Saturday, October 23, 2010


Tobin Hartshaw at the New York Times Opinionator blog offers a good overview of the controversy swirling around NPR's decision to fire Juan Williams for giving voice to feelings probably shared by the vast majority of air travelers around the world, including many Muslims.

If you haven't been following this story you can catch up there, if you have been following it you've perhaps noticed that it serves to expose a couple of myths about liberals to which some Americans still cling. The first myth is that liberals are tolerant of diversity. NPR fired Williams because, though he is himself unquestionably liberal and NPR is a decidedly liberal broadcast network, Williams has on occasion ventured to express ideologically heterodox ideas which have raised eyebrows among the left-wing thought police. Diversity is only tolerated and celebrated on the Left when it's diversity of appearance. Diversity of thought is definitely prohibited.

The second myth is that liberals are invariably compassionate. There was nothing compassionate about the way NPR CEO Vivian Schiller handled this fiasco, but the worst part of it was her insinuation that Williams said what he did because he was either mentally deranged or simply seeking publicity. She fired him over the phone, without the courtesy of a personal meeting, and then publicly insulted him, all because he said on the Bill O'Reilly show that when he boards a plane and sees Muslims on the plane it makes him nervous. Well, if that's a sign of insanity then an awful lot of Americans need to see a psychiatrist.

Schiller has sought to justify her deplorable treatment of Williams by piously insisting on the need for NPR's journalists to refrain from damaging their credibility by expressing their personal feelings. However, Stephen Hayes is quoted by Hartshaw as observing that other reporters and journalists at NPR are not shy about giving their personal assessments, and they haven't fallen afoul of Ms. Schiller's axe. Here's Hayes:
If that’s true, NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg might want to start looking for a new job. Over the past month, in her regular appearances on “Inside Washington,” she has: criticized a ruling of the Roberts Court as scandalous; claimed that Michelle Obama gives people “warm and fuzzy” feelings; called Bill Clinton “the most gifted politician I’ve ever seen;” and lamented that the Democratic Party is diverse enough to include moderates that want to extend all Bush tax cuts.
Totenberg won't be fired, though, because these personal opinions are all well within the acceptable range of liberal good-think. Expressing anxiety about potential terrorists is not.

The fact of the matter is that the Left simply won't tolerate independent thinking, what the communists used to call "deviationism," and anyone who transgresses the approved dogma in any one point, no matter how minor, is anathema. Lanny Davis, perhaps the most liberal member of the Clinton White House, was condemned by his fellow liberals for supporting the campaign of Senator Joe Lieberman, another liberal who happened to support the Iraq war and who was thus almost literally excommunicated from the Democratic party by the keepers of the true faith. Lieberman is the godfather of Davis' child, but such bonds of affection matter not at all to the Left when ideological purity is at stake.

If you'd like a glimpse of where many on the Left would like to take the country read George Orwell's 1984. Few writers have plumbed the psychology of the Left so incisively as did Orwell. If you don't have time for a book then rent the film The Lives of Others. It's a powerful story of what it's like to live in a country run by people who think like Vivian Schiller.

PA Senate Race

Recent polls report that the race for Arlen Specter's U.S. Senate seat in Pennsylvania is tightening to a dead heat. Not so, says an expert analyst cited by Jim Geraghty at National Review. His conclusion, after a lot of number crunching, is that Republican Pat Toomey is still ahead of Democrat Joe Sestak by between 9 and 12 points.

If you enjoy the statistical arcana of political polls you can read the analysis here.

The interesting thing about this race is that it presents us with perhaps the clearest referendum on the Obama, Reid, Pelosi agenda of all the races in the country. As a congressman, Sestak voted for everything his party proposed over the last two years. Toomey has opposed all of it. Neither man brings any ethical or personal liabilities to the campaign so the vote should reflect Pennsylvania's endorsement or repudiation of the ideology of high debt, high taxes, and economic stagnation (Sestak), or low taxes, low spending, and economic growth (Toomey).

No doubt this race, like so many others this election, will be settled by who turns out to vote two Tuesdays from now. If the Democrat base consisting of minorities and 18-21 year-olds stays home, as they are wont to do in mid-term elections, then the Republican Toomey will win. If they turn out in good numbers, it'll be close. We'll see.