Support the troops

I am utterly convinced, certain, that whoever is doing the PR strategy for the PLP is a student of the approach used very effectively over the past 10-20 years by the US Republican Party, and particularly George Bush's political handler Karl Rove.

I know not everyone follows US politics as closely as I do, but it is indisputable that the PLP are emulating the exact methods that were used to give the Republicans a political resurgence in the mid-1990s but has produced such terrible results in Iraq and elsewhere.

I could go on for days about this, but there is an exact emulation of the Republican talking points to try and portray domestic opponents of the war (ie. most Democrats) as unpatriotic being tried in Bermuda.

In the US, if a Democratic politician is critical of the war in Iraq, or dares express even the slightest bit of dissent, they are accused of "not supporting the troops".

The slogan "Support the troops" has become a method to intimidate and discredit politicians and advocacy groups, while it's obvious to most rational people that if you believe a war is un-winnable that it isn't particularly supportive to keep soldiers fighting because a politician wants to save face.

What does this have to do with Bermuda? Well, strangely enough it's to do with education.

Rational, thinking people clearly understand that Government is misusing statistics to artificially inflate the graduation rate (and tourism arrivals) to 80% from 58% previously. This is a particularly egregious attempt to generate a positive headline in the wake of an education inquiry which said the public education system was 'on the brink of meltdown'.

Not surprisingly The Minister maintains that nothing funny is going on (while conceding they've changed how they treat non-graduating students), although it's obvious that the denominator in the graduation rate calculation has been reduced which jacks up the graduating percentage.

Many people, including myself, Denis Pitcher through his blog, Grant Gibbons and others have pointed out the undeniable changes in methodology.

So how does the PLP's increasingly ridiculous website try and play the criticism:

The UBP vs. Bermuda's Students

Of late, UBP critics have questioned how Bermuda's class of 2007 could have achieved such a high graduation rate. The UBP's lack of faith in our students and their capabilities is truly disturbing.

That was the opening, this is the finish (read the full spin here):

Those who seek to undermine the accomplishments of our students by calling into question the statistics their hard work helped generate should be ashamed of themselves.

What complete, mindless nonsense. Firstly, faith isn't going to fix education. Secondly, demanding higher standards and better results is not undermining anyone's accomplishments, it is how you support the students.

This style of stupid political spin is beyond acceptable. I can't believe this has to be said, but demanding an honest assessment of graduation rates year over year is supporting the students. Messing with the number is not.

Bermuda can't have an honest and productive policy discussion about ways to improve the education system (or anything else for that matter) when one side is trotting out such idiotic memes as this.

That has got to be one of the most shameless attempts to deflect responsibility and shut down honest policy debate that we've seen yet - although I'm sure it won't be the last.

It's a style of politicking that we don't need importing here. Just ask a growing number of Americans how well things have worked out when their politicians didn't challenge the administration over a war for fear of seeing their face in an ad with the words "Representative So- and-So doesn't support the troops" as Congressional elections approached.

We don't need to go down this road.

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