"Our Country!
In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right;
but right or wrong, our country!"

    --Commodore Stephen Decatur

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Liberal Paradox

Today's New York Times asks the question, why are American politics stuck in the mindset of the 1960's?  To answer this question, perhaps the old grey lady should recall the fable of the crab and its mother:
A CRAB said to her son, "Why do you walk so one-sided, my child?  It is far more becoming to go straight forward."  The young Crab replied: "Quite true, dear Mother; and if you will show me the straight way, I will promise to walk in it."  The Mother tried in vain, and submitted without remonstrance to the reproof of her child.
As with the crab, the liberal-leaning New York Times is trapped in the 1960's by its own nature.  Bai observes, "The choices of our moment are not nearly so neat or so satisfying as they were a generation ago, which makes them less useful as a basis for one’s political identity."  The language there is telling.  Only a liberal would describe the moral choices of the '60's as "neat" and "satisfying."  For the rest of us, the '60's were a dark time of assassinations, riots, and social upheaval that nearly tore the nation apart.

In his analysis, Bai cites two recent examples of this continuing trend.  In both cases, the scandal was created and then whipped up by liberals.  In the first, Blumenthal himself opened the door by "misstating" (i.e., lying about) his service.  Then the liberal-leaning Times obligingly announced the scandal, tearing open the wounds of the Vietnam era once again for the nation to reconsider for the umpteenth time.  Meanwhile, Rand's difficulties with the Civil Rights Act were prompted by an absurd hypothetical posed by a correspondent on MSNBC whose political views are well known.

Similarly, during the Bush Administration, liberals could not resist drawing comparisons between Iraq and Vietnam, even though the reality has turned out to be very different.  Hurricane Katrina raised the ghosts of the civil rights movement and the destruction of New Orleans was viewed by many as an example of deep-seated racism, even though the death toll was color-blind.  These perverse comparisons with the liberal myth of the 1960's as a glorious triumph were simply too much for liberals to resist, no matter how crass and misguided.

For liberals, it is much more politically expedient to stoke the last faint embers of those divisive times, possibly to win a few more votes in the next election by reminding aging baby boomers of their guilt and shame.  However, it is worth remembering that after the liberal triumph of Carter in the 1970's, the nation overwhelmingly elected Reagan by a landslide and moved strongly to the right.  If Bush was a repeat of Nixon, a repeat of the subsequent decades would not favor Democrats.

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