The liberal's highly complex and intellectual argument against principled conservatism is this: Republicans are mean. Republicans always figured that since they weren't mean, that should be enough. But the facts were irrelevant. These were devil words muttered by a political cult, not reasoned arguments.
One of the most arresting examples of the sophisticated Republicans Are Mean argument occurred in reference to Pat Buchanan. If you ever actually tuned in to CNN's "Crossfire" when Buchanan was on, he'd be smiling, laughing, telling jokes -- generally while sitting next to a scowling, bitter Bill Press. (In the interest of not only honesty but also irony, I should rush to add that off-air, Bill Press is one of the nicest people on TV.)
But for reasons that only the faithful can understand, it simply became a part of the liberal orthodoxy that Buchanan was an "angry white man." In case any of the cult members missed the memo on Pat being angry, William Schneider used the word "angry" four times to describe either Pat or his supporters in one single short column in the National Journal.
So we knew liberals would not believe their own eyes if what they saw conflicted with their political orthodoxy. Since actual evidence wouldn't suffice, and arguments citing facts and evidence were even more useless, it was difficult for Republicans to know where to begin with these liberals.
This put conservatives at a distinct disadvantage. For the last couple of decades now, name-calling has been the principal argument liberals have deployed against conservative arguments.
If Republicans opposed the National Endowment for the Arts, they were said to hate art. If Republicans opposed the Department of Education, they were said to hate teachers. If Republicans opposed the Environmental Protection Agency, they were said to hate the environment. Opposition to the government spending money on anything was invariably attacked as hatred for the thing money was to be spent on.
What it took George Bush to figure out was that to counter the left's intricate Republicans Are Mean argument, all you had to do was to go around calling yourself nice.
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