St. Louis Post-Dispatch Fails Compare-and-Contrast Exam

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch today makes equivalent two statements from two very different men (Guards on border: Bistate leaders splitting on plan).

Missouri Governor Matt Blunt:

“As commander in chief of the Missouri National Guard, I stand ready to assist in the border control efforts the president outlined and know that Missouri’s men and women in uniform are more than prepared for this challenge,” Blunt said.

“Missouri’s National Guard personnel have answered the call of our federal government many times in the past and were among the first in the nation to help the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast last year. It is a high honor for me to be associated with such a committed group of patriots,” he said.

Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich:

But Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich said that after five years during which Bush had largely ignored immigration issues, he should not seek to boost border security in a manner Blagojevich said would be at the expense of homeland security.

He said Bush had already left National Guard units underequipped and stretched too thin, and he expressed concern that the Guard would be weakened further if it were now asked to police the borders, said his deputy press secretary, Abby Ottenhoff. States rely on the National Guard to respond to disasters at home.

The governor called for more answers from Bush about how he plans to protect states if Guard units are diverted to the nation’s borders.

Of course, they have two different biographies.

Matt Blunt:

Matt Blunt, Missouri’s 54th governor was elected on November 2, 2004, carrying 101 of Missouri’s 114 counties.

Governor Blunt was born November 20, 1970 in Springfield, Missouri. He attended public schools in Strafford, and graduated from Jefferson City High School prior to entering the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

Prior to his election as governor, Matt Blunt served as an active duty Naval Officer, as a member of the Missouri General Assembly (District 139) and as Missouri’s 37th Secretary of State.

Governor Blunt graduated from the Naval Academy in May 1993 with a bachelor of science degree in history. He went on to serve as an Engineering Officer aboard the USS JACK WILLIAMS (FFG-24) and as the Navigator and Administrative Officer on the USS PETERSON (DD-969).

Governor Blunt’s active duty service included participation in Operation Support Democracy, involving the United Nations blockade of Haiti, missions to interdict drug traffic off the South American coast, and on duties involved in the interdiction of Cuban migrants in 1994.

During his Naval career, Governor Blunt received numerous commendations, including four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medals.

Governor Blunt is the only statewide official in Missouri history called to active military duty in wartime, serving for six months in Operation Enduring Freedom, America’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. He is currently serving as a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserves.

Rod Blagojevich:

Rod R. Blagojevich was sworn in as the 40th Governor of Illinois on January 13, 2003.

As Illinois’ chief executive officer, Gov. Blagojevich is working aggressively to create jobs, build stronger communities, provide Illinois families the tools they need to improve their lives, and restore the people’s confidence in state government.

Gov. Blagojevich’s top priority is ensuring access to quality health care for every child in Illinois. Nearly 250,000 children in Illinois are uninsured and many come from working and middle class families who earn too much to qualify for programs like KidCare, but not enough to afford private health insurance. That is why Gov. Blagojevich proposed and signed legislation creating the All Kids program. All Kids makes Illinois the first state in the nation to make sure every child has access to comprehensive and affordable health care coverage. Illinois’ uninsured children will now have access to doctor’s visits, hospital stays, prescription drugs, vision care, dental care and medical devices like eyeglasses and asthma inhalers. Parents will pay monthly premiums for the coverage, but rates for middle-income families will be significantly lower than they are on the private market.

Let’s cut through the first three quarters of Blagojevich’s “biography,” since they’re really nothing more than campaign promises. For substantive biographic information, we get:

Prior to his election, Gov. Blagojevich was a Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney. During his tenure, he prosecuted domestic abuse cases and felony weapons charges, which made him a strong advocate for tougher sentencing laws when he was elected to the General Assembly in 1992.

In 1996, he was elected to represent Illinois’ 5th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. While a congressman, he secured funding for after-school tutoring programs and distinguished himself as an advocate for education. He was also a leader in the fight to establish a Patients’ Bill of Rights, to assure prompt access to mammograms, and to require higher safety and care standards at nursing homes.

So one of these governors has served in the military, and one of these governors has served himself in the government employ. Personally, I’d take the insight from the one with actual experience in the field more than the insight from the one whose insight runs to electoral campaigns.

But I’m not a real journalist, so I’m missing the beauty of the direct opposition of their viewpoints and how they build drama and conflict into something that’s much of a story with which to begin.

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