On the other hand

Richard Cohen on the vices of the two parties:

But the GOP's tropism toward its furiously angry base, its tolerance and currying of anti-immigrant sentiment, its flattering of the ignorant on matters of undisputed scientific consensus — evolution, for instance — and, from the mouth of Palin, its celebration of drab provincialism, have sharpened the division between red and blue. Red is the color of yesterday.

Ah, I know, the blues are not all virtuous. They are supine before self-serving unions, particularly in education, and they are knee-jerk opponents of offshore drilling, mostly, it seems, because they don't like Big Oil. They cannot face the challenge of the Third World within us — the ghetto with its appalling social and cultural ills — lest realism be called racism. Sometimes, too, they seem to criticize American foreign policy simply because it is American.

I think we have a case of false or forced equivalence.  First, prominent Republican national candidates, conservative news networks and magazines, as well as leading conservative thinkers and media figures espouse the views in the first paragraph; few leading Democrats of equal stature, liberal thinkers, think tanks and so forth hold the views in the second paragraph. 

Second, while for the Republican ills he mentions actual positions, for the Democrats he stresses their motives for holding the positions they hold.  So while the one party's actual stated policies are absurd; the other party might include those whose motives are silly but whose views seem otherwise not to be that bad–after all, it's good to criticize offshore drilling, to have a nuanced understanding of social and cultural ills, and to criticize American foreign policy, isn't it?

3 thoughts on “On the other hand”

  1. In addition, one might note the Strawman nature of the motives he ascribes to Dems.

    Offshore drilling, for example: no, I don’t like Big Oil, but my objections to offshore drilling are predicated upon the established facts that (a) it will be almost 20 years before it does any good, (b) the “good” it will do will amount to no more than $0.02 — $0.03 difference per gallon once it does start flowing, and (c) the oil companies already had at least 3 times as much leased area offshore as the recent bill granted them, but they’ve ignored developing these areas in favor of stock buy-backs that inflate their top officers’ reward packages. (Obama touched on this last in the final debate when he insisted that the oil companies face a “use it or lose it” stipulation.)

  2. Oops–that’s right Gary.  That was what I had originally intended to write about, but then I saw the strange discussion of motives.  Thanks.

  3. I also think Richard Cohen uses fairly concrete examples in his castigation of the right and vague stereotypes in his indictment of the left. 

     – its tolerance and currying of anti-immigrant sentiment
     – flattering of the ignorant on matters of undisputed scientific consensus
     – celebration of drab provincialism

    and of the left…..
     – supine before self-serving unions (looking for some kind of example here?)
     – knee-jerk opponents of offshore drilling (ascribing motivation while ignoring cogent arguments against it)
     – Sometimes, too, they seem to criticize American foreign policy simply because it is American (This is the old “quoting anonymous people” thing that newscasters some times do when they don’t have an ACTUAL quotation – again – I can’t find examples of this so I have to assume it’s just his opinion)

    Either way – this is another attempt at false equivalency.

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