Slate’s Eric Alterman graces us with this post-election piece today telling us what went wrong in the presidential election. Here’s the opening paragraph:
Let’s face it. It’s not Kerry’s fault. It’s not Nader’s fault (this time). It’s not the media’s fault (though they do bear a heavy responsibility for much of what ails our political system). It’s not our fault either. The problem is just this: Slightly more than half of the citizens of this country simply do not care about what those of us in the reality-based community say or believe about anything.
The column (or blog post) just gets worse from there.
First, “reality-based community” is code for redneck, Bible-thumping, dueling banjo-strumming conservative Neanderthals. I ran across the term (and wrote about it) not long ago in a piece by Ron Suskind in the New York Times Magazine, about George Bush’s faith.
As I explained in my column, Suskind argues that President Bush is:
a close-minded, simplistic dogmatist who believes he’s on a mission from God. Bush’s faith also impels him to demand blind obedience from his advisers, shutting out facts or advice he doesn’t want to hear or that doesn’t comport with his faith.
“Once he makes a decision — often swiftly, based on a creed or moral position,” says Suskind, “he expects complete faith in its rightness.”…
Suskind insinuates that if a person heavily relies on God, he will ignore the “facts on the ground.” That is, faith and reason, faith and facts, faith and reality, are all mutually exclusive. He quotes one person as saying, “But when it gets complex, he seems to turn to prayer or God rather than digging in and thinking things through.”
Suskind says that the faith-based among us simply don’t like the “reality-based community.”
Excellent. So now we have a new liberal talking point for the ages. Isn’t it interesting that in the very process of indicting us — the Neanderthals — for not liking the reality-based community, the sneering Alternman reveals his contempt for us.
The magnitude of arrogance here displayed is astonishing. Only people who subscribe to the secular liberal worldview are reality-based? Science and faith are incompatible? Science and reason are incompatible?
But Alterman’s wrong. I do care what liberals think. I just wish they didn’t think the way they do. But there will always be liberals and that’s just the way it is. But talk about reality-challenged. Listen to Alterman’s next paragraph:
They don’t care that Iraq is turning into murderous quicksand and a killing field for our children. They don’t care that the Bush presidency has made us less safe by creating more terrorists, inspiring more anti-American hatred and refusing to engage in the hard work that would be necessary to make a meaningful dent in our myriad vulnerabilities at home. They don’t care that he has mortgaged our children’s future to give trillions to the wealthiest among us. They don’t care that the economy continues to hemorrhage well-paying jobs and replace them with Wal-Mart; that the number without health insurance is over forty million and rising. They don’t care that Medicare premiums are rising to fund the coffers of pharmaceutical companies. They don’t care that the air they breathe and the water they drink is being slowly poisoned and though they call themselves conservatives, they even don’t care that the size of the government and its share of our national income has increased by roughly a quarter in just four years. This is not a world of rational debate and issue preference.
I won’t rehash every hysterical liberal claim just recited in that graph, but I will ask you to focus on his last sentence: “This is not a world of rational debate and issue preference.” And he expands on that idea in the next paragraph: “It’s one of ‘them’ and ‘us.” He’s (Bush) one of ‘them’ and not one of ‘us’ and that’s all they care about.”
It’s ironic that it was liberals, not conservatives, who supported their presidential candidate not because they liked him, but because he was not one of them. As usual, the libs are guilty of the precise sin they falsely accuse us of committing. Most of us supported George Bush because we approve of the man, his character, his policies, and his direction. They supported John Kerry with their noses held “wide-shut” because they couldn’t stand George Bush because he is not one of them. Rather, he is, in the words of another Slate writer “simple.”
As we proceed through Alterman’s screed we encounter these sentences:
After all, Bush is a millionaire’s son who went to Yale and Harvard and sat out Vietnam, not even bothering to show up for his cushy National Guard duty, and succeeded only in trading on his father’s name and connections in adult life. But somehow, they feel he understands them. He speaks their language. Our guys don’t. And unless they learn it, we will continue to condemn this country and those parts of the world it affects to a regime of malign neglect at best—malignant and malicious assault at worse.
President Bush, as has been established ad nauseam, did fulfill his National Guard duty. And he has exceeded by leaps and bounds, his father’s performance in the Oval Office. But here’s the statement that really reveals the liberal mindset: “But somehow, they feel he understands them. He speaks their language. Our guys don’t.”
Sorry, we are not as simple and purely emotionally driven as you think, as as you apparently are. I don’t support President Bush because I feel he understands me or that he speaks my language. I support him, as do most conservatives — most Americans, we can now safely say — because I approve of his policies and trust him. I don’t depend on government to understand me. That’s a liberal concept. I don’t want the government to understand me. I want it to serve me in those limited areas, such as national security, in which I believe it should be involved. These liberals are trapped in the Oprahesque world where the paternalistic government tends to all their needs, where they view tax cuts back to the producers and highest tax contributors as a gift from the government to the rich.
Alterman is correct that I don’t want his kind running things. But no more than his kind doesn’t want our kind running things. And it is “a world of rational debate and issue preference” from the conservative perspective. It is liberals who substitute name-calling and distortions for rational debate. You can’t have rational debate with people who argue that: *our aggressive actions against terrorists spawn terrorist recruitment; * conservatives want to poison the air and water; * the president and vice president were in Iraq to aid Halliburton and big oil; that the president lied to get us into Iraq; that Republicans starve school children; that conservatives hate homosexuals; that Republicans through intimidation suppress black voters; that people like Christopher Reeve would be getting out of that wheelchair and walking again if John Kerry were president; that we delegated the capture of Osama bin Laden to Afghan warlords, …
These are the people who divide instead of unifying. These are the people who rebuff President Bush’s sincere efforts to unify us. These are the people who have difficulty with reality. These are the people who don’t engage in rational debate.
The truth is that they lost fair and square, after spending four years with the help of the Old Media trashing this president. Those of them like Alterman are poor losers. They are the people who “owe it to themselves not to walk away from this battle.” Do you detect the language of unity there? I’m not suggesting they should abandon their ideals, but they ought to get a clue that they got a fair hearing yesterday and lost — across the board. It seems to me that they are the ones, more than us, who harbor this “us” or “them” mentality. They are free to exercise their constitutional rights and always will be in our America. I just wish they would accord us reciprocal respect, such as allowing the president to exercise his constitutional authority to appoint judges. We’ll see how this all plays out, but from where I’m sitting I see no prospect for reconciliation when the liberal mindset remains where it is today. Far from retreating, they have just begun to fight and I think it’ll get increasingly divisive as we move forward — which is hard to imagine considering the degree of acrimony we’ve already experienced from the Left during the past four years. I’m willing to have an open mind to the prospect that they’ll try to work with President Bush. But I think that anyone who really believes they will is himself, non-reality-based.