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Tilting at Windmills

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February 28, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

GALBRAITH AND BUCKLEY....Jamie Galbraith has a brief and gracious remembrance of William F. Buckley posted over at the New Republic that's worth a look. I don't myself have anything to say about WFB because, aside from reading God and Man at Yale several years ago, I'm just not very familiar with Buckley's work other than by reputation. Better then to stay quiet and be thought ill-informed than to open my mouth and remove all doubt.

But Galbraith's piece raises a question: are there any current examples among high-profile liberals and conservatives of the kind of close friendship and mutual respect that Buckley and John Kenneth Galbraith shared? Ezra Klein suggested yesterday that the era of big, popular, serious political thinkers has been permanently eclipsed with the deaths of people like WFB, Galbraith, Milton Friedman, Arthur Schlesinger Jr., and Norman Mailer. "Now, the space they inhabited in the discourse is held by the Coulters and O'Reilly's of the world." Maybe so, and it's hard to picture, say, Ann Coulter and Michael Moore enjoying each other's company socially and taking each other's ideas seriously.

In the blogosphere, we tend to think that's for the best. Politics is serious stuff, and if you're serious about it you shouldn't be on the cocktail circuit every night consorting with the enemy. That's the tribal path that Congress went down many years ago, and it's one that the rest of us have since followed as well. Most of us, anyway.

Still and all, it's kind of stultifying, isn't it? In the post-Gingrich/Limbaugh/Rove/Norquist era that we live in there might not be much we can do about it, but that doesn't mean we have to like it. And, most of the time, I don't.

Kevin Drum 1:58 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (126)

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and if you're serious about it you shouldn't be on the cocktail circuit every night consorting with the enemy.

Yes, that would make them human, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 28, 2008 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Despite my admiration for John Galbraith, this suggests to me that this game of left vs. right is the modern form of a polo match between two royal families.

Posted by: gregor on February 28, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Well, one difference between Buckley and Galbraith on the one hand and Coulter and Moore on the other hand is that the former actually had some interest in ideas, where I would argue that the latter are more concerned about entertainment.

Posted by: bleh on February 28, 2008 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

I agree, although I'm not sure who's at fault. It would be easy to point the finger at Coulter and Limbaugh, but the Willie Horton ad was pretty repugnant. And Nixon's dirty tricks were way worse than that. Of course, Nixon would blame the hippies and anti-Vietname protestors, who introduced "fuck you" into the public discourse. And the hippies were just a reaction to racist reactionaries like Wallace and Goldwater, who would not bend or negotiate under any circumstances...

I guess my point is, even the old-school political discourse was pretty coarse. Folks like WFB might have been able to paint a shiny veneer over it, but it was ugly at its core, just like today.

Posted by: mmy on February 28, 2008 at 2:10 PM | PERMALINK

I'm afraid all this Buckley eulogizing reeks of the "hail fellow, well met" good old days. Don't mistake vocabulary and presentation for ideas.

Posted by: Tim (the Other One) on February 28, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

James Carville and Mary Matalin. I hear they've even been known to share a bed, something I doubt Buckley ever did with Galbraith.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 28, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

The inability to talk across points of view is one of the greatest losses of the past 30 years. We're all sure we are right, and with the advent of the internet we are all able to hear only what we want to hear. This often means demeaning the other sides insights and intentions. I see it in the comment section all of the time. I can't count how many times people ask why anyone would pay attention to Brooks or Fareed anymore. Well maybe just to see how others view the world. We might not need to change our views, but it never hurts to approach anything with a little less certainty. I never agreed with Buckley, and had a special distaste for his early stands on civil rights, but sometimes someone can be wrong - and even impossibly wrong - on one point, and still be worth listening to at other times.

Posted by: mww on February 28, 2008 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

I used to watch Firing Line all the time. Unlike current conservatives, Buckley was an honest arguer. He didn't lie. He used arguments that were complex, hard to follow, and I think often wrong, but I don't think he ever gave an argument he knew to be false.

Posted by: anandine on February 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

Look back on Newt's gameplan of 1994 -- how to slander your opponent. Look at the "ideas" of the right-wing, via TN Repubs take on Obama.

Yeah, I feel bad no one on the left takes these "ideas" seriously.

Posted by: Gore/Edwards 08 on February 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure Carville counts. His favorite Democrats are always the ones who wind up embracing Republicans (Zell Miller, Harold Ford).

Posted by: JoshA on February 28, 2008 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Ted Kennedy/Orrin Hatch. Do politicians count?

Posted by: Paul on February 28, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

There is a difference between an intellectual and a propogandist. Unfortunately we find ourselves with too few of the former and too many of the latter.

Posted by: glenintexas on February 28, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

Don't Ann Coulter and Bill Maher date now and again?

Posted by: scarshapedstar on February 28, 2008 at 2:23 PM | PERMALINK

I grew up in the 1950's in Southern California. The guy across the street from me in Downey was in what is known today as the O'Reilly/Coulter/Limbaugh wing(nut) of the Republican Party. He had a sandwich board on his front lawn that he'd change out every month. One month it would be "You can't spell COMMUNISM without the UN!" The next it would be, "Impeach Earl Warren now!" Then it would be "Flouridation is a Communist Plot." My point is that, while William F. Buckley was working the "high road," the same kinds of right wing nut-cases were working the low road of political culture.

The great (horrifying) revolution that began with the FCC getting rid of the Fairness Doctrine has been the main-streaming of hate-filled, corrosive right-wing paranoia. In the 50's, right-wing nuts were generally shunned. Now they're everywhere, harvesting huge mega-bucks on cable TV, thanks to Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch.

When Robert Welch, head of the John Birch Society, said that Dwight Eisenhower was a dedicated agent of the Communist Party in the late 50's he was marginalized. Today there's a "Rush (pun intended) To the Bottom" to see who can come up with the most vicious, vacuous, catchy canard about Obama. He's a Muslim! He's a Weatherman! He's a Socialist! He's supported by Daily Kos, a site that's worse than the KKK and the Nazi Party!

And friends, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Posted by: planetniner on February 28, 2008 at 2:26 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, that unholy union is still frightening to contemplate all these years later. Besides that, I wouldn't consider either one of those nimrods serious thinkers.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 28, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

Don't Ann Coulter and Bill Maher date now and again?

That does it, I have to pluck out my minds eye now.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 28, 2008 at 2:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's very difficult to think of two political idealogues vacationing in Switzerland ("Gstaad is just WUNDERBAR in the winter, lovey!"), sipping their precious and expensive wines, and figuring out how they could one-up each other intellectually having much relevant insight of use to the majority of this country.

Posted by: Quinn on February 28, 2008 at 2:34 PM | PERMALINK

planetniner, so did I !

Remember Joe Pine, George Putnam & Wally George ?

Classic crap !

Posted by: Tim (the Other One) on February 28, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I understand that the libs and conservatives on the Supreme Court are quite friendly.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 28, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Just because Freidman was civil and congenial in polite society does not absolve him from responsibility for the virtually endless list of monstrous acts inflicted world-wide in heartless furtherance of his simplistic, anti-social creed.

I will reluctantly read his most seminal works, just to be fair, but reading The Shock Doctrine has confirmed and expanded my sense that he deserves nothing but contempt.

Posted by: Michael7843853 OBAMA in 08 on February 28, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

I kinda, sorta share Norman Rogers' sentiments on this particular thread.

So, I'm off for an emergency session with a skilled psychotherapist!

Posted by: chasmrich on February 28, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

I understand that the libs and conservatives on the Supreme Court are quite friendly.

No, that's inaccurate. The greatest jurist on that court--Clarence Thomas--hasn't spoken in two years.

THAT'S the kind of "judicial activism" a conservative really appreciates. Silence before the law, and an allowance of the free market to flourish without the interference of an incompetent judiciary.

Posted by: Norman Rogers on February 28, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

There was an ugly side to William Buckley that came out in spades when Gore Vidal was involved though, as I distinctly recall. Vidal certainly provoked him often of course, and won't have kind words now either.

But frankly, Buckley's urbane manners don't excuse his not-so-nice politics, and his National Review rag was very much his mouthpiece all those years. I don't think that's a legacy worth having, even if he did TV well.

Posted by: David W. on February 28, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Don't ever change, Norman! :D

Posted by: Quinn on February 28, 2008 at 2:39 PM | PERMALINK
Well, one difference between Buckley and Galbraith on the one hand and Coulter and Moore on the other hand is that the former actually had some interest in ideas, where I would argue that the latter are more concerned about entertainment.

