August 24, 2017

Compare: Conservative rationalism v. Progressive emotionalism

Conservative Rationalism v Progressive Emotionalism

A Victor Davis Hanson article and a Progressives’ fact-free attack text perfectly offset Conservative rationalism against Progressive emotionalism.

This blog’s motto is “conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts.” One of these days, I’ll get around to changing the word “liberals” to the word “Progressives,” so that my motto is completely accurate. Otherwise, I think it’s correct in all respects.

Certainly Trump’s election has highlighted the vast difference between Right and Left, with the former hewing to what I call Conservative rationalism and the latter giving themselves over completely to Progressive Emotionalism. Two things that I saw yesterday are exemplify these differences.

The first thing that I saw yesterday was Victor Davis Hanson’s really extraordinary article entitled “Regime Change By Any Other Name?” Hanson offers five different, but interrelated, views of America’s political scene since 2008. He opens by identifying all of the horrible, and provably fake, accusations leveled against Trump. Here are just a few of the many falsehoods he calls out:

Election machines in three states were not hacked to give Donald Trump the election.

There was never a serious post-election movement of electors to defy their constitutional duties and vote for Hillary Clinton.

Nor, once Trump was elected, did transgendered people begin killing themselves in alarming numbers.

Nor were there mass resignations at the State Department upon his inauguration.

Nor did Donald Trump seek an order to “ban all Muslims” from entering the U.S. Instead, he temporarily sought a suspension in visas for everyone, regardless of religion, from seven Middle Eastern states that the Obama administration had earlier identified as incapable of properly vetting travelers to the U.S.

The first lady did not work for an elite escort or prostitute service. She never said that she and young Barron Trump would not be moving to the White House. Barron does not have autism.

The multitude of fake news stories Hanson identifies make a compelling, logical case that Trump is on the receiving end of an exceptionally vicious smear campaign. Having established this fact, Hanson moves to the second part of his essay, in which he offers one jam-packed paragraph identifying everything the media has ignored in its rush to lead with a false Trump narrative:

Fake news crowds out real news. Here is what we do not read much about: North Korea, long appeased, could well send missiles against our allies, perhaps even with nuclear payloads. Afghanistan is at a crux and will either implode or need more American troops. China’s role is in the balance, and it may or may not help defang North Korea. The greatest tax- and health-reform packages in years are now in the hands of Congress. Executive orders have revolutionized the domestic energy industry and achieved a stunning and historic reduction in illegal immigration. The stock market is soaring, employment is up, and confidence in the economy has returned. Wall Street seems to dip only on talk of impeaching Donald Trump.

Hanson had written the article before the Muslim terrorist attack in Manchester. Had the attack come earlier, he could have added to the list the media’s disinterest in yet another Muslim terrorist attack. All that the talking heads wanted to talk about was Trump.

Watching and reading today’s news, it’s impossible to deny that the media has abandoned its old-fashioned, self-identified task of providing “all the news that’s fit to print” — unless, of course, today’s media has determined that the only things newsworthy are lies about the President of the United States.

The media hasn’t limited itself to ignoring or downplaying non-Trump stories. After valiantly shoving aside any negative stories that occurred during Obama’s presidency, many of which had their roots in his subordinates’ misbehavior, the media during his post-presidential years is convincing itself (and anyone who will listen) that none of those bad things ever happened on his watch. What bad things? These bad things:

And here is what no longer troubles us at all. In 2008, candidate Barack Obama used back channels to communicate flexibility to the Iranians (as in the later assurance he gave, on a hot mic, to the Russians), which may have helped undermine the ongoing Bush-administration negotiations with Iran.

Hillary Clinton set up an illegal server, distributed classified information in an illegal and unsecured fashion, lied about it, and destroyed thousands of e-mails central to an investigation — and got off without an indictment.

In the 2016 election, the head of the DNC conspired to massage the debates and help swing the nomination to the Clinton campaign.

