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ISSUE 118 VOL 7 PUBLISHED 11/5/2004

Battleground Boe : Editors provide insight, reason

By Emelie Heltsley
News Editor

Friday, November 5, 2004

Battleground Boe:Editors provide insight, reason By: Emelie Heltsley

Five days before the election, the Political Awareness Committee (PAC) hosted a debate between the editors of two nationally-known political magazines.

David Corn, editor of The Nation, and Rich Lowry, editor of National Review, battled in Boe Chapel on Thursday evening, and took questions from the audience of students, faculty and guests. The debate dealt primarily with issues relevant for the election, such as the war in Iraq, health care and abortion.

Lowry began the debate, opening with comments on healthcare and Medicare, topics not usually addressed on a college campus.

"Both parties want to rob you blind to fund well-off elderly people," Lowry said. "They are taking your payroll check and using it to support baby-boomers."

Lowry then moved to the war in Iraq, mentioning that John Kerry and John Edwards both agreed with President George W. Bush and labeled Saddam Hussein as an imminent threat.

"If you want to call Bush a liar, then youll have to call Kerry and Edwards liars, too," Lowry said.

In his closing statement, Lowry said that, because Kerry is not the president, he can "abandon the war whenever it is inconvenient for him  the president cannot do that."

Corn then took the stage, and immediately spoke regarding the war in Iraq. He stated that Iraqs weapons of mass destruction program had been dissolved before the war, and was not a threat.

He also said that Bush overstated the flawed intelligence reports, using the word "stockpiles" to describe the weapons of mass destruction, instead of "weapons programs," as the intelligence reports concluded.

Corn used the words "consistent" and "courageous" to describe Kerry and his campaign. "His reasoning is theoretically plausible," Corn said. "He may be imperfect, but he is thoughtful."

Lowry spoke next, calling Corns statement amusing.

"Theoretically plausible isnt exactly high praise," Lowry said. "John Kerry said the exact same thing as Bush, and was right there misleading with him."

Lowry stressed that in reality, there are costs and consequences for either retaining the status quo in Iraq or taking action.

Corn then spoke, saying that there was a different way to deal with threats than going into Iraq.

"It was not [Kerry or Edwards] job to assess the situation," Corn said. "That is the presidents call."

The participants then opened the floor to questions and comments from audience members, who first brought up the concerns about civil liberties and human rights, especially as influenced by the war on terrorism.

Corn stressed the wars effects on the United States global reputation, saying, "The war on terror is not just a military action."

Lowry supported the Presidents counter-terrorism measures, however, calling them "not unreasonable."

While he considers the Abu Ghraib prison scandal "horrifying," and believes the personnel involved should and will go to jail, Lowry stressed that the detention of combatants is legal.

Next, a student brought up the subject of North Korea and what the United States future plans should be.

Lowry mentioned that liberals attacked Bush because he was seen as acting too unilaterally. When the president suggested a multilateral plan for Korea, however, liberals also attacked that plan because it was not multilateral enough.

Lowry brought up the inefficiency of U.N. weapons inspections and the ability of nations such as North Korea and Iraq to mislead inspectors.

"We need to cut a deal [with North Korea] that has some teeth," Lowry said.

Corn said he would support whatever works in the case of North Korea, and whatever would put pressure on North Korea to disarm.

"A pre-preemptive strike probably wouldnt work at this stage," he said. "The time may have passed."

The questions then turned to abortion, a topic that has received much attention throughout the campaign.

Lowry spoke first, calling Kerrys position on abortion "gobbledy-gook."

According to Lowry, Kerry has supported on-demand abortions throughout his entire career in the Senate, but for the election, he has "played the angles" and changed his position, trying to appeal to moderates.

Corn, however, put the spotlight back on Bush by referring to an interview from the 1970s, in which Bush said that abortion was a matter between a woman and her doctor.

"There is hypocrisy on Bushs side as well," Corn said.

In personal interviews after the debate, both participants were able to address issues the debate did not cover, such as the medias contribution to the election.

"Were in a phase of the election now where the media doesnt matter much anymore," Corn said.

He alluded to the barrage of sound bytes which flooded TV channels and radio stations and held little value for voters trying to make a decision.

Both Corn and Lowry agreed that there is a bias in the media.

Corn said that the media "would rather cover conflict than evaluate substance," using the medias undue coverage of the Swiftboat story to support his claim.

Lowry thought news stations would be more cautious in this election when projecting winners in the states.

The recent influx in the media of campaigning celebrities sparked a question regarding the propriety of the celebrities actions.

Corn believes that, if a lobbyist is able to publicly influence an election, artists should also be able to do so openly.

"People take it for what its worth," Corn said. "People arent going to decide because of celebrities."

The conversation then moved to the sharp political divisions within the United States and their possible causes.

"We are a country divided along a lot of fault lines," Corn said, mentioning the secular-religious split as just one example.

In the post-Sept. 11 world, Corn sees even greater division, as Democrats and Republicans become more extreme, leaving no room for those in the middle of the political spectrum.

Lowry saw a split begin after the Clinton-Lewinsky incident.

"1998 divided the country on moral and cultural issues," Lowry said, mentioning the inevitable intertwining of politics and morality. "If youre not acting on morals, what are you doing?" he asked.

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