Friday, February 10, 2006

Thought Experiment For Liberals

Here's a thought experiment for whatever readers of a liberal persuasion may happen by. Take a number of standard liberal disclaimers, the sort of statement that normally prefaces a criticism of Bush, the WOT, Israel, conservatives, etc.

"I support the troops, but..."

"I'm against terrorism, but..."

"I'm not anti-semitic, but..."

Change the "but" to "therefore", and then finish the sentence.

How 'bout that, eh?


  1. Y'know, when a southern Christian wants to throw around blanket accusations of anti-semitism, he might just want to check first that the person to whom he's speaking isn't a jewish guy from California. He also might want to make sure he's not speaking from within a crowd that uses the phrase "Hollywood elites" with dismaying frequency.

    On to your main point: "but" and "therefore" aren't synonyms. Politics is all about competing reasonable claims---we have a right to privacy, and the government is obliged to stop terrorism. The question of policy is where to draw the line. As I've said on my own blog, "the President can listen to whomever, whenever on his own perogative" doesn't draw the line at all, and is totally incompatible with what this country stands for.

    Try reversing the experiment, to see why your point is silly. "We'd be better off if we cut taxes and defunded Meals on Wheels programs, and relied on private charity instead" is a respectable position, although one I disagree with. You could even fairly express it as "Of course I support meal programs for the elderly, but I think we should defund Meals on Wheels." "Of course I support meal programs for the elderly, therefore we should defund Meals on Wheels" is a different statement, and one that isn't at all sensible.

    There's one place where I think your change might work: the war. "I support the troops, but we really need to figure out what our plan is," really could be a "therefore"--simply insisting that we'll stay there until we "win" doesn't support the troops at all unless we first define winning in a sensible way. (The last real working definition of winning--that is, a goal that was well formulated, achievable, and easy to measure--was toppling Hussein's government. When you give the troops a well-defined mission, they tend to achieve it.)

    I think you might do better to actually argue with specific liberal positions, rather than trying to demonstrate that liberalism is "silly." It honestly isn't.

  2. Either my post isn't as clever as I hoped, or you just flat out didn't get it. Of course "but" and "therefore" are not synonyms; that's the whole point, here. It's a tongue-in-cheek attempt to nudge libs to get serious about these issues, rather than just blowing razzberries from the grandstands like they've been doing. From where I sit, when it comes to most of the urgent problems facing this country in the present era, libs are quick to wish the ends, but quicker to condemn the means. Dems have lost my vote because I have gotten no responsible or even plausible answer to the simple question, "Yes, but what are you going to do?

    Anti-semitism comes in many forms. I'm one of those who thinks that hatred for Israel--and belief in a moral equivalence between Israeli victims of terrorism and their murderers amounts to hatred, in my book--constitutes anti-semitism. I'm not alone in that, either. I posted on that subject last summer, perhaps to better effect than here, in this little piece I call Anti-Van Halenism.

    I've had many a wry chuckle over the past three years, whenever some milestone in Iraq that liberals had pronounced impossible to accomplish was accomplished, to hear them say "Well that was the easy part, but now!...". None of them would have happened with a Gore administration, I'm sure. I doubt he could have even conceived of the idea of deploying freedom and democracy as weapons in the War On Terror. Yes, it's an untidy war, but the old military adage is still true: one fights not as one wishes, but as one must. There are any number of big military blogs, wherein you can get first-hand reportage of how things are going.

    As for "Hollywood elites", I dunno; maybe I've used the term sometime in the past year that I've been blogging, but it isn't one of my hobbyhorses. Sure, I roll my eyes when Clairol-brained celebs tries to tell me what to think about important issues, but I've long since learned to tune them out. Although it's fair to label me a conservative, I'm not spreading anyone's talking points; FWIW I speak for myself. Maybe you're mixing me up with someone else.

    And thanks once again for visiting and commenting.

  3. I'm not accusing you of repeating talking-points, but the sort of equivalence-drawing between Israeli victims of terrorism and the terrorists that you're trying to cite is hardly common in mainstream liberalism. It's roughly equivalent to the "Pat Robertson and therefore all conservatives" sort of argument that you see on liberal sites. If you'd rather not be tied to other, sillier conservatives, then please extend the same courtesy to your opponents.

    The key question in Iraq is whether the various factions can work together and forge an Iraqi national identity--upon which we'll have a stable, democratic Iraq, or whether they'll each fort up separately, upon which we'll have a civil war at worst or an unstable satellite state of Iran at best.

    You're quite right--none of this would have happened under a Gore administration. On the flip side, the budget would still be balanced, and the odds would be much better that Osama bin Laden would have been captured or killed. (Gore would almost certainly have invaded Afghanistan, and continued our attempts to isolate and contain Iraq.) As I said in my original post, policy is a matter of trade-offs. Democrats are by and large convinced that the cost of Iraq--in lives and in tax money--will not be worth the ultimate payoff. I'd be delighted to be proven wrong.

    The Republicans have lost my vote because I've never heard a responsible answer to "and you'll pay for this how, exactly?" Remember, the entire Iraq war has so far been fought off-budget, and paid for neither by tax increases nor by cuts in other areas.

    If you'd like to know what I'd do (as one liberal--obviously, I'm not a Democratic party spokesblogger!), feel free to ask! Remember, the answers depend upon the starting point--we wouldn't have invaded Iraq to begin with, so if you want to imagine a Gore administration the answers are different than they'd be if you want to imagine a 2008 Feingold administration.


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