November 7, 2004


Am I Blue?: I apologize for everything I believe in. May I go now? (Michael Kinsley, November 7, 2004, Washington Post)

[R]ecognizing that the mood has changed since Sept. 11, 2001, I have been erratically and unsuccessfully pitching a different approach. CNN is not interested. Nor are the other news networks. If anyone reading this wants it, it's yours. Free. The idea: "Cease-fire." You get your politicians or your experts or your interest-group representatives, and instead of poking them with a stick to widen their disagreement, you nudge and bully and cajole them toward some kind of common ground. It sounds goody-goody, I know, but the intention would be more Judge Judy than Bill Moyers.

At the moment, though, one side of the great divide is being called upon for something closer to abjection than mere reconciliation.

So, yes, okay, fine. I'm a terrible person -- barely a person at all, really, and certainly not a real American -- because I voted for the losing candidate on Tuesday. If you insist -- and you do -- I will rethink my fundamental beliefs from scratch because they are shared by only 47 percent of the electorate.

And please let me, or any other liberal, know if there is anything else we can do to abase ourselves. Abandon our core values? Pander to yours? Not a problem. Happy to do it. Anything, anything at all, to stop this shower of helpful advice.

There's just one little request I have. If it's not too much trouble, of course. Call me profoundly misguided if you want. Call me immoral if you must. But could you please stop calling me arrogant and elitist?

I mean, look at it this way. (If you don't mind, that is.) It's true that people on my side of the divide want to live in a society where women are free to choose abortion and where gay relationships have full civil equality with straight ones. And you want to live in a society where the opposite is true. These are some of those conflicting values everyone is talking about. But at least my values -- as deplorable as I'm sure they are -- don't involve any direct imposition on you. We don't want to force you to have an abortion or to marry someone of the same gender, whereas you do want to close out those possibilities for us. Which is more arrogant?

We on my side of the great divide don't, for the most part, believe that our values are direct orders from God. We don't claim that they are immutable and beyond argument. We are, if anything, crippled by reason and open-mindedness, by a desire to persuade rather than insist. Which philosophy is more elitist? Which is more contemptuous of people who disagree?

One good thing that could come of all this is for folks like Mr. Kinsley to recognize that they shouldn't get to use elite institutions like the courts to impose their values onbthe whole country, but it's fine if they and the citizens of Blue states choose to prefer values somewhat different from folks in Red states. It's unlikely that even those Blue states will adopt the values that the Kinsley's desire, but they'll be closer anyway. and the divide between their desires and the democratic choices of even Blue populaces will helpfully illustrate just how far out of the mainstream they are.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 7, 2004 10:20 PM

OK, I feel quite confident at this point in concluding that the liberal pundits of the media are attempting to destroy the Democratic party. Whether they are Karl Rove planted moles working for the Republicans, or trying to leave the field open for the Greens is something I'm still trying to figure out...

Posted by: brian at November 7, 2004 10:42 PM

"You get your politicians or your experts or your interest-group representatives, and instead of poking them with a stick to widen their disagreement, you nudge and bully and cajole them toward some kind of common ground."

And of course, for the Kinsley types, it's the GOP and conservatives that're supposed to make most of this effort, and do most of the movement. How many times are these people going to try to sell the same non-solutions that favor themselves?

A Republican moves left and he's said to have "grown in office". Let's see some Lefties "grow in office" over the next few months, then we can talk.

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at November 7, 2004 10:42 PM

When I see Tom DeLay described as 'open-minded', as opposed to someone like Henry Waxman, then Kinsley will have grown in office.

But not until then.

Posted by: jim hamlen at November 7, 2004 10:45 PM

Unless I missed some article in which Kinsley decried the 9th Circuit's Pledge of Alleigance ruling, I have a hard time taking this as anything more than an intellectual and elitist effort to cloying tell Bush supporters to fold it five ways and stick it where the moon don't shine. The snarky tone of the first five paragraphs makes what comes after it sound less like a sincere request than like someone who grumpily wants the whole issue of values to go away for a long, long time.

Actions like the "Pledge" decision not only affected the "Blue" California coastline but schools in over half a dozen Red states behind it that for the most part did not share the values system of some angry divorced agnostic dad in San Francisco. As editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Times, Michael certainly had a platform to make a case against the court imposing its values on those people in less liberal parts of the West, and a justification, since the paper's readers are within the court's area. But if he did so, I don't remember anyone mentioning it (and a liberal like Kinsley going against the 9th Circuit certainly would have been news).

Posted by: John at November 7, 2004 10:48 PM

The first time I ever saw Kinsley talk on T.V., before I even knew who I was looking at, I thought to myself "what a petulant b*tch".

Posted by: Twn at November 7, 2004 11:02 PM

What a load of snide, sanctimonious bilge-water.

Posted by: jd watson at November 8, 2004 12:20 AM

It has certainly become apparent, as I have told anyone who will listen, that those who hate George Bush hate him because he is a Christian.

Well, let it be known. I hate Michael Kinsley because he wears wire-rimmed glasses and has a winy voice that annoys me.

So there.

Posted by: Randall Voth at November 8, 2004 5:12 AM

This whole article just drips with precisely the kind of intellectual arrogance that sets off most of Red America. Kinsley not only doesn't have a clue as to what the issues really are, he doesn't even have a mental framework to begin to find a clue. It's like watching an orangutan try to build a rocket ship.

If Kinsley wants to argue that states should be allowed to have different approaches to questions of personal morality. that's fine even if it fails to square with lefty cant for the better part of the last century. Since he is in Erich Honecker style lock-step with his lefty paymasters, I sincerely doubt that is his intent.

Posted by: Bart at November 8, 2004 6:30 AM

What a mewling cry baby! Boo hoo hoo! Since I came out of the closet as a conservative, I've had close friends and relatives belittle me and call me the nastiest names in the book, so hearing Michael Kinsley cry about what's happening to him doesn't really make me feel sorry for him. Suck it up, Michael, be a man and keep fighting. Don't whine; it's unbecoming.

Posted by: Governor Breck at November 8, 2004 6:33 AM

What a weenie.

Posted by: Mikey at November 8, 2004 9:04 AM

>May I go now?

Once you've had to crawl and lick the boots of Your Betters as much as we had to crawl and lick your boots when you were in power.

Posted by: Ken at November 8, 2004 12:32 PM

You're arrogant Michael, but you've just reminded me; who's overlooking the many funds in this country? Are all the very rich altruists truly arrogant left-wing Progressive Marxists? Or did they grow in office?

Posted by: Genecis at November 8, 2004 1:11 PM

I think we ought to encourage liberals like Kinsley to stand by their convictions and shout them from the rooftops. What bothered me the most about the Kerry campaign was the amount of lying about his own statments that he did. Global Test, no Global Test.

Lets have a straight from the heart leftwing, Democrat wing of the Democrat party candidate in 2008. Dennis Kusinich, but with more passion, no ambiguity.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 9, 2004 12:06 AM