What is it about liberals -- or about liberalism -- that makes it impossible to communicate with them? To be fair, they would insist that the problem is quite simple: that they possess the truth, and that their political adversaries simply refuse to accept it.
This failure on our part troubles liberals, whose painfully acute compassion compels them to find some way to shove the truth down our ungrateful pieholes. In fact, Obama even confessed to Charlie Rose that the biggest mistake of his presidency thus far has been the failure to "tell a story" to the American public.
In other words, he and his policies have not failed. Rather, it turns out that he has gotten the policies right -- that was the easy part -- but that "the nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times."
When he ran for office, people had the opposite concerns about Obama: this guy is obviously a polished BS artist with a soothing, tobacco-burnished baritone, but is he a half-educated ignoramus who substitutes ideology for thought, every time?
Turns out we had it backwards. For he has been satisfactorily "juggling and managing a lot of stuff" alright -- economic stuff, racial grievance stuff, government expansion stuff, deficit stuff, unemployment stuff, medical stuff, Middle East stuff, homosexual stuff, you name it.
Obama concedes that there is, however, one "legitimate criticism" and it is this: sure, people care about all the aforementioned stuff, "but where's the story that tells us where he's going?," i.e., where Obama is taking us?
Unfortunately, he doesn't explain. Actually, he's already explained that he can't explain, but that he needs to tell us a story in lieu of an explanation. I suppose we'll all be subjected to this likely story over the subsequent three months.
This is just one more example of the inability of liberals to be self-critical. Again, in their cramped little minds, the thinking must go something like this: "There is a straightforward liberal solution to every problem. Therefore, it is a waste of time and energy to actually condescend to address objections to the liberal program. To the extent that people fail to understand it, then there is something defective in them. But I'm so darn compassionate I'll try to do an end run around their defective cognition by expressing the truth via myth."
In short, there's no need to rethink his ideas. He just needs to express them more obscurely.
Taranto has an insultaining discussion of this dynamic, based upon an excellent piece by Zombie at PJ Media, which I'm thinking maybe it was a mistake for me to resign from, since I actually got more readers back then. Oh well. Charles Johnson also quit, and how could he be wrong about anything?
It turns out that this refusal on the part of liberals to acknowledge reality is not a bug, but a feature. In the past we have devoted at least one post to the Berkeley professor George Lakoff, whose ideas about "framing" have come to dominate leftist discourse, and go a long way toward explaining why liberals are so annoying. I mean, imagine if your spouse tried to pull such a condescending attitude on you. You'd want to throttle him or her.
Technically I suppose you could say that I'm professionally qualified to be a "marriage counselor" -- back off, man! -- but this is the last strategy I would recommend to the husband who is having difficulty getting through to the wife, or vice versa. Here's how it works:
"Don't repeat conservative language or ideas, even when arguing against them."
As Zombie explains, "This is why conservatives and liberals can't seem to have the simplest conversation: liberals intentionally refuse to address or even acknowledge what conservatives say. Since (as Lakoff notes) conservatives invariably frame their own statements within their own conservative 'moral frames,' every time a conservative speaks, his liberal opponent will seemingly ignore what was said and instead come back with a reply literally out of left field.
"Thus, he is the progenitor of and primary advocate for the main reason why liberalism fails to win the public debate: Because it never directly confronts, disproves or negates conservative notions--it simply ignores them...."
Taranto points out that "This is an important insight, not only into the way the left debates and otherwise communicates, but into the way the left thinks -- or fails to think. The book's subtitle, after all, promises an instruction in 'Thinking and Talking Democratic.' Lakoff and Wehling command their readers not only to act as if opposing arguments are without merit, but to close their minds to those arguments. What comes across to conservatives as a maddening arrogance is actually willed ignorance."
Which is of course incorrect. It is arrogance and willed ignorance.
In the past, I have on several occasions elaborated on the idea that left and right in many ways reflect the male and female -- or Mother and Father -- archetypes. Thus, in my view, a properly functioning state wouldn't come from left or right field, but from center-right field.
Why center-right, and not just center?
First of all, let's break down the concerns and responsibilities of the respective fields. The Father dimension involves first and foremost self-defense, which goes to domestic security, justified violence, autonomy and sovereignty, law, and punishment, plus standards, independence, achievement, etc.
Conversely -- or complementarily -- the Mother realm has to do with health, compassion, community, charity, nurturing, mercy, etc. As one can see, it is intrinsically more emotional, which is precisely why liberal arguments are so rooted in emotion and not thought. For a liberal it is sufficient to show some poor uninsured kid to tear down the greatest medical system in the world; or, it is sufficient to show a grieving mother to condemn a war. Each of these may be sad, but they are just a cheap substitute for hard thought.
And in any event, we can no longer afford the outrageous alimony and adult-child support payments, so it's a moot point. Mommy is going to have to cut up the credit cards and begin economizing. No more of your cockamamie sob stories. I see that look on your face. I know you want another "stimulus." But this time it's real: We. Are. Tapped. Out. And I'm not pissing away another cent of our children's inheritance just to keep you partying with your government union boy-toys. Some compassion you have!
The reason why a country should be center-right is that, as Dennis Prager has explained, masculine values tend to be more "macro" in nature, while feminine values tend to be more "micro" (and of course, this hardly means that a woman cannot lead in the macro realm, as exemplified by, say, Margaret Thatcher). Therefore, just as it is inappropriate for a father to treat his family as if he is the dictatorial general and his wife and children mere privates, it is inappropriate to treat the state as if it is a bountiful and inexhaustible breast and the citizens as dependent sucklings.
Our constitution essentially mandates a "center-right" country, in that the main responsibilities of the executive are 1) to defend the nation, and 2) uphold the constitution (and law more generally). And as it so happens, America remains a center-right nation, despite Obama's best efforts to transform it to a hard-left authoritarian social democracy ruled by an ex-wife from hell.
I'll leave you with some choice excerpts from the classic book, Why Mommy is a Democrat, which I posted back in March 2006:
--Ask not what your country can do for you. Instead, organize a demonstration and demand it.
--It's not how you play the game, so long as no one wins or loses and gets their feelings hurt.
--A fool and someone else's money can solve any societal problem.
--If life gives you lemons, file a class action suit against Sunkist.
--Always remember you're above average, just like everyone else.
--A person is known by the company he boycotts.
--When the going gets tough, the tough start leaking.
--Beggars can't be choosers. Rather, they're now called "homeless."
--Boys will be boys until government provides subsidized ritalin for every one of them.
--Regardless of your background, any American who really works hard at it can still be a victim.
Classic. Via Ace: