Entry from June 12, 2009

In my penultimate post, I hypothesized on the rhetorical contrast between left and right — noticing that the former go in for recondite and over-intellectualized theories of causation whenever anything bad happens while the latter, among whom I count myself, have a typically simple-minded, knuckle-dragging tendency to blame the perpetrators. Duh! Back in 1994, the highly intellectual Newt Gingrich attempted to emulate the other side by blaming the Democrats for the murder by a South Carolina mother, Susan Smith, of her two children, but the experiment was not a success. Indeed, to the extent that the very wonderful Mr Gingrich still inspires a certain degree of mistrust among his fellow Republicans — can he really be one of us? — I would put it down to this now long-ago but still very unfortunate attempt to think like a liberal.

Of course, a week ago I was not to foresee the shooting at the Holocaust Museum in Washington this Wednesday by a wacko, probably senile anti-Semite wielding an antiquated .22 rifle — a weapon which even Democrats have not found it easy to blame for the sins of its owner. But they have been busy finding other culprits as, perhaps, I can modestly congratulate myself for foreseeing they would. The cable networks are full of what, if it were coming from conservatives, would be called “hate speech” about the culpability of the right and, over at The New Republic, both Jonathan Chait and Damon Linker are giving an intellectual gloss to the betises of Rick Sanchez

The Washington Post’s cartoonist, Tom Toles, sums up the insights of these sophisticates in today’s Washington Post by portraying an overweight, bald white guy watching someone who looks a bit like Rush Limbaugh in front of a frying pan on a gigantic television screen labeled “Nutball Media” saying: “You’ll only need two ingredients!” The two ingredients are helpfully labeled for us too: “Hate” in the midst of the literal flames coming out of the TV watcher’s back and “Gun” on a miniature AK-47 lying conveniently on the coffee table in front of him. A little poetic licence there, maybe.

Likewise, in today’s New York Times, the Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman  picks up on the paper’s attribution to this obvious lunatic, a Mr von Brunn, of what he and others are pleased to call “right-wing extremism” and, in a twinkling, has managed to attribute the same pathogen to “the conservative media and political establishment.” You know who you are. Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, The Washington Times. Even Jon Voight, the actor, who “told the audience at a Republican fund-raiser this week that the president is a ‘false prophet’ and that “we and we alone are the right frame of mind to free this nation from this Obama oppression.” For having been present at this occasion, and thanking Mr Voight for his remarks by saying that he “really enjoyed” them, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Minority Leader, is also deemed to be implicated in what Professor Krugman — rather hyperbolically, I think — calls “the Big Hate.”

According to this, our most recent Nobel Laureate and celebrated economics professor at Princeton, Mr O’Reilly earns his place in this circle of shame by having said that Dr. George Tiller, the murdered abortionist, “has blood on his hands.” But of course, Dr. Tiller really did have blood on his hands. The actual blood of the actual innocents whom he aborted when they would have been capable of living outside the womb. It may have been tasteless to point it out, and presumably the good doctor regularly washed the blood off his hands, but at least the charge had the merit of being literally true — unlike Professor Krugman’s charge, made by innuendo, against Mr O’Reilly and the others that they have the blood of Dr Tiller, Steven Johns and the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing on their hands. I guess when you’re a brainiac like him, you can take what might otherwise seem a rather attenuated chain of causation for granted. To such an intellectual, metaphorical blood is probably more damning than literal blood anyway.

We must make allowances for such people. They have been trained up from their youth to go significance-hunting, so it is hardly surprising that they bring the habit to what, in today’s debased media climate, passes for serious political commentary.

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