The prior attorney general of the United State met with the spouse of a presidential candidate under investigation, in a stealthy conversation on an airport tarmac, did not inform officials of that meeting until the get-together was discovered by a reporter, semi-recused herself under pressure only to turn over her prosecutorial discretion to the head of the FBI, in a fashion that was both improper and perhaps unconstitutional.

We do not hear how exactly Russian interests at Uranium One obtained market control over 20 percent of U.S. uranium holdings, or the connections between Uranium One and their prior multimillion-dollar donations to the Clinton Foundation, or that the Podesta Group had numerous financial dealings with Russian interests, or that Bill Clinton received $500,000 in 2010 from Russian oligarchic interests while his wife was secretary of state — ten times more than what Michael Flynn was alleged to have received.

And that’s only half of Hanson’s indictment against the Obama administration. Only someone blindly determined to see no evil when it comes to Obama can ignore undisputed facts showing that there was a vast amount of truly illegal, as well as morally reprehensible, activity during his presidency.

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Hanson’s an honest broker, so he acknowledges that Trump does not always help his own cause. Being honest, though, almost means admitting that, while Trump make lack finesse, he has not done anything worse than past presidents have done, nor has any evidence emerged showing him engaged in or suborning illegal acts. As often as not, Trump’s done a great deal less in the way of damage and dishonesty than Obama did:

Of course, a media-targeted Donald Trump is weaponizing his enemies by his characteristic blunderbuss approach in interviews. Of course, in anger and without political experience, he tweets too much and says things better left unsaid. Of course, at 70, he has an in-your-face character that is unlike any other president’s and also unlikely to change. He mixes freely truth, rumor, and innuendo.

And of course his superb appointments and Reaganesque approach to foreign affairs, energy production, tax reform, and deregulation are all threatened by his own team’s inability to deal with a dishonest and largely corrupt Washington and New York media.

So Trump boasted and talked trash with the Russians? Terrible and stupid, no doubt. Worse than what Franklin Roosevelt communicated to Winston Churchill about the mass-murdering Stalin? (“I tell you that I think I can personally handle Stalin better than either your Foreign Office or my State Department. Stalin hates the guts of all your top people. He thinks, he likes me better, and I hope he will continue to do so.”) Was Trump more Machiavellian than was Obama, with his “it’s important for him to give me space” requests to Vladimir Putin when he met President Medvedev before the 2012 election and apparently banked his reset policy on his ability to get away with misinforming the public?

It’s against this purely factual background — a vulgar, explosive president who has done nothing wrong; who’s been the target of an unprecedented media smear campaign; and who follows on the heels of a president who flouted the law at all turns, secure in the knowledge that the media would protect him — that Hanson begins his indictment of the larger “resistance,” the one that extends beyond the media to the political class and the ordinary Progressive citizen:

The “Resistance” peddled the yarn that the election tabulations were electronically rigged; then it was an appeal to electors not to do their constitutional duties; then it was reduced to street theater and demonstrations; then it turned to desperate deep-state leaks and media blitzes; now it’s mere hysteria.

The effort to remove the president is conducted by the New York Times, the Washington Post, the wire services, and the major networks. And we have seen nothing like it in our time. In the last six months, Americans have been told quite falsely so many untruths about the Trump administration by their news agencies that for all practical purposes, there is no such thing as a media as we once knew it.

Journalists are not shy about their prejudices. In some cases — James Rutenberg, Jorge Ramos, and Christiane Amanpour — they have admitted their view that the duty of the new media in the era of Trump is not to stay disinterested, but to become political opponents. Some have been exposed as colluding with Hillary Clinton’s campaign in an effort to prevent Trump’s election victory; they tried to keep those efforts secret because they knew what they were doing was unethical and self-interested.

A second effort to achieve a Trump removal is conducted by pop-culture celebrities — who make the Dixie Chicks’ anti-Bush furor of 2003 now look mild. This opposition is waged in a way that would have ruined careers if directed at Barack Obama.

