Wednesday, March 19, 2008

'Scrutiny' doesn't mean what you think it does

In the haute blogmonde as well as much of the mass and alternative media these days, "scrutiny" is the catchall description of the ridiculous candiate (and candidate supporter) poo-flinging that passes for discussion, debate, and discretion in Modern American Political Life.

American Heritage Dictionary
scru·ti·ny (skrōōt'n-ē) Pronunciation Key
n. pl. scru·ti·nies
  • 1. A close, careful examination or study.
  • 2. Close observation; surveillance.

    [Middle English scrutinie, taking of a formal vote, from Latin scrūtinium, inquiry, search, from scrūtārī, to search, examine, from scrūta, trash.]

  • Hurling insults and invective is not an "examination" or "study", nor does it represent "close observation." Smearing the candidates is not scrutiny.

    Yet that's what goes on hour after hour, day in and day out at some sites, the hate-filled and contemptuous anti-Hillary site Daily Kos setting the "scrutinous" standard these days, and many people are wondering what's the point of this?

    There are plenty of reasons not to vote for or support Hillary, similar reasons not to vote for or support Obama, and unending reasons not to vote for or support McCain during this election cycle. Applying scrutiny to their records and statements suggests strongly that all of them are corporatist/imperialist warmongers. The worst of that lot is McCain, who not only loves his 100 Year War in Iraq, he is devoted to concepts of American exceptionalism and warriorism and expansionism that have got us in to the pickle we're in now.

    Both Hillary and Obama are better, on the record, than that, thank goodness, but neither is so much better that they would actually turn the nation from the path its been on. At least not from their statements and actions to date.

    One of the problems I have had with both the Democratic candidates is that they are both in the Senate, and yet they do not lead on important issues. McCain, also in the Senate, does lead -- even though much of his "leadership" is leading down the wrong path -- and has long been able to promote and push his curious right wing agenda, sell it as "bi-partisan," getting a surprising amount of it enacted or adopted, or at least into the public trough.

    That has long made McCain a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, neither Hillary nor Obama has used their position in the Senate to promote their own agenda of so-called Change. That's not merely a matter of introducing or co-sponsoring legislation. Both have done that. But neither has used their Senatorial platform to promote whatever Change it is they seek, to persuade and browbeat their colleagues, to build support, to challenge convention, etc. They've used their presidential campaigns, almost exclusively, for that.

    In the FISA controversy, for example, Chris Dodd, then a presidential campaigner, too, went back to the Senate, took a leadership role, and said he would stand athwart the body if the Senate was about to pass a telecom immunity bill. Of course, in the end he didn't do it (Senatorial courtesy and all that), but his threat -- and the fact that he left the campaign trail to make it -- was enough to push the notion that the telecom immunity provisions of FISA "reform" were simply wrong, and the fact that he did it, just said so in the Senatorial forum, and threatened to block Business as Usual, may have helped inject a little bit of spine into the House members who have now repeatedly rejected Bush and his threats over the legislation.

    Have either Hillary or Obama done anything comparable?

    Well, maybe they need to.

    That's what real "scrutiny" is about. I'm not hurling invective or flinging poo. I'm pointing out that neither of the major Democratic candidates have used their positions in the Senate for leadership on the important issues of the day, and they need to do it if either one of them expects to be president one day.

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