Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Who you calling extreme?

Today's first article:

"Where the extreme left and the extreme right meet, you'll find Ron Paul" - Merle Black

One should be careful in taking political commentators literally. As used in this context, extreme has nothing to do with the dictionary definition. Instead, it is merely a pejorative term, used to discredit anyone associated with it—in this case, Dr. Paul.

The ten term representative from Texas is attacked, not because of his views per se, but because such views are, ispo facto, extreme. Tantamount to the ad hominen attack, branding someone as extreme is a useful way to discredit a political opponent, and it is of especial value to the neocons and their cronies. The Paul campaign highlights many things; no doubt his insistence on a “humble foreign policy” sits well with the growing majority of Americans tired of playing Empire. But Paul's consistently conservative fiscal policy hammers home another point: the Republican Party no longer cares for limited government. Dick Cheney once remarked that “deficits don't matter”, and the republican candidates for Presidency—Paul excepted—believe him. Many of the talking heads insist that we must find “the next Reagan”. It bears mentioning that if he did not always deliver on his promises, at least Ronald Reagan believed in small government conservatism. There will be no more Ronald Reagans in a party which has forsaken his ideas.

Castigating Paul as an extremist allows pundits to deflect criticism from their dereliction of duty to the true conservative cause: shrinking the size and scope of the government. Ignoring—for the moment—Paul's foreign policy of non-interventionism, it remains to be seen why fighting the Islamo-bad-guys in the Middle East should preclude trimming the size of the government behemoth. Not for nothing did Randolph Bourne conclude that “war is the health of the state”; still, if defense appropriations must increase, why must discretionary spending? Waging aggressive wars does not—or should not—depend on bridges to nowhere, educational bills to further the enstupidation of the nation's children, or general governmental generosity with the taxpayer's money. Ron Paul's fiscal policies reveal the republican field of presidential candidates to be fake conservatives; hence he must be maligned.

There are alternatives to the extreme theme. Any pejorative adjective will do; the point of the exercise is not to point out the flaws in Paul's reasoning: it is to defame him so that reasoning becomes unnecessary. Listen to Mona Charen of National Review: “Ron Paul is unserious. Suggesting that you will eliminate the IRS, the CIA, the FBI and other government agencies within weeks of taking office is ridiculous. These are bumper stickers, not serious reform proposals.” Instead, we must tolerate serious candidates like Rudy Giuliani, who propose to do nothing about the size of the government, but do swear to win the War on Terror. How eminently serious of him to promise to defeat an idea!

Speaking of Giuliani, the game works well in regards to foreign policy, too. Promising that one will not tolerate a nuclear Iran is a sign of seriousness, and, apparently, moderation. The fact that technological monopoly is impossible to retain in perpetuity is, evidently, a thought best left to unserious minds. Meanwhile, advocating a return to the foreign policy of the Founders, saying that we ought to mind our own business—this is extreme. Refusing to remove the nuclear option from the table is a sign of moderation; promising restraint, a sign of extremism.

Ron Paul and his growing band of supporters—he's polling at eight percent in New Hampshire—disagree. Bankrupting the country through aggressive wars, suspending habeas corpus, running massive deficits and ruining the currency, threatening countries which haven't attacked us—these are signs of extremism. But in the Orwellian world we now live in, black is white, up is down, extreme is the new moderate; and warmongers are more fit for the presidency than kindly pediatricians with the sorts of unserious ideas that just might save this country from total disaster.


Delling Balls said...

Thanks for using your brain, the correct one. I've been thinking this whole thing through for quite some time now, since it all started, and I think the main problem is that to understand Paul a person must use their mammalian brain. The other politicians, especially the Republican candidates, are extremely good at tapping the reptilian in us all. As a result, we have a reptilian government and foreign policy.

In case you don't catch my drift, think Monsters Inc. the movie. Originally they were tapping the reptilian fear. By the end they were tapping the mammalian love, laughter and happiness.

If you start to look at things from this perspective, it clears up a lot of the questions an inquisitive person may have about just what the heck is going on.

troutsky said...

Psychology is one aspect of it, db,but effective propoganda is another. I feel your pain,wiser, true conservatism has been defiled by the "fixers".There is a great article in the new Columbia Journalism Review called Orwell in 08 about the demise oflanguage. By the way,Im unconvinced Reagan was a real "believer" in anything. All rhetoric, no action.

troutsky said...

Ha!I just read your last piece on this very subject! True as far as it goes but I would be curious as to your views on WHAT is causing the decline and WHY? To me, it is no accident or natural trend.

A Wiser Man Than I said...


It's not simply that we need to reject fear for love. This seems overly simplistic to me. I don't think we need to fear the terrorists, but supposing we did, the answer isn't simply to try to love them--though that is part of it.

It would be wrong, for instance, to assume that simply turning one's cheek in the face of a terrorist attack is the way to go; is it not, after all, the teaching of Christ? But Christianity is not pacifism.

We are in trouble today because we let fear leas us to irrationally justify immorality. Love is a very good ideal, one that should not be forgotten, but controlling how one reacts to fear is also important.

A Wiser Man Than I said...

By the way,Im unconvinced Reagan was a real "believer" in anything. All rhetoric, no action.

I think you may be correct. It's interesting, though, that the new Reagan-wannabes don't even play his game.

Calvin Coolidge was the last great conservative president.