Posted on | October 6, 2012 | 19 Comments
The Left’s reaction to Wednesday’s debate and Friday’s job report illustrates why the political conversation in America has become so hopelessly discordant. We are not arguing about two candidates or two parties, but two worldviews. Bad news for President Obama challenges the belief system of the Left; it is not enough for them merely to dispute facts, they must destroy the bearers of bad news — accuse them of deceit and ridicule them as fools.
Go back to Julian Sanchez’s much-discussed 2010 musings about “epistemic closure” in conservative thought. Sanchez’s idea was embraced by the Left at a time when the true size of the backlash against Obama’s agenda had not yet been determined. Republicans had won the governorships of New Jersey and Virginia, and Scott Brown had been elected to Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat, but the mid-term elections were still months in the future.
It was therefore still possible, in early 2010, for Sanchez and others on the Left to believe that conservative hopes of a resurgence were wishful thinking, and that the chatter coming from the Right’s alternative media (“a multimedia array of interconnected and cross promoting conservative blogs, radio programs, magazines, and of course, Fox News”) could be safely ignored.
One might have thought that the 2010 mid-term elections in which the GOP gained a net 62 House seats — “The Republican Mandate” — would have convinced the Left that they had miscalculated. Instead, they placed their confidence in Obama’s ability to navigate the new environment, to neutralize the Republican House majority, and then to win re-election, just as Clinton had done in 1995-96.
Everything seemed to be proceeding in accordance with those beliefs until Romney dismantled Obama in Wednesday’s debate — a psychological shock that has unhinged the Left, causing them to begin lashing out furiously and rather erratically at anyone who suggests that the dam has broken and that the “preference cascade” may doom Obama to defeat in November.
Instead of a re-play of 1996 (with Romney playing the Bob Dole role), the Left is suddenly confronted with the possibility of an election much more like 1980, and with the burden of humiliating failure that a one-term presidency signifies. So they began claiming that Romney had “won” the debate by lying and cheating, and they continued the theme — “Don’t trust those Republicans!” — in their attacks Friday on those who were dubious about the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics report.
Jack Welch and Rick Santelli are not crackpots. The possibility that the BLS report was deliberately manipulated for political purposes — as an “October Surprise” — is one matter, but the continued weakness of the economy is simply a fact. And it is this fact, the failure of Obama’s economic policies, that also accounts for Romney’s easy win in Wednesday’s debate.
The failure of neo-Keynesianism cannot be accepted by the Left. It challenges their worldview and so, in what looks very much like “epistemic closure,” they attack the bearers of disconcerting facts, preferring their ideological theory to the truth.