Willful ad hominem

To add to J.’s discussion of Will’s straw liberal argument:

The absurdity of the argument becomes clearest to me in his final example:

>The current issue of the American Prospect, an impeccably progressive magazine, carries a full-page advertisement denouncing something responsible for “lies, deception, immorality, corruption, and widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses”” and for having brought ”great hardship and despair to people and communities throughout the world.”

>What is this focus of evil in the modern world? North Korea? The Bush administration? Fox News Channel? No, it is Coca-Cola (number of servings to Americans of the company’s products each week: 2.5 billion).

So, a progressive magazine has an advertisement criticizing Coca-Cola for labor abuse, human rights abuse, and environmental abuse and Will’s response is to point out the number of coke’s served each week.

This staggers me. What possible relevance to the ad could the number of Cokes possess? Is anyone questioning whether Coke tastes good? Or that it sells well?

Will might respond that it shows the degree to which ordinary americans like the taste of coke and progressive magazines take advertisements from people who think Coca-Cola engages in various forms of injustice. True. But again, what possible relevance to the ad does that have? And, even if we read Will’s comment this way, does it even show that progressives are “out of touch” with americans? That a magazine takes an advertisement from someone criticizing Coca-Cola, suggests this as much as the NYT taking an advertisement from Firefox (1 billion Microsoft Explorers bought!) suggest that the NYT is out of touch with americans. The argument, even given the kindest possible interpretation is stunningly misleading.

But then it becomes clear. As pointed out yesterday. It isn’t responding to actual arguments that Will is interested in. He only wants to portray liberals as condescending and out of touch with regular Americans and the rest of the ideological caricature that substitutes for serious criticism of liberalism in the last 20 years.

Just as in the case of Wal-Mart, Will doesn’t have any interest in responding to the actual criticisms leveled against it, but instead he engages in quasi-populist demagoguery and ad hominem argument based on the caricature of liberals as snobs and elitist. Note the wonderful ad hominem swipe at John Kerry:

>Which vexes liberals such as John Kerry. (He and his helpmeet last shopped at Wal-Mart when?)