Crooks and Liars Projecting and Critiquing Yourself

Crooks and Liars is one of my daily reads.  They’ve got just the right mix of outrage and insight, coupled with good bits of hard to find essential news.  Every so often one of their otherwise excellent writers make a gaffe, and this one is worth point out and discussing.  Karoli discusses the right’s forthy little response to the Obama administration’s desire to promote healthy lifestyles (gasp!  scandal!).  However in so doing he makes two errors with rhetorical consequences.

Attacking Yourself Through Your Opponent

You don’t want to weaken your own position – or that of an ally – through ineffective criticism.

Of course, this is just a riff on the “big government is bad” set of conservative talking points. They really hate big government until they love it. They don’t want to make lifestyle changes, but are outraged — OUTRAGED — that Big Government hasn’t stopped the oil spilling into the Gulf, sent Superman to clean it up, and restarted drilling in deepwater worldwide.

There is nothing unreasonable with expecting government to have some functions, and not others.  In fact, that is a defining principle of most political movements, liberalism included.  Karoli’s attack works here because conservatives like to rail against “big government” while still working and whining for more of it.  However the way this is phrased could cut back towards liberals.  We also dislike big government (think big military, impositions on civil liberties, etc).  A better way to phrase the same attack would be to call out a uniquely conservative position that is a real example of hypocrisy (my changes in stylish bold italic, oooh):

Of course, this is just a riff on the “free market/anti-regulation” set of conservative talking points. They really hate government regulation of business until they love it. They don’t want to make lifestyle changes, but are outraged — OUTRAGED — that the government hasn’t stopped the oil spilling into the Gulf, sent Superman to clean it up, and restarted drilling in deepwater worldwide.

One might also address their shifting attitude towards BP’s fiscal responsibility for the spill.  They don’t want a corporation to actually pay for damages caused, but the thought taxpayers will have to if BP doesn’t makes their little brains explode.

Projecting

Karoli ends his post with:

Do these people ever suffer from outrage fatigue? Is there a little blue pill for that?

We ought to know.  From 2001-2008 liberals suffered outrage fatigue.  I will straight up quote the onion here, because humor grows out of truth.

In fact we still suffer this.  Anyone who cares does.  With our own government’s corruption and complicity continuing to come to light, with the Supreme Court’s rank political rulings and the media’s slow bloody descent into irrelevance, it’s easy to find issues to be enraged about.  That takes it toll.  It impacts how we argue, how we approach new problems, even whether we stand up (and if so, how much we hunch).

Calling out a problem that as clearly effects us as anyone else is – outside of an informed discussion of that problem itself – a self-defeating endeavor.  It opens us up to attack, when really there is nothing to attack.  It creates something solid where there ought only be smoke.

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