I have a couple of friends on the staff of the Gadflyer, one of them a PhD student of mine from years past. Pretty good stuff, some of it funny on purpose, some by accident.
Quite a bit of funny stuff in the post (by Paul Waldman) on his appearance on O'Reilly, on Fox. Some of it funny by accident. He makes the usual argument about people on the right being "well-funded" (I have heard that so many times, when I make a radio or other appearance: "Who is paying you?" Liberals can't believe anyone with an IQ over 50 could actually disagree with them, so they assume that bribery must be involved. I'm not saying I wouldn't take the money. But no one has offered. I keep checking the phone: yep, dial tone. But still no calls).
Then, Paul tops his previous comic efforts with this howler:
"Much has been made of liberals' anger at President Bush, and that anger is certainly real. But if Bush loses in November, that anger will dissipate. You'll be able to find liberals angry about one issue or another at one time or another, but you won't find them simmering with a generalized fury. But many conservatives remain angry, even at the height of their power. They'll be angry if Bush loses, and they'll be angry if he wins."
Excuse me? Paulie, lad, if Bush wins, you know it can only be because he stole the election. The only possible bases for disagreement with the well-funded (hee-har!) liberal support network for John Kerry and Johnnie Edhairs are (1) confusion and stupidity of the electorate or (2) corruption and cupidity of the Republican party and its supporters.
Now, this (1) and (2) argument is absurd, but I have heard exactly these claims, in only slightly varying forms, from dozens of my colleagues on the left. They like to be mad; it reminds them of their youth when they were protesting and felt vital and alive and thin enough that they could still see their private parts (frankly, I doubt that Michael Moore can even reach his). If Bush wins, they will be furious.
Should I really conclude from the uniformity of the liberal response to Bush that there is a "well-funded" conspiracy where people on the left are having secret meetings, and getting paid by George Soros or any of the other monstrously wealthy supporters of the left (like, say, John Kerry?)?
No, I think there are some real disagreements here, and reasonable people should try to think about that. Paul gives the people on the left a pass, and he shouldn't.
But to be fair (and I hate doing that), the point of the article is about the anger on the right. And that is where Paul ends up winning the argument, as far as I'm concerned. His account of what happened after the O'Reilly show is disturbing, but insightful. I have had some pretty bad encounters on talk shows, but nothing like the one Paul describes. It appears that the very possibility of disagreement is infuriating to many people. Those of us on the right need to acknowledge we have a problem.
I just wish Paul Waldman would fess up that a lot of his people are religious zealots, too, attending the church of Burning Bush.