Monday, August 16, 2004

Nasty political pundits and the nasty things they say

Jeremy Chrysler of, highlights a National Review article by Victor Hanson that raises a question that I have been concerned about for the last couple of years-- the level of political rhetoric and debate (forget about political discussion--that's long gone)has become so personal and vicious-- it's all "the (liberals/conservatives) are lying stupid liars" and Crossfire thrust and parry. David Brooks has written about this in the New York Times, and there is a hilarious piece by P.J. O’Rourke, a conservative, about conservative talk radio in the July/August issue of the Atlantic. Ironically, Hanson writes for the National Review, a magazine that has mixed smart, high-minded writing with this mean personal stuff for years. Why does the liberal elite (of which I suppose I am one, and certainly I am surrounded by them) express such hate for Bush himself, rather than critique his polical ideology, policies, and record, with the possible exception of the occupation of Iraq, although many attribute that to his stupidity, not a new and risky doctrine of preemptive war.

Victor Hanson has a point (!):

[T]he Left hates George W. Bush for who he is rather than what he does. Southern conservatism, evangelical Christianity, a black-and-white worldview, and a wealthy man's disdain for elite culture — none by itself earns hatred, of course, but each is a force multiplier of the other and so helps explain the evolution of disagreement into pathological venom.

As if to prove Hansen's point, dozens of people posted angry comments in response to Jeremy's essay. But I would add to Hansen's litany enormous anger and bitterness about the Right's peronal attacks on Bill and Hillary Clinton. Indeed, it may be true that "they started it," but we have good tactical reasons, as well as a civic duty, to elevate our discourse, whether on not conservatives continue to act like cruel teenagers.

I am no Bush fan, but besides the fact that some of this is based on anti-Chrisitan antipathy and anti-Blue state sentiment, I believe that the animus is counterproductive. Bush’s record and stands on issues important to many people-- health care, retirement, the economy, the war in Iraq--are out of step with the majority of Americans, especially the small but powerful independent/undecideds. Plus there are plenty or rural, evangelican Christians, Southerners and anti-intellectuals that are potential Kerry people. Why alienate them and push them into the Bush camp? Can Kerry win the election only carrying Red states? And don't forget that there are Blue staters mixed in with the Reds.


Blogger PeaceBang said...

I assure you that I hate Bush for what he is AND what he does. The former even more than the latter.

September 18, 2005 at 8:35 PM  

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