Posted by: bleh

DING! DING! DING! Bleh gets today's gold star!

The sad truth is, conflict and inflammatory rhetoric sell, whereas honest and thoughtful policy debates do not. At least not any more (just look at Fox's ratings compared to those of, say, the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer).

I pin it on three things:

1. The nature of modern society -- People have so many options that if you can't catch their attention in a 10-second sound bite, you probably never will.

2. The "Win At All Costs and By Any Means Necessary" mentality -- This has been the case since ... well, nearly forever. Just look at what Thomas Jefferson did to John Adams: Jefferson ran perhaps the most slanderous Presidential campaign in history. Yet we built a memorial to the guy.

3. The American public just doesn't care any more -- The "pox on both houses" mentality put forth by the likes of Broder and Brooks and countless others has created a rather stunning level of apathy. Obamania and the Paultards have shown this can be changed, however, if the message is good ... which actually leads back to the first point of short attention spans, thus bringing this full circle.

I would LOVE to be able to have honest, thoughtful and interesting debates with those on the right, but they have shown very little willingness to do so. Those that are willing (such as the guys at Balloon Juice) are cast as traitors to the conservative cause just for engaging in such discussion.

It truly is sad and, in the end, does us all harm.

Posted by: Mark D on February 28, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe so, and it's hard to picture, say, Ann Coulter and Michael Moore enjoying each other's company socially and taking each other's ideas seriously.

Yes, and it's also impossible to picture George W. Bush taking William F. Buckley's ideas seriously.

It's not that the professional thinkers have been displaced by the unwashed and brutal. The problem is that the political industry has long since turned to the glorified advertising firms we call "think tanks."

Freelancers like Buckley were anachronisms. Now they're dead.
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on February 28, 2008 at 2:41 PM | PERMALINK

what, Hannity and Colmes don't count ?

Posted by: cleek on February 28, 2008 at 2:45 PM | PERMALINK

scarshapedstar: Don't Ann Coulter and Bill Maher date now and again?

Coulter is dated, but Maher is timeless.

Posted by: anandine on February 28, 2008 at 2:46 PM | PERMALINK

Scalia and Ginsburg?

Posted by: berlins on February 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

I'm all for dialog, but I won't engage with people who will call me a murderer and a traitor. Does that mean that I'm the bad guy?

Posted by: Doctor Jay on February 28, 2008 at 2:47 PM | PERMALINK

The problem with my image of cocktail set is that the liberal side always seems to be one that is co-opted. When they return to their jobs as journalists, they just can't seem to get back to being professional. If people can see each other human beings and make the fight a clean but fierce one, everyone wins, at least to a point.

Maybe that's a fantasy these days but I'm sticking with it.

Posted by: T4TN on February 28, 2008 at 2:58 PM | PERMALINK

Look, at least Galbraith didn't lose his perspective about Buckley and his views. I think it was about Buckley that Galbraith said that Buckley was one of his most valued friends, because on any issue on which Buckley had an opinion, he could adopt the opposite position without further thought and be quite certain he was right.

h/t samchevre and david, commenters on crookedtimber

Posted by: David in NY on February 28, 2008 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

Well, Matt Yglesias and Ross Douthat seem to like each other's company.

Posted by: David A on February 28, 2008 at 3:07 PM | PERMALINK

No, I don't like the way it is either. I'd like to see the battleground be over issues, ideas, and policies, with people arguing hard but cleanly.

Instead, we get everything from the SwiftBoat smear artists to the GOP throwing a Democratic governor in prison for specious reasons.

And we get people who don't seem to be morally troubled by their role in the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi dead, and millions exiled, that have been the result of both their lies and their willingness to go ahead with an invasion without planning for what to do afterwards.

If I were Wolfowitz (just to pick one) but with my present conscience intact, I'd have to jump off a cliff, blow my brains out, or something like that, because I'd be completely unable to live with the reality of what I'd helped bring about.

No, I can't have cocktails with people like that.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on February 28, 2008 at 3:17 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,
I suggest you read the comments on this site sometime. Look at the way a conservative with an alternative point of view is treated.

Posted by: John Hansen on February 28, 2008 at 3:21 PM | PERMALINK

KD: Better then to stay quiet and be thought ill-informed than to open my mouth and remove all doubt.

What a quaint outlook, Kevin! This is why you don't have a radio show.

gregor: this suggests to me that this game of left vs. right is the modern form of a polo match between two royal families

A similar game was played across the kitchen table, gregor, in the un-royal home where I gew up. What kept the conversation civil, even genial, was real respect, and the conviction that even when the other person was wrong it wasn't a matter of absolute good vs. evil, but an honest difference of opinion. Of course Buckley could be a smug asshole, but any one of us has been guilty of that from time to time.

Posted by: thersites on February 28, 2008 at 3:22 PM | PERMALINK

*

Posted by: mhr on February 28, 2008 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Rove and Bush and all these other neocon-flavored nuts like Coulter and O'Reilly aren't even fit to polish Buckley's wingtips.

He was in a class all his own. Yeah, it was the classist snooty and privileged Old White Man's Club.

I never cared for him, but he was very learned and could conjugate a verb properly, and make a point without resorting to high drama snark like Coulter.

Come on, Dana Perino doesn't even know her history.

The country has dumbed itself down terribly.

I'm not going to refer to Buckley as the 'a priori' Republican in some romanticized fashion, that these asshats aspire to, but he was definitely something they most assuredly are not. They don't even want to wade into the shallow end.

Posted by: sara on February 28, 2008 at 3:24 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

Here's a suggestion to start dialog opening. Invite one of the very fine conservative bloggers to guest blog here.

Posted by: John Hansen on February 28, 2008 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

mh(ussein)r - you foam-flecked fucktard, maybe if you tried defending your own positions, instead of castigating "all liberals" your posts would stay up more than 30 seconds.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 28, 2008 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

I'm not sure Carville counts. His favorite Democrats are always the ones who wind up embracing Republicans (Zell Miller, Harold Ford). Posted by: JoshA

Furthermore, Carville and Maitland are political hacks who neither one, so far as I can tell, have any actual political convictions beyond a Yojimbo sort gig where they are jobbing both sides of the street for fun and profit. I can't imagine that they'd otherwise stay married if they held real political convictions.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 28, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

Invite one of the very fine conservative bloggers to guest blog here.

Like who? One of the inbred morons at RedState? One of the uber boys at The Corner?

And by the way, when you lot were locking Democrats out of congressional committee metings, were you encouraging such magnanimity, or spanking it in glee at your boys sticking it to the Democrats?

Earn a fucking place at the table. You lot have several more years in the wilderness before you get any grace at all from most of us.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 28, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton and George H W Bush are said to get along.

Posted by: mfinley on February 28, 2008 at 3:35 PM | PERMALINK

YouTube has the video clip of the famous televised "debate" between "ABC special election commentators" William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal during the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nYymnxoQnf8

Vidal comments that there are "many, even in the United States [who] happen to believe that the United States policy is wrong in Vietnam."

Buckley sneers that "some people were pro-Nazi, too."

Vidal responds that "As far as I am concerned, the only sort of pro- or crypto-Nazi I can think of is yourself."

To which the erudite and articulate William F. Buckley replies, "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered."


Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin Drum:

You see an equivalence between Coulter and Moore?

Posted by: brendan on February 28, 2008 at 3:37 PM | PERMALINK

George Will could have been someone like that, but he's shown himself in his articles over the years to be someone relentlessly small and petty and wrong and stupid, stupid, stupid.

That's the problem with the bowtie-wearing brigade in the republican party. They use preppy attire to hide the fact that they are, or at least they support, basically just jack-booted thugs.

Look, we're so harmless, join our cult, we'll all be friends and we'll be happy and we'll be rich and you never need help or think about poor people!

Posted by: Anon on February 28, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Ann Coulter = Michael Moore???????

The sheer intellectual laziness and dishonest contempt for the reasoned deliberation that is supposedly the cause of so much hem hawing here makes me feel tired and hopeless all over.

To state the obvious, Ann Coulter DOES NOT EQUAL Michael Moore. The two not equivalents in how they work or in the quality of their arguments. They don't even belong to the same fucking species.

Posted by: razor on February 28, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin,

I think you're missing the point. Politics is too important to have a cocktail circuit. WFB and JKG could be freinds and have serious discussions because they assumed as part of the rules of engagement that the other wanted what was best for the country. Sure, WFB's idea of incarcerating AIDS paintents was insane and indefinsible, but he proposed it becuase he thought it would preserve the health of the country. That he was shouted down by more rational personnel did not diminish what he thought was best for the country.