Madonna dreams on Inauguration Day of blowing up the White House. Don Cheadle wanted Trump to die in grease fire. Snoop Dogg videotapes his mock execution of a Trump lookalike. Martha Stewart poses flipping the finger to a picture of Trump while flashing the Victory sign to a photo of the felon and former pimp Snoop Dogg. Icon Robert De Niro said eloquently of Trump: “He’s a punk, he’s a dog, he’s a pig, he’s a con, he’s a bullsh** artist.”

The efforts to demonize and thus delegitimize and so emasculate Trump have reached sick new heights.

As before, that’s just a half of the list of undisputed facts Hanson offers regarding a resistance that is, for the most part, substantively meaningless, but that has a single-minded, deadly intent to destroy a duly elected president. No wonder Trump said, in all honesty, that no president (certainly no modern president, including Reagan or Bush) has been the subject of such unrelenting attacks from his political opposition.

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And then there’s Obama himself. Early in his article (see above), Hanson identified malicious, illegal acts committed by those under Obama’s command and control. That’s not all that happened in the last eight years, though. Obama himself was guilty of myriad actions that were dishonest, ineffective, vicious, and otherwise deserving of public and media scorn — but the media and a lock-step Democrat party always protected him:

I thought — and so wrote — that Barack Obama subverted the Constitution when he refused to enforce federal laws concerning the ACA mandate, illegal immigration, and contractual provisions of the Chrysler bankruptcy.

I felt Obama, as a candidate and a president-elect, was unethically signaling both the Russians and the Iranians through back channels that he would soon be flexible, even as George Bush was conducting foreign policy as our president.

I thought President Obama had no constitutional right to strong-arm Boeing, the Little Sisters of the Poor, or the small Gibson Guitar company. His administration flat-out lied about the Benghazi catastrophe, the Bowe Bergdahl swap, the Iran Deal, and the chemical-weapons depots of Bashar al-Assad.

The Obama administration endangered U.S. security by yanking peacekeepers out of Iraq for a cheap campaign talking point, by destroying Libya without a follow-up plan, by setting faux red lines and deadlines, by allowing China to create an artificial island base to adjudicate trans-Pacific sea traffic, by appeasing and resetting relations with Vladimir Putin, and by turning a blind eye to North Korean stepped-up aggression. When the president of the United States promises the Russians that he will be more flexible after an election, the message is that he soon plans to do things that, if known, would likely cost him a victory with the American voters.

I’ve recited the structure Hanson used for his article and included select quotations. However, you really must read the entire thing to understand how a classically-trained logician with complete mastery over relevant facts, defends an imperfect, but wrongly beleaguered political iconoclast, and politely, but savagely indicts an entire Leftist political class that has rotted over the last eight years from the top down. Fact, logic, conclusions. . . . It’s all there.

And then. . . .  And then there’s the incoherent rage attack visited upon a conservative friend of mine via a series of text messages from one of the parents in his children’s community. On the emotional, navel-gazing scale, it’s got it all: rage, sarcasm, vituperation, ad hominem attacks, hysteria, and maudlin paranoia. And on the fact and logic scale, it’s got . . . nothing. Absolutely nothing. This is pure Progressive emotionalism on open display. (I’ve deleted all personal identifying information, but otherwise, this is the text exchange as it played out in real time.):




There’s your resistance, which is really nothing more than one long, drawn-out primal scream. It’s hard to find a better example of the Progressive emotionalism that drives so much of our politics today.

We ignore this primal, angry Progressive emotionalism at our peril, though. The logical person behaves logically and, usually, non-violently, as well as legally. The angry hysteric, responding solely to his limbic system, is terribly dangerous. He is willing to tear down the house to kill a fly.

Photo credit: Scream, by Crosa. Creative Commons license; some rights reserved.

About Bookworm 462 Articles
Bookworm came late to conservativism but embraced it with passion. She's been blogging since 2004 about anything that captures her fancy -- and that's usually politics. Her blog's motto is "Conservatives deal with facts and reach conclusions; liberals have conclusions and sell them as facts."