November 3, 2004


It's Mourning in America: The Ohio debacle and the death of our civic life (Rick Perlstein, November 3rd, 2004, Village Voice)

Think about the fact that George Bush has relied on the diffusion of lies like this in order to win his majority tonight; that he couldn't win without the widespread diffusion of such lies.

This is what I have learned these last two years. That the tragic thing about our public life is not that we are led by liars. It is that they have turned us into a nation of liars. For every time a leader whom ordinary, decent people want nothing more than to trust as a source of authority—a president, a minister, a leader of an outfit like the Maryland Family Values Alliance—says something untrue, it gets repeated by these decent people as truth. That feels like civic death to me.

How many points in the popular vote is a lie like this worth? If it's more than two—I think it's reasonable to surmise that it is—that means that without outright inventions like this, breathed life by "trustworthy" leaders and taken in like oxygen by God-fearing followers, George Bush would not be gliding toward his second term.

Tell me if that's not enough to make you want to sleep for a very, very long time. I'm ready to head bedward to do so, thankful only for the fact that John Edwards has just appeared on my TV screen—2:30 a.m., an hour after I typed the first word of this essay—and promised that they will continue to fight. Then comes the news that Bush might stake a claim to victory, maybe before morning breaks. It's more than I can stand.

Friend Perlstein wrote a terrific book about Barry Goldwater and the rise of the conservative movement, but, unfortunately for him, now gets to see how conservatives felt on Election Night 1964, when LBJ was the last president to be re-elected with a majority and add seats in both houses of Congress.

But conservatives then were undaunted and, despite another 16 years in the wilderness, they eventually saw their ideas triumph. Hopefully the Left will Move On and re-engage in the battle of ideas instead of resting on their sense of entitlement and then raging when voters reject them.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 3, 2004 11:06 AM

I am sure Perlstein was referring to that awful lie about the return of the draft. To think some people would stoop so low. That's lower than a snake's belly in a wagon rut as was so well stated by some anonymous sage of bygone days.

Posted by: Pilgrim at November 3, 2004 11:12 AM

Gee, that didn't take long, did it? And a small taste of things to come, I'm afraid.

The jackals bark but the caravan moves on....

Posted by: Barry Meislin at November 3, 2004 11:28 AM

I doubt the Left will come to its senses anytime soon. The Angry Left's #1 gathering place, Democratic Underground, is like "a 55-gallon drum full of rabid weasels" (to steal a lovely turn of phrase from a commentator at another site). They're cursing the "AmeriKKKan sheeple" for voting for Bush, cursing Kerry for quitting "too soon" and for not addressing the crowd in Boston last night, calling on the world to boycott American products, begging George Soros to fund a new cable network--and anyone who calls for an honest and objective analysis gets shouted down in the discussion threads.

God, it's so fun to watch this stuff!

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 3, 2004 11:36 AM

Mr. Perlstein:

I hadn't expected the ad hominem attacks to start the very same day. Did you have this written in advance?

Until the Left can learn the difference between price and cost, understand moral hazard, stop trying to repeal the law of supply and demand, and offer something like a meaningful alternative to tough calls like Operation Iraqi Freedom, then expect to lose.

BTW--I write this as one fortunate enough to have an advanced degree; I am also well read in politics, economics, and science.

Just like virtually all the posters here, with the difference that, if anything, I am less intellectually trained than they are.

So please stop it with your "blame the victim" screed. It is pathetic, and is guaranteed to leave you learning nothing from the experience.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 3, 2004 11:54 AM


That was one great comment.

Posted by: Brian (MN) at November 3, 2004 11:57 AM

The Hillary 2008 campaign began at 11:05 a.m. EDT this morning. While there may be some in the Democratic party calling for moderation, the most fanatical will only tone their voices down at the urging of the Clintons in the run-up to '08; there will be no introspective analysis of their own position unless the same thing happens for years from now (I mean, if hearing Osama read back their talking points this past Friday didn't cause any self-examination, losing to Bush today isn't going to do it, either).

Posted by: John at November 3, 2004 11:58 AM

re: "sheeple"— I don't go to places like DemocraticUnderground, but are they really using a derisive term first used by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to describe Clinton supporters? A sign that the Looney Left is coming out of it will be when they can start to come up with their own perjorative terms instead of coopting the (hated) opposition's. Talk about imitative, derivative and reactionary.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 3, 2004 12:26 PM

Hopefully the Left will Move On and re-engage in the battle of ideas instead of resting on their sense of entitlement and then raging when voters reject them.

That assumes, of course, that they want to grow up.

"I don't wanna grow up;
I'm a Baby Boom Kid..."

Posted by: Ken at November 3, 2004 12:41 PM

Jeff: excellent points.

I'm ready to start printing "Conservative Dupe" t-shirts. Anybody want one?

Posted by: John Resnick at November 3, 2004 12:49 PM


Double XL in dark blue

Posted by: oj at November 3, 2004 12:56 PM

Brian, John: thanks.

Make mine a medium in dark blue.

Posted by: Jeff Guinn at November 3, 2004 1:33 PM

2XL, Hunter's Green

Posted by: Mike Morley at November 3, 2004 1:36 PM

OJ: Blue. Really? Not RED? The "Danger: Decadent Western Infadel" comes in Blue. And the "VRWC Unindicted Co-Conspirator" of course in blogger Brown. Get all three for a spectacular Christmas gift that's sure to please anyone on your list.

Posted by: John Resnick at November 3, 2004 1:41 PM

Bravo, Jeff.

Posted by: Peter B at November 3, 2004 2:16 PM

It took Perlstein an hour to write four paragraphs?


Posted by: Karl at November 3, 2004 3:40 PM

OJ: Why is that person your friend? He sounds like a man with a severe problem.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 3, 2004 4:08 PM


> He sounds like a man with a severe problem.

All the more reason he needs some friends who have a grasp on reality.

Posted by: at November 3, 2004 7:16 PM

The American Left is bereft of ideas designed to appeal to anyone outside of Manhattan and the Beltway. When they come up with something, give me a call.

Their sense of entitlement is not a surprise given how many of them went to New England prep schools and Ivy League colleges. G-d forbid they should actually have to work for a living.

Posted by: Bart at November 3, 2004 10:36 PM

Speaking of conspiratorial delusions. In Le Carre's latest screed disguised as a novel;
the phantom philantropist, behind the hero's
own propaganda efforts (A Russian, who is
modeled on Soros; turns out to have been
an agent of the 'evil, multinational, neocon

Posted by: narciso at November 3, 2004 11:09 PM

So what is the difference between price and cost?

Posted by: M Ali Choudhury at November 4, 2004 12:32 AM