Compare that to today where Ann Coulter starts from the premise that to be a liberal is to commit treason. Or the lefts views of GWB as a war criminal. Its hard to be friendly when the language is so intemperate.

Posted by: do on February 28, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

To which the erudite and articulate William F. Buckley replies, "Now listen, you queer, stop calling me a crypto-Nazi or I’ll sock you in the goddamn face and you’ll stay plastered." Posted by: SecularAnimist

Not only was Buckley being rude, he was factually incorrect as Vidal claims to be bi-sexual.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 28, 2008 at 3:42 PM | PERMALINK

George Will could have been someone like that, but he's shown himself in his articles over the years to be someone relentlessly small and petty and wrong and stupid, stupid, stupid. Posted by: Anon

More important, Will would sit there on Sundays and defend the Rethugs when actually working for various candidates or even sitting presidents. That ABC would let him do this pretty much shows where its "heart" was. What was most amazing, though, was that Brinkley put up with it.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 28, 2008 at 3:48 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the way a conservative with list of phony GOP talking points is treated.

Fixed it for you.

And look at the way conservatives like Hansen whine when their bullshit belief system gets challenged. Hansen hasn't made an assertion here, to my knowledge, that hasn't gone down in flames

Furthermore, fuck you and your whining about "civility." "Civility" is just a tool for dishonest right-wingers -- but I repeat myself -- to control the dialogue. We get insulted plenty by jackassess like you repetitively posting your talking points -- which owe more to Limbaugh and Rove than to Buckley -- so if you get your panties in a bunch because someone calls your bullshit by it's proper name, too damn bad.

Remember Harry Truman's adage -- if you can't stand the heat, stay the hell out of Nagasaki.

Here's a suggestion to start dialog opening. Invite one of the very fine conservative bloggers to guest blog here.

First of all, what BGRS said.

Second, it's Kevin's blog, and it's plagued with minions of the right-wing noise machine as it is. On top of that, Kevin already maintains a "dialog" with several so-called conservative bloggers, giving dishonest morons like Megan McArdle and the yo-yos at the Corner way too much credibility as it is.

Third, you twit, there's nothing stopping the cretins who blog for the Right to try to defend their silly notions here. McArdle tries, sometimes, to the amusement of all as she's exposed again as the glibertarian moron she is.

The right has enough wingnut welfare blogs as it is. Your history suggests you aren't interested in "dialogue", Hasen; you just want the WaMo to turn over its blog space to a Republican propagandist. That dog won't hunt.

Posted by: Gregory on February 28, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK

It's preposterous to compare WF Buckley with Ann Coulter. She's a mouth with no brain whereas Buckley is a brain with a voice.

Posted by: Gerald L. Campbell on February 28, 2008 at 3:52 PM | PERMALINK
I suggest you read the comments on this site sometime. Look at the way a conservative with an alternative point of view is treated.

Posted by: John Hansen

Let's try an example here to explain it to you:

Person A (conservative) calls Person B (liberal) a traitorous, terrorist-loving asshole.

Person B typographically corrects Person A, using links and other facts to back up their argument.

Person A calls Person B a traitorous, terrorist-loving asshole.

Person B slaps Person A across the face.

Person A whines about how uncivil Person B is.

Rinse and repeat, and that's 99% of the conservative comments I see left on liberal blogs.

Posted by: Mark D on February 28, 2008 at 3:53 PM | PERMALINK

"But Galbraith's piece raises a question: are there any current examples among high-profile liberals and conservatives of the kind of close friendship and mutual respect that Buckley and John Kenneth Galbraith shared?"

Of course there are: Ann Coulter and Mickey Kaus, James Carville and Mary Matalin, Sean Hannity and Alan Colmes...

Posted by: on February 28, 2008 at 3:57 PM | PERMALINK

Well, oddly, I think that one reason that there was more collegiality between the different sides decades ago was precisely because ideas weren't, in a very important sense, taken so seriously.

There really was, before Reagan certainly, and perhaps even up through the 1994 Republican "revolution", the general sense that there were core values that any administration would adhere to, Democratic or Republican. Ideologies affected the actions of our government chiefly at the margins.

Nixon respected diplomacy, for example; even, to a degree, Reagan did. Some basic interest in good governance was harbored by all. That was the heyday of the likes of David Broder, in which some genuine bipartisanship could be found (and he wishes against wish that we could have the era back.)

But the change came when finally the Conservative ideas really got into implementation. Then the true and pernicious consequences of those ideas could no longer be denied, and a genuine war between the opposing sides ensued.

In many ways, to this day ideologies that are not in serious prospect of being fully implemented still garner respect and curiosity. That's why libertarians, who believe that the government should mostly be dismantled, are regarded as interesting people to talk to. It's their very marginalization that makes that seem acceptable. Should, however, a genuine libertarian party actually get near power, all hell would break loose.

Posted by: frankly0 on February 28, 2008 at 4:05 PM | PERMALINK

John Hansen wrote: "I suggest you read the comments on this site sometime. Look at the way a conservative with an alternative point of view is treated."

I have spent far more time than is good for me reading the comments on this site for several years now.

What I have observed is that "a conservative" who presents "an alternative point of view" that is substantive, not blatantly in contradiction of actual facts, and coherently presented, is generally responded to in kind.

On the other hand, visitors who describe themselves as "conservatives" whose comments have no actual content other than hatred of "liberals" (usually phrased as "all you liberals" -- you know, like "all you Jews"), who offer nothing but puerile insults, lies they picked up from Rush Limbaugh, and regurgitation of scripted, bogus talking points from the Republican Party propaganda machine, usually get the contempt and derision they deserve.

And since most of them are really just weak-minded ignorant fools with nothing better to do than troll for attention with deliberately inflammatory idiocy so as to impress themselves with their ability to waste people's time with bullshit, contempt and derision is what they are looking for anyway.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 4:07 PM | PERMALINK

I think Vidal showed Buckley's fangs for all to see. As for the Galbraith-Buckley friendship, well, life can be strange. Nice of Buckley to visit the old man in his decline.

Posted by: Bob M on February 28, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

What I have observed is that "a conservative" who presents "an alternative point of view" that is substantive, not blatantly in contradiction of actual facts, and coherently presented, is generally responded to in kind.
Posted by: SecularAnimist

By some, which makes this often a fun place to post. But then the WashMonthly version of hockey goons, talentless hacks that can't score a goal themselves, will roll in with the standard totally predictable and repetitious high sticking attacks. Happens on both sides of the aisle.

Counting 3, 2, 1...until Gregory posts a totally predictable and repetitive personal attack...

Posted by: sjrsm on February 28, 2008 at 4:15 PM | PERMALINK

franklyO wrote: "There really was, before Reagan certainly, and perhaps even up through the 1994 Republican 'revolution', the general sense that there were core values that any administration would adhere to, Democratic or Republican ... Nixon respected diplomacy, for example ..."

It's interesting to reflect, in that regard, on the strongly bipartisan condemnation of Nixon following the Watergate matter, which led to his resignation. Apparently one of the "core values" that people of both parties then expected "any administration would adhere to" included adherence to the basic rule of law, and abstention from overt criminality.

But that was then. By the late 1980s, the Reagan administration could engage in the overt criminality of Iran-Contra, which was far worse than Watergate, and all the Republican Party was concerned about was aiding and abetting the coverup so as to protect Reagan's presidency.

By the 1990s, the Republican Party was prepared to engage in a $70 million, fraudulent, multi-year "investigation" of the nonexistent "crimes" of a Democratic president. The so-called "Whitewater investigation" was itself an overt criminal conspiracy by the Republicans to destroy Clinton's presidency.

And of course, with the Republican theft of the 2000 election putting the career corporate criminals and war profiteers Cheney and Bush in power, followed by their entirely predictable regime of blatant criminality and corruption, and the similar Republican thefts of the 2002 and 2004 elections through voter disenfranchisement, intimidation and fraud, the metamorphosis of the Republicans from a political party to an organized crime syndicate was complete.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

There really was, before Reagan certainly, and perhaps even up through the 1994 Republican "revolution", the general sense that there were core values that any administration would adhere to, Democratic or Republican. Ideologies affected the actions of our government chiefly at the margins. Posted by: frankly0

A great example of this is the Watergate hearings. It took awhile to bring some of the Rethugs around, but they eventually accepted what a mess the Nixon White House had become.

