| I know we thought Obama at long last made some great, fighting speeches recently. To the Righties, obsessed with despising Obama, those speeches were ridiculous, ego-driven lies strung together by a supreme egoist---- and, therefore, easily deprecated, ignored, and belittled. See this clip from PowerLine, a conservative blog, and the comment or interpretation of the small little clip of a fragment of an Obama speech. The righties really have to work to turn Obama's remarks into a personal assault on him, but they manage to do it:
Compare this with Gerard Alexander's attack on Obama and "liberals" in The Washington Post Outlook Section for Sunday, 7 February 2010 as being "condescending:"
...American liberals, to a degree far surpassing conservatives, appear committed to the proposition that their views are correct, self-evident, and based on fact and reason, while conservative positions are not just wrong but illegitimate, ideological and unworthy of serious consideration.
He advises the world that, "with Democratic fortunes on the wane" they should be a little more accommodating toward conservatives, and stop acting as if the "benighted public" has been deliberately misinformed by a superior conservative PR campaign.
Mr. Alexander firmly informs liberals that their "sense of liberal intellectual superiority" may have faltered a bit during the economic downturns in the 1970's and the boom years under Reagan in the '80's, but it surged back with Clinton, and is exemplified by four major liberal narratives:
* Hillary Clinton's "vast right-wing conspiracy" which says that conservatives win elections not because they have superior ideas but because they manipulate and mislead the public deliberately through sneaky campaign tactics, reinforced by conservative Fox media, all at the bidding of evangelical religious and wealthy industrial interests in order to "shield the world from modernity."
* Paul Krugman's attitude that, since conservative leaders, not being stupid, lie and mislead the public cynically---- therefore, not only should no one take such conservative leaders seriously, but the rank-and-file Americans who do take them seriously are either manipulated or just plain stupid. Obama displayed this elitist attitude during the campaign when he said Rust Belt workers "cling to their guns or religion."
* Rick Perlstein's attack on Nixon which sees the Republican Southern Strategy as a sinister plan to mobilize racism and "resentments against others" (like themes of law and order, crime, immigration) to win elections through fear and division. Former President Carter's comments equating opposition to Obama with racism is another example.
* Fourth, Alexander chastizes liberals, Al Gore, and supposedly Democrats as a political party, because
"liberals condescend to the rest of us when they say conservatives are driven purely by emotion and anxiety---- including fear of change---- whereas liberals have the harder task of appealing to evidence and logic"
The point of all this is that Mr. Alexander wants liberals to "lose that liberal smirk," and realize that not only are liberals completely out of touch with average Americans, but that conservatives have good ideas more in tune with normal Americans. He does admit that "a few" conservatives are ideologues and treat all liberals with disdain as being always wrong (he names Glenn Beck as such an intransigent conservative) ---- but he is sure they are in no way as bad as the liberals as a whole.
What we have here are two examples of the new Republican attack campaign, painting liberals as the obstructionist elitists, as anti-populists, utterly divorced from the reality of middle America. This is the root of Sarah Palin's mangy rhetoric as she positions herself to take command of the populist rage.... right down to Mr. Alexander's gratuitous pasting of George W. Bush's little smirk on the face of the Democrats.
Other evidence of the new campaign can be seen in both popular and erudite attacks on "Keynsian economics," and character asassination of Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz, both economists who disagree with Thomas Freidman's Free Market theories. It is all laying groundwork in advance for what will be an utterly brutal assault on Obama, discrediting his policies, smearing everything Democratic as poisonously "liberal." Mr. Alexander pretends liberals are alone in dismissing conservatives as ignorant liars, uniformly wrong. He should read some conservative blogs, which equate Democrats with treason.
One thing I take away from this (aside from admitting that I agree completely with all four of the liberal "attitudes" outlined in the article) is that the misled public so cherished by Mr. Alexander desperately needs to feel respected. They are being told Democrats do not respect them, that Democrats, especially Obama and Pelosi, are elitists and condescending. We have to change that perception starting now. Courtesy and respect must be shown, even when we absolutely know what they are saying is a bunch of junk. Facts patiently presented in a professorial tone will not do it. If we want a relationship we must work at it, swallow impatience and show respect.