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No-Respect Politics

To understand the workings of American politics, you have to understand this fundamental law: Conservatives think liberals are stupid. Liberals think conservatives are evil.

And Krauthammer goes on to say that the fact that liberals think conservatives are evil proves that conservatives are right in thinking liberals are stupid. This column is a good illustration of a basic law of commentary. In quasi-mathematical format, it goes like this: If argument f states that conservatives are X or that liberals are Y, then f is false. I should send Krauthammer the hundreds of columns I've read in which conservatives decry the way (presumably evil) liberals are destroying the moral fabric of society, or the hundreds in which liberals justify the "ivory tower intellectual" stereotype by railing about how conservatives are blind to obvious facts because of their ideologies.

If commentators could stick to making specific and substantive criticisms of policies rather than knocking down overgeneralized caricatures of their supposed opposition, the political climate would be a fair bit healthier. But then there would be an awful lot of out-of-work pundits, and as a bleeding-heart liberal I wouldn't want to put my colleagues on the streets during this recession.


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