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Bully Pulpit

The term "bully pulpit" stems from President Theodore Roosevelt's reference to the White House as a "bully pulpit," meaning a terrific platform from which to persuasively advocate an agenda. Roosevelt often used the word "bully" as an adjective meaning superb/wonderful. The Bully Pulpit features news, reasoned discourse, opinion and some humor.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Leonard Pitts is a moron...

...which makes you wonder about people who find any intellectual value in what he writes.

Let's pick this one apart, shall we? The article, entitled It's time to rebrand the `L-word', begins thusly:

A story, probably apocryphal.

Impatient driver is waiting at intersection as pedestrian crosses in front of him. Pedestrian is slow. Driver leans from his window and yells, "Get out of the street you (bleep) liberal.''

As I said, the story -- I picked it up in a magazine somewhere -- probably didn't happen. But it sure feels true, doesn't it?

Well there's a heckuva start to an article that "uses actual facts rather than fast-talking propagandistic talking points." He read a story somewhere and it probably isn't true but it feels true. So far Lenny isn't doing too well on convincing us to rebrand the "L-word." This is classic lefty stuff.

We are, or so we have lately been told, no longer a nation of red, white and blue. Now we are simply red and blue -- squishy, effete, egg-headed, godless and liberal along the coasts; principled, tough, instinctive, God-fearing and conservative in between. It is a mantra that has been repeated to such a degree that nobody bothers to question it anymore: conservatism is triumphant, liberalism is spent.

Interestingly, Leo picks a rather hyperbolic context in which to build his thesis. I think at the talking head level of the media, and among political junkies there is a grain of truth in what he says, but among Joe Public, such dichotomies are far less distinct. But our boy is setting himself up for an easy time here. Starting out the discussion at the bug-eyed drama queen fringe makes developing an argument sounding of reason much simpler, doesn't it? The trouble with that tactic is that it does nothing to further the ideological dialog. It's just a lot of shouting.

But let's continue and see if Leo even manages to defend the center.

But what if we've been had?

Paul Waldman believes we have. He is a senior fellow of Media Matters for America, a liberal, nonprofit media watchdog group. No, he's hardly a disinterested observer. But humor him. He's here to make a rather provocative argument:

"We've been told by conservatives and by mainstream media for years that this is a conservative country but if you actually look at the facts you find that this is a myth."

Right, so Lenny wants us to put aside objectivity because his liberal friend's argument is provocative. This still isn't boding well for an argument founded on reason.

As well, I strenuously disagree with his predicate. Conservatives have only recently discovered that the country actually tends to vote their way when they grow a spine and stick to their principles. As for the mainstream media, I would like to see some evidence of Waldman's claim. Until Fox News came along, the media was all liberal, all the time. The three-letter networks have only toned that down because Fox was cleaning their clocks. But that, in and of itself is evidence that Waldman's claims are ridiculous.

Media Matters and the Campaign For America's Future, a liberal activist group, have helpfully assembled said facts in a report released earlier this month, "Thede Progressive Majority: Why A Conservative America Is A Myth." The report, at http://home.our future.org analyzes years of public opinion surveys from such respected and nonpartisan organizations as Gallup and the Pew Research Center. On issue after issue, those surveys present a picture starkly at odds with the conservative stereotype.

• Abortion? Sixty-two percent of us oppose overturning Roe v. Wade.

• Stem cells? Sixty-one percent of us support using them for research.

• Guns? Sixty percent of us would like to see more government restriction.

Oh, by all means, let's use collated data from a liberal activist group to back up a foredrawn conclusion. Objectivity? We don't need no stinking objectivity. We're liberals. If it feels right, it must be right. I fail to understand how aggregated polls taken over years are any indication whatsoever of public opinion on specific topics.

