Six Dead Ideas Walking in Michael Medved's Romney Zombie Wall Street Journal Op/Ed
During the holiday weekend The Wife and I finished the first season of AMC's Walking Dead on Netflix streaming. So it seemed appropriate to augment this week's article with five more recommendations of underrated walking dead media. As we finish up the remaining Thanksgiving bounty let us be grateful we do not live in a world overrun with hordes of mindless zombies. Now back to discussing the GOP primary, its overrated candidates, and their true believers -- all of which in no way resemble the apocalyptic scenarios of our entertainments...
One of the truisms of our political culture today is that "centrist" establishment Republicans are less "ideologically-driven" than "hard right" Tea Partiers. (All these terms are in quotations because none of them actually means anything empirical.) According to this view, "moderate" conservatives are the adults who care more about governing reasonably. We "extreme" Tea Partiers who advocate for the New Deal welfare state's disassembly do so out of blind-eyed zeal, not a rational analysis of the price America pays as FDR's economic chickens finally return home to roost.
The irony, though, is that those who most rely on the "Left," "Right," and "Center" lens to interpret the political landscape are actually the ones who claim to be above ideological purity: the "pragmatic," "reasonable," "grown-up" so-called RINOs who now sneer at those who doubt the electability of their White Knight Mitt Romney.
This column in The Wall Street Journal by talk radio host Michael Medved is a perfect example. Medved's Zombie-like devotion to Right/Left/Center thinking yields a column filled from beginning to end with lifeless arguments responding to made-up opponents. (And they get worse as the column goes on.)
Medved is not a stupid man at all and he remains a gifted defender of free societies. But Ideology -- the political word's theology -- kills brain activity and makes automatons of otherwise thoughtful human beings. Instead of thinking about a question for ourselves we just go with the "common sense notion" of our peer group, regardless of whether the political culture still sustains it. This is why Dennis Prager -- who comes before Medved on KRLA here in Los Angeles -- insists on the importance of thinking a second time. Howard Bloom promotes the same injunction in his book The Genius of the Beast: A Radical Re-Vision of Capitalism as his second rule of science: look at everything under your nose as though you're looking at it for the first time. Bloom's first rule is "the truth at any price, even the price of your life" and right from the beginning of Medved's column he ignores this ground zero of rational thought. We start with the sixth most-zombie-like idea in the column:
6. You can name an opponent, cite a specific piece, and then rebut arguments it does not make.
In headlining a typical blog post, Erick Erickson of RedState.com laments: "Mitt Romney as the Nominee: Conservatism Dies and Barack Obama Wins."
Such projections of doom portray Mr. Romney as the dreary second coming of John McCain—a hapless moderate foisted on the disillusioned rank and file by the GOP's country-club establishment, with no real chance to rally the conservative base or draw clear distinctions with Barack Obama.
This analysis, endlessly recycled on the right, relies on groundless assumptions about recent political history. Three myths in particular demand rebuttal...
Read Erickson's bold piece right here. Then note the three "myths" that Medved dedicates his article to rebutting. I'll summarize them now and reveal their shortcomings in a moment:
A) John McCain lost in 2008 because he was a RINO who did not inspire conservatives to get out and vote.
C) Conservatism is a winning political message that cannot be beaten. Ever. Anywhere.
None of these strawman arguments appear in Erickson's article. And this sets the pattern for the piece: it's really just Medved misrepresenting Tea Partiers instead of engaging us as his intellectual and moral equal.
Is anyone surprised that throughout his op/ed Medved doesn't quote his opponents' actual arguments?
I'm not. One need only listen to Medved's radio show to understand why he doesn't respect Erickson enough to respond fairly. Medved's style of argumentation in his column is related to why he's the only KRLA talk radio host that provokes me to change the station. Glenn Beck from 6-9, Dennis Prager from 9-12, Medved from 12-3, Hugh Hewitt from 3-6, Mike Gallagher from 6-8, and then Dennis Miller from 8-11. Why do I avoid Medved if I'm driving around town when he's on? It has nothing to do with ideology (some of my dearest friends have similar views and so did I a few years ago) and everything to do with temperament. When listening to Beck, Prager, Hewitt, Gallagher, and Miller, I don't feel as though I'm being talked down to by a teacher who disdains his students. Each of them acknowledges their mental limits and seems genuinely eager to learn from others whether it's a random housewife calling in or a Ph.D. promoting a book. But not Medved. When I listen to his show he seems more interested in forcing his opinion on others rather than joining his guests and listeners as we try to discover the truth together. And that manifests in his column too: He does not even have enough interest in others' ideas to rebut them.
Next: Let the burning of the straw men commence. Help yourself to a torch.