The surface

The right wing editorial squad does the kind of thing whose absence we academic types constantly lament–they stake out positions and they defend them with arguments. However often these arguments rely on invented facts and specious logical connections (such as this one–can you find any?), at least they try. In major newspapers, almost no one on the left or center even tries to match that bloodthirsty zeal for rational or pseudo-rational discourse.

While his colleagues on the right line up reasons for supporting Bush’s policies (or more often simply rejecting the opposition to them), E.J.Dionne writes a second order review of the style–not mind you the content–of Jim Webb’s opposition speech:

>Like him or not, Ronald (“Tear Down This Wall”) Reagan spoke in a clean, clear prose that almost always left listeners with a sense that he stood for something.

>It may thus be no accident that Jim Webb, Virginia’s new Democratic senator, was once a Reaganite.

This is how he begins another second-order political column. Rather than supporting or criticizing the content of Webb’s presentation, Dionne talks about the talking. This is why Dionne doesn’t belong on the same page as George Will and Charles Krauthammer. And this is why we almost never talk about these “liberal” types. They just don’t make arguments. If you want liberal arguments, you have to go to the blogs. Why not start here.