Friday, October 09, 2009

He Seems Like an Intelligent Guy, So Is He Just Pretending Not to Get It?

added: My Quest for an Intelligent Liberal

This is Eric Liu, former advisor to President Clinton. I thought I would read what some people on the Left were saying about Obama's Nobel Peace Prize. It was mostly all predictable stuff, but this guy stood out as a little different.

In his post he points out the distinction between challenge awards and achievement awards. Challenge awards, like the X Prizes for personal spaceflight or the Buckminster Fuller Prize for social innovation, are competitions that incentivize imagination and innovation. Achievement awards, like Nobel Prizes in the sciences or arts, are meant to recognize past accomplishment. In awarding the Peace Prize to President Obama, the Nobel Committee is using what's often considered an achievement award as a challenge award -- and it appears the President is accepting it in that spirit.

OK, I'm with him so far, and I think that's an interesting point--a fascinating spin, really, and I also think he gives the Nobel Committee 'way too much credit, but I can live with that. But then Liu goes all Lefty-wobbly: What really concerns me is those Republicans who cheered America's loss in the Olympics site-selection and who now jeer the awarding of a Nobel to an American President. It seems that some of the loudest voices on the right now want America to fail. That's going to be bad for the Republican Party -- and for the country.

No, no, no Mr. Liu. I do not want America to fail. I want Barack Obama to fail. I want his miserable, misguided, naive, radical ideas to fail, because if his policies succeed, then I truly believe America will go into a death spiral. Maybe 50 or so years from now we will come out of it, but I won't be here to see it. I didn't want him elected in the first place, and now that he's elected I want him to be a one-term president. So no, Mr. Liu, I do not want America to fail. And come on: "What really concerns me"--be honest, no it doesn't "concern" you. Why would it concern a Liberal that "those Republicans" are on the wrong track? The truth is you are cheering for the Republicans to be on the wrong track, unless of course you want the Democrat Party to fail. You people on the left really need to drop the PC folderol. You know you don't believe in it--not really. You just use it as a club to beat people with--but "nicely."

So is Mr. Liu being totally disenguous or is he merely singing with the choir? Does he really think I want America to fail just because I think Obama is an inexperienced, dangerous character and I disagree with his policies? Honestly, I don't know. My experience of Liberals, in general, is that (and wowzer, do they ever hate to be called Liberals--why is that?) they get their information from someplace like Time magazine, so they simply aren't up to arguing for their side--so their "argument" slides off into "but Bush did it worse," and then they shout "Why do you hate America?" over their shoulder as they run from the room. It's difficult to find an intelligent Liberal who will (or who is able to) honestly engage with the issues. Ahem--maybe it's difficult to find an intelligent liberal. I didn't want to go there, but really--do they honestly not learn about logical fallacies in their fancy schools? Or maybe they really believe conservatives are too stupid to get it that they use logical fallacies? Honestly, I'm trying to figure this out.

Mr. Liu, you started out well, but then you reached for a tired, old, easy argument that I assume you know is false. Well, I'm going to keep looking for an intelligent, thoughtful Liberal who wants to engage, because constantly reading only people who agree with me gets dull.

Update: Ha--while looking for an intelligent liberal, someone suggested I read this article by David Mamet: "Why I Am No Longer a Braindead Liberal." It's good reading, and here are some exerpts, but the entire article is worth the time. Thanks for the tip from the guys at

Mamet: As a child of the '60s, I accepted as an article of faith that government is corrupt, that business is exploitative, and that people are generally good at heart.

Mamet says he should have known his view of the world might have been changing, since while listening to NPR, he consistently referred to it as "National Palestinian Radio." Heh.

This is, to me, the synthesis of this worldview with which I now found myself disenchanted: that everything is always wrong. . . . And I wondered, how could I have spent decades thinking that I thought everything was always wrong at the same time that I thought I thought that people were basically good at heart? Which was it?

And so Mamet questions his trust of the government. I found not only that I didn't trust the current government (that, to me, was no surprise), but that an impartial review revealed that the faults of this president—whom I, a good liberal, considered a monster—were little different from those of a president whom I revered.