Today, however, we have the most incompetent and dishonest administration in our history, and yet there are still probably 100-150 Rethug members of Congress that practically shove each other out of the way to carry water for Shrub and Cheney. Add to this the fact that the bulk of the MSM has abdicated its role of informing the public, and there simply is no comparing today's political climate to the one that existed in the 1960s and 1970s.


Posted by: Jeff II on February 28, 2008 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Having just read Arthur Schlesingers' Journals--he started off very anti-Buckley (Wm) and very pro-Pat, but came around over the years. But he describes a social world where politicians, celebrities, media, policy wonks, etc. mingled and had intercourse. (Of all kinds.) I was following politics during those years, but wasn't really aware of that world.

It's probably the MSM's fault, just like everything else. They play up conflict, except when a politician gets in bed with a lobbyist (or a boy).

Or it may be Bill, Hillary, and GWB's fault--they all seem to have boycotted the Georgetown crowd (remember Nancy Reagan and Kay Graham lunched). Sally Quinn was famous for her disdain of the Arkansas crowd.
For example, Safi

Posted by: Bill Harshaw on February 28, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

There was a behind-the-scenes thinker named James Chapin, a historian (and, by the waym brother of late folk singer Harry Chapin), a long time vice-chairman of the Democratic Socialists of America. He didn't write much for publication, but via email and other means, he was an important intellectual mentor for individuals across the political spectrum -- Harold Meyerson, George Stephanopolous, Fred Siegel, Scott McConnell, and myself, to name a few. Sadly, he died in 20002.

Posted by: Steve Sailer on February 28, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Look at the way a conservative with an alternative point of view is treated.

Name one who has posted honest and truthful comments but has been excorciated in this forum.

Posted by: gregor on February 28, 2008 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

I think neither Vidal or Buckley did themselves much credit in that debate.

Posted by: Quinn on February 28, 2008 at 4:43 PM | PERMALINK

I think FranklyO is onto something. The truth may be simpler than we think.

I think what's happened in the last 30 years or so is that conservative leaders decided to opt out of a shared set of decidedly liberal values that had been in place for 60 or more years.

Conservatism is simply on the wrong side of history. Our society is and has been for centuries a liberal society. And it will remain largely so. What we've seen in the last 30 years is a high-profile example of going against this long-term trend.

So to have conservative thinkers who garner our respect, when they begin (as Newt does or as Ronald Reagan does or as GWB does) by rejecting our shared liberal values, is simply not possible. It's asking why don't evolutionists get respect from scientists, or why "supply-side" economics gets no respect. It's because these are willfully ignorant or fraudulent points of view, and not worthy of real respect.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on February 28, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think what's happened in the last 30 years or so is that conservative leaders decided to opt out of a shared set of decidedly liberal values that had been in place for 60 or more years.
Posted by: Jim Pharo

I thought that a lot of what the neocons were promoting in foreign policy were values that liberals had also held, at least the goals if not the methods. In particular, the aggressive promoting of democracy as a foundation for making the world better. At the same time, I've seen a neo-isolationist bent from liberals emerge of the recent years.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 28, 2008 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Norman Rogers: No, that's inaccurate. The greatest jurist on that court--Clarence Thomas--hasn't spoken in two years.

He hasn't asked questions during oral argument for 2 years. He talks to his colleagues all the time.

Posted by: ex-liberal on February 28, 2008 at 5:17 PM | PERMALINK

There was a time when some conservatives were well behaved and respectfully knew their place.**

Those days are long gone. They are like rabid dogs that need to be put down (hey, just kidding...a bit of liberal humor).

**snarling Birchers, southern lynch mobs, and Joe McCarthy excluded, 'natch.

Posted by: bobbyp on February 28, 2008 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

Why did Buckley and Galbraith have a love-in? They were comrades-in-arms against the old USSR, the bugaboo before terrorism took over. Those were the great old days when Schlesinger, JFK, Buckley and Galbraith all hated Kastro ,Kommunism and Khrushchev.(the dreaded 3K's of the time)

All the deep thinkers went on the same path, except for me. Anti communism rotted the brains of the old liberals and Trotskyites and they became neo-cons. Terrorism is doing the same for today's thinkers. This cold war/GWOT consensus causes people to think like warriors (Spartans, Romans and the like) and their brains get enfeebled. And so the cookie crumbles...

Posted by: Dr WU-the last of the big time thinkers on February 28, 2008 at 6:21 PM | PERMALINK

Coulter called John Edwards a "faggot."
Buckley called Gore Vidal a "faggot."

The difference is that Buckley said it in a phony-ass patrician accent.

Posted by: rayc on February 28, 2008 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK
Politics is serious stuff, and if you're serious about it you shouldn't be on the cocktail circuit every night consorting with the enemy.

There's no reason people who have different political views are necessarily "the enemy". Now, certainly, some people who have views different than the ones I have may have come to those views because they are fundamentally, intractably opposed to everything I believe is good and decent.

Some of them, OTOH, no doubt come to them because they ultimately have values very similar to mine, but have very different perceptions of the way the world works and how those values are, in practice, best realized. And those people are people that it is both more interesting and more productive to talk to than people who happen to share my conclusions on policy outcomes, but who do so only based on some kind of tribal politics or because they view the policy choices themselves as some kind of ideological mandate that is detached from a practical effect.

Now, I think that the Republican Party and the right wing in general, at least the parts of it that have access to the instruments of mass communication, have moved toward pure tribalism and ideological ritualism divorced from any real evaluation of pragmatic results ahead of the Democrats and the left, and that much of the movement on the Left is a reaction to that on the right. But I think that, even if the policies are those that liberals once held to for good reasons, the outcome of political tribalism and rote attachment to policy is ultimately to make the environment more hostile to genuine liberalism, and more conducive to the kind of appeals to traditional authority that underlie conservatism.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 6:30 PM | PERMALINK
Besides that, I wouldn't consider either one of those nimrods serious thinkers.

I wouldn't call Maher "serious" or Coulter a "thinker", for sure.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 6:32 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that Buckley said it in a phony-ass patrician accent

Other differences:

1. Buckley and Vidal were having a heated exchange.
2. Vidal actually is gay.
3. I believe the word Buckley used was "queer."

This doesn't mean Buckley was right. But to put him in the same class as Coulter is very wrong.

Posted by: thersites on February 28, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

what cmdicely at 6:30 PM said.

Posted by: thersites on February 28, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK
You see an equivalence between Coulter and Moore?

I would say they have analogous roles within the modern liberal and conservative movements. Sure, Coulter is far less attached to anything even remotely resembling facts (not the Moore is perfect in this regard), far less civil, and far more prone to irrational demonization of every person on the opposing side. But that's not a difference in her role on the right from Moore's on the left so much as a difference that reflects one between the right and the left more generally.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 28, 2008 at 6:37 PM | PERMALINK

sjrsm wrote: "I thought that a lot of what the neocons were promoting in foreign policy were values that liberals had also held ... the aggressive promoting of democracy ..."

The "aggressive promoting of democracy" by the neocons doesn't exist. It's a line of BS to bamboozle the rubes at home. The rest of the world -- particularly in certain nations that are close US allies, like Saudi Arabia, for example -- knows full well that it is a fraud.

The only thing the neocons have "aggressively promoted" is US military domination of the world's oil supplies. They support brutal dictatorships that are subservient to corporate imperialism, and they do their best to undermine, overthrow or otherwise destroy popular democratic governments that resist corporate imperialism.

Not that this is fundamentally new. US governments under both "liberal" Democratic and "conservative" Republican presidencies have done this for decades. The so-called neocons have just been more aggressive, reckless, incompetent and corrupt about it.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on February 28, 2008 at 7:13 PM | PERMALINK

"In the post-Gingrich/Limbaugh/Rove/Norquist era "

Ah, so that's whose fault it is.

Even when he's trying to appear thoughtful, Kevin makes an utter idiot of himself.

Posted by: am on February 28, 2008 at 7:22 PM | PERMALINK

Even when he's trying to appear thoughtful, Kevin makes an utter idiot of himself.

Don't worry, am, you make an idiot of yourself without ever appearing thoughtful.

Posted by: Gregory on February 28, 2008 at 8:07 PM | PERMALINK

By some, which makes this often a fun place to post.

Notice how Red State Mike implicitly includes himself in the roster of honest conservatives who post here. No one but you believes this, Mike, which is why you're treated with the scorn you deserve.