Be that as it may, the way these results are reported are incredibly skewed. On the subject of abortion, over 70% of people polled do not believe that the federal government should regulate abortion, legal or otherwise. More than two-thirds of the country believes abortion is a topic that should be left up to the states. Liberal pollsters who ask about Roe v. Wade never couch the question in terms of federalism. When asked on those terms, the overwhelming majority favor overturning it in favor of regulation at the state level.

On stem cells, the majority favor using stem cells, but once again liberal pollsters never ask the question in terms of fetal destruction. As well, most people do not favor federal funding of any kind of stem cell research and prefer that private industry pick up the tab. Once again, liberal pollsters never ask the question in those terms.

Finally, on the subject of gun control, polls are all over the place. The overwhelming trend, though, is that people in big cities (generally more liberal) favor more regulation on guns while those in the heartland (generally more conservative) do not.

By the way, nice attribution there, Sparky. Polls from such as Gallup and Pew, both of which have been exposed as pushing polls leftward on may occasions. Leaving that aside, though, without knowing who the other analogs were, it is impossible to make any assumptions on the validity of the collected information.

Please, someone tell me the difference between this and agit-prop, or as has been previously quoted, "fast-talking propagandistic talking points."

These are not exactly conservative positions. To the contrary, they bespeak a fairly liberal electorate. So how is it we've come to think of "liberal" as a bad word?

Horse manure. If that's true, then why do candidates who stand well to the left on these issues get their butts whipped in election after election? Hmmm?

An anecdote by way of answer: In teaching on college campuses, I've noticed that my young female students tend to reject being called "feminists." They happily accept the rights feminists have won for them, not least of which is the right to be college students. But the ''F-word'' itself repels them.

Typical. Some day, someone will show me a liberal who doesn't think anecdote is evidence. Or not. "On time, in band camp..." Oh, and of course everyone knows academe is exactly the same thing as real life.

Similarly, says Waldman, the GOP has managed to rebrand the "L-word" as something so repugnant you wouldn't touch it without a Haz-Mat suit, something, well . . . squishy, effete, egg-headed and godless.

So far, Lenny, your case against that isn't doing so well.

What's interesting, says Waldman, is that whether or not they accept the L-word, Americans are clearly moving further left all the time. For example, 30 years ago, conservatives and liberals sparred over whether women could do "man's" work and black people could marry white ones. To both questions, the country said yes. "What had been the radical position is now the consensus opinion." These days, we still argue race and gender, but the battle lines have moved -- left. Which is, Waldman says, what they historically do.

Holy mackerel, Lenny! Are you telling us that the definitions of "conservative" and "liberal" change over time? Stop the presses!

Every liberal in the media writes as if reality just walked into their bedroom this morning.

This is actually nothing more than a fairly cheap attempt at reinforcing the stereotype that conservatives are racists and sexists. On a side note, Lenny, we're still arguing over whether women belong in the workplace on an equal basis with men.

He sees the same dynamic at work in gay rights. "Five years ago, we weren't even talking about gay marriage. The argument was whether it was OK to discriminate against gays in housing and employment. We're not even talking about that anymore."

Right. So because the media, which is demonstrably well left of center and is populated in far disproportionate numbers by homosexuals, has a near monopoly on what will and will not be part of the political dialog in America, it is an indicator that Joe America has moved to well to the left on the topic. Causality is not one of your strong suits, is it Lenny?
As I said, Waldman has an ax to grind. But for my money, he raises a worthwhile question: By what trick, con job or bamboozlement does a nation that supports gun control, abortion rights and stem cell research believe itself to be conservative?

Public Enemy was right: Don't believe the hype.

And your ax is certainly well concealed, isn't it Lenny? Nice touch with quoting a rap outfit to make a profound political point. Or not.

Nope, Lenny has utterly failed to make his case. In point of actual fact, this entire article is exceptionally evidence-free. It is typical liberal fair: shrill screeds on what the eeevil conservatives are saying about the poor, misunderstood liberals and some wishful thinking about the American electorate.

Nothing to see here. Move along.


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