Deliberately derivative blogging

I want to link to two posts I liked, here, and hereHere too.  Think of this post as my equivalent of expressive voting.  No, I’m not feeling rage but my calmness in such matters is probably just my personal defect and general lack of manliness when it comes to politics.

Kevin Drum wonders why Clinton and Obama supporters get so worked up at each other.  Any fan of Dr. Seuss will know that policy similarity hardly matters.  The two candidates represent two diametrically opposed portraits of the relationship between aesthetics and politics.  Should we expect beauty, grace and universality, or should we derive our feel-good sentiments about politics from righteousness, confrontation, and sheer dogged persistence and feelings of ultimate desert?  Given his desire for partisan confrontation, Paul Krugman is quite consistent in his skepticism about Barack Obama.  The far more conservative but also far more aestheticized Andrew Sullivan is quite consistent in liking and indeed at times almost loving Obama.  There really is a lot at stake in the Democratic primary; it’s our current sense of the aesthetic, and of desert, that drives what our substantive policy views will be twenty or thirty years from now.  Given the high turnout (never an accident), in an odd way there may be more at stake in the Democratic primary than there would be in a Clinton vs. McCain general election.

As an outsider, the dilemma is whether to side with the values you admire or whether that is a kind of fool’s gold.  If nothing else, we have Hillary Clinton to thank for reminding us (again) this week that politics is ultimately about power.

Comments

This election cycle has stripped the mask off of "gay conservative" Sullivan; his blue-state blood is showing.

The invective flying back and forth between the Democratic contenders and their supporters is just another reminder of the difference between libs and cons. Most conservatives may think your garden variety liberal is incorrect, midguided or uninformed, but many liberal aquaintances of mine seem to find people disagreeing with them immoral or evil. I mean, come on, Obama's foreign policy twit Samantha Power was quoted in the Scotsman today as saying Hillary is a monster, and her only complaint was that she thought the comment was off the record!

Signs you're an Obama supporting Marginal Revolution reader: I had a nightmare last night that Obama was down to 60% on InTrade.

Vitriol on both sides, sure. But to deny Brutus the point is to be blind to experience. The vitriol from each pole has a different character.

I suggest it revolves around the *compassion*. Lefties want to help immediately (give handouts, treat the populace as infants). Righties want to help gradually (demand work for aid, treat the populace as teenagers). Immediacy appears more compassionate when every problem is reported as a dire emergency crisis.

Those who disagree with lefties are seen by lefties as evil and heartless: Who would let a baby starve on the street or deny a bleeding man bandages? Selfish B*stard!

Those who disagree with righties are seen by righties as naive or retarded: Can't you follow the reasoning that handouts create dependence or that people are crafty enough to game any utopian scheme? Grow up!


I suggest it revolves around the *compassion*. Lefties want to help immediately (give handouts, treat the populace as infants). Righties want to help gradually (demand work for aid, treat the populace as teenagers). Immediacy appears more compassionate when every problem is reported as a dire emergency crisis.

I can assure you that if I thought this was a plausible interpretation of movement conservatism in the US today, I would not have nearly the same kind of moral objections to it. I think many of the members of that movement, in the media and in politics are evil b/c your description is not merely generous, but completely wrong.

Well then, mpowell, it appears the devil shift is complete...

I think that "beauty" vs. "confrontation" is an oversimplification of the difference between Obama and Clinton. There are other differences that have driven the split in the party, including a dispute over whether Clinton's explanation for her Iraq war vote was disingenuous, whether Obama's health care and immigration ideas are too libertarian, and who has a better shot in the general election (i.e., democrats who think all republicans are racist vs. democrats who think no republican will vote for Hillary). These are real differences, not just superficial, stylistic issues.

"Meanwhile, the Democrats are more often mocked for being ... and/or overly intellectual."

Mocked for being overly intellectual?? Where have YOU been?

Wow, the firestorm I lit...I have to check back more often.

The code words are instructive. The truly nasty ones, Nazi and racist, are the sole property of the Left. Would that some of my lib friends had something more substantial in their arsenals; these words are not the last refuge, but the opening move for many.

Student, any examples from this century? Gingrich had any sway when? How long has Atwater been dead? (I bet he wishes he were still alive to to cross swords with the new Prince of Darkness, David Axelrod).

But I've always cried "a plague on both your houses". I live in Massachusetts, the bluest of the blue states, where our Republicans are that non-dogmatic brand that are only fiscally conservative (gay marriage happened under which party here?) and our liberals are that extra-irritating brand that rely on decibels instead of facts in political discourse. The shrill tone of your basic lib here skews my opinion.

The wedges that the hard Left and hard Right have driven between the various factions in our society seem to me to guarantee "working together" will no longer be a hallmark of American politics.

A hot button topic here is instructive. The ultra-liberal mayor of Boston, Thomas "Mumbles" Menino, and his police commissioner have set up a program, the Safe Homes Initiative, where the police can wander up to your front door and and take advantage of frightened residents in high-crime areas by "offering", without probable cause or a warrent, to search their homes for weapons that unruly youngsters may have hidden in their bedrooms, a sort of lefty version of the warrentless wiretaps so popular with the Bushies.

I don't see a modicum of difference between the left and right when it comes to infringing on my civil rights.

"There really is a lot at stake in the Democratic primary; it's our current sense of the aesthetic, and of desert, that drives what our substantive policy views will be twenty or thirty years from now."

I'm sorry but I don't have the slightest idea what you're trying to say here. Could you please restate or expand?

Isn't anyone else excited Tyler has shown a hint of political preference? He works hard to remain apolitical, thus his post is 'deliberately derivative', as he wouldn't dare utter the words "I like.." or "I'm leaning towards.." himself. Well I like it Tyler, and I'm sorry the rest of the commenters aren't as excited by your coyness.

mpowell:

Help me out. When I read the response I think many of the members of that movement, in the media and in politics are evil b/c your description is not merely generous, but completely wrong, I hear either: "they're evil, so I think they're evil"; or, "righties don't want to help anybody but themselves...you're naive to think they have any social compassion".

What do you really mean? I assess the righties, even the most repugnant *moral majority* crusaders, motivated by the same desire to help fellow man as the repugnant lefty *equality is justice* wingnuts.

student: True, the religious righties adorn their rhetoric with moral assessments. The distinction I think you miss is that between sin and sinner. Kennedy/Clinton/Dukakis/whoever are called corrupt/disgusting/sick/whatever, but that different from being called evil by nature and construction. The Christian righties in your example have to work from the biblical pronouncement that man is corrupted by the devil. The lefties aren't burdened by any Christ-like optimism over human nature, so they can just directly say Bush/Reagan/Nixon is evil.

Also, the perspective that righties are anti-intellectual simpletons is another version of lefty attacks on the essential nature of their opposition. Righties do mock the ivory tower eggheads of the left, but they do not appear to consider themselves stupid or take pride in ignorance. Those qualities that are called folksy are also taken as markers of sincerity. GWB is not going to fool anyone with fancy linguistics, and he pretty much says the same thing all the time. That has a popular appeal which the lefties cannot match, so they have to resort to the ad hominem. Bush isn't fooling us, he's either an idiot or evil.

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