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A political discussion between Red State

conservative Dave Simpson — a former reporter,

editor, publisher and columnist —

and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive

editor of Greater Media Newspapers.

Dear Greg:

Red/Blue gets letters, and I’d like a chance to respond to this one that was sent to us recently:

To the Editor:

Your “Red State/Blue State” feature has become a phony debate, half ignorance and half ineffectualness.

First “Red State Dave” plays the “political correctness” card about Democrats looking for made-in-America schwag for the convention. Does Dave prefer foreign-made goods? And if Democrats didn’t try to live up to their principles, Dave would play the hypocrisy card. Maybe “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” is an entertaining political trick, but manipulative taunts are a damned poor way to inform the public.

What Dave doesn’t get is that the Democratic Party favors dialogue and negotiation, so the public can understand the principles and participate in the debate. His party is a top-down machine waiting for marching orders from the leaders. Everything is settled behind closed doors, the faxes go out, and the dittoheads begin their pointless parade.

When it’s his turn, “Blue State Greg” pulls all his punches, mentioning only that “every party has its own share of nutballs to bear.” Maybe so, but the rightwing GOP nuts are nuttier. Remember, these are the people who think ketchup is a vegetable (so school lunches can be less nutritious), trees are a source of pollution (so they can chop down anything they want), our planet is only 6,000 years old (so they can enforce ignorance), and Saddam Hussein masterminded 9/11 (so they could beat the drum for an illegal, tragic war). Which “poli-ninnies” are more dangerous?

The subject of red meat comes up several times in the column. Shouldn’t a newspaper provide something chewier than a stale pablum of Hannity & Colmes outtakes?

Jim Tobias


Red State Dave responds:

Oh, contrary, Jim, (as they say in France). As the “ignorant” half of this dynamic duo, let me point out that greedy, rock-ribbed Republicans such as myself learned in our first day of economics class that free trade is a good thing. That way, if ExxonMobil makes scandalous profits overseas, or Caterpillar sells a bunch of bulldozers in India, we don’t have to feel one bit guilty about it.

It’s you Democrats who are into handwringing over stuff like this, thanks to your union friends. If you’d like proof of my belief in that fundamental principle, I’d be happy to show you the KIA in my driveway. A year ago I couldn’t have told you what a KIA was, and now my wife drives one to work every day.

So, I would never criticize Democrats if they chose to adorn their fannies with Korean fanny packs, or Mexican fanny packs, or Chinese fanny packs, as you so unkindly allege. I’d see it as teaching the world to sing in perfect harmony, with the help of our fannies.

I am, however, concerned about your criticism of my old friend Blue State Greg. As a Republican, I know to ignore the comments of guys such as yourself. But, Greg seems to have a soft spot for your ilk, and I’m afraid you calling him “ineffectual” might put him right off his feed. Greg’s like a delicate little liberal hothouse flower, not used to the slings and arrows we Republicans absorb on a daily basis, and he could pout for weeks over this.

You were right about one thing, though. Dittoheads like me take our orders right from the top. I live in Darth Cheney’s home state, so I’ll let you ponder which of us is really writing these words.

Gotta go now, Jim. I’m going to have a healthy breakfast of ketchup, and decide which trees to cut down today.


Red State Dave

Blue State Greg responds:

You know, Dave, you’ve complained in the past about me always getting the last word, but you’re trying a new tactic this week that just might work for you: using most of the available space for our column.

I’ll bet you didn’t know that Jim wrote us again this week and said he didn’t like our most recent column any more than he liked the one before. The column, he said, was “one ignorant, formulaic attack and one milquetoasty pseudo-riposte.”

Jim, who’s a liberal, also wondered whether I let any “real liberals” on my staff.

Well, Jim, I don’t know, since I never ask my staff members to declare their political persuasion. There might be some liberals on the staff, for all I know. I know there’s at least one editor who uses items made out of hemp because it’s more environmentally friendly than polyester, and has a purse that says “Power To The Peaceful.” She probably is a liberal, but she also thinks taxes in New Jersey are way too high, so maybe she’s a conservative who thinks green.

Fact is, you can’t often put newspaper people, or columnists — at least the good ones — in a convenient philosophical box. Most of us can have some liberal ideas, and some conservative ones at the same time without our heads exploding.

I don’t think people like Jim can do that. They live in convenient philosophical boxes and they don’t like people who sometimes think outside their box because it jangles their brainpans.

I do know that people like that make rotten columnists. They’re boring, and predictable (think Rush Limbaugh). They also seldom have a sense of humor. I’ve suggested that Republicans lack one of those, but there seem to be a lot of Democrats out there who got shortchanged in that department as well.

In other words, take a chill pill, Jim. A lot of readers tell us they like our lighthearted, friendly correspondence, so we’ll keep on keeping on — one ignorant, formulaic, milquetoasty pseudo-riposte after another. If you want predictable, party-line liberalism, maybe you’d be happier reading Maureen Dowd. Or maybe (if anyone would print it), you could write your own column, so Dave and I can send you snarky comments for a change.

Sincerely, sort of,

Blue State Greg