Other responsibilities have kept me off the blog, so here's some catching up.
In a recent column, National Review's Jonah Goldberg observes that one of the political advantages for conservatives is that the left will never take us seriously. They will never try to understand what we are saying and formulate a response. While that certainly isn't true across the board, it is - and always has been - a large part of the progressive response to political challenge.
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman is worried about the tone of our political debate and frets that political opposition has become so hyperbolic that the outs can't recognize the legitimacy of the ins. This makes impossible the unity that he believes is necessary to solve urgent problems. He exploits our fear of political violence.
This would come a little easier if Friedman, now so concerned about intemperate criticism or disturbed rantings against the President Obama had expressed similar concern about the same things directed at President Bush. Joe Wilson should have listened to the President in silence. So should the Democrats (note the plural) who booed the State of the Union Speech in 2005. Obscure facebook pages that discuss assassination are disgusting. But remember that Michelle Malkin had enough material during the Bush 43 administration to fill an ongoing thread on "assassination chic."
Friedman's paean to unity would be a bit more convincing from someone who hadn't just written a column suggesting that one party rule ain't all bad. When you are upset that others are criticizing your side for its statist and technocratic tendencies, you ought to avoid feeding their fears.
Paul Krugman has been on this case all summer and, earlier this week, suggests that conservatives hate Obama more than they love America because of the schadenfreude that greeted the President's failure to capture the 2016 Olympics for Chicago. People at the Weekly Standard cheered the announcement and Rush Limbaugh was gleeful. But the comment that he referred to at the Standard was a bit tongue in cheek, claiming that they cheered Obama's "jingoist" privileging of imperialistic America's grab for the Games. Although Krugman doesn't say so, Limbaugh said he was "gleeful" because he does not want Obama to succeed (that again) in putting into place policies that will hurt the country. If he loses political capital over a failed effort to score points on something as unimportant as Chicago's Olympic bid (over which even Chicagoans were sharply divided), then Limbaugh's glee is understandable.
In any event, had Bush been foolish enough to invest the same political capital in New York's bid for the 2012 games, I suspect that we could have found comparable reactions on the left.
The stunning cluelessness and hypocrisy of those who are claim to have discovered a "disturbing new vitriol" in our political debate is uncontestable. While Friedman says he has concerned about the delegitimization of the President, he is himself engaged in delegitimization of opposition to the President. In that project, he's part of the crowd at the Times.