Poverty of Argument

George Will reminds us of the reason one finds so little rational discourse in his columns or the columns or cable tv or radio shoutfests of his right wing brethren. However difficult–and we have no doubt it must be very difficult–to pen a column twice or thrice weekly on any topic whatever, this is hardly an excuse for engaging in a running debate with a caricature more ludicrous than which hardly Rush Limbaugh could conceive. By “liberals” or “liberalism,” we are able at this point to surmise, Will clearly means nothing other than some sort of shallow and irrational bleeding-heart variety–the Rush Limbaugh of liberalism. As it would be a mistake to think Limbaugh represents the best of conservativism, it is equally wrong to think Will’s liberal represents the best of liberalism.

In today’s *Post* column, having warmed up with some easy targets–among them the clueless Mary Landrieu and the whole of the self-serving congressional mob–Will turns his sites on the Liberal with a capital “L”:

>The senator [Barack Obama] is called a “new kind of Democrat,” which often means one with new ways of ignoring evidence discordant with old liberal orthodoxies about using cash — much of it spent through liberalism’s “caring professions” — to cope with cultural collapse. He might, however, care to note three not-at-all recondite rules for avoiding poverty: Graduate from high school, don’t have a baby until you are married, don’t marry while you are a teenager. Among people who obey those rules, poverty is minimal.

So the classical liberal, a clueless and shallow bleeding heart big-spender unaware that the real cause of poverty is right there in front of her nose–the poor:

>Liberalism’s post-Katrina fearlessness in discovering the obvious — if an inner city is inundated, the victims will be disproportionately minorities — stopped short of indelicately noting how many of the victims were women with children but not husbands.

And certainly as people were being plucked from rooftops or as they waited in the fetid stench of the Superdome or Convention Center, or worse, it would have been wise to point out that their predicament was the result of their own poor choices. But that would be tasteless and inappropriate.

There’s an even greater mistake lurking underneath Will’s perpetual straw man–it’s not only the mistaken belief that knocking him down constitutes a victory; it is also the clueless inference that “Liberal’s” defeat implies conservativism’s victory.