This passage is not without a little irony:
>The politics of disdain — e.g., Howard Dean’s judgment that Republicans are “brain dead” and “a lot of them never made an honest living in their lives” — derails politics by defining opponents as beyond the reach of reason. The anger directed at Bush today, like that directed at Clinton during his presidency, luxuriates in its own vehemence.
In the first place, we expected the man with the argument (and perhaps that could be his nickname) would not confuse what someone is saying with how he or she says it. One sees this too often, in my estimation. People (of all political stripes) use the terms “bash” or “slam” to describe any kind of disagreement, no matter what the foundation. And so Joe Klein, for instance, cannot distinguish Eric Alterman’s criticism from “personal attacks.” O’Reilly and many of his colleagues portray any criticism as “vicious” and “personal.”
George Will ought to know better. But he doesn’t, he writes (from earlier in the piece):
>There are the tantrums — sometimes both theatrical and perfunctory — of talking heads on television or commentators writing in vitriol (Paul Krugman’s incessant contempt, Ann Coulter’s equally constant loathing).
Whatever you say about Krugman, he knows the difference between an argument and name calling, and it’s hardly proper to compare him, or any mainstream liberal talking-head, to the purposely theatrical Ann Coulter. As we have argued elsewhere, Krugman is one of the few liberal writers who argues for positions in the same fashion as Will. That is to say, he advances reasons to accept his position, or as is often the case, reasons to reject the conclusions of others. Krugman offers reasons for his contempt. To call it “incessant contempt” is to confuse the passion with which the conclusion drawn with its cogency.
The irony of Will’s lesson in civil discourse, however, consists in his consistent and well-documented failure to exemplify that in his own writing. How often, and this is a rhetorical question, has Will presented any opposition to his view as moronic?