"War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse." --John Stuart Mill (1806 - 1873)

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Bush Voters: Dumb, Ignorant, Unteachable

It has been entertaining to see, in the aftermath of President Bush's victory, liberals become even more hysterical than usual.

Here's Maureen Dowd, columnist for the New York Times:

...[T]his White House's frontier is not a place of infinite progress and expansion, stretching society's boundaries. It doesn't battle primitivism; it courts primitivism...

W.'s presidency rushes backward, stifling possibilities, stirring intolerance, confusing church with state, blowing off the world, replacing science with religion, and facts with faith. We're entering another dark age, more creationist than cutting edge, more premodern than postmodern. Instead of leading America to an exciting new reality, the Bushies cocoon in a scary, paranoid, regressive reality. Their new health care plan will probably be a return to leeches.

...They don't call to our better angels; they summon our nasty devils.

As usual, Dowd reveals herself to be an unserious person, a dilettante columnist. She lacks the persuasive powers of reason, and her breezy pieces offer little in the way of reporting, evidence, or rational argument. She tosses off claims of transgressions by the administration, such as "confusing church and state" and "replacing science with religion". What on Earth is she talking about? She doesn't explain.

I have had people make the anti-Bush church-and-state argument to me, and they always fail to make any coherent point, other than that Bush is religious. They'll mutter something about faith-based programs, to which I reply, "Yeah, my [gentile] son attends pre-school at the local synagogue. That's a faith-based program. So what? Wouldn't you say it's a bit of a stretch to say that nice Jewish ladies watching my son for a few hours each week is just a hair's-breadth away from the abuses of the Taliban?"

The bit about "replacing science with religion" is probably a swipe at the president's stem-cell research policy. Bush put certain limitations on federal funds used for stem-cell research. In the Dowd Fever Swamp, this becomes something much more pernicious. By her standards, I suppose my occasional reluctance to tip Starbucks personnel "replaces patronage with exploitation."

And here's her colleague on the Times' editorial page, Bob Herbert:

I think a case could be made that ignorance played at least as big a role in the election's outcome as values. A recent survey by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland found that nearly 70 percent of President Bush's supporters believe the U.S. has come up with "clear evidence" that Saddam Hussein was working closely with Al Qaeda. A third of the president's supporters believe weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. And more than a third believe that a substantial majority of world opinion supported the U.S.-led invasion.

This is scary. How do you make a rational political pitch to people who have put that part of their brain on hold? No wonder Bush won.

The survey, and an accompanying report, showed that there's a fair amount of cluelessness in the ranks of the values crowd.

This has been a favored meme in liberal circles since the election: voters in red states are simply "dumb", "ignorant", "unteachable". There are a few problems with Herbert's arguments, though. Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda? Well, actually, there was a relationship. Weapons of mass destruction? Well, actually, they were found in Iraq. Shells with mustard gas. Nuclear triggers. Just not in "large stockpiles"--the favorite qualifier used by the mainstream media so they could continue to give the impression that the war was based on "lies".

World opinion? Well, actually, I think you could forgive the American people for believing a majority of the world supported the invasion, given that the coalition includes Japan, Thailand, South Korea, Australia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Singapore, New Zealand, Mongolia, Tonga, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Georgia, Moldova, Lithuania, Albania, Armenia, Latvia, Macedonia, Estonia, Great Britain, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, and El Salvador.

I would argue that it's Dowd, Herbert, and their ilk who are "cocoon[ing] in a scary, paranoid, regressive reality." Or unreality.