You can count Professor Bainbridge among the folks who love David Klinghoffer’s L.A. Times piece (criticized here earlier today). Via Jonathan Adler at Volokh, Bainbridge offers a remarkably unconvincing set of ten reasons that he claims are reasons that “It’s getting to be embarrassing to be a conservative.” Upon closer inspection, however, the “reasons” turn out mostly to be reasons that conservatives should not support the Republican party — a quite different proposition entirely. Added in there, for good measure, is a heaping helping of overly broad generalizations about Tea Partiers.
Bainbridge’s complaints include: a lament that Palin is being considered a leading contender for the 2012 GOP nomination; complaints that the GOP is running candidates that are too extreme to take seats that should be ripe for the picking; complaints that certain Republicans have (in Bainbridge’s view) criticized Obama unfairly and too harshly; and criticism of birthers, “nativists,” and the “anti-science and anti-intellectualism that pervade the movement.”
Heavens! T. Coddington Van Voorhees VII would most certainly agree!
Bainbridge also moans about “mouth-foaming, spittle-blasting, rabble-rousing talk radio” including . . . Hugh Hewitt (?!). (Really? When is the last time Bainbridge was on Hewitt’s show?)
In addition to the above nonsense, which has nothing to do with conservatism and everything to do with the shortcomings of the GOP, Bainbridge also has a perfectly legitimate complaint regarding the GOP’s lack of fiscal restraint during the Bush years. But, again, why should that GOP failure to act in line with true conservative principles make anyone ashamed to be a conservative??
I would say that Bainbridge’s complaint makes me ashamed to be moderate in any sense . . . except that I personally don’t allow others’ silly comments or positions to define how I should feel about my own beliefs. That’s advice I think Bainbridge (and others like him) should take to heart.
I’ve got a better idea: let’s don’t.
In most of the country, the conversation isn’t about whether Obama is favoring blacks or whites or anyone else; it’s about whether his stimulus plan can work and whether he’s running too big a deficit.
But that doesn’t mean we don’t also need to talk about racial equality and ethnic diversity. Who could lead such a dialogue in a civilized, useful way? Bill Clinton, who launched a similar conversation in 1997, could help. Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two. Or Jim Webb, the Democratic senator from Virginia who’s criticized diversity programs for favoring high-income minority candidates over low-income whites. Or Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.), one of the surviving heroes of the civil rights movement that made Obama’s presidency possible.
The president doesn’t need to teach on every issue. But on this one, he might consider asking someone else to.
Those last couple of paragraphs tell you all you need to know about the “conversation” Doyle McManus wants us to have. Namely, he doesn’t want a conversation so much as a lecture. “Gates, the Harvard professor, knows a thing or two” about preaching to the racial grievance choir; what he doesn’t know is how to listen, as his encounter with a police officer at his home demonstrated. If you’re looking for someone to “teach” white America about how they’re still keeping the black man down, who better than John Lewis — who has supported a discredited narrative of Tea Partiers screaming the n-word at him, and has not been forced to explain to Big Media why numerous videotapes show that narrative to be false.
I notice that McManus does not suggest J. Christian Adams as someone who might help us lead the conversation. I wonder why not.
These “national conversations on race” always turn out to be a chance for Our Betters to lecture us on our institutional and unconscious racism. I’ll pass, Doyle McManus. I’ve been lectured enough, thank you very much.
The front page of the L.A. Times opinion section boasts a piece by David Klinghoffer, an intelligent design proponent who would normally earn only sniggers from L.A. Times editors. But he must have wowed them with his first paragraph:
Once, the iconic figures on the political right were urbane visionaries and builders of institutions — like William F. Buckley Jr., Irving Kristol and Father Richard John Neuhaus, all dead now. Today, far more representative is potty-mouthed Internet entrepreneur Andrew Breitbart, whose news and opinion website, Breitbart.com, is read by millions. In his most recent triumph, Breitbart got a U.S. Department of Agriculture official pushed out of her job after he released a deceptively edited video clip of her supposedly endorsing racism against white people.
Klinghoffer manages to pack a lot of deception into that paragraph, primarily a) the suggestion that Breitbart deceptively edited the tape in question (he did not, but rather published what he had), b) the suggestion that he considers Shirley Sherrod’s ouster a “triumph” (he does not), and c) the notion that Breitbart, rather than the Obama administration, is primarily responsible for her firing.
The rest of Klinghoffer’s piece is a snooze. The only reason editors could possibly have green-lighted it for such a prominent spot is because the above paragraph furthers their deceptive narrative regarding Breitbart.
UPDATE: As bad as this piece is, it has nevertheless found a fan in Professor Bainbridge, who declares that he is starting to become embarrassed to be a conservative.