But then the WashMonthly version of hockey goons, talentless hacks that can't score a goal themselves, will roll in with the standard totally predictable and repetitious high sticking attacks.

Here's Mike playing the civility card again, complaining because his dumbass arguments get shot down all the time, or better yet, his betters merely point out when he's said something incredibly stupid.

Sorry, Mike, but regular readers know you've been engaged in debate on the feeble merits of your positions -- by me as well, and you're being typically dishonest in implying otherwise -- and you can't defend the mendacity, incompetence or corruption of the tyrants you carry water for honestly (or dishonestly, though Ford knows you try often enough). You have proven time and again that you simply aren't worth engaging in "substantive debate" except for amusement -- you don't argue in good faith, period, full stop.

No one mistakes you for an honest commentator. Even our parody Norm Rodgers had your number when he urged you to never admit you're wrong. You don't make substantive arguments, and you're as quick to spew insults as anyone -- particularly when you're losing, which is often. So just stuff the civility bullshit, 'kay?

Posted by: Gregory on February 28, 2008 at 8:16 PM | PERMALINK

Heh

I knew the tool would be unable to resist.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 28, 2008 at 9:16 PM | PERMALINK

Dear heart, considering your own record of personal attacks here, not to mention the complete lack of substance in your posts, you really should watch those stones you're throwing. Your glass house is far too fragile.

And, yes, dear, we all know how you love to whine and play the victim. You really don't need to keep doing it in post after post.

Posted by: PaulB on February 28, 2008 at 9:40 PM | PERMALINK

I wouldn't call Maher "serious" or Coulter a "thinker", for sure.

Coulter is a thinker, dice! 50% of her day is spent on strategically hiding her adams apple. Just do a google images search for "adams apple" if you don't believe me...

Posted by: elmo on February 28, 2008 at 10:01 PM | PERMALINK

The difference is that Buckley said it in a phony-ass patrician accent

Other differences:

1. Buckley and Vidal were having a heated exchange.
2. Vidal actually is gay.
3. I believe the word Buckley used was "queer."

This doesn't mean Buckley was right. But to put him in the same class as Coulter is very wrong.

True. But they're very minor differences. Both "queer" and "faggot" were intended as slurs, and the sexuality of the targets of the slurs is completely irrelevant. And I suppose Buckley was angry -- since at the same time he threatened to punch Vidal in the face -- but it's homophobia whether served hot or cold.
So I still think there's little difference between Buckley and Coulter. They may belong to different classes, but so did Josef Goebbels and Albert Speer.

Posted by: rayc on February 28, 2008 at 11:15 PM | PERMALINK

The night Buckley and Vidal exchanged insults might have been the moment where the old era ended. The Chicago cops were beating on kids, allegedly in response to bags of urine being thrown at them from McCarthy's HQ. Vidal's sexuality was surely no secret to Buckley --- likewise for Buckley's politics --- but they had gotten through the Miami convention in a civil manner. But the widely disparate way in which each of the two patricians viewed the events in Chicago was emblematic of the sharp fracture in American society. ABC had to put them in separate studios for the November general election telecast.

Posted by: sj on February 28, 2008 at 11:46 PM | PERMALINK

I think actually the current incarnation of the Buckley/Galbraith friendship is Matthew Yglesias and Ross Douthat over at the Atlantic site. Except of course that Galbraith/Buckley was a Harvard/Yale split, where Yglesias and Douthat both went to Harvard.

Posted by: brooksfoe on February 29, 2008 at 5:38 AM | PERMALINK

I knew the tool would be unable to resist.

Mike, your feeble attempts to inoculate yourself from criticism of your bullshit by predicting said criticism is just another example of your dishonesty (and, as PaulB noted, you are hardly in a position to throw stones).

Make no mistake, Mike: The game you're playing -- make a dishonest statement, predict a response, and then claim vindication from the mere fact of the response without addressing its substance -- proves my point: You're a dishonest commentator who has earned the disrespect he's given.

Posted by: Gregory on February 29, 2008 at 7:04 AM | PERMALINK

Honestly, rayc, it's almost as if you're trying to ignore differences simply because you don't want to see them. There's a difference between responding with an insult to someone who's just called you "pro-Nazi" and insulting someone who's never said a word to you, regardless of whether the insult is the same in both cases. For that matter, there were pretty substantial differences between Albert Speer and Josef Goebbels!

So I still think there's little difference between Buckley and Coulter. They may belong to different classes, but so did Josef Goebbels and Albert Speer.
Posted by: rayc on February 28, 2008 at 11:15 PM |

Posted by: keith on February 29, 2008 at 7:06 AM | PERMALINK

Gregory, you write thousands of words about me that I don't bother to read. I just measure it by the shovelful.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 8:36 AM | PERMALINK

HAGA CLIC ESTE ESLABÓN Y VER A MI BEBÉ DULCE!

Posted by: Highrespectable on February 29, 2008 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

you write thousands of words about me that I don't bother to read

So you admit that you aren't here to debate in good faith.

As PaulB noted, you just play the victim regardless of whether you're engaged with substance or with the scorn that a dishonest Bush apologist deserves. Thanks for owning up, Mike.

Posted by: Gregory on February 29, 2008 at 9:42 AM | PERMALINK

So you admit that you aren't here to debate in good faith.
Posted by: Gregory

Not with you.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

I think the old way was clearly better - intelligent people reasonably discussing matters. If you want proof of how bad the blogosphere tribal approach is, all you need to do is look at all the vile comments on the thread after Kevin first posted Buckley's death.

I do find it funny that Kevin, who later today criticized Buckley's writing for being so hard to read and understand (which I agree with), uses the term "stultifying" to describe the effect of tribalism. I had to look the word up -- "to have a dulling or inhibiting effect on." I suppose Buckley would have liked Kevin's comment.

Posted by: brian on February 29, 2008 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I think the old way was clearly better - intelligent people reasonably discussing matters. If you want proof of how bad the blogosphere tribal approach is, all you need to do is look at all the vile comments on the thread after Kevin first posted Buckley's death.
Posted by: brian

The best true political debate on the internets does not occur on political sites, for all the reasons you mentioned. It occurs on forums that have nothing specifically to do with politics but that have free speech/anything goes subforums on the side. A good example is The Bilge at The Woodenboat forum. The forum members typically already have respect for each other based on the forum topics, which allows them to disagree without all the hatred and namecalling that occurs at left and right political sites. Neither sides mindless talking points are tolerated. Minds are much more open.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Neither sides mindless talking points are tolerated.

Then obviously they must not tolerate you because, frailty, thy name is talking point.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

Then obviously they must not tolerate you because, frailty, thy name is talking point.
Posted by: trex

Thanks for stepping up as a perfect example of mindless thinking. I'm against waterboarding and torture and have said so. Is that a right-side talking point?

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 11:04 AM | PERMALINK

Whoop de doo, Mike. Is that your one tether to reality, the obvious point that torture IS in fact torture?

The other 98% of what you've posted here over the years has been right-wing talking points that purple fingers mean all the deaths are worth it, despite the fact that the people we "liberated" into a living hell are now shooting at us.

Saddam was a bad man so all the Bush administration sins are covered, and John Kerry was a bad man so his sins aren't, yada yada yada.

Mullahs are crazy and can only be bombed, not reasoned with; Dems are responsible for not stopping Bush's lawbreaking, Dems are respsonible for not breaking the law to stop the war. Freaking Christ, between the convoluted apologetics and outright denaial of facts on the ground to the point of having to change your handle in embarassment, you are talking point central.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Whoop de doo, Mike. Is that your one tether to reality, the obvious point that torture IS in fact torture?

Trex, I'm not anti-abortion, is that a right talking point? I entertain global warming arguments...right talking point? I'm against relaxing FISA and allowing more intrusive spying...right talking point? I'm agnostic...right talking point? I think Iraq was screwed up by Bush in execution...right talking point?

You see only what you want to see. That is your limitation.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK
The best true political debate on the internets does not occur on political sites, for all the reasons you mentioned.

You are welcome to leave here for sites that or more to your taste. You won't be missed.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 29, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK

I think actually the current incarnation of the Buckley/Galbraith friendship is Matthew Yglesias and Ross Douthat over at the Atlantic site. Except of course that Galbraith/Buckley was a Harvard/Yale split, where Yglesias and Douthat both went to Harvard. Posted by: brooksfoe

Give us a fucking break. Comparing Yglesias to a giant like Galbraith? The only thing they have in common is being carbon based life forms. Galbraith actually did things and knew things. Yglesias, on the other hand, has spent his time since college writing about things he has no actual experience with. Yglesias is the penultimate example of a pundit - willing to opine on anything regardless of the fact that he actually has no first hand knowledge of the subject.

