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September 17, 2013

Alleged Right-Leaning Thought Leaders Can't Restrain Themselves From Picking Schoolyard Fights

Over at Breitbart I noted that Hugh Jackman mentioned politics -- Syria -- briefly without going all partisan and sneery about it.

On the other hand, there are the self-vaunted pudits of the (supposed) center-right.

Honestly people can disagree and not have bitter feelings about it so long as there's not a lot of sneering and demeaning smuggled in under the pretense that "politics" is being discussed. I know I'm a dog with a bone, but it's usually not politics at all. Politics doesn't require that you hate and demean... ego, emotion, and a desire to validate one's class (and by so doing, validate oneself) require that.

David Brooks and David Frum are not on the right. That doesn't mean they have nothing to contribute, of course. They do. And David Frum frequently surprises lately with his level-headed case against Amnesty.

But I do think both men are rather more invested in their former positions of Patrician Privilege than in actual politics, at least vis-a-vis their relentless hostility to the Not Quite Our Class, Dear Tea Party. (Actually the Tea Party is wealthier than the average American, if we're talking class; but then, class is more than money. It's an adherence to a particular code of class values and a rooting interest in a particular Tribe's dominance over other Tribes.)

Both men, I assume, are capable of expressing their opinions without sneering; but the sneering is important to them, and indeed more important than any mere political dispute under discussion.

Over at NRO, Democrats are claiming that top GOP officers privately say the Tea Party is "crazy." I am nearly certain that they're telling the truth. What we have here is a clash on a more fundamental and important level than politics. One tribe is asserting its fundamental fitness to rule and another tribe is asking where the victories are, if that's the case. (I get asked that a lot myself when I stick up for an Establishment pick like Romney.)

I think there's one way out of this, though it will not be taken by either side, because both tribes frankly loathe each other (more than they loathe Democrats).

The Establishment -- the In-Tribe -- has to be less condescending with the Tea Party. When I say "condescending," I mean this: I don't believe the Establishment is being fully candid about their goals and beliefs because they think the crazies of the Tea Party couldn't handle the truth.

So there is a condescending sort of "yes yes of course dear" attitude in public, whereas in private they tear their hair out about the silliness of these ruffians and scoundrels.

If the Establishment doesn't wish to do certain things -- if they think certain policies are too extreme or unwise or would cause too much genuine harm -- they should do the Tea Party the honor of treating them like thinking adults and say so and explain why.

It is true, for example, that LIVs (including some Lower-Information Tea Partiers) think that cutting the overseas aid budget will have a big effect on the budget. There are all sorts of untrue things that people believe. They always have and they always will.

Prior to 2012 it was an article of faith with many that we could have deficit reduction without some kind of entitlement reform. (I don't know if that belief has actually gone away or simply isn't ventured publicly much any longer.)

To the extent that the Tea Party and Establishment are divided over such false beliefs, Then let's discuss them honestly so that the False Beliefs can either be dispelled or, who knows, perhaps proven true. Maybe the Establishment is wrong about some things.

On the other side of the ledger, the Tea Party could sort of tamp down on the whole Righteous Wrath thing. Even though I've moved from "more Establishment" to "more Tea Party" over the past year, I still find the Tea Party's frequently self-flatteries no less objectionable than David Brooks'.

We should be arguing about what is best for the country, not Who's Got The Best Tribe. To the extent that the one devolves into the other, we should really all try to get back on track with the important thing.

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posted by Ace at 04:27 PM

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