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On TPM’s “An open letter to conservatives”; or, the facile politics of high-school rivalry

March 23, 2010 1 comment

Talking Points Memo, a lefty blog, posted a “letter” addressed to conservatives, written as if conservatives just might adopt the liberal worldview if they could but be convinced conservatives sometimes act like jerks. (Those are sarcastic quotes: because this “letter” reads a bit more like a pre-homecoming-game set of notes for the cheerleading squad leader to use during Friday’s pep rally than like a thoughtful plea to conservatives to take a serious look at Democratic thought; I kept waiting for a “We got spirit, yes we do! We got spirit; how ’bout you?” that never came.)

I admit that I skimmed the last 2/3 of the letter, having gleaned from the first third that the writer didn’t take his task — or conservatism, or liberalism — seriously enough to put some thought into it. It’s merely a screed against individual or collective Republicans. From what I could tell, he didn’t advance a single serious argument against a school of thought here — just a bunch of gnashing about the students themselves: “Republicans have done X, too, and Democrats aren’t the only ones who did Y, and Mom, Republicans started it!” and so on.

But, of course, for every example the author mentioned of Republican hypocrisy or dirty politics, Republicans can find examples of Democratic hypocrisy and dirty play. As a minor example — because I don’t have time to respond in kind with a 3,000-word link-laden tome — Bush was monumentally stupid for his gaffes, but what’s Biden for his? Oh, wait, that’s right: cute. That’s the answer. Biden — The Foreign Policy Don of the Senate! — is cute when he says the dumbest — I mean, darndest — things.

The author boiled down what should have been a serious discussion about the major policy differences between conservative and leftist intellectuals to nothing more than a street fight between Republican and Democrat operatives and politicians — as if which road our country should travel ought to be determined not by whose policies make better sense, but should instead be determined by who wins a cleaner victory or who is less hypocritical along the way.

So, despite all his clearly painstaking research, what he wrote edifies no one. I didn’t need to read all that — much less waste time on his exhaustive and exhausting links to the rest of the known Internet — to learn that Republicans can be huge hypocrites, huge asses, and that a legislative procedure they denounce today as un-American they probably employed daily when they were in charge. Of course this is true. That’s politics. It’s awful, but what does it have to do with conservatism? It has no more to do with the philosophy conservatives adhere to than does Biden’s lates gaffe on whether Democrats are right or wrong. What I “learned” (I love sarcastic quotes), then, from American Dad, was that Republican politicians are — wait for it — politicians. What I did not learn, though, was why that should make me a Democrat.

What a tribal and immature way to look at — and by that I mean entirely avoid! — the stark differences between leftism and conservatism.

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