I can't think of anyone on the left for which the adage of opinions are like assholes better applies.

That the Atlantic employs people like Yglesias and Sullivan is the reason I no longer subscribe.

Posted by: Jeff II on February 29, 2008 at 12:08 PM | PERMALINK
I think Iraq was screwed up by Bush in execution...right talking point?

Well, in that its been a frequent argument by people on the right to defend the idea of the war and the neoconservative vision in general in face of the near universal recognition of failure in Iraq (though its been deployed less in the last year or so since its been largely replaced with the "the Surge has salvaged Iraq" and "the Surge is a military success and any problems now are the fault of the Iraqis for failing to take advantage of the military success to make political progress" lines.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 29, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK
I'm against waterboarding and torture and have said so. Is that a right-side talking point?

Well, the first sentence implies acceptance of a right-wing talking point (that waterboarding is not torture.)

Posted by: cmdicely on February 29, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

You are welcome to leave here for sites that or more to your taste. You won't be missed.
Posted by: cmdicely

I know, I interrupt the happy circle jerk intellectual kite scheme of mindless leftie talking points here (and which you typically aren't a part of so much). Must be annoying to many for that. But I don't come here to keep you from missing me. Also, turns out it is possible to visit more than one site. You should try it.

On Iraq, call me a Friedman republican. I agreed with him in the runup. Same as Kevin Drum. Were they republicans?

Well, the first sentence implies acceptance of a right-wing talking point (that waterboarding is not torture.)

That does not follow. It implies that the lefties here consider it to be a right wing talking point.

TheAmericanist was hardly a right wing spewer of talking points here, but he wasn't one for sloganeering and demanded a certain precision and nuance in argument, even when agreeing in principle with the main thrust. He was called names and attacked, of course. Sorry to see him go.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

You are welcome to leave here for sites that or more to your taste. You won't be missed.
Posted by: cmdicely

I know, I interrupt the happy circle jerk intellectual kite scheme of mindless leftie talking points here (and which you typically aren't a part of so much). Must be annoying to many for that. But I don't come here to keep you from missing me. Also, turns out it is possible to visit more than one site. You should try it.

On Iraq, call me a Friedman republican. I agreed with him in the runup. Same as Kevin Drum. Were they republicans?

Well, the first sentence implies acceptance of a right-wing talking point (that waterboarding is not torture.)

That does not follow. It implies that the lefties here consider it to be a right wing talking point.

TheAmericanist was hardly a right wing spewer of talking points here, but he wasn't one for sloganeering and demanded a certain precision and nuance in argument, even when agreeing in principle with the main thrust. He was called names and attacked, of course. Sorry to see him go.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

Hmmm, got an Apache Webserver error while posting. Pardon the double post.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

You see only what you want to see. That is your limitation.

Mike, please point us to your cache of voluminous posts on abortion rights, you stalwart resistance to warrantless wiretapping, your criticism of the Bush administration and the Republican party for obstructing any progress on tackling the global climate change issue.

I thought so.

We don't see what we want to see, we see what you post. Holding issues in your head and failing to post on them might make you feel clever and centrist, but it's your body of posts that speak for themselves. And for the record, it's impossible to divine your position on an issue when you didn't take a stand on it because you were too busy hurling general insults and challenging people on their position.

Yes, sometimes posters aren't aware of the couple of times you've meekly said waterboarding is torture and then slipped away quietly, and they accuse you of supporting it.

Good job, way to pounce on those lefties for not having read every post you've ever written! But have you come out strongly against torture and demanded accountability and criticised those who advocate it? Hell no you haven't. So what are people to think?

This is not an echo chamber. The past few months have shown a divide on candidates and policy that can only be described as vicious. There are varying views on the necessity and wisdom of leaving Iraq, sharp criticism of the Democrats in Congress for their timidity and inaction, different opinions on what the shape and structure of healthcare should be like, et al.

There simply happens to be large agreement on overarching factual matters like the reality of the utter, tragic clusterfuck that the politically-driven invasion of Iraq was obviously going to be and turned out to be in the face of denials by the right wing. There is overarching agreement on abiding by the law and the Constitution in the face of its naked abuse by this administration. And of demanding justice and accountability of a president and party that have lied, obfucscated, broken the law, lined their pockets, and engaged in fearmongering at every turn, all the while driving this country into the ground economically, threatening its constitutional stability, and ultimately making its citizens less safe via misguided ideological policies.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Mike, please point us to your cache of voluminous posts on abortion rights, you stalwart resistance to warrantless wiretapping, your criticism of the Bush administration and the Republican party for obstructing any progress on tackling the global climate change issue.

For everything I've listed, I've stated in a post in a thread that position.

Again, the best example is the waterboarding issue, because it comes up often and I've posted on it clearly and repeatedly. I bet you the next time it comes up somebody will reflexively assume I'm defending it. As certain as the sun rises in the east.

This is not an echo chamber. The past few months have shown a divide on candidates and policy that can only be described as vicious.

yes, it's been interesting to watch the policy debates as the sides search for seams to exploit, and to watch the long knives come out against each other. And saddening too. But the same thing happens between McCainiacs and Hucksters, or Linux versus Mac for that matter. Again, these sorts of single topic sites breed that sort of fangs out vitriol. Oh well.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

For everything I've listed, I've stated in a post in a thread that position.

Really? Bring us up to speed. Link to some cites besides the waterboarding thing. I had no idea we believed similarly about warrantless wiretapping and abortion. Maybe there is some common ground after all.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 1:04 PM | PERMALINK

Maybe there is some common ground after all.
Posted by: trex

It's out there, but I'm not going to hunt it down.

Whenever I think of common ground, I think of this web page. We have a lot in common. We just choose to focus on differences.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 1:10 PM | PERMALINK

It's out there, but I'm not going to hunt it down.

Well, I hope you can understand us not taking your word for it. If you're making a controversial claim like this, it's your job to back it up, not ours.

I'm busy and I took the time to hunt it down, and the best I came up with is you being "uncomfortable" with FISA abuse but "reserving" judgment -- and then suggesting that Democrats be thrown out of office for not stopping it.

Mind you, not Republicans thrown out of office for aiding and abetting it, not Bush thrown out of office for actually breaking the law - but Democrats for not breaking federal law and secrecy oaths to stop it.

This should say something to you about your motives and state of mind and why people on this board respond to you the way they do.

There are too many abortion threads to do a complete search but again, the most charitable pro-choice position of yours I could find after a lot of searching is your position that extra embryos left over from IVF should not be used for stem cell research, and that progressives should give into the conservative position of using only adult stem cells because that's "win-win."

And keep in mind, proably 90% of the remainder of your posts are simply about how the jihadis are an existential threat coming to get us in our sleep (they're not) and ex post facto arguments about how Iraq is teh awesome and such a noble effort, supplanted by a near continuous stream of criticism of Democrats and leftist positions and anything and anyone BUT the people actually respsonible for the circus of clusterfucks that have been laid at our door.

So yeah, on a couple of issues you're not exactly Ann Coulter, but neither is your body of posts filled with the free-wheeling opinions of someone whose stock and trade isn't talking points.

They are talking points, you'd just like to think that they're not.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 1:33 PM | PERMALINK

Well, after a bit of searching...I'll quote myself on where I stand on abortion (and when life starts)

Grape_crush, Nice summary. I'd add to Set Three a distinction between federal and state.

Personally, as soon as the fetus has neurons and they start pinging and the neural net starts getting trained to its environment, then whatever the spark is that separates us from a blob of jello has occurred.
Posted by: Red State Mike

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK
I know, I interrupt the happy circle jerk intellectual kite scheme of mindless leftie talking points here (and which you typically aren't a part of so much).

See, that's what I don't understand about you (and other wingers who have come here and made similar complaints.) Whether or not its true that the general dialogue here is a "happy circle-jerk intellectual kite scheme of mindless leftie talking points", if you perceive it as such, why do you keep reading the site and/or posting here?

Certainly, after it became clear to me that the ratio of that kind of thing (with "right-wing" in place of "leftie") on Tacitus and RedState was such a large share of the discussion, I stopped posting. Clearly, the general community at those sites enjoyed that type of thing, but there was little of value for people not into that there, and not being into that, I left. There are plenty of things to do with life more valuable then subjecting oneself to hollow partisan intellectual wankfests, so if you see a forum as one of those, why participate in it if you aren't into that?

