Ed Driscoll

From NPR to No Labels: 'Opinions are What Other People Have'

Since the days of FDR, the left, in all its incarnations, has had a fear of being labeled, usually because whatever the current name their ideology is commonly known as, it’s synonymous with “doesn’t work.” During FDR’s time, the left’s motto was “don’t call us progressives, we’re liberals,” despite FDR’s collectivism and classical liberalism being polar opposite ideologies. By the time of Ronald Reagan and conservatism’s ascendancy, liberals hated being called the L-Word. Eventually, Hillary and Obama reverted back to wanting to be known as “Progressives” — despite the historic baggage such a word carries.

Much like the New York Times, NPR tests Fitzgerald’s theory on the test of a first-rate intelligence, by being prime destinations for liberals/progressives/leftists, while attempting to convince themselves — and the rest of us — that they’re “objective” bearers of news, a fiction which for both institutions has been increasingly difficult to maintain without cracking up.

In his latest back page “Press Man” column in the December issue of Commentary (subscription required to read, at least at the moment), Andrew Ferguson sums up NPR’s debacle in October when they fired Juan Williams, while attempting several modified limited hangouts to maintain their liberal/objective duality:

The appearance that Schiller and the NPR ethicists hope to preserve is highly improbable. It’s of a workforce blessed by a superhuman immunity to the pettiness of partisanship and ideology, indeed an indifference to political opinion of any kind. This matches the defining conceit of the short-lived Obama era, back when—remember?—liberals were no longer liberals but instead unblinkered observers and chroniclers of the world as it is; “the reality-based community,” as it was known.

“Facts and science and argument does [sic] not seem to be winning the day,” the president lamented on the eve of the Republican landslide. “Truth and science and facts don’t seem to weigh in,” John Kerry said a few days later, wondering how to account for all these voters who disagree with him. Schiller topped them all by suggesting, in a comment she later apologized for, that Williams might want to discuss his now-famous comments with his psychiatrist.

This is why Air America was doomed from the start. It presumed that its audience saw itself as a mirror image of conservatives. But most liberals, to judge by the ratings, were repulsed. With the shouting, the bellicosity, the opinions roaring back and forth—Air America was too, too ghastly. America already has talk radio for liberals; it’s called NPR, and it offers fact-based analysis and impartial information exclusively. Opinions are what other people have.

Which dovetails well with what Ace of Spades wrote about the holistic mindset of liberalism (or what passes for it today) and its media practitioners shortly before the Washington Post unloaded Newsweek for a dollar to California Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman and her husband this past summer:

Liberals love outrageously liberal publications which pretend to be neutral. The New York Times. CNN. The Washington Post (in the main; here and there it departs from orthodoxy).

The entire MFM is premised upon this lie.

And liberals love it.

Liberals love being instructed that their opinions are not liberal at all, because if their opinions are liberal, that implies a choice has been made, and if there ever was in fact a choice, that implies (though it does not prove) that another choice was possible and even legitimate, and liberals are not fond of acknowledging that opinions contrary to their own have some merit.

They prefer being instructed that their opinions are not opinions at all, but facts and/or simple common sense and/or the manifestly just and right way to view the world.

(That’s just a small part of a lengthy essay on the intertwined Media-Industrial-Establishment-Liberal-Complex, which is well, well worth your time if you haven’t read it yet, or worth a re-read if you have.)

Which brings us to The Coffee Party The No Labels movement, which is heavy on liberals, leftists, progressives, Democrats, and squishy centrists, and very light on Republicans — aside from those who got creamed last month.

As Jonah Goldberg writes on the American Enterprise blog, it’s “Political Correctness by a Different Name” — or no name at all:

Indeed, the irony is that what has passed for the center in one generation often seems extremist in the next. Official but “polite” racism was the mainstream centrist position not too long ago. Forced sterilizations, slavery, population control, Japanese internment, male-only suffrage, censorship, corporal punishment in schools, severe divorce laws, anti-sodomy laws, etc.—all of these things were for a time centrist but are now considered extreme or even unthinkable.

I can think of any number of things that are today considered extreme which I hope will one day be centrist and any number of things that are now centrist that I hope will one day be considered extreme. I am sure that pretty much every person who thinks seriously about politics and morality can do likewise, even if our lists may be different. What the No Labels crowd seeks to do is lock-in their definitions of reasonableness, to reify the bundle of establishment assumptions about the status quo into an inherently superior and moral worldview. To which we should all respond, Feh.

Some of the people involved in No Labels are very smart and very decent people who, as far as I can tell, have a deep patriotic love for America. What they seem to lack is sufficient respect for Americans and their ability to sort out these issues. They seem to think they are the Chosen People of politics with a unique insight into what is a legitimate point and what is an illegitimate one. They have contempt for the idea that there are sincere philosophical and political disagreements and so they try to belittle and dismiss those disagreements by waving them away as “labels” or name-calling (remember Barack Obama at the healthcare summit dismissing every inconvenient point as a “talking point”?).

Of course, the No Labelers are guilty of naked hypocrisy, employing labels (eek!) and hurling mean names (eek! Eek!) with abandon at the unreasonable unwashed, because they think that is their right and their calling.

Well, it’s not.

Not to mention that they’ve personified Hillary’s infamous promise that “We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good” — including, humorously for everyone but the copyright holder, this.

Related: Stacy McCain on “The Fierce Fury of the Angry Mob of Impassioned Bipartisan Moderates:”

Few things are more predictable than this: Whenever Republicans are on the upswing — whenever conservatives are on fire with enthusiasm, proclaiming their core principles and clearly on the winning side of important issues — the mainstream media will devote enormous coverage to an alleged groundswell of discontented moderates whose demands for “bipartisanship” and “civility” are accompanied by condemnation of “divisiveness” and complaints that “extremists” are ignoring the vast majority of independent “centrist” voters.

As Stacy adds, “An organization whose manifesto was co-authored by David Frum, and which manages to get both David Brooks and David Gergen at its inaugural event — well, suffice it to say this probably isn’t the kind of ‘Army of Davids’ Professor Reynolds had in mind.”

Update: “The only politicians who want to shed a label these days are the ones who want to shed the ‘loser’ label.” Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh declares “No Labels Is A Racist Organization.”

Ave. Q could not be reached for comment.