Thursday, January 25, 2007

Knee Jerks

Democrats don't like President Bush's proposals only because they are against anything he supports, says Washington Post columnist Ruth Marcus about their reaction to President Bush's State of the Union address. "If George W. Bush proposes something, it must be bad," she writes. "Such is the knee-jerk state of partisan suspiciousness that when the president actually endorses a tax increase -- a tax increase that would primarily hit the well-off, no less -- Democrats still howl." Everyone knows that Democrats love tax increases so the only possible explanation for their not liking this one is that they are so blinded by hatred of Bush that they are against anything he is for. I guess if Bush told Democrats to jump off a bridge, they would probably refuse to do it, even if it was the right thing to do.

Marcus doesn't understand why Democrats don't like the President's proposal to help people pay for health insurance by telling them they can deduct it from their taxes at the end of the year, as long as they survive to the end of the year and aren't too sick to work and don't need to spend the money they would use for health care to pay for food or rent. "Listening to Democratic reaction to Bush's new health insurance proposal, you get the sense that if Bush picked a plank right out of the Democratic platform -- if he introduced Hillarycare itself -- and stuck it in his State of the Union address, Democrats would churn out press releases denouncing it," Marcus writes. Democrats should just be happy the President is proposing to do anything about health care at all. Now I don't really understand the President's health insurance plan and all those numbers just make my head spin, but I am sure that if President Bush is proposing it, then it must be a good program.

Robert Novak is also appalled by the Democrats' knee-jerk rejection of the President's efforts to work with them. When President Bush proposed the creation of a "new, bipartisan working group that will help us come together across party lines to win the war on terror," the Democrat Congress (as Bush likes to call them even though for some reason they stubbornly prefer the ungrammatical term Democratic Congress), rudely rebuffed him. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid wrote Bush a very mean letter, which Novak called "the most overt snub of a presidential overture since Abraham Lincoln was told that Gen. George B. McClellan had retired for the night and could not see him."

You would think that the Democrats might be grateful that the President was going out of his way to work with them despite the fact that they are traitors and cowards who hate America and want us to lose the War on Terror. "The Democratic leadership is beyond consultation on Iraq," Novak wrote. Perhaps they would prefer that the President not consult them on the measures he has already decided to take in Iraq. He was only telling them what he decided to do out of courtesy so they should at least have the courtesy to listen to him. Instead, they are trying to pass resolutions that the President is just going to ignore anyway. How rude is that?

Because Democrats and liberals refuse to work with the President and just contradict everything he says, many pundits believe that the logical response is to simply take the opposite side that liberals are taking. Unfortunately, it's not quite so simple. For example, if a liberal says that the sky is blue, most pundits might think that they should say that the sky is yellow or orange or green. However, we know that the sky is actually blue most of the time. In this case, the correct response is to say that liberals believe the sky is blue for the wrong reasons. Or that the sky may in fact be blue but that liberals have pointed this out in a shrill and obnoxious manner that makes them look wrong even if, in this rare instance, they are right.

Joe Klein learned this lesson the hard way when he was forced to backtrack after telling George Stephanopoulos that we should consider striking Iran with nuclear weapons. It must have seemed at the time to be a suitably anti-liberal position but Klein subsequently realized that it might not actually be a good idea to launch a nuclear first strike against Iran. However, Klein, to his credit, graciously acknowledged his mistake and magnanimously thanked liberal bloggers for pointing it out. "Let me give credit where it's due: I probably would not be writing this were it not for all the left-wing screeching," he wrote. "So thanks, frothing bloggers, for calling me on my mistake. You can, at times, be a valuable corrective. At other times, though, your vitriol just seems uninformed, malicious and disproportionate."

I had been under the impression that Klein supported the War in Iraq. But now Klein says that actually he was not in favor of the War in Iraq; he was just opposed to liberals who were against it, which is not the same thing so you can't blame him if we lose. In his very first history-making blog post, Klein wrote, "The Democrats who oppose the so-called 'surge' are right. But they have to be careful not to sound like ill-informed dilettantes when talking about it. The latest to make a fool of himself is Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who argues that those who favor the increase in troops are either cynical or delusional…. As for [Bill Kristol and Fred Kagan], Krugman's right: they've been wrong about Iraq. But at least they've taken the trouble to read the doctrine and talk to key players like [General Jack] Keane and General David Petraeus. Liberals won't ever be trusted on national security until they start doing their homework." According to Klein, liberals seem wrong even when he thinks they are right, so you can't blame him if he seems wrong sometimes when he opposes them.

