Phillipe and Jorge of the Providence Phoenix: Where the Liberals are Moderates, and the Moderates are Conservatives and the Democrats Have Imagination!

During the 2006 election cycle, I chided Providence Phoenix News Editor Ian Donnis about his labeling of Senator Lincoln Chafee as a moderate, despite a voting record and issue stands that were demonstrably liberal. I attributed the labeling choice to the fact that a garden-variety liberal might actually seem moderate to someone who spends his typical day with Phoenix staffers. Exhibit A in support of the assertion that the overall Phoenix political scale some Phoenix staffers use a political scale that is leftward-shifted comes from this week’s Phillipe and Jorge’s column on former President Gerald Ford. Any historian or political writer will tell you that President Ford was the archetypal Republican moderate. Through the filter of the Phoenix Phillipe and Jorge, this of course means that President Ford was a conservative…

Bob Woodward’s interviews revealed Ford as a traditional conservative Republican who was appalled by the hard-right swing of his party….
The Bush administration’s incompetents have no vision. They are tone-deaf to real progress and imaginative thinking. Despite his conservative leanings, Jerry Ford seemed to have a far more open mind….
Inequity is here, and the path of tax cuts for the rich, and eat sh** for the poor and middle classes, is the status quo. Jerry Ford was a conservative who knew better. Where are his likes today?
The Phoenix‘s P&J’s usage of conservative to mean moderate and moderate to mean liberal raises the question of what the ProPho staff means when they use the term liberal who they actually consider to be liberal. A bit of insight on this comes from today’s Tracy Breton Projo article on retiring Superior Court Judge Stephen Fortunato. Judge Fortunato is open believer in Marxism who says he’d prefer to be described as a “leftist” and not a “liberal”. So, when you hear the Phoenix someone prone to describing moderates as conservatives describe someone as a liberal, pencil-in Marxist or leftist in your mind.
Seriously though, this labeling stuff does matter. Labeling choices in political writing are the canaries in the coal mine, warning when other perceptions of a political writer might be a bit off. The important perception in this weeks P&J’s column in need of some serious critical scrutiny, more subtle and important than the ideological taxonomy, is the idea that the contemporary Democratic party agenda is somehow based on “imaginative thinking”. Look at the Democratic agenda on the most important domestic issues facing the United States…
  • The Democratic agenda on retirement security is raising social security taxes and cutting social security benefits for future retirees.
  • The Democratic agenda on healthcare reform(*) tends towards raising taxes to fund a government takeover of the current healthcare system, then, once in control, cutting benefits to contain costs.
  • The Democratic agenda on improving education is raising taxes and/or cutting programs in suburban areas to subsidize failing urban schools (and in the case of Rhode Island, also raising taxes to pay for increased non-educational social-services spending).
Imagination is not required to raise taxes to pour money into programs based on 50 and 100 year old assumptions that no longer hold, nor to argue that the inevitable march of history dictates that people simply have to accept paying more to receive less. Where exactly is the imaginative thinking in the Democratic agenda?
(*)I’m not including Senator Ron Wyden’s universal healthcare proposal which I have recently written about in the unimaginative category, but it’s not a mainstream Democratic position.
I’ve been counter-chided (politely and fairly) by Ian Donnis, who suggests that Anchor Rising has demonstrated enough familiarity with the Rhode Island political scene & RI media outlets to realize that Phillip and Jorge are opinion columnists whose choice of conventions has no bearing on the Phoenix’s news reporting.
Mr. Donnis is correct. I wouldn’t attribute a position to “the ProJo” or the New York Times; I would specify the “ProJo Editoral Board”, or the name of a specific columnist. It was unfair of me in the above post to attribute any positions to the Providence Phoenix staff as a whole, and I’ve corrected the original post to remove my mistake.

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17 years ago

First off, Phillippe and Jorge are COLUMNISTS. We all know they lean to the left. We all know the Phoenix runs somewhat to the left of the ProJo. It’s nothing to get one’s knickers twisted about.
And oh, by the way, they skewer bipartisan – re: Captain Blowhard, Milkshake Matty, the Prince of Darkness…just a sampling of Democrats they’ve savaged.
Second, from some observations of talk show universe this week, it seems like there’s been a conservative backlash against Jerry Ford. He was quite conservative on fiscal and foreign policy issues, yes (and he gave a damn about the federal deficit, which Dubya obviously doesn’t). But he also believed in keeping government off our backs AND out of our bedrooms. It was the conservatives who succeeded Ford who ignored the latter.

17 years ago

I don’t understand why this site gives that oversized porn and pot advertisement this much ink.

Marc Comtois
17 years ago

Simple, Greg, it’s a conspiracy. (wink)
Seriously, though, the Phoenix, specifically Ian Donnis, has shown a willingness to take the opinions expressed hereabouts as both serious and sincere.
Though we may disagree over various public policy issues, the Phoenix, (vice, say the ProJo) is willing to actually engage in a dialogue. I’d rather debate someone whom I know may actually participate in a discussion than have a one-way discussion with the wall of silence that is the ProJo (at least when it comes to bloggers) all the time.
Besides, such dialogue, though you may deem it worthless, is actually important in honing one’s arguments. Sometimes, minds can even be changed.

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