
politicians' lies and misdoings.
However, this setup all too often leads
people to regard the facts behind any issue
as relative, dependent on which side o! the
political spectrum you choose — no true
answer except your own.
In a failed attempt
at balance, news
rendered the facts pointless.
Actual news shows are substituting debate
for substantial coverage. With these left ver-
sus right arguments touted as balance, any
sort of critical thinking is regarded as bias,
not valid proof.
Today there is no true answer about health
care, Iraq or global warming because any an-
swercan be dismissed as "lelt wing" or "right
wing." A real debate show would be welcome,
but all loo often, there are just political hacks
screaming at and over each other.
In a failed attempt at balance, news orga-
nizations have rendered facts pointless. The
media used to check politicians by hard work,
asking the tough questions and investigative
But no more. Now media ownership is
consolidated into huge corporations that
increasingly rely on arguments between "left
wing" and "right wing" pundits, who pass
their arguments off as hard work instead
ol the much more laborious work of actual
reporting. It doesn't hurt that two politicos
yelling at each other for 30 minutes probably
gets much better ratings than an investigative
report on policy.
Then again, this is just my liberal opinion.
Evan Mintz is a Hanszen College freshman.
Making your vote count means not settling on a donkey or an elephant
The most incredible thing hap-
pened in the second presidential
debate. The moderator, Charles
Gibson, killed the donkey and the
elephant with one stone.
The two candidates, Republi-
can President George W. Bush
and Democratic Sen. John Kerry,
were asked directly to explain
their respective spending plans.
So Gibson struck. "I have heard
you both say during the campaign,
I just heard you say it, that you're
going to cut the deficit by a half in
four years," he said. "But I didn't
hear one thing in the last three-and-
a-half-minutes that would indicate
how either of you do that."
This might have been funny if
the two candidates had used their
30-second extension to answer the
question. But they didn't. Bush
repeated himself. Kerry attacked
Bush. The question was simple, yet
neither candidate even attempted to
answer it at all.
This is probably because both
candidates are incapable of coming
up with an original thought when
asked a question point-blank. Each
has a team of advisers who write
their lines for them. We would like
to think we heard Bush
and Kerry speak their
minds in the debates,
but almost everything
they said was in the form
of carefully constructed
sound bites meant to
reach the most voters with
the fewest words.
In other words, their
advisers told them to say
what we want to hear.
The result is a dumbed-
down election that has no
substance and little real
difference between the candidate*
we keep creating the
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[we buy Into the idea that we have no control af«
tat tHe fiLeePDo wl (k)
t$ that the thoughts in our head can InftuencoA
what's happening in the "real world".
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Both candidates are
pandering to voters in
a desperate attempt to
secure more votes.
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By preaching to the choir, both
parties have also become self-delu-
sional about the virtue of their plat-
forms. Sen. John Edwards opened
the vice presidential debate with
the zinger, "Mr Vice President,
you are still not being straight
with the American people" — as if
Kerry and Edwards were. Edwards
earned points for boldness, but
in reality, both candidates — and
their vice presidential running
mates — are skewing the facts to
For example, accord-
ing to "90 Minutes Later"
in the Oct. 11 Newsweek,
Bush claimed 100,000
troops, police, guards,
special units and border
patrol agents trained in
Iraq. But Pentagon docu-
ments show 8,169 Iraqi
police have completed
eight weeks of training,
with 46,176 listed as
Bush is not the only
one stretching the truth.
Kerry claimed that $2(K) billion was
being wasted on the Iraqi venture,
but he included estimated future
expenses and money set aside for
the 2005 fiscal year, inflating the
current cost by $80 billion.
Both candidates are pandering
to voters in a desperate attempt
to secure more votes. Neither de-
The real tragedy is not that both
candidates are worthless airheads,
but that the country is so caught
up in whether to vote for or against
Bush, we forget Kerry i> not the
"Huh?" you might say. Most
people think thai anyone who
votes for an independent or write-in
candidate such as Ralph Nader is
just throwing his vote away — or
worse, puuing Bush back in office.
It would be, but only if the country
continues to let itself be forced to
choose between worthless, cor-
rupted pundits running around in
We can vote for whomever we
want, but to do so, we must real-
ize that our votes do count, espe-
cially if we don't vote for Bush or
Kerry. Sure, the person you vote
for might not get elected. But then
you wouldn't have helped elect the
dimwit who wins.
.. both parties have
also become self-
the virtue of their
If everyone realized we are not
bound to the lesser of two evils,
we might actually elect someone
we want to be in office. Sure, this
person might not be experienced or
might not know how politics in the
White Housework, but this person
would not be jaded orcorrupted by
those politics. More importantly,
this person would have the true
mandate ol the people and could
be trusted io act on behalf of the
people, not for his own self-interest
David Axel is a Brown College
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Gilbert, Lindsey & Yardley, Jonathan. The Rice Thresher, Vol. 92, No. 10, Ed. 1 Friday, October 29, 2004, newspaper, October 29, 2004; Houston, Texas. (https://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth398502/m1/4/: accessed April 19, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, https://texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Rice University Woodson Research Center.