Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Parkerization of Conservative Pundits

Kathleen Parker’s recent column asserts a change in the GOP “in which the least informed earns the loudest applause.” She calls it the Palinization of the GOP.

Unfortunately, earning the loudest applause while being the least informed seems all too apt as regards some conservative pundits, too. Parker comes up short on facts supporting her assertions.

Parker starts by citing liberal Democrat strategist Paul Begala on the horrible state of the GOP as the "stupid" party. She goes on.
“. . . as [Begala] also pointed out, the conservative brain trust once led by William F. Buckley has been supplanted by talk radio hosts who love to quote Buckley (and boast of his friendship) but who do not share the man’s pedigree or his nimble mind. Moreover, where Buckley tried to rid the GOP of fringe elements, notably the John Birch Society, today’s conservatives have let them back in. The 2010 Conservative Political Action Conference was co-sponsored by the Birchers.”
But, Parker, who likes to evoke Buckley as a model, departs from Buckley’s own standards and positions.

The first departure is in quoting a leading liberal Democratic strategist as the basis for slamming conservatives and the GOP. Bill Buckley didn't look to leading liberal Democrats (or liberal Republicans for that matter) for political advice. Buckley was on the receiving end of too many of attacks from such as Begala warning Republicans to turn away from hyper-conservatives like Reagan, Goldwater, and Buckley himself.

Second, Parker finds problematic scientific skepticism among global warming skeptics. Buckley found it among global warming supporters. Parker writes:
“Scientific skepticism, the engine that propels intellectual inquiry, has morphed into skepticism of science fueled by religious certitude. In this strange world, it is heresy to express concern about, for example, climate change — or even to suggest that human behavior may be a contributing factor. Jon Huntsman committed blasphemy when he told ABC’s Jake Tapper that he trusts scientists on global warming.”
Buckley, though believing scientists on global warming, made the opposite case. It was the global warming supporters who were closed to scientific evidence.
“For those with addled reflexes, here is the story compressed: (1) Anyone who speaks discriminatingly about global warming is conspiring to belittle the threat. Such people end up (2) working for Exxon Mobil, a perpetrator of the great threat the malefactor sought to distract us from.”
Further, Buckley, too, was somewhat skeptical about the extent of the impact of human behavior on global warming.
“Critics are correct in insisting that human enterprises have an effect on climate. What they cannot at this point do is specify exactly how great the damage is, nor how much relief would be effected by specific acts of natural propitiation.

“The whole business is eerily religious in feel. Back in the 15th century, the question was: Do you believe in Christ? It was required in Spain by the Inquisition that the answer should be affirmative, leaving to one side subsidiary specifications.

It is required today to believe that carbon-dioxide emissions threaten the basic ecological balance. The assumption then is that inasmuch as a large proportion of the damage is man-made, man-made solutions are necessary. But it is easy to see, right away, that there is a problem in devising appropriate solutions, and in allocating responsibility for them.”
[emphasis added]
As for Parker’s claim that "skepticism of science" is "fueled by religious certitude", we see which side Bill Buckley thought was more in tune with the spirit of the Inquisition. It wasn’t the global warming skeptics.

Third, Buckley was very warm to religion in the public square. Parker asserts “No one was more devout than the very-Catholic Buckley, but you didn’t see him convening revivals in the public square.” Where that comes from I have no idea. Buckley, along with the U.S. Supreme Court, believed that free speech allowed for revivalists in the public square. Buckley was for more religious involvement in public life not less.

Buckley promoted public discussion of religion and Christianity. Parker may have missed the Firing Line programs with Malcolm Muggeridge, Billy Graham and R. C. Sproul, among others. In one of them Buckley wonders why people aren’t allowed to talk about religion at social occasions without being considered a fanatic.

Then there’s Buckley’s belief that the separation of Christianity from the public square is a "terrible idea". In an interview with Bill Buckley, in August, 2004, Terence Smith asks if the Christian conservative movement has taken over.
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: That's important. No, they certainly haven't. But certain people in politics feel that in order to engage in politics, it's by no means necessary to forget that you also believe in religion. And to the extent that religion is emphasized, it becomes irksome for people who are skeptical about religion or even hostile to it.

"Because every time Jimmy Carter said grace or -- or President Bush mentions it, there are certain people who wince.


"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: No, not at all, no, because I like to think of myself primarily as a Christian. That's what I seek to be. And when you consider the extent to which people feel that Christianity and politics should be completely separated, I think that's a terrible idea because the principal animus for a harmonious polity I think is religious.

"One's concern for somebody's civil rights, for equality, derives, in my judgment, from the fact that we acknowledge that we are all creatures of God. In the absence of that, of that kind of direction, it would be an afterthought."
Parker does not seem to know that traditionally the Catholic church has supported, not opposed, religion in the public square even up to actual establishment. Buckley, being a firm constitutionalist, did not support establishment in the U.S., but did not rail against state supported churches abroad. For example, he didn't seem much bothered by the established church in Norway or England.

Fourth, Parker intimates that Buckley was not at all like, say, Rush Limbaugh who “says that climate change is a hoax and so it must be.” But Bill Buckley liked and mostly agreed with Limbaugh (maybe he would even agree on it being a “hoax” after learning of the Climategate scandal--about, among other things, "hiding the decline"–-which occurred after Buckley died).

In his interview Terence Smith asked what Buckley thought about the emergence and success of "a voice like Rush Limbaugh".
"WILLIAM BUCKLEY: Well, of course I'm grateful because I'm a fan, and I believe in most of the things he believes in.

"There are stylistic differences which [inaudible] the fact that he's broadcasting 15 hours a week, and under the circumstances, has to be repetitious."
Parker loves to evoke Bill Buckley and his “pedigree” and “nimble mind”. One wonders if he would have thought her mind a little too nimble for minds like his and Limbaugh’s. The Parkerization of conservative pundits?


Ten Mile Island said...

I did a sales consultation on Monday.

This is what one calls one's work, when talking about how to manage the workforce that engages in transactions. Sales. I am attempting to revise the nomenclature, following Drucker, that instead of viewing those of us who engage in transactions as "salesmen," instead view ourselves as something else. Not quite sure what this new nomenclature should be. I do know, that "sales man" is not referential enough.

Tutors seems too square.

But tutelage is probably a better title than salesman, in most events.

I began my consult with the question, "what are the two commandments?" They are simple.

"Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."

And then, I began my teaching.

It is important that we accept the teachings of the Master. How can you injure anyone, by following these two rules?

It is important that we remember the rules of comportment. If you behave as a lout, chances are, you're a lout. If you behave as a simple human, chances are, you will be seen as a simple human, faults and all. And we are, aren't we, simple humans?

I don't look to you for perfection. Nor, should you look to me for perfection. We should simply look to each others as humans, with our strengths, faults and weaknesses. Our faults and weaknesses don't make us any less human, or, more importantly, any less perfect as humans.

Just be grateful, that we are able to appreciate ourselves as imperfect.

I think this is what delineates us from other creatures.

It is our humanity that is the difference. Not our conformity to any other species.

T. D. said...

Wise words, TMI; thank you for sharing them.

I hope you have a very happy Thanksgiving. You are one of the people I'm thankful for.