In light of what’s happened and, more importantly, in light of the important issues we’ll be facing in the near future, can we just say that a full-bore, nasty, intramural debate over whether or not we should say that Obama is a nice guy is probably damned near the bottom of the list of priorities?
Respectfully — and forcefully — I am going to disagree.
Patterico has today created a new thread decrying my outragous treatment of his honor (to which I respond, sorry — I just don’t believe Patterico thinks a mau-mauing protege of domestic terrorists, noted anti-semites and black supremacists, a host of radicals and avowed Marxists, and those who run the hotbed of corruption that is Chicago politics, is “good man”; instead, I believe Patterico determined beforehand that if Obama won, he’d show how classy he is — and how essentially kind are conservatives — by posting such nonsense. But as I said in my original post on the subject, there’s a difference between graciousness and praise — and I continue to believe that Patterico, for all his subsequent denials, realizes this). So I have no interest in addressing any of that beyond how I’ve already done so.
Instead, I want to talk more generally about why I believe, pace Cranky Conservative, that “whether or not we should say that Obama is a nice guy” is vitally important — and that, far from being “damned near the bottom of the list of priorities,” it speaks to something classical liberals need to put at the top of their priority list: namely, a refusal to allow the tactics of progressives to pass unchallenged or even to be celebrated.
In an political environment wherein the left has managed to turn the introduction of inconvenient facts into “smears” or “racism,” this willingness, on the part of some conservatives, to believe themselves capable of seizing the moral high ground by essentially giving cover to the demonstrably bad by allowing that it is merely “misguided,” is yet another step toward the very kind of partisan pragmatism that has cost Republicans so dearly, and that, even more troubling, has served to devalue language and further institutionalize a dangerous idea of how interpretation works.
When Bill Bennett was attacked as a racist, many conservatives were quick to get out in front of the issue and suggest that, while they didn’t believe Bennett to be a racist, he was reckless nevertheless in allowing himself to be depicted that way by opportunistic progressives. And it was at that point that they ceded greater control of language to those who seek to use it dishonestly and cynically as a bludgeon, and in doing so, sent the signal that such was an effective way to control conservative speech. Bennett, you’ll recall, went out of his way to make clear his intent. But we were told that others might misinterpret that intent, and so Bennett was to blame for putting himself in that position.
The proper answer, of course, was to point out the entirety of Bennett’s comments, note that there was nothing racist about them, and to insist that those who might be offended by those comments learn to read for comprehension and in context. Period. No excuses, no concessions. Bennett meant what he meant, and what he meant was clear to anyone who bothered to work through his argument.
Don’t want to be offended? Learn to interpret properly.
Here, similarly, progressives — who ran a thuggish campaign that consisted of truth squads, attempts to have advertising removed, the personal and very public destruction of private citizens (from Joe the Plumber to Trig Palin) — can take from “high minded” posts like Patterico’s the message that they can always count on conservative self-righteousness to protect them from recrimination, that their pragmatism and cynicism will always prove successful strategically so long as conservatives maintain a desire to appear above the fray.
Patterico accused me of “demonizing” all Democrats, which is patently absurd. In fact, I dealt specifically with denying the appellation “good man” to someone who, through his actions, has proven to be anything but.
It matters who gets called a “good man.” It matters who we say has this country’s best interests at heart. And yes, it’s possible Obama does, to a certain extent — though what is important to recognize is that, at least so far as his governing principles to this point suggest, he doesn’t hold that view from the perspective of the country as it was founded, and as it was intended to be governed.
Which means that Obama’s best interests for the country are really the best interests for a country he’d like to see this one become — a new text that he’d like us to believe will be but an re-interpretation of the original text.
As someone who believes in the principles upon which this country was founded, I refuse to allow that someone whose ideological predispositions compel him to radically redefine that “imperfect document” that is the Constitution, has this country’s best interests at heart.
And I likewise refuse to allow that a man whose thuggish deeds and unsavory associations have defined him be granted the honor of “good man.” Because to do so is to make a mockery of good men, and to cede yet another bit of our ability to evaluate and describe and conclude in good faith into a bit of “hate speech” that won’t help the GOP regain power.
To which I say, outlaws ain’t team players. And it’s time to be outlaws.