Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Default

The first order of business is to apologize for my extended absence from this page. As some of you may have gathered from a previous post, I have been otherwise occupied as of late. To be completely frank, it is as if I am being held captive in a PON (Prisoner of Newborn) camp, the disturbed sleep and constant wailing during the nights serving to enhance the effect.

As befits time spent away from an assortment of once-important matters that are now reduced to trivialities, I have delighted in a respite from following the presidential campaigns. I enjoyed my reprieve until - wholly accidentally, as I was flipping channels between feedings and diaper changes - I stumbled across the most recent
ABC News debate between the Romulus and Remus of Democratic politics. (This is a fitting enough description, as both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are starting to look as if they have fed from the teat of a she-wolf.)

The crux of the various debate critiques seemed to be that, as the New York Times put it, "[Charles] Gibson and [George] Stephanopoulos had front-loaded the debate with questions that many viewers said they considered irrelevant when measured against the faltering economy or the Iraq war." From my vantage, the questions evidenced little that was out of the ordinary. For example, while I do not personally question Rev. Jeremiah Wright's patriotism, I was curious as to what Sen. Obama would have to say on the matter. Likewise, I was glad to see Ms. Clinton made to explain once again her credulity-straining account of landing under sniper fire in Bosnia.

It wasn't until Sen. Clinton began her reply to one of Mr. Stephanopoulos' queries with, "Well George..." To my ears, it rang with a tone that went beyond simple familiarity with a (lesser) light of the journalistic firmament. Indeed, her "Well George..." bespoke an longstanding intimacy, and that's when I got it. It occurs to me now that those who squeal loudest about the conduct of the debate (mostly Obama supporters, as Hillary partisans are used to low-ball politics) are not offended in the least that a former Clintonista would presume to be an impartial moderator in a debate involving the wife of his former boss and political mentor.

And to be sure, these plaintiffs would be nonplussed over similar streams of inanity directed at Republicans. (One need only recall the YouTube debate from earlier in the campaign as an example.) What grates on the nerves of the whiners' chorus is that such irrelevancies were asked of Democrats by a usually compliant media. Simply put, the outraged are upset because the MSM's usual default settings (i.e., treating Obama as a child would treat a pet rabbit) were rejected by Stephanopoulos, et al.

Doubtless many on the Right have their own defaults; as much explains the hysterical resistance on the part of some conservatives to same-sex civil unions. But intellectual shortcuts have taken over the Left like ivy in Cambridge. Modern liberalism sustains itself on a diet of what James Burnham would call "unexamined prejudices and conjoined sentiments." Sadly, this bolus of "prethoughts" is never fully digested and converted into anything useful for the development of a logically consistent framework of belief.

Progressives seem to discourage dispassionate examination of their beliefs, lest the pillars that undergird liberalism collapse of their own weight. My sense is that the deranged panic surrounding global warming would evaporate if the costs and benefits of dealing with climate change were weighed against the benefits that would accrue from dealing with the world-wide scourges of malaria, HIV/AIDS, war and famine (as they were by Bjorn Lomborg at his 2004 Copenhagen Consensus.) The troubling thing about defaults is that they so easily replace serious thought, even as carbon monoxide displaces life-sustaining oxygen in the bloodstream until one is poisoned by CO. As it is, our social and political bloodstreams are poisoned by the catechisms of liberal faith.

Again, consider the pleas of those aggrieved by the last debate. They do not take offense at the fact that George Stephanopoulos did not recuse himself from moderating the event, nor are they bothered by equally insipid lines of questioning directed to Republicans. They are sorely vexed entirely by the fact that "thought spam" got through their cognitive firewall. If Democrats were obliged to give strict scrutiny to either Obama or Clinton, they would call off the remaining primaries and fold up their tent until 2012.

Four More Years!

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