Exhibit 13.15

Newsweek's Cover Story

America the Conservative
How Obama Might Govern a Center-Right Nation

Is this even true? Sure, it gets said on talk radio and Fox News as if it's dogma, but frankly, I'd expect a real media outlet to at least explore the idea a bit rather than just assuming. Here's Newsweek's editor Jon Meacham explaining it in bold with my comments in plain text.

But as we point out this week, that enthusiasm should be tempered by what I believe to be a stubborn fact about America: that, as a country, we tend to be center-right rather than center-left...Democrats have won only three of 10 presidential elections, and the three they won were with Southerners who emphasized how different their candidacies were from those of traditional national Democrats...

There are so many things wrong with this that I've lost my sense of humor about it. Seriously, there's nothing funny coming up. It's probably best if you go read something else.

Okay, on the fact that the Republicans have won 7 of the last 10 presidential elections, it's pretty convenient how that time period begins right after Kennedy-Johnson. Adding them makes it 5 of 12 for the Democrats. Let's assume an Obama win (as this editorial does) and we've got 6 of 13. Oh, yeah, and Al Gore won the popular vote in 2000. I'll be fair and say that 2000 is unique and at best a wash while also leaving untouched the advantage that Bush had as an incumbent in 2004. Suddenly we're looking at 6 wins a piece with 2000 excepted. Don't even get me started on what a 1968 election would have looked like with Bobby Kennedy either.

Also, that those who won emphasized that they were different from "national" Democrats. Other than this being a profoundly subjective point that has nothing to do with how the men actually governed, I guess my only response would be that the younger Bush campaigned as being a mainstream "compassionate conservative" and a pragmatist rather than a Gingrich-esque zealot. Isn't that a much better example of running against type than Clinton or Carter?

And what does being Southerners has to do with it is a little unclear. Nixon and Reagan were both from California. Does that mean their wins count less? I can redo that math if necessary.

Second, the fundamental human impulse to protect the familiar is often, in our vernacular, a conservative one, and the administrations of FDR, LBJ and Clinton provide case studies in the checking of radical reform by those on the right...the country's conservative tinge will shape how Obama governs rather than usher in a McCain era.

Let me reiterate what he's saying: The lesson of FDR and LBJ (and Clinton, which I'll give him) is that conservatives check liberal agendas. Really? The New Deal? The Great Society? The Civil Rights Act of 1964? Yeah, what I take away from those years is that it was really the conservatives who shaped our agenda. Jesus.

Okay, well, that can't be it, right? Surely there's more. Polls and studies, maybe even some demographic information, which points us toward the conclusion which ended up on the cover of the magazine.

Oh, good, I see quotes coming up, this must explain how when compared to post-WWII Europe we've been slower to allow government a more active role in maintaining the welfare of our citizens which points to something fundamental about our character as a nation.

"America is still a right-of-center country, which is what McCain is," McCain strategist Charlie Black told Holly Bailey. "Barack Obama is a conventional liberal. Ideologically, he's out of touch."


How liberal a President Obama would be is unknowable. There is no doubt that his Senate record supports Black's view.

Okay, everybody got that? America is conservative because a Republican strategist says so and Obama's Senate record--without a doubt--supports the view that, "Ideologically, he's out of touch." Without a doubt. No other interpretations. Only one way of seeing this. Black and white. As clear as John Edwards's political calendar.

Meacham explains himself at length in his own article on the topic here, but it's more of the same. Democrats are extremists because they aren't able to enact their liberal agendas (?). Republicans are our natural inclination because we don't trust government. Liberals will be disappointed because Obama won't ban handguns or make gay marriage legal (you know, the opposite of how Bush banned abortion and abolished the Department of Education. Man, that was a crazy first 100 days).

In other words, America is a conservative country because Democrats don't win as many presidential elections. Democrats don't win as many presidential elections because America is a conservative country. It's been a long time since I've taken a logic class, but I'm pretty sure there's a fallacy there somewhere. Wow, I forgot about logic. You guys hold on, I'm going to go do some syllogisms for fun....

...okay, I'm back.

The truth here is something that seems painfully obvious, and it's up to Rick Perlstein to point it out, "As far as public opinion goes, the American public is generally not center-right...What we do have is a center-right political system...[America's Founders] wrote a Constitution designed to make change a slow and deliberative process."

I understand that doesn't make for much a magazine cover, but it's probably an insight that doesn't deserve to be buried in the middle of an article that relies on quotes from McCain surrogates and Christopher Buckley as the primary evidence of its premise.

1 comment:

Dusty said...

Have you penned and sent a letter to the editor? This is like, the exact thing that I always think calls for a letter to the editor. Get published in Newsweek! Don't let them get away without criticism!

(See tomorrow or Friday's LJS for insight.)