Bush got us into Iraq, JFK into Vietnam. Bush stole the election in Florida; Kennedy stole his in Chicago. Bush outed a CIA agent; Kennedy left hundreds of them to die in the surf at the Bay of Pigs. Bush lied about his military service; Kennedy accepted a Pulitzer Prize for a book written by Ted Sorenson. Bush was in bed with the Saudis, Kennedy with the Mafia. Oh.

Then, Mamet says, he looked at his hate for "the Corporations." And also questioned his distrust of the "Bad, Bad Military" of his youth. He goes on to realize that "class," the static Marxist view of class, is different in America because it is mobile. Here the ignorant and penniless can become educated and rich, just as the children of the rich can go belly-up.

Mamet looks at all these: government, big business, the military, issues of class--the article is great stuff.

He ends it with a discussion of one of my favorite 1920s-1930s era journalists, William Allen White (1868-1944), editor of the Emporia (Kansas) Gazette. They called White "the sage of Emporia," and for most of his adult life he was considered the unofficial voice of middle America. This is the same guy who wrote the editorial titled, "What's the Matter With Kansas?" which is now the title of a book written by conservative journalist and historian Thomas Frank. Owners and publishers of Manhattan newspapers (the only ones that counted--right?) used to beg White to leave Emporia and move to New York to edit their papers. He never would. So New Yorkers would get on a train and go to Emporia to visit White--New Yorkers who otherwise looked down their noses at anything "middlewestern," as they called it. White was that good.

Mamet recommends White's book, Masks in a Pageant, profiles of the Presidents from McKinley to Wilson. I haven't read that one, but I have read and would recommend A Puritan in Babylon: The Story of Calvin Coolidge (1938), an eminently readable and fascinating study of Coolidge. Although I haven't read it, I'm guessing that White's autobiography, published after his death, would be a stunner. It won the Pulitzer Prize, but that wouldn't be why I could recommend it. The man can write, that's what I know most about William Allen White. Any of these books can be purchased for not much money at as a used book. You won't find them in libraries, I'm guessing, unless you have access to a large university library, or you might find them in the collection of a large city library. But why bother when, for example, you can get the White autobiography for 64 cents plus about 4 bucks shipping. That's less than the cost of renting a movie and I promise you it will give you back everything you put into it and then some.

Update #2: My quest for an intelligent liberal isn't going so well. I just saw a bumper sticker: Question Competition. Oh for the love of God.

Update #3: From JammieWearingFool: "They Think You're Stupid" This article quoted on JWF's site is about "journalists" (I use the term advisedly) who believe that newspaper circiulation is decling is because more and more Americans are illiterate or semi-literate. What's more, this "journalist" adds that 80 per cent of U.S. households didn't buy a book last year. So yes--they think we're stupid, which is one reason they give for not arguing with conservatives. "You're stupid"--how often did you hear that from your stupid little brother or sister, because they couldn't quite "keep up." Good grief.


Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

The moon - that nocturnal inspiration to poets and lovers for centuries - was viciously attacked yesterday morning at 7:31 EST by Muslim terrorist Barack HUSSEIN Obama and his co-conspirators within THE GOVERNMENT.

A clear message has been sent by this radical jihadist to good and decent people everywhere. There is no room for misinterpretation: if they can target the moon - THE MOON! - in such a ghastly and unprovoked matter, it proves - conclusively - that Main Street is not safe. All of us are vulnerable to their insidious wickedness and villainy. Our children must be protected from the radical, hideous agenda of this man and his vile administration. Mark my words, my fellow Americans - today the moon, tomorrow Anytown, USA. OH, THE HUMANITY!

Where will it all end? What sinister plans does he have in store for Christendom? Don't say you weren't warned, America! Don't you dare say you weren't given ample notice of this Kenyan-born extremist's evil intentions for us. I can see it now: Death Panels! Communist Medicine! An abortion clinic in every public school! Generations of innocent American schoolchildren forced to memorize entire paragraphs of the autobiography of Malcolm X! I have seen the future, my friends. It is bleak. Very very bleak.

But seriously folks....

Tom Degan
Goshen, NY

Labwriter said...

Tom Degan--well, at least he's more interesting than most Liberals I've come across. Is he the guy. . . the one intelligent liberal I've been looking for? 'Way too soon to tell.