Saturday, June 02, 2007

Cleaning up George’s Mess—Part 7: The Marketplace of Ideas

In the Harpers Magazine article “Undoing Bush,” Jack Hitt writes about the Bush administration’s assault on debate.
“The Bush strategy basically takes any argument that does no comport with the forward momentum of the Bush agenda and, by means of numerous tactics, seeks to tamp down, crush, sideline, segregate, circumscribe, cordon off, isolate, maroon, raze, shunt aside, eschew, or quarantine that idea.”
The tactic of choice, which I can testify has filtered down to the county level if our local Republican operatives are any measure, is to not to attack ideas but to attack the people who hold them:
“The one tactic that has yielded the best results, though, is to enfeeble entire arguments by destroying the reputation of the most prominent person making them.”
It doesn’t matter that the ad hominem attack contains no truth. Once made, it takes on a life of its own, and the brilliant thing is that there are no consequences. Bill O’Reilly calls people “kooky” if he can’t come up with a substantive response to an opinion. Defectors from the Bush administration are accused of criminal behavior or otherwise distracted from reality. Because no one in the Bush administration is ever permitted to change his mind, they see no need for debate and as a result, debate itself has suffered. Hitt’s solution:
“Just as the cure for bad speech is more speech, it seems that the best antidote for our debatelessness may be, quite simply, debate.”
A good idea—if we can find anyone courageous enough to stray from the Bush administration’s tactic of killing the messenger.

No comments: