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Why do many liberals define conservative (and libertarian) movements by their extremes?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 2:14 pm - September 6, 2010.
Filed under: Media Bias,Misrepresenting the Right

In July, I cited Ben Smith’s observation on Politico that “MSNBC scours the tea party movement for racist elements, which one could probably find in any mass organization in America.

Why is it, I wonder, that so many are determined to define conservative movements by their most extreme elements, yet most conservatives (and libertarians) who define left-of-center movements by their extremes do so, as Glenn Reynolds recently did in his Washington Examiner piece, in a tongue-in-cheek manner?

He’s merely pointing out the absurdity of the attempts to grandstand on violent actions by right-wing nutbags (or nutbags whom the MSM has determined to be right-wingers since their targets are members of approved victim classes).  As Don Surber, via Glenn Reynolds, put it in commenting on that prolific blogger’s column:

Of course there are zealots on both sides.

Only one side is tarred with its nutjobs — the 50 million Americans who oppose abortion in any form are somehow all responsible for Dr. Tiller’s death — while we should not judge Islam by an organization that trains thousands of terrorists for hits all over the world, including the destruction of the World Trade Center.

Does Barack Obama Love the United States of America?

Posted by B. Daniel Blatt at 12:00 pm - September 6, 2010.
Filed under: Obama Watch,Patriotism,Ronald Reagan

Ronald Reagan’s love for the United States of America was both visceral and intellectual.  He felt in his bones and he could articulate it with his words.  He could tear up when at the sight of the American flag flapping in the breeze or at the sound of someone singing the Star Spangled Banner.

In words nearly everyone could understood, he could express what made this nation great, the ideals of its founders, the goodness of its people.  Such expression does not come naturally to the man who currently occupies the office the Gipper once did.  This is not to say Barack Obama doesn’t care for this nation — or even to suggest he doesn’t love it (as the title to this post questions), but simply to say that if he does love this country, he doesn’t make that passion as manifest as did the Gipper.

This question came to mind last night as I wrote last night about Jim Kessler’s contention that Democrats would do well in the 2010 election if they could just emulate the Gipper, particularly that Republican’s ability to offer a “ positive, powerful, muscular view of what this country can achieve“.  

To which point, Paul Mirengoff responds:

But Obama doesn’t do “powerful and muscular” well, at least not in the same sentence as “America.” And for a good reason – he is ambivalent about such an America. Reagan’s belief in that American was not only genuine, but consuming. Thus, he could run that “play” in good times and bad. Obama might be able to run it semi-convincingly in good times, but not now.

In a similar vein, JadedbyPolitics served up this comment to my post:

Their problem would be that their “leader” does NOT believe in the AWESOMENESS of America. To be THE leader in the World economy and to sell that not only here in America but around the World, one must first suspend disbelief that WE The People are a good and great people!

Maybe Obama does love this country.  If so, he needs to do a better job selling that passion to the American people.

Sorry, Jim, Obama Democrats are Nothing like Ronald Reagan

In a thoughtful piece at the Washington Post, former Chuck Schumer aide Jim Kessler sees the troubles facing congressional Democrats, but finds “five potentially decisive differences between 1994 and 2010.

Now, to be sure, he makes some great points and each of the differences he cites is accurate and telling, but his argument as a whole is little more than wishful thinking.  His basic point is that Democrats can limit their losses (preventing a repeat of 1994) if only, well, Democrats act more like Ronald Reagan*

If Democrats are to hold on in November, they must follow Reagan’s tack, sketching a vision for the future that has the United States leading the globe with the world’s strongest economy — one fueled by private-sector growth and a successful middle class. And they must resist the temptation to succumb to a populism that portrays members of the middle class as weak, powerless victims.

Problem is is that none of the current leaders of the Democratic Party is one bit like the Gipper.  While Kessler is right to distinguish Nancy Pelosi from Tom Foley, the Democratic Speaker of the House in 1994, neither she nor Harry Reid nor the president himself possess Ronald Reagan’s charisma, optimism and commitment to principle.  Nor does their vision align with that of the American people.

First, let me say, I highly recommend the article.  It’s thoughtful, honest and devoid of the crass denigrations of conservatives we see all too often from pundits on the left.  But, as I said, it’s full of wishful thinking. (more…)