The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Epistemic Closure Redux: The Campaign, the Debate and the Jobs Report

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.

UPDATE: Linked by William Hogethanks! — and welcome Instapundit/Ed Driscoll readers!


19 Responses to “Epistemic Closure Redux: The Campaign, the Debate and the Jobs Report”

  1. Evi L. Bloggerlady
    October 6th, 2012 @ 12:32 pm
  2. When the Reality Check Bounces | hogewash
    October 6th, 2012 @ 12:55 pm

    […] As Stacy McCain notes: 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. […]

  3. smitty
    October 6th, 2012 @ 1:26 pm

    The Left is slowly coming to grips with the reality that Al Gore’s internet has blown away their grip on information. The idea of having to build rational arguments, instead of craft emotional manipulations of the mob, has the Left wetting itself.

  4. Instapundit » Blog Archive » EPISTEMIC CLOSURE REDUX: The Campaign, the Debate and the Jobs Report, from Stacy McCain….
    October 6th, 2012 @ 1:42 pm

    […] CLOSURE REDUX: The Campaign, the Debate and the Jobs Report, from Stacy […]

  5. Bob Belvedere
    October 6th, 2012 @ 2:25 pm

    Yes you have mentioned that before, Evi, but it requires frequent mentioning, so rock on, sister.

  6. Bob Belvedere
    October 6th, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    And, of course, therein lies the problem: the Left cannot build rational arguments because their Ideology is not based in any way on Reason. They are reduced to being stuck making emotional appeals, which, sadly, still works for youths, cripples, and shut-ins.

  7. Adobe_Walls
    October 6th, 2012 @ 3:12 pm

    As noted above the Left’s perception of reality is utterly delusional on their best days. Knowing that I still find myself amazed at how nonplussed they are by the fact that their opponent in a debate gets to challenge their assertions. I get that they believe the lies they’ve thrown out there day after day and that they think Romney’s rebuttals were simply untrue simply because they’re counter to the narrative. But why do they think he’d not respond at all? Do they expect him to simply hang his head in shame rather than challenge the assertion? These people are truly dangerous, some institutionalization will be required.

  8. The Commissioning of the USS Michael Murphy and Saturday Links!
    October 6th, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

    […] Other McCain has some good stuff about the campaign, the debate, and that jobs […]

  9. richard mcenroe
    October 6th, 2012 @ 3:49 pm

    For Democrats, economics is more than a science…

  10. jsn2
    October 6th, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    Sometimes hope is the only thing a dumbass has to hang on to. Add in equal portions of change and by golly you really have something.

  11. Joseph Shmeau
    October 6th, 2012 @ 5:53 pm

    “…how nonplussed they are by the fact that their opponent in a debate gets to challenge their assertions.”

    Well said.

  12. Quartermaster
    October 6th, 2012 @ 6:14 pm

    Yeppers. That needs to be said early and often. Brooks is also an idiot, but anyone with two brain cells left knows that.

  13. Paratisi
    October 6th, 2012 @ 6:34 pm

    The left yes, but more pointedly the Obama Enemy media, are the ones screaming like stuck pigs! The Obama campaign has let it be known that anyone in the Campaign staff, we laughingly refer to as reporters, who doesn’t tow the Messiah’s line will be Black Balled from “Inside the Beltway” events(A fate worst than Death to the WannaBe’s in the Obama Enemy media)! If the Republicans don’t start smacking the media, ala Newt, they’re going to get steam rolled in the next few weeks. Here’s a concept for doing just that:

    God Bless America!

  14. Neill
    October 6th, 2012 @ 7:29 pm

    “The Left is slowly coming to grips with the reality” — only in the sense that a drunk, after getting visciously mugged and thereafter lies profusely bleeding, wailing in the gutter, also has come to grips with reality.

  15. K-Bob
    October 6th, 2012 @ 7:41 pm

    “Unhinged” is losing descriptive power. Especially since moonbat culture is all about keeping hinges away. A daily exorcism of hinge possession.

  16. K-Bob
    October 6th, 2012 @ 7:43 pm

    ..being that, of course, Mr. Gutter is nice, and cool, and unthreatening.

  17. Adobe_Walls
    October 7th, 2012 @ 12:22 am

    Off topic but really a pisser. You need to ditch this newer format of DISQUS and return to the previous or even better the version used on this site a year ago. This version is hiding comments to save space and apparently for “abuse reports” which in the case of Adjoran’s reply to my previous comment I don’t believe was due to a moderator’s action.

  18. Bob Belvedere
    October 7th, 2012 @ 4:51 pm

    I thought my browser, the damnable IE9, was the problem yesterday when Adj’s comment disappeared and non of the five Refreshes I did brought it back, but your theory makes much more sense.

  19. Did You Say ‘Preference Cascade’? : The Other McCain
    October 15th, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

    […] and that the ‘preference cascade’ may doom Obama to defeat in November.” – Robert Stacy McCain, Oct. 6“[I]t is possible to imagine a scenario where Mitt Romney comes into the Oct. 16 debate […]