Tuesday, June 10, 2003

Ain't gonna fall for it

Matthew Yglesias points us to a post by Paul Muller in which Paul challenges liberal bloggers to post one positive thing that Republicans have done. I suppose this is Paul's way of trying to get liberals to prove they aren't just blind Republican/Bush haters and can actually think. I agree with Matthew's response:
I'm not going to take him up on this one. Bush does plenty of things that I find unobjectionable and so you won't see me objecting to those things. Still, I think he's a very bad president overall and I'd like to see him out of office so I'm not going to waste my time lauding him. I will, though, give him a bit of faint praise which is to say that he's done a good job turning his party away from the ugly race-baiting used by, say, his father. I know that being non-partisan is supposed to be a good thing, but the fact of the matter is that there are two parties vying for power in this country and unless you're genuinely unable to make up your mind between them there's no sense in pretending you think they're roughly equivalent just in order to sound more sophisticated.
Back in the early 90s when Rush Limbaugh was on the rise (back when I used to find him sometimes interesting to listen to) he used to answer his critics who would accuse him of not presenting the other side by shouting, "I AM the other side." I disagree with most everything that Rush stands for, but he was right on this one thing: it is not up to us to talk up the opposition or to provide them with any positive strokes. I have occasionally said positive things about Republicans (usually old-line ones or moderates) but, as a general principle, I see no reason to waste my time trying to explain where Republicans get it right. If such a discussion is fitting within a larger topic I am talking about I won't hesitate to do it. But I'm not going to go out of my way to do it either. (Just as an example, look at my comment above about Rush Limbaugh.) Besides which, this is a trick that the right has used repeatedly to keep the left off-guard. It is an appeal to the stereotypical image that liberals will go out of their way to see the good in all people. Responding to this appeal derails the conversation when it starts to swerve into areas that the right is uncomfortable with (such as, say, where Saddam's WMD are). Sorry. I'm not gonna bite that bone anymore. If Republican's want to defend their honor they can do it themselves. I see no reason to waste a single minute trying to help them out. They want validation for their views? Go looking for it from an audience that actually cares.

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