Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Supporting Obama Reasonably

Recently, there has been a rash of conservative, or at least right-wing leaning, writers who have announced their support for Barack Obama. Christopher Buckley (whose conservative reputation, it must be said, is a living testament to the power of nepotism) endorsed Obama, as did moderates David Brooks and Christopher Hitchens. Kathleen Parker hasn’t yet endorsed Obama, but given she recently called the McCain campaign “divisive”, “anti-intellectual” and “ugly”, it’s not hard to see which way she’s leaning.

I can, at some level, understand the reasoning behind these endorsements. This line of thinking isn’t popular, and few agree with it, but there is a case to be made for it. There is nothing wrong with holding an unpopular opinion, and these writers don’t have to be ashamed that they are voting for Obama. But it’s odd that after endorsing Obama, each of these writers starting writing absolutely absurd articles trying to defend their choice.

Kathleen Parker wrote about the anger and hatred expressed towards minorities at Sarah Palin rallies. Parker exposes the truth about the phrase “palling around with terrorists”—it actually riles “xenophobic, anti-Muslim sentiment,” which must be difficult, given that that sentence doesn’t actually include any references to either foreigners or Muslims. Parker reveals that this tactic has been “effective with target audiences,” based on the airtight evidence of a YouTube video someone posted showing a few eccentrics at a Palin rally.

For the record, Parker is absolutely wrong about the level of anger at Palin rallies. I’ve been to two. And if the people who attend rallies in Cincinnati are typical of people around the country, then Sarah Palin rallies are composed of perfectly nice, rational people. If there were any angry xenophobes attending either gathering, I missed them. People who go to Palin rallies are perfectly rational; the idea that they are somehow dangerous is simply a lie. Kathleen Parker is better than this. Her beliefs may be unpopular, but she doesn’t need to stoop this low.

Christopher Hitchens is, possibly, a bit mad, but in a brilliant way. His likes and dislikes are passionately held—he is either for something or against it. He’s against Palin.

So he felt the need to write a stupid, poorly researched column attacking her “anti-intellectualism.” Palin may in fact be anti-intellectual, but not for any of the reasons Hitchens gives.

Sarah Palin criticized earmarks used for studying fruit flies in France. So Hitchens, reasoning that fruit flies are used for DNA research, and DNA research is scientific and good, reasoned that Palin’s opposition to a fruit fly related earmark must mean that she is setting herself against science.

Yeah, there are a few links missing in that logical chain. The earmark Palin was referring to had nothing to do with DNA research—it was a result of lobbying efforts by olive growers to control the fruit fly population. This might be a good idea—but this isn’t exactly Gregor Mendel discovering the existence of genes here. Palin’s opposition was wholly justifiable.

Actually, this is some of Hitchens’ stronger reasoning. Later on, he decides that since Palin favors mentioning creationism in public schools, it just follows that she must be a creationist who rejects the theory of evolution. And then he figures that since Palin doesn’t believe humans are responsible for global warming (which is an oversimplification of her beliefs), she must be a “premillenial dispensationalist” who believes that the world will end soon so there is just no point in protecting it. This reasoning is so dumb it makes one wonder why Hitchens needs to reach this much to prove his point. It is not as if there aren’t plenty of things to criticize about Sarah Palin.

Christopher Buckley doesn’t spend much time attacking Sarah Palin in his latest column, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for some dumb stuff. For some reason, Buckley was offended at Rush Limbaugh’s criticism of his Obama endorsement (though one wonders what he expected), and decided to take him on. Why he decided to do this is a mystery—he couldn’t hope to win, given Limbaugh’s large audience, and attacking Rush would only serve to damage his reputation with conservatives further. Perhaps deciding that he wouldn’t damage it any worse, Buckley started his column by using a lot of French phrases to prove his elitist credentials, which while a clever idea, served to make him seem utterly pretentious.

Anyway, Buckley found time to repeat the fruit fly canard before reaching the heart of his essay—that Limbaugh was unfair when he said that “even if [Obama] goes lefty when he’s elected, [Buckley]’ll have a problem with that” summed up Buckley’s position. When actually Buckley said that “having a first-class temperament and a first-class intellect, President Obama will (I pray, secularly) surely understand that traditional left-politics aren’t going to get us out of this pit we’ve dug for ourselves.” Which has precisely the same meaning as Limbaugh’s quote.

Buckley closes by reminding us that he knew William F. Buckley and Rush isn’t him. Because if there is one person who should decide who the next dominant conservative leader is, it would be Christopher Buckley, the guy who’s voting for an ultra-liberal Democrat.

Those rightists who endorsed Obama don’t have to be ashamed. Endorsing Obama is a defensible decision, and there is no need to embarrass oneself trying to defend it.


At October 28, 2008 at 10:55 PM , Blogger Pasadena Closet Conservative said...

There is no defense for conservatives who support Obama. His character, reputation and judgment have been flawed from the get-go, yet the Libs continue to kiss his ring, no questions asked. The man is dangerous. Don't be fooled. Stop already with the hero-worshipping cult of personality. Try thinking for yourselves! Or throw the name "conservative" under the bus and be done with it.

At October 29, 2008 at 5:20 AM , Blogger SarahG said...

Pasadena, I agree with you..I think that any conservatives who don't or won't vote for John McCain is really supporting Obama

At October 29, 2008 at 6:07 AM , Blogger Beth said...

I think that any conservatives who don't or won't vote for John McCain is really supporting Obama

This is the most absurd thing I have seen in a long time, right next to the idea that anyone who doesn't vote for Obama is automatically a racist.

At October 29, 2008 at 6:22 AM , Blogger SarahG said...

Well Beth, I think that what YOU said is the most absurd thing I have heard in a long time!

I guess that by your comment you fit the picture that Pasadena closet conservative has painted.

At October 29, 2008 at 7:00 PM , Blogger MTHorvat said...

Well, it's clear you're in college now, where the open-mindedness and fairness of true liberals prevail. I think the same kind of thinking is putting in the socialist leaders in governments throughout Latin America....

At October 29, 2008 at 7:30 PM , Blogger Daniel Ruwe said...

I never said that I agree with voting for Obama--I just said that those who are shouldn't feel so desperate that they need to start employing ridiculous arguments. I don't believe in rejecting people like Buckley, Parker et al--I think their arguments should be let with reasoned discussion instead of insults, which have been the typical reception by conservatives.

And honestly, I'm not sure that liberalism as we know it is putting socialist leaders in power in Latin America. Personally, I've more put it down to good old fashioned greed and lust for power. I really doubt that Chavez, say, is really big on free thought.

At October 29, 2008 at 9:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's ridiculous to think that because you claim one side or the other you have to vote blinding for that side. if you a crazy conservation but just can't stomach your parties candidate then you vote for the other guy despite a few disagreement. And if your a liberal illuminati and agree with the "other" guy more you vote for him. WHY, would you be obligate to vote a party line? that just doesn't make sense in the world we live in. Line are being blurred everyday, maybe that's a good thing some of the time.

At November 2, 2008 at 8:18 AM , Blogger knowitall said...

There are numerous officials that have endorsed the right-wing, but they don't get nearly the coverage the liberal illuminati supporters get by the bias media.

At November 4, 2008 at 3:33 PM , Blogger BB-Idaho said...

"For the record, Parker is absolutely wrong about the level of anger at Palin rallies." She may be, but she has had hundreds of e-mail death threats from patriotic rightwingers. One wonders whether the conservatives you mention, who are apalled by the ingnorant polemics of the far right, are not the true conservatives?


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