Thursday, December 3, 2015

how to talk politics

More from Taranto:

If we were offering advice on how to talk politics at Thanksgiving (or in other ordinary social settings), it would come down to two points: 1. Think for yourself. 2. Be respectful, and prepare to back off or change the subject should things get heated.
The latter point runs counter to the spirit of the left-wing advice, which treats conversation as a contest and futilely aims at victory. The former runs counter to its substance—namely, prepackaged talking points. Liberals have no monopoly on truculence, but the need to be told what to think does seem to set them apart.
The left today is both doctrinaire and capricious; political correctness is unsparing in its demand for conformity to an ever-changing set of dogmas that frequently contradict each other, not to mention reality.
A real-life example comes from Politico, whoseEdward-Isaac Dovere claims that President Obama is doing a bang-up job combating the Islamic State but is constrained not to say so:
Obama has more he could say in response to the questions about ISIL he’s getting pummeled with since the Paris attacks. They’re just not, according to people familiar with his thinking, things that he wants to say out loud.
Things like, “Remember everyone panicking about how much surveillance we’re doing?” Or “How about all those people I’m killing with drones”? Those wouldn’t have quite the right ring for a president who’s come reluctantly, and with continuing reservations, to both. . . .
The president, according to people who know him, would rather not be Big Brother Obama or Kill List Obama, and he certainly doesn’t want to be seen that way.
That creates a tricky situation for the White House. Obama wants credit for his response to terrorism, but he doesn’t want to be attached to many of the ways he’s managed that response.
“Obama isn’t anxious to be known as the drone president,” said a Democratic strategist familiar with his thinking. “But to anyone who looks at the strikes they’ve taken and the raids that have been authorized, he clearly is fiercely going after these guys.”
It’s difficult to believe—and neither Dovere nor his sources explicitly claim—that Obama has been as effective against ISIS as a president unconstrained by politically correct ideology would have been. But it does seem plausible that his embarrassment over the actions he has taken makes him appear even more ineffectual than he is. If the World’s Greatest Orator can’t forthrightly explain his own policies, no wonder like-minded nieces and nephews who lack his rhetorical gifts are so intimidated by their Republican uncles.

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