The Thick Edge of the Wedge.

Yesterday, the guys at Powerline news continued their dispute of New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s claim (in an interview with David Schraub) that if FDR was currently the President, he would not have used the war on terror as a “wedge” issue.


Let’s set aside the idea that anyone can say with any degree of authority what a dead President would do in present day, assuming that has any relevance whatsoever. Who cares what Rutherford B. Hayes or Chester Arthur might do? They’re dead – all they can do is take up space in the ground. One might as well speculate how Santa Claus or Harry Potter would handle the war on terrorism.

The argument itself, though well refuted by Powerline, seems too pointless and speculative to waste any effort on. The slippery part for this Beast was the whole concept of a “wedge” issue. He had to look that up.

According to Wikipedia, a Wedge issue is a social or political issue, often of a divisive or otherwise controversial nature, which is used by one political group to split apart or create a “wedge” in the support base of an opposing political group, with a view to enticing voters to give their support to the first group..

Forgive The Beast for being dense, but isn’t that just politics? Political parties should disagree, otherwise what would be the point of voting for one instead of the other? And isn’t disagrement inherently “Divisive”? If Party A has a more compelling position than Party B, Party A uses that to convince voters to support them. Presumptively Party B then complains that Party A is being “divisive” and has given them a “wedgie”.

How could you even have an election without being divisive? Both candidates take the same position and get elected for the same office, which they share? That’s silly – in an election the voters divvy out according to the candidate for whom they voted, said decision based, one presumes, on the position he takes on the issues.

Frankly, these sound like losers complaints. It is hard to imagine the winner of an election whining about the other guy using “divisive wedge issues” against him.

From now on, whenever The Beast hears “wedge issue” he will substitute “sour grapes”.


UPDATE: Upon further reflection, The Beast has decided that Santa Claus would probably solve terrorism by giving the terrorists lots of nice presents if they agree not to be naughty anymore and Harry Potter would use his powers to turn the terrorists into toads. You decide which political party each might represent.



  1. Posted September 2, 2006 at 3:14 pm | Permalink

    The problem is less with wedge issues per se than with using war as one. American security should transcend partisan division. That doesn’t mean parties can’t disagree on the best method of protecting the country. But it does mean that the President should not conduct his homeland security policy decisions solely with an eye on winning more seats in congress. That’s what we’re accusing Bush of doing–subordinating the defense of the nation to his partisan political desires. And that’s wrong.

  2. Posted September 2, 2006 at 6:34 pm | Permalink

    David, thank you for visiting the lair and taking time to comment.

    The Beast is confused – who’s subordinating the defense of the nation for partisan political gain again? Bush?

    It seems to this forest-dweller that if Bush was taloring the conduct of the war to gain popularity for Republicans, wouldn’t he be enacting policies that would be making him more popular? That does not seem to be happening, does it?

    One cannot slam away at the President for his “inflexibility” then argue he’s shifting policy with the political breezes. It just doesn’t make sense.

    The Beast also agrees that people should be allowed to disagree on the best method of protecting the country. If the Dems ever come up with one, please notify him – he will be very interested to see it!

    Enjoyed your blog, thanks again for stopping by!

  3. Posted September 3, 2006 at 2:00 pm | Permalink

    Hi Beast, I will have to disagree with both your points here. It does make a certain sense to ask how would have previous politicians and previous parties dealt with present issues, because the strategies and ideologies of those parties and politicians could be looked into; they might be actual even though whoever implemented them isn’t actual anymore – they are, indeed, dead.

    Also, wedge issues are of a particular kind, because you are not necessarily trying to get voters off your opponent (that, as you say, is just politics); you might be trying to divide and split your opponents electorate by using something that you know is controversial within that party (it doesnt have to do with your own party’s stand on the issue, then).

    On the specific point of the war on terror, i dont think that is a good wedge issue. it is, on the contrary, polarizing, which i suppose is just the opposite of a wedge issue – it gets the opposition to stick together.

  4. Tet68
    Posted September 3, 2006 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    That’s what the democrats ARE doing–subordinating the defense of the nation to partisan political desires. And that’s just plain wrong.”

    We have seen it from the beginning.

    The projection of liberal democrats is frightening in it’s naked honesty .

  5. Posted September 3, 2006 at 10:05 pm | Permalink


    The pot is spending millions calling the kettle black.

One Trackback/Pingback

  1. […] You know those comments that you hear throughout your life, the throwaway ones, the ones made in passing, that you remember for some reason? Hairy Beast just brought some of those to mind. Not because I’m going to comment on the subject of his post, because I don’t have any gut reaction to it right now, and he has some reasoned people dealing with it and I’m nowhere near to being astute enough on wedge issues to do so, BUT. I will be thinking of “wedge issues” simply because he brought it up. […]

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