another slightly more academic-sounding addition to a relentlessly partisan and biased liberal blogosphere
“The League should feature higher standards for honest assessment, especially since I’ve commented on this exact point here once already. Honestly, I’ve thought very highly of the League in spite of its generally left-leaning direction [….] But this pushing of a manifestly dishonest characterization even after being called on it makes me reevaluate whether the League might just be another slightly more academic-sounding addition to a relentlessly partisan and biased liberal blogosphere.” ~ Jason Arvak, in the comments
I think Jason misunderstands our purpose. I can’t speak for Will, but at least some of my motivation in lampooning or critiquing the “birthers” is because I think on a whole they’re a really, really bad mascot for conservatism in America. And perhaps it is the Tea Party/birther synthesis that seems to have happened, or perhaps it is the surprising number of Republicans who do actually either support the birther cause or are very sympathetic to it, or perhaps it is the number of fairly high-profile politicians and pundits who sympathize with this notion that Obama wasn’t born here, but whatever it is, I think it’s bad press. Very bad press. Like Jason, I agree that the liberal blogosphere and media is using this to their advantage. Of course they are. That’s politics. It’s a dirty game. And liberals play every bit as dirty as conservatives. They’ll continue to do so as long as the fringe-Right is being given overt sympathy from Republican leadership.
Over at Poligazette, Jason writes:
But where the “truthers” were treated by both mainstream Democrats and mainstream Republicans as marginal, the influence and power of the “birthers” is being systematically exaggerated by left-leaning reporters and bloggers. It is not hard to see why — exaggerating the reach of the “birthers” provides an easy excuse to brush aside legitimate debate with conservatives over Obama administration policy initiatives. After all, once they “prove” that all conservatives are crazy (also a long-standing theme among some liberals), there is no longer any need to actually debate them. And with the case for government-controlled health care collapsing beneath the combined weight of conservative criticism of its overreaching and the refusal of many liberals to compromise on those excesses, liberals are desperate for something to distract and delegitimize conservatives generally and “win” a major policy debate without having to actually debate the policy at all. Whipping up stories about “birthers” is perfect for such purposes.
Where Jason and I part ways is that Jason believes every post critical of birthers or of Republicans supporting birthers should come fair-and-balanced with some sort of addendum noting that not all conservatives support the birther movement. I guess I just never considered that people would think that – to me it’s obvious that this is not the case. And I guess I figured that if enough conservatives simply wrote against or spoke up against this nonsense, that it would pretty much clear things up for people who were in doubt. Jason disagrees, and goes so far as to imply that somehow by critiquing birthers and conservatives who support birthers we are in fact little more than an ‘academic-sounding addition to a relentlessly partisan and biased liberal blogosphere.’
I’ll have to remember that the next time I write a post arguing against the President’s health-care plan.
Now, judging by Jason’s post it’s pretty obvious that he’s been reading too many liberal blogs. Maybe if I were reading a bunch of liberal blogs and each of them was implying that all conservatives were birthers, I’d be more sensitive to this myself. I’m still not sure I’d append each of my posts with some “not-all-conservatives-are-birthers” disclaimer, though. I’ve never been terribly concerned with “fair and balanced.” That’s not because I consider “being fair to just be too much trouble” as Jason would have it. Trouble isn’t the issue. The issue is that I see a lot of rot on the underbelly of modern conservatism, and where it gets the most putrid, I like to point that out and call foul. This is because, by and large, I identify with conservatism, or at least with the “limited government, low taxes, fiscal sanity” side of conservatism.
I’m very glad places like NRO have come out with editorials denouncing the birthers; but I’m far more concerned with people like Senator Inhofe claiming that the birthers “have a point” or by the continued lunacy of many in the talk-radio right who I view as more of a liability than anything. You see, I’m in favor of limited government. I’m in favor of drastically scaling back the federal government in all its manifestations, from education to defense. Liberals, I hate to say it, will probably never be the ones to do this. (I’m not hopeful, in other words, of a viable Liberaltarianism, as much as that concept is appealing to me.)
Conservatives, I’m afraid, will probably not be either, though they at least ostensibly claim that as a goal. So I’d like to see honest conservatism rise up from the ashes of this mess of a movement we have now. I link regularly to conservatives and libertarians who I think are smart, honest and sincere. I think that description fits Jason pretty well. But I don’t see the need to hold back when I feel like things are being done and said and supported that I think are stupid. And yes, birthers and their cause and really the whole personality politics strategy when it comes to taking on the President, well, it’s all really stupid.
Not all conservatives engage in this stupid behavior, but a whole hell of a lot of them do. And I’m not going to repeat that phrase every time I point out something I disagree with that conservatives happen to be doing at any given moment.
Jason does not believe that “every post critical of birthers or of Republicans supporting birthers should come fair-and-balanced with some sort of addendum noting that not all conservatives support the birther movement.” He corrects me by adding that only posts “that are dedicated specifically to debates about how prevalent birthers are or are not should include such a caveat, since that caveat addresses precisely what is at issue in such posts.” That’s more fine-tuned, I admit, but I still don’t really see it as necessary at this point. That’s just a difference in style probably.