The politics of inoculation

The liberal MSM is in a near ecstatic state because Senators McCain, Warner, and Graham vigorously oppose President Bush’s proposal for trying al Qaeda detainees. The basis for this ecstasy was expressed, to mention just one example, by Harold Meyerson when he argued that the opposition of McCain, Graham, and Warner will prevent the administration and other Republicans from successfully making an issue of similar opposition by Democrats.

This confidence, in turn, is based on a foundational but mistaken liberal principle — that people can’t think for themselves. Only a liberal could believe that large numbers of voters will, on the say-so of McCain and Graham, reject views about dealing with terrorists that they otherwise would adopt. It will take more than the real (but limited) expertise of McCain and the mostly phony expertise of Graham to persuade a critical mass of the public that, if granted a trial, the most vicious terrorists in the world should have access to information the secrecy of which contributes to our efforts to fight terrorism. Or that it is improper to subject blood-thirsty killers like Khalid Sheikh Mohammad to interrogation tactics that are demeaning or scary. If the public were that deferential to “experts,” the liberals would never have lost control of the government.

The reliance by liberal politicians and their MSM enablers on expertise and biography is nothing new. This same political class convinced itself that, in the case of John Kerry, the public might ignore a 30 year public record of McGovernite foreign policy pronouncements and positions because he had received medals during the Vietnam war. It also thought that Georgia voters might ignore Max Cleland’s drift into McGovernism, and his specific views on homeland security issues, because he had lost his legs in Vietnam.

When this “inoculation” fails to work, the liberal political class adopts an even more condescending attitude towards the electorate. Instead of blaming the voters for getting the merits wrong, they blame the evil genius Karl Rove for duping the public through (alleged) attacks on the patriotism of whichever liberal candidate has been defeated.

It would be interesting to see how “smart” Karl Rove would be if the Democrats, for example, showed more concern with obtaining intelligence from leading al Qaeda operatives and less with protecting the dignity of these killers. But the prospects for finding this out don’t seem good.


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