Thursday, February 16, 2006


Marshall Wittman responds to Glenn Greenwald's assertion that "in order to be considered a "liberal," only one thing is required - a failure to pledge blind loyalty to George W. Bush":
Yes, there is an element of conservatism that attempts to apply a Lenninist(sic) discipline on ideological heterodoxy. In fact, the Moose was the target of their efforts. The Moose has enjoyed the distinct pleasure of being labeled both a Republican squish and a Rovian plant. But, based upon personal exposure to both sides of the political spectrum, this mammal can confidently observe that there is more tolerance for differences on the right side of the spectrum than on the left.

While Greenwald suggests that "loyalty" to Bush is the requirement for the right, the standard to to be a member in good standing of the liberal/left community is hatred of Bush. The Moose opposes most of the economic agenda of the Administration. However, he critically supports the President in the war on terror - including the NSA program. This has won the Moose the visceral opprobrium of the left. Because in the left wing universe, one must oppose everything the President supports. The truth is that a good part of the left believes that George W. Bush is a greater threat to America than Osama bin Laden.

Yes Virginia, there is a left wing Cult of Bush Hatred.

There is far too much ideological conformity in both parties. That is why the Moose belongs to neither. It would be far better if both sides of the ideological spectrum to have more introspection and self-knowledge.

Indeed. It would also be far better if somebody would just do something about all the problems, but, you know, alas.

Frankly, I'm not that impressed with either argument. It's a fair if unoriginal point that a lot of leftists practice their politics with a religious fervor (as opposed to those on the right for whom their politics and religion are indistinguishable) but I think the major difference between the two is their love versus their hate, in the right's blind dedication to their man on a horse, which I don't think has any analogue in the contemporary American left. In this respect I'm more sympathetic to Greenwald.

For example, let's compare Bush to Clinton. While they both inspire extreme hatred from the other side, I don't see the cult of Clinton as anywhere near equal in size or intensity to the cult of Bush. I think Bush has strayed farther from anything that could be called "conservatism" than Clinton did from traditional liberalism, yet Clinton was relentlessy criticized by the left for his triangulations in a way that Bush simply has not been by the right. This is one area where the overt religiosity of the right clearly benefits Republicans versus Democrats, and Bush in particular, given his skillfull use throughout his presidency of evangelical vernacular. Bush is given a certain amount of deference simply by virtue of having been placed there by God. I am not aware of any comparable thinking among Democrats.

Related, and as has been pointed out repeatedly, it's imperative to understand that while the left does have it's nutjobs, the nutjobs of the right actually occupy positions of real power in the U.S. government. I'd argue that Michael Moore and Rick Santorum are more or less equally out to lunch, but there's no question as to who actually has more power.

Bottom line, I'll buy Wittman's "it goes both ways" argument when a sitting Democratic Congressman reenacts the Whittington shooting in his backyard with a cantaloupe.

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