Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Dishonest conservatives

I know there used to be honorable, honest conservatives. Barry Goldwater was one. But being in power seems to have corrupted conservatism itself. Take the conservatives' choice for vice president as an example:

As Josh Marshall writes at the Talking Points Memo blog

The McCain camp has made her signature issue shutting down the Bridge to Nowhere. But as The New Republic
put it today that's just "a naked lie." And pretty much the same thing has been written today in Newsweek, the Washington Post, the AP, the Wall Street Journal. Yesterday even Fox's Chris Wallace called out Rick Davis on it.

On earmarks she's an even bigger crock. On the trail with McCain they're telling everyone that she's some kind of earmark slayer when actually, when she was mayor and governor, in both offices, she requested and got more earmarks than virtually any city or state in the country.

When you remove the lies there is nothing left. The entire presentation of Sarah Palin as someone who represents change from the corruption of Washington is dishonest.

My previous two blog posts were about a Quad Cities conservative blogger whose entire blogging persona is a lie. She pretends she is non-ideological and non-partisan but somehow ends up only criticizing Democrats and liberals. She writes blog posts in which the main point is a lie – such as a recent post about American flags that Democrats supposedly threw in the garbage and were then rescued from the landfill. (Actually the bags of flags were just left behind at the convention center and a vendor thought they would probably end up being thrown away.)

It makes you wonder whether they are lying because they have nothing truthful to offer, i.e. if they didn't have lies they would have nothing, or if modern conservatives have convinced themselves that lying is a virtue.


Matt said...

as far as local blogs or online newspaper discussion threads, the thing that has bothered me the most lately has not been the celebration of the oddball one-liners from the mccain camp (whether they be dishonest or just plain nonsensical), it has been an overwhelming amount of vapid, childish pettiness from their side of the aisle. there are no substantive discussions on whose policies will do what; instead, there are nothing but people throwing insults as if we're 5th graders trying to outdo each other by the bike racks the playground. the funny thing is that half the time my exhaustion doesn't even have to do with politics. the recurring posters at places such as the Times or Cruiser's site often, from out of nowhere, childishly taunt people who don't agree with them on political issues, local development issues, or... well, even the state of the pennant race. it's pathetic, and worn-out, and is quickly causing me to tune out.

sorry to interject a slight tangent like this, because i know you're speaking far more broadly than locally, but do you think this is a passing phase that will go away once the election season goes away, or a ubiquitous symptom that is here to stay? it's like the drive to November "brings out the stupid" in *all* facets of online life.

Dave Barrett said...

"is this a passing phase..." Well, some of the amount and volume of the pettiness is no doubt a result of 'election fever' and I suppose things will settle down somewhat after the election.

But as I said in the post I have been gradually coming to the conclusion for quite a while now that there is something fundamentally different with the way conservatives present their arguments in public (and perhaps even in the way they think) compared to everyone else. And the essence of that difference is dishonesty (or if not the essence it is the thing that is most apparent to me.)

One thing that made me decide that prevarication is fundamental to modern conservatism itself is the fact that the people who have been leaving the Republican Party in disgust lately are not saying that the people doing disgusting things are not "true conservatives." The people leaving seem to accept that Republicans are in fact conservatives, but they just don't want to be part of that anymore.

Saul said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Saul said...

I agree that qcexaminer's propagating the manufactured "flag scandal" was a new low, but I don't know if I'd go so far as to say that she or most conservatives in general are prone to lie.

I think that some are--Bush, Cheney, Karl Rove, Dick Morris and others have frequently shown their willingness to lie for political gain (and the revelations about her record suggest it's possible that Sarah Palin is like that, too). But I am not convinced that many of the rank and file conservatives are knowing liars.

It seems to me that most of the "hard core" republican activists have become convinced, for whatever reasons, that the democrats are horrible, immoral, and despicable beyond redemption, and they are thus predisposed to believe any incredible slanders about the democrats that they come across, and then they're willing and motivated to uncritically repeat them. qcexaminer's completely irrational hatred of Lane Evans and Phil Hare clearly makes her like this with regard to those two, at the very least, and "tiger woods" is ready to believe and spread any ridiculous or insane story about Obama without bothering to do the simplest web search to check it. Many of the republicans do believe that the democrats are so bad that they're willing to bend whatever rules they can as much as they can to increase their chances of winning--and that attitude might be more prevalent among republicans than democrats--but I would categorize that as different from lying.

Regarding the flag story and Palin's record, it wouldn't surprise me if someone or some group near the top of the republican food chain did promote these stories knowing they were false (I don't think it's necessarily the case, but it wouldn't surprise me), but I'd bet that qcexaminer was not one of those--I'll bet she actually believed them based on her "knowledge" that the democrats are baaaaaad. I do think, however, that she knew that the flag story was a completely trivial non-issue, and that promoting the story was cheap, sensationalistic and manipulative, and she sadly did it anyway.

As far as her claim to being "non-partisan" is concerned, she probably actually saw herself as one who was "seeing things as they really are" instead of being a partisan republican. But perhaps now she's ready to drop the non-partisan stance once and for all.

Dave Barrett said...

You seem to be saying that conservatives who believe and repeat the most damnable falsehoods about Democrats and liberals because they sincerely believe that Democrats are evil should not be tarred with the brush of falsehood. That strikes me as a distinction without a difference.
If you think conservatism without prevarication still exists perhaps you could point me toward the writings of some honorable conservatives who do not impugn the motives and patriotism of people with whom they do not agree.

Saul said...

Yes, I think that knowingly spreading falsehoods is different from and worse than naively spreading falsehoods.

But I agree that it is probably true that among the republicans who believed the flag story, the vast majority who spread the story knew it was trivial, and they must have known or didn't care about the fact that the idea that it said something serious about the democrats' patriotism was false and ridiculous. This story wasn't pushed by all conservatives--it was mostly the cheap manipulators of Fox News and their kind. And sadly qcexaminer picked it up and chose to promote it, too.

I don't read often republican websites, so I can't point you to one that will affirm the basic decency of the democrats or refrain from accusing them of being unpatriotic or treasonous, but I believe that they must be out there.

I think that there are some very principled conservatives on www.antiwar.com. Unfortunately, these people have been completely marginalized by the republican mainstream.

Daniel said...

The dishonesty that I see most clearly is that Republicans consistently campaign opposite to their true purpose. For example, Social Security. The Republicans opposed S.S. at its creation and have opposed EVERY addition or extension of it and have sponsored bills limiting or reducing S.S. in every Congress since. What they call "S.S. reform" is ALWAYS reduction or ending of S.S. Yet they have not campaigned on this issue. Indeed they claim to support S.S. in all recent campaigns.

Or they claim to support the middle class but must group multi-millionaires in their "middle class" to possibly claim that their tax cuts "help the middle class."

Their purpose and agendas are clear and consistent but they hide or distort their aims when seeking votes. Are they ashamed or afraid to state what they truly believe? Or do they believe that the truth is not important and that tricking the electorate is the name of the game.