Predictably, Klein was attacked by liberals for this post, which just proved his point that liberals are obnoxious and stupid and not to be trusted even if you agree with them. I was so appalled by how they treated Klein that I left this supportive message in the comments: "I'm glad you are attacking liberals for how they got us into this mess in Iraq but I'm afraid that a lot of liberals might just dismiss your important words because they have something against you personally. Your words might have more credibility if you posted as Anonymous instead and it would preserve your objectivity as a journalist. It's probably difficult for your writer's ego to sign something as Anonymous but people do it in the blogosphere all the time. You might want to try it." But instead of taking my advice, Klein came out swinging: "The illiberal left just hates it when I point out that the Democratic Party's naiveté on national security -- and the left wing tendency to assume every U.S. military action abroad is criminal -- just aren't very helpful electorally," he taunted. "Listening to the leftists, though, it's easy to assume that they are rooting for an American failure."

In fact, a number of pundits now claim that they would have been opposed to the War in Iraq if only liberals hadn't been against it. If liberals didn't hate America and love Saddam Hussein so much, if they weren't so stupid and naïve and rude, if they didn't always want America to lose, then some pundits who supported the War in Iraq and are now against it might have been against it all along. So you can't really blame people like Thomas Friedman or Andrew Sullivan for supporting a war they now think was a mistake. It was really the fault of liberals for making them think that way by their poorly formulated arguments. If only all those Democrats hadn't voted against the war, then many pundits wouldn't have supported it.

Frankly, I'm more than a little confused by all of this. If some of these pundits think the War in Iraq is such a bad idea, maybe they should have tried to formulate their own opinions about it instead of reflexively supporting it because they hate liberals so much. Maybe pundits should stop trying to define themselves by what they are against, the way they claim Democrats and liberals do, and start defining themselves by what they are for.

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Xanthippas said...

Whoa...was that last paragraph...not satire? You'd better be careful, or the right-wingers are going to figure out what you're up (as will newly visiting libs, whose anti-Jon Swift comments can be fairly amusing.)

Jon Swift said...

Satire? What satire?

Shimmy said...

I agree. The Washington Post has killed 3,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. Why aren't they reporting on all the terror that Bush has to be President of the war on.?

Jaesoreal said...

Whoa, that last paragraph almost broke character didn't it? I felt a strange urge to not laugh, but...agree!

BenMerc said...

I think Mr. Novak should round up a like wise fact finding committee and take a trip to Baghdad and get to the bottom of this current Middle East crisis. One condition: Must do all their mission and polling work outside of the "green zone" (hanging around the perimeter does not count)

gawker said...

I don't think The Moderate Voice got it.

Davebo said...


Well, it was MVG and not Joe.

Perhaps it's an issue with english as a second language, which is odd because most the the Dutch I know speak it as well or better than most of the Americans I know.

james higham said...

...Everyone knows that Democrats love tax increases so the only possible explanation for their not liking this one is that they are so blinded by hatred of Bush that they are against anything he is for...

Yes, Jon, but there's a long traditon of this. I'm no Democrat but look at the impeachment of Andy Johnson and the ridiculous Newting of Clinton [who I know sups with the devil].

Prior to an election year, no one's going to play fair.

Antman said...

It seems a bit like The boy who cried wolf. Bad decision after bad decision will undoubtedly create a knee-jerk environment. No excuse for the Dems, but, why are we surprised?

Mark said...

If you look closely, there is a clue to what really happened. "Ruth Marcus" uses the unword "suspiciousness" - although President Bush regularly makes up his own words, this is because he has to keep up the image of being a regular guy, not because he is not too smart. Ruth Marcus is under no such obligation, and is otherwise demostrably bright and well-educated: she would know the correct word is "suspicion". QED - the article was not written by the real Ruth Marcus at all, but by a body-snatcher. If you look in Ms. Marcus' office closet, you will likely find a big leathery pod with the real Ruth Marcus in suspended animation inside.

Bob said...

According to Klein, liberals seem wrong even when he thinks they are right, so you can't blame him if he seems wrong sometimes when he opposes them.

Outstanding. I think I'll have read every post on this blog before I get to bed. said...

It cannot have effect in reality, that is what I consider.

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