Also, turns out it is possible to visit more than one site. You should try it.

While I don't, for a variety of reasons, post on as many political discussion forums as I once did (one of those reasons being that I'm active in more mostly non-political forums), I read quite a lot of sites regularly (including a wide variety of news and political discussion sites.)

Its possible to not make ignorant assumptions about other people in a discussion. You should try it.

On Iraq, call me a Friedman republican.

You can call yourself what you wish, of course, but don't expect me to adopt your choice of labels just because you suggest it.

I agreed with him in the runup. Same as Kevin Drum. Were they republicans?

Friedman is a fairly intellectually lazy corporatist conservative, whatever his party affiliation (which I neither know nor particularly care, not being much of a partisan tribalist.) Drum habitually accepts fairly major bits of right-wing propaganda uncritically while nibbling aroudn the edges, something I frequently attack him for. Not that whether or not they are Republicans is relevant to the discussion here.


Well, the first sentence implies acceptance of a right-wing talking point (that waterboarding is not torture.)

That does not follow.

Yes, it does. Referring to your opposition to "waterboarding and torture" implies the speaker's acceptance of the premise that waterboarding is not torture.

It implies that the lefties here consider it to be a right wing talking point.

No, it doesn't. It implies that the person saying they oppose "waterboarding and torture" does. If you were rejecting the perceived right-wing talking point that waterboarding was not torture, and simultaneously rejecting torture, you would say something which rejected the idea that "waterboarding" is not included in "torture" (such as "I oppose waterboarding and all other forms of torture" or "I oppose torture, including torture by waterboarding") not something which accepts that waterboarding is not a subset of torture.

TheAmericanist was hardly a right wing spewer of talking points here, [...]

He was a self-important blowhard that couldn't defend points rationally, only by reference to his own claimed expertise, and preferred to launch into abuse both on the board and via email rather than engaging in rational debate, but its true that his hobby-horse issues on which he would respond in that manner whenever disagreed with weren't "right-wing talking points".

[...] but he wasn't one for sloganeering [...]

In that he was prone to long-winded, unfocussed diatribes that didn't connect back to a thesis but wandered through a bunch of tangentially related historical facts, rather than short, pithy slogans, true.

[...] and demanded a certain precision and nuance in argument,, even when agreeing in principle with the main thrust.

He certainly demanded agreement with his own personal positions. Neither "precision" nor "nuance" were things he seemed particularly committed to.

He was called names and attacked, of course.

He was "called names and attacked"? I mean, its not like one of his favorite alternatives to reasoned debate was personal attacks and juvenile name-calling, particularly by calling people "stoopid" (only, sometimes with even more 'o's.) No, wait, it is, in fact, exactly like that.

Sorry to see him go.

If you are that fond of him, this is hardly the only political blog he posted on, and I think he's still active on several others: you could certainly express your unhappiness with his departure by reducing your time here and increasing the time you spend on the ones where his valuable (to you, apparently) contributions continue. While he sometimes added to the discussion, he was more prone to detract from it, and I don't miss him at all. And if his departure makes coming here less worthwhile to you, I can't say that I see that as any reason to be sad he's gone, either.

For everything I've listed, I've stated in a post in a thread that position.

That's clearly at least trivially true, since the list was in a post in a thread. And, while you may have mentioned them before, I have a feeling that for at least some of them, were we to see where you posted them before, they weren't you advocating those positions, but bringing them up (as here) as a side comment to demonstrate that you weren't really a doctrinaire right-winger, which doesn't really address the accusation that your substantive participation here is almost entirely as parrot of right-wing talking points.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 29, 2008 at 2:13 PM | PERMALINK

Well, after a bit of searching...I'll quote myself on where I stand on abortion (and when life starts)

This says essentially nothing. I've read your post and grape's post and it's not clear whatsoever your position on abortion. You believe neural development separates us from jello blobs. Then what? Should abortion be outlawed after that point? Is is morally wrong? Both?

And when exactly in neural development are we human? Brain development begins at four weeks and electrical activity at forty days. Should abortion be illegal after forty days? Or not?

And conversely, if you believe this, why are you against using embroyos from IVF for stem cell research? No brain activity there.

I know the arguments, we're chucking the IVF embryos, might as well put them to use. I disagree.

It doesn't matter, the answer is immaterial to the talking point issue. You have provided no coherent position on abortion, all you've done is avoid taking a conspicuous stand on it while providing cryptic observations and variously attacking progressives for their views or fervor on the matter.

Which is the same tack you frequently take. You lack the courage to step up and openly agree on progressive viewpoints and/or or call for accountability on for Republicans on lawbreaking, lying, graft, cronyism, you name it.

You're conspiracy nut, just not as mildly amusing.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Still and all, it's kind of stultifying, isn't it? In the post-Gingrich/Limbaugh/Rove/Norquist era that we live in there might not be much we can do about it, but that doesn't mean we have to like it.

I'm glad to know that no liberals are to blame. Whew.

Posted by: Brian on February 29, 2008 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK

Buckley used to support Allard K. Lowenstein's Congressional campaigns in the 1960s and 1970s and had him as a frequent guest on Firing Line before Lowenstein's tragic death in 1980. Buckley even eulogized at his funeral. Why? Because even though they disagreed on much, they agreed on what was most important to the broader consensus. And both had disdain for the radicals on either side of them.

For most of the country's political history there's alwasy been an oppressive centrism or "consensus" controlling political discourse. Don't believe me? Go ride the Orange Line on the D.C. Metro sometime and you'll see it for yourself. What's different than in the past is that the two sides of the social democratic consensus (the name current controlling faction)are actually playing politics the way one plays Risk or Stratego, my Red pieces against your Blue pieces. They're fighting it out like its Sparta vs. Athens or the Yankees vs. the Red Sox.

But everyone knows it's a phony, staged fight, done more for entertainment and filler for 24-hour cable news networks more than anything. Candidates who are outside this consensus and who actual ideas for real change like Ron Paul, Dennis Kucinich and Ralph Nader are treated with scorn and hatred from those who are a part of the concensus (including one Kevin Drum) because these are people who threaten the consensus and threaten to pull the curtain up on the "phony war" and say "What is this all about anyway? You two are more alike than different and yet you fight to the death like animals." That's what the Obama camapaign is all about, calling out the partisans and saying "Enough is enough. This is ridiculous. Let's start governing like the consensus is supposed to govern."

Perhaps it's time we had real debates about the issues instead of worrying about who's running for Congressional District 3 in Nebraska. As much as I think Nader is threatening to make a fool of himself again, I can at least see where he's coming from.

Posted by: Sean Scallon on February 29, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Painful...to...read.

Yes, once the neurons start pinging abortions should stop, since that would be taking a life. Next abortion thread we can discuss it. Ditto on embryos.

Which is the same tack you frequently take. You lack the courage to step up and openly agree on progressive viewpoints and/or or call for accountability on for Republicans on lawbreaking, lying, graft, cronyism, you name it.

Again, see my position on waterboarding. Here's a thread on evolution and intelligent design. Google on my comments on Duke Cunningham. Here's a hint to help you understand why you don't see it when I agree. Posts where I agree generally don't get responded to and generate a hundred post interlocked thread.

But enough about me. Trex, show me where you've steered off the liberal progressive talking points farm, to demonstrate your independence of thought.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 3:03 PM | PERMALINK

Yes, once the neurons start pinging abortions should stop, since that would be taking a life.

This is not a claim you've made prior to this. You have only made oblique, cryptic references without further amplification. That's what's painful to read.

Ditto on embryos

IVF embryos typically are about eight cells and just a few days old. No electrical activity. So if it's "ditto for this" you can see why people might be confused on your position on abortion. Or why you are.

But enough about me. Trex, show me where you've steered off the liberal progressive talking points farm, to demonstrate your independence of thought.

I didn't make any such claim, you did. I don't troll this site hurling invective at the regulars, you do. I AM a progressive.

When I start trolling a right-wing site with face-saving arguments based on emotional appeals that merely boost my tribe's interests instead of engaging in a detached analysis of the issues, ask me again.

Posted by: trex on February 29, 2008 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Here's a perfect example of Mike arguing in bad faith, since even he can't be this stupid.

