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Here's the Statement I Used Today to Launch a Call-in Talk Radio Show Today in Virginia to Get Beyond "Liberal vs. Conse

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This morning I did a radio show in Virginia, where I used to live. This is an area that is a conservative part of a conservative state. There were challenges to creating constructive conversations on the radio back in the 1990s, but on the whole, the callers and I did pretty well in our efforts to have meaningful discussions of hot-button issues. Since the rise of this polarizing Bushite regime, however, it has become increasingly difficult and at times even quite bruising to engage the issues that I believe we, as Americans, most need to be talking about.

Last January, for example, I tried to discuss the deep and distressing issues raised by the discovery of the Bush administration's warrantless searches, and by the bogus constitutional arguments that the regime was advancing to defend their usurpation of unchecked presidential power. The result was appalling.

[That January program led to my writing the piece, "Fieldnotes from Bush Country: The Closing of the Bushite Mind," which can be seen at


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It was after considerable thought, and after an intense consultation with the visitors to my website --on the thread to be found at

and with more than a little trepidation, that I launched today's program by making the following statement.

The show, which ran for two hours, went very well. (I will be posting a report giving some of the details on my website.)

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Here's how I began the show.

Four months ago, on this program, I raised some concerns about the character of the Bush administration. For two hours, about the only kind of response I got from callers was personal attacks on me for being just a "liberal. " To say that I was distressed at how impossible it seemed to be to get a rational discussion of the issue would be an understatement.

For one thing, attacking the person who makes an argument rather than addressing the argument is never legitimate. It 's generally a sign that the person making the attack has really no good answer to the other person 's point.

But more important, the main issue with the Bush administration is not a matter of liberal vs. conservative.

Is it a liberal idea that we are a nation of laws, not of men; that no one, including the president, is above the law; that protecting and defending the Constitution of the United States is a sacred duty? No, it 's an American idea.

Is it a liberal idea that the president is obliged to meet a minimum standard of truthfulness in his communications with Congress and with the American people about vital national issues, including the life-and-death issues of war and peace?

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The conversation we as Americans need to have should not be a matter of liberal vs. conservative. Not when we face a mounting number of documented cases of deception and of law-breaking at the highest levels of this administration.

And the non-partisan nature of this crisis is easily demonstrated, because a growing number of prominent conservatives have been publicly expressing the same kinds of concerns that I 've been raising.

Here are several examples.

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Andy Schmookler, an award-winning author, political commentator, radio talk-show host, and teacher, was the Democratic nominee for Congress from Virginia's 6th District. His new book -- written to have an impact on the central political battle of our time -- is (more...)

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