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Reason and passion in politics

Peter Berkowitz writes compellingly about intellectual Bush-hatred.

Discussions - 10 Comments

Hmmm.... starting off by calling people insane doesn't strike me as terribly compelling. And I see the focus of his analysis is on the dreaded "intellectuals". But don't NLT bloggers consider themselves intellectuals, too?

Is Berkowitz going to do follow-up pieces on the "Angry Right" and the phenomena of Hillary Hatred (or "Shrillary" as David Frisk here likes to call her) and Gore Hatred? Surely there's enough of those out there to warrant many column inches of analysis, too.

And apparently half of America are now intellectuals and have fallen into the "insanity" of Bush and Cheney hatred, as a recent poll indicates that about half the country thinks that they both have committed impeachable offenses.

I can't complain about people who don't make claims to rationality and enlightenment. But most left intellectuals (who after the slumber of post-modernism awoke to find that these claims were useful to deploy against people whose faith commitments they found uncongenial) do. Hence they're subject to Berkowitz's strictures.

I'm generally speaking not a big fan of name-calling, and prefer irony and satire as "rationally-inspired" means of effectively making a point without using rigorous argumentation. Haters aren't reasonable and they aren't funny.

I do not see that Bush hatred is much different from Reagan hatred, except that the earlier one gives excuse and greater scope for the later. I liked that piece and thought it covered, indirectly, all the sorts of political hatred that Mr. Scanlon cites.

Sometimes, the more passionate a response, the more credible it is supposed to be. Though it is hard to distinguish tone, in blogging it would seem that one person's rational argument is another's emotional rant. I don't know that irony and satire are always more effective means of making a point, but to those of us who find them amusing, they are the more welcome means.

Intellectuals use reason, not passion, so I'm not really sure the point of the whole piece. It is far more interesting to note that the most reasonable are often the most liberal. Which leads to the inevitable question: is reason good?

My sense is that Bush-hatred is marked primarily by an inability to find one positive thing to say about Bush. Berkowitz's column gives evidence of that ... a guest asks for and receives the floor, then uses that opportunity to condemn the way Bush talks? It's a valid opinion, but it's an odd thing to offer in the midst of a tense exchange on the subject of Bush.

Nobody is without their faults; nobody is without their merits. I don't care for Hillary's policies at all, but I can admire the discipline of her campaign. Bill Clinton was, I think it safe to say, one of the best "pure politicians" of our age. Even Nancy Pelosi has to be applauded if for nothing else than surviving the shark pit that is politics within a minority party and rising to be Speaker. One doesn't do that without having some abilities.

It's difficult to grant credibility to someone's anti-Bush sentiments when it appears they loathe everything about the man. That's what seems irrational.

Berkowitz: "Rather, Bush hatred compels its progressive victims--who pride themselves on their sophistication and sensitivity to nuance--to reduce complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil."

I laughed out loud at that one. Talk about a no-win situation. Typically, when progressives try to exhibit "sophistication and sensitivity to nuance" they are dismissed as being moral relativists, too willing to see gray in every situation, and unwilling to take solid, unambiguous moral stands, or just uppity, elitist snobs, and similar criticisms. For just one particularly salient and recent example, the right made special efforts to highlight Kerry's nuance as a dangerous deficiency, a sign of his lack of character, etc. Critiques such as this were easy to come across. Yet, when progressives act (at least, according to Berkowitz's anecdotally-based caricature) in a way that "reduces complicated events and multilayered issues to simple matters of good and evil," - in other words, much like George W. Bush and his political comrades on a variety of issues, only with strikingly different viewpoints - then that too is seen a fundamental failure.

So, if Hillary Clinton should be our next president, I'm sure that the ever-restrained right will keep things civil and dispassionate, no? (Hey, I guess I've got to give the woman in the audience credit. At least she didn't raise her voice.)

I'm sure Mr. Berkowitz will write a piece regarding Hilary hatred when it comes to pass. Nonetheless, it was an an excellenet piece.

Thumos is the element of politics. It stems from the sense that I am important. It lends itself to argument which is passionate with regard to ehat it defends. It gets easily diverted into hatred of the other.

One's own faction is by definition (if one follws the Frederalist) always adverse to the rights of others. Recognition of this fact can temper one's own passions--even if it means that Hillary may be the next President.

As if Bush were the paragon of excellence.

Give me a break.

Don in AZ said "My sense is that Bush-hatred is marked primarily by an inability to find one positive thing to say about Bush. Berkowitz's column gives evidence of that ... a guest asks for and receives the floor, then uses that opportunity to condemn the way Bush talks?"

That sounds familiar, as just TWO blog entries later we get this from Julie Ponzi -

"Though I may take some exception with her thoughts on men commenting on the shrillness of Hillary’s voice. I think the sort of shrillness Hillary often exudes (see the video linked in the Paglia column below) can be just as grating to most women as it is to most men. There is something so . . . I don’t know . . . pompous and "school dance committee chairman" about it. It rings like the clanking of a tin soldier in a toy box. No sane woman wants to be "that woman" or to defend her. This kind of voice is not commanding but laughable. It does not inspire confidence; it betrays a lack of it. And, frankly, serious women feel betrayed by it. What is worse than a man voicing approval of negative female stereotypes? A woman who affirms them."

And that is supposed to pass as substance? Hillary Clinton affirms negative female stereotypes with the shrillness of her voice? Oh spare me!
Don in AZ, be sure to let Mrs. Ponzi know what you think!

You nailed it, Teresa. Most NLT regulars probably aren't aware that it was just a few years ago that Julie Ponzi opined on this blog that she thought Dick Cheney was a "hottie."

Now that's what I call some real substance.

I would say that Glenn Greenwald pretty thoroughly demolishes the Berkowitz piece here.

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