The question isn't whether you hold a few contrarian positions from Party orthodoxy. You get criticized, rightly, for posting repetitive GOP bullshit in here and arguing in bad faith. Frankly, I suspect your long history of dishonest posting -- which cmdicely, trex and I cite in this thread, and our Norman Rogers parody referenced when he urged you not to admit you were wrong -- makes people neither notice or care when your opinion is close to that of others here.

It's also irrelevant whether trex has posted contrarian opinions. Even if trex -- one commentor -- hasn't, it hardly proves the point you seem to want to make -- that this forum is an echo chamber. You yourself have admitted that it is not.

And even if it were, it hardly justifies your posting Republican bullshit here, or your intellectually dishonest water carrying for this Administration, nor your playing the victim when your bullshit is treated with the contempt it deserves.

No one mistakes you for a good-faith commentator, Mike, and as others have pointed out, its your own history of posting that makes it so and excuses you from consideration or courtesy as an honest conservative. You like to whine and play the victim card -- when you aren't dishing out the insults yourself -- but that dog won't hunt, and this very thread, along with all the others, is proof of that.

It's really simple, Mike. To have standing to complain about "civility" or "echo chambers" or the discourse between the Right and the Left, you have to argue in good faith. By your own admission, and as you constantly demonstrate, you refuse to do so. QED.

Posted by: Gregory on February 29, 2008 at 3:32 PM | PERMALINK

I didn't make any such claim, you did. I don't troll this site hurling invective at the regulars, you do. I AM a progressive.
Posted by: trex

And you agree completely with everything in the progressive agenda? Really? You're a progressive dittohead? I find that very hard to believe.

Gregory, I see you've shoveled about 5 inches of typographical crap onto my monitor again. Thanks for paying attention to me.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK
Yes, once the neurons start pinging abortions should stop, since that would be taking a life.

This seems to contradict the statement above: "Trex, I'm not anti-abortion, is that a right talking point?"

You are clearly "anti-abortion", and on the same premise as most of the so-called "pro-life" movement (a movement that is, itself, to the right of the center of even the Republican party).

The fact that you articulate a slightly different definition of when life starts that is typical in the pro-life movement and that apparently move the absolute prohibition on abortion from conception to some uncertain time in each individual case in the first trimester doesn't really change that.

Posted by: cmdicely on February 29, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

This seems to contradict the statement above: "Trex, I'm not anti-abortion, is that a right talking point?"
Posted by: cmdicely

No. I'm OK with abortions prior to life which puts in the first trimester. That puts me in between the hard right (life starts at conception) and the hard left, which approves of aborting a perfectly viable full term fetus. I'm in neither camp and argue with both.

By the way, I enjoyed your "How Howard Dean Won The Nomination" post.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

and the hard left, which approves of aborting a perfectly viable full term fetus

I have NEVER heard this position espoused. Ever. I suppose that there are a couple of wackos out there who hold that stance, but it has never been espoused by anyone I have ever taken seriously, never been uttered at any rally I have attended. I have never heard it voiced at all, except by far-right wackos who tell me that it is the position of the far left.

And no, Mike, I am not calling you a right-wing wacko. (Others might, but I'm not going to. Maybe it's shared experience, but most of the time I at least have some idea where you're coming from, even when I disagree vehemently.) I am saying, however, that you seem to have picked up one of their over-the-top emotional appeals and it has been incorporated unchallenged and I think you should examine it.

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

I have NEVER heard this position espoused. Ever.

Hmmm, did not want to argue abortion. The place I've heard it is right here, by someone who argued it was OK and was not considered fringe. Anyway, my point was if I take my position and go to Powerline forums, I'll be in just as much a catfight there as here.

While looking I found this interesting exchange, echos of a recent pissing match here...

I loved Josh Marshall's headline when he covered this very Sun story a couple of days ago:

ROMNEY: LIFE BEGINS AT PICKUP LINE
Posted by: xxxxxxx

****************

So... life begins at "What's your sign"?
Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on August 24, 2007 at 2:17 PM | PERMALINK

****************

So... life begins at "What's your sign"?

Does astrology seem like an appropriately Christian pickup line to you, Blue Girl? Hmmmm?
Posted by: xxxxxxxxx

Kind of reminds me of an Onion article.

Posted by: sjrsm on February 29, 2008 at 4:54 PM | PERMALINK

I had forgotten that! Thanks! Someone should compile a book of Onion-type stuff and sell it. Profits could be split between the magazine and maybe Fisher House?

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State on February 29, 2008 at 5:02 PM | PERMALINK

Some folks have been equating Michael Moore with Ann "The Man" Coulter as "entertainers." This is, I think, quite egregiously unfair to Moore who produces well thought out, Academy-Award Winning films. There's a big difference between producing and directing documentaries like "Sicko" which explodes myths about healthcare here and in other countries and "Fahrenheit 911" in which the most damning evidence against the administration is stock footage of President Bush being himself and calling John Edwards a "faggot." Nor has Michael Moore ever done anything to approach calling the 911 widows "harpies" who "enjoy[ed] their husbands' deaths."

BTW, if you want intelligent, informed discourse where people with differing ideas are treated with respect, might I recommend Amanda Marcotte over at Pandagon? That was, of course, my little joke.

Posted by: Hieronymus Braintree on March 1, 2008 at 3:55 PM | PERMALINK

I enjoyed Buckley's "Firing Line" and his verbal abilities and mastery of deceit. If you understood that, going in, then you might chuckle at his retort to J. K. Galbraith's demand for an answer to a serious question: "That was a yes or no question, Bill". Buckley's response was "Yes or no questions are for people less intelligent than myself," [Applause].

I guess my point is that a man from Yale has endless choices, and choosing to work for the CIA was Buckley's choice. It was where you learn to lie and keep lying and have a million ways to divert others from the truth - Buckley's life in a nutshell. Was JK Galbraith overly gracious - absolutely - they were gentlemen after all (well, Galbraith was).

William F. Buckley, like nearly all American politicians (yes, not just Hillary, but Barack as well) and all Presidents, had no problem with telling lies. However, it was one thing as entertainment, but no laughing matter as one of our country's eminences grise, a man with broad impact on American policies, like a Kissinger (whose children lived in a mental institution for the rich).

Buckley was sometimes refreshing, and examples where he told the truth are held dear to the Right Wing he helped create and maintain. On instance I remember was when his South American guest claimed that were no revolutions in South America until Cuba exported Che, etc. Buckley, caring less for SA dictators than an opportunity to land a blow, said, (in brilliant language) approximately, "You are forgetting your own Simon Bolivar who liberated your country and others from the Spanish Conquistadores." (Of course, WFB said no such thing when Bush's CIA had Allende thrown out a window.)

Buckley led the support on Vietman and then continued to blame 18-year-olds for the defeat of a war started and lost by the politicians and the deceitful statesmen like himself. WF Buckley was one of the Right Wingers that threw us into the snake pit of Vietnam and decades later was crowing "break out the champagne" when we invaded tiny Granada.

Buckley deserves a place with Nixon, Kissinger, and Bush senior - I confess that he would never have suffered a fool like Bush the idiot son - but I don't remember WF or anyone on that side of the fence stopping him.

The reason Bush is stuck in Iraq is because he would have been investigated and thrown out of office had the war ever stopped. Now McCain will of course pardon him. Better yet, maybe Obama the uniter will do the same. Hillary Clinton would never let Bush get away with such murderous deceit - which is why every conservative pundit hates her so much. She knows where the mines are planted and this time, Universal Health Care would actually become law. She knows where the criminals in power live, and this time they would go to jail.

However, next October, the Republicans only have to run and re-run the U-Tube videos of Rev. Wright and Obama's excuses for him ad-infinitum. Why else does every conservative attempt to bring down Hillary - do you think they are stupid? They know that beating a black man is easy. They will be as polite as Buckley in some circles, but not the Swift Boat types they will distance themselves from but never stop. They will scare the hell out of white Americans - and Obama's arrogance has already lost the Clinton supporters.

All of that could change if Barack made one simple concession - offering Hillary the Vice Presidency - very publicly. Otherwise, the WF Buckley's will do their part and the red necks will do theirs, and McCain is the best Republican that Clinton Democrats could hope for anyway.

Right now, Barack could make himself President, but the question is if his arrogance will defeat him and everything this country needs as well. He will show us what he cares about most in the weeks and months ahead.


Posted by: Tom Wilson, Boulder, CO on March 29, 2008 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, if Hillary is so bad to our queaky clean (they say) O-Team, how do you justify excluding Ralph Nader, the only honest politician in the race?

Posted by: Tom Wilson, Boulder, CO on March 29, 2008 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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