Monday, October 16, 2006

The Myth of Liberal Honesty

Jonathan Alter is coasting on 1970s liberalism. His latest column, "The Myth of the 'Values' Voter," is clich├ęd to the point of self-parody. If you don't think your values are morally superior to others, why call them values? Essentially you're saying that it doesn't matter what you believe.

This is the kind of argument liberals and postmodernists love to make. It supposedly shows how tolerant and broadminded they are. It also constitutes their biggest complaint about conservatives, the fact that they espouse traditional values, as if their own politics aren't based on liberal values. The current anti-war crowd in control of Democratic Party are as fervent in their ideology as Evangelicals are about their religion, and just as hypocritical, if not more so, in charging religious conservatives are somehow trying to violate the First Amendment. Liberals express disdain for "homophobes" and argue that one's sexuality is nobody's business, until they get a chance to talk about an "influential gay Republican subculture in Washington."

I saw Alter last weekend speaking about his new book, The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope. He regaled his audience with stories about the "white lies" FDR employed (such as hiding his disability and living in adultery in the White House) and how he manipulated the American people into near worship of him, with nary a note that such dishonesty wasn't full justified by the ends he was seeking.

I came away with reduced respect for Alter's intellect, and it's even lower now after his column, which is petty and whiny, attacking not the policies and beliefs of those he disagrees with, but the labels that have been applied to them and calling them hypocrites. Wouldn't they be bigger hypocrites if they had reprimanded him but let him keep his seat, like the Democrats did when Gerry Studds was caught having sex with a page?

And then, after decrying the use of the term, he hails Al Gore and Barak Obama as "their best chance yet to grab 'values' back from the right." If it's such a noxious term, why does he think it's such a good thing for Democrats to grab and use?

It seems odd to me that he has just realized that liberals have their own values. We all knew what they were, but, of course, that's why they've been losing elections.

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