March 10, 2007

Occasionally I visit Wall Street Journal's editorial page to see if there is something interesting. Most of the articles on economic issues seem logically sound, though I do not always agree with their premises. The articles on domestic politics and especially foreign affairs, on the other hand, are positively atrocious. You get the impression that they are all written by a bunch of standard bearers, sophisticated and intellectual, for the Republican party.

Peggy Noonan, who writes there regularly, provides the latest example. She is the one who penned this classic article when Saddam Hussein was captured in December 2003. Reading this article you wonder what parallel universes of self delusion these people inhabit.

She wrote, talking about what Saddam's capture means,
That human agency works and is an active force in history. You don't have to sit back and accept; you don't have to continue to turn a blind eye; you don't have to sit and do nothing, because all action involves choice and all choice invites repercussion. You can move forward. You can take action. You can go in and remove a threat to the world. You can make the world safer. You can help people. Just because they live in Iraq and we don't bump into them every day doesn't mean they don't merit assistance and even sacrifice.

She is of course talking about the glorious do-good spirit of America which spreads such joy and welfare in the world.

Anyway, coming to the point, this is her latest article. It's about the declining standards of American discourse. The two incidents she provides as evidence for this are: Bill Maher's comment on his show that Dick Cheney's death would save lot of lives and Ann Coulter's reference to John Edwards as a "faggot" at the Conservative Political Action Conference. The whole argument of Noonan is based on the assumption that these two incidents are equivalent. But are they really?

Bill Maher is a comedian who is politically conscious. This consciousness informs his comedy, but basically he is a comedian. His show airs late Friday nights on HBO. All this would seem to provide him a certain license to be fatuous, which wouldn't be the case, for instance, if you are addressing a major conference attended by the who's who of the conservative circles and major presidential candidates.

It is quite silly to draw a parallel between the rot in liberal and conservative politics based on these two incidents.


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