John Leo

*Bush got re-elected because Americans are stupid.  Many Democrats now refer to themselves as ?reality-based,? meaning that they are neither ?faith-based? or ?unreality-based? like those irrational Republicans. A couple of days before the election, I chatted in the green room of the Lou Dobbs show with a prominent liberal, who kept saying, over and over, that Bush is a liar and Americans are dumb. This is not the way to build a Democratic constituency that can win.

*The reaction to Janet Jackson?s Superbowl act indicates how backward Americans are. An older comedian said at a conference two weeks ago that the reaction to Jackson?s ?wardrobe malfunction? made no sense, since we all know what a nipple looks like. There?s a technical term for this. It?s called ?missing the point.? The public didn?t go berserk because Janet was bringing fresh anatomical news.  It was a national roar of complaint over the raunchy, degraded entertainment that liberals refuse to ponder. Janet Jackson just happened to set off the explosion, just as Rathergate produced the long-building explosion over media bias.

*An inability to take ?victimless crimes? seriously. According to the ?broken window? theory, to cut a soaring crime rate, cities must crack down on the minor acts of disorder that lead to neighborhood breakdown and crime. This is precisely what happened in New York. When every inch of every subway car was covered in graffiti, riders concluded (correctly) that the system was out of control and it made sense to stay away. One day the transit chief announced that no subway car would ever leave a railyard with any graffiti on it. Control was restored. Riders surged back, and the subways grew safe again. Turnstile jumpers were arrested.  So were the ?squeegee men,? who intimidated drivers at tunnels, seeking a dollar or two in extortion money for aggressively offering to wash car windows. This heavy emphasis on quality-of-life offenses turned the city around. But liberal are still in denial. One prominent liberal (unnamed--he?s a friend) wrote a recent book citing everything that helped cut crime except of course, the ?broken window? theory, which liberals cannot bring themselves to think about. However, it works.

*Myopia about censorship. This may come as a newsflash to liberals, but the vast majority of censorship today is conducted by the left. After 9/11, liberals complained endlessly that Bill Maher was penalized for saying that the terrorists had been brave. They still do.  Despite the myth of mandatory patriotism in the weeks after the attacks, far more people were silenced on the right than on the left, particularly on campus. Liberals, many years behind the curve, think conservatives are the censors and the ACLU is the antidote. Wrong on both counts.

*Finally, I reluctantly report that liberal friends basically reject give-and-take political discussion. Their positions are typically posed in the language of feelings or the language of rights. Either way, there is nothing much to debate--feelings are personal and rights are beyond the reach of argument and majority decision making. My liberal friends are polite and tolerant, but their opinions reflect a body of remarkably settled thought that leaves little room for dissent or new ideas. To their token conservative friends (that?s me), they seem ever more isolated from the thoughts and concerns of their fellow Americans.

John Leo

John Leo is editor of and a former contributing editor at U.S. News and World Report.

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