After the language changed, obfuscation followed, designed to wear down the opposition through a bewildering array of incomprehensible regulations that led to an attention overload and confusion of theories with facts. Nancy Pelosi astutely gauged the pulse of an exhausted public that wanted the drawn-out debate over Obamacare just to be done with and go away, when she promised that we could find out what was in the vast, 2,400-page Obamacare bill as soon as it was made law. Likewise, the new “comprehensive immigration reform” bill is reputed to be over 1,500 pages. As many will read that monstrosity as have read the Obamacare document. The “hockey stick” and tree rings from “11,000 years ago” proved global warming in a way that no one could quite fathom until private correspondence was leaked to the public giving the proper academic context. No one quite knows what the advent of gay marriage will entail, once the idea of marriage as the exclusivity of a single man, joined with a single woman, to promote procreation has ended. But the theoretical possibilities of bold new unions, both sincere and cynical, are now as endless as they are taboo to discuss publicly.
After language changed and facts were buried beneath bureaucratic avalanches, debate became almost un-American, either silenced or relegated to caricature. Legitimate worries about rising health-insurance premiums and restricted care translated into being against the “young” and “vulnerable.” Object to infringements on the Second Amendment, and Vice President Joe Biden (who, as so often in the mudslinging, was wheeled out to demonize opponents) will charge that one must suffer from some near-sexual fetish to want an “assault weapon” in one’s hands, a thrill like “driving a Ferrari.” (Most Americans, apparently unlike Biden, have no idea of what driving a Ferrari is like.) Biden instead advised the illegal act of blasting a shotgun into the air to scare off intruders. Concerns about the dangers of a nationwide gun registry were tantamount to membership in “the black-helicopter crowd.”
In the debate over illegal immigration, one paradigm was the DREAM Act. The new gospel was that 11 million illegal aliens were denied their futures as neurosurgeons and aeronautical engineers simply by lack of access to the appropriate university. No one was allowed to talk of an “un-DREAM Act” — to point out that for all the hard-working, crime-free, and long-residing illegal aliens, there must be at least some who were on public assistance, had criminal records, and or entered the country only recently in hopes of receiving amnesty. All illegal aliens were desirable newcomers; none were undesirable. Breaking the law, and cutting in front of others who did not, was noble, whereas drawing attention to those who did was ignoble. The illegal-alien debate was framed as involving those who wished to allow José López to finish his M.D., against racists who could not tolerate the idea that people from south of the border were outpacing them to the pinnacles of American success.
To ponder whether females could meet, without adjustments, the brutal physical requirements of Special Forces training was tantamount to being anti-woman. There could be no real debate over gay marriage. America was instead to have happily evolved from the Neanderthal 1990s, when homophobia had made such moral improvement impossible. That earlier public had been obsessed with illegitimate and improper concerns that particular types of sexual congress might lead to new worries over the spread of HIV or the recent transformation of hepatitis into a common sexually transmitted disease.
Anecdote, the age-old enemy of logic, now reigns supreme and trumps induction — as if the exception is always proof of the rule, as if the public will always forsake reason for emotion. Forget the statistics on Obamacare — my Uncle Joe was denied coverage after he lost his job. The economy is getting better, because my friend Will was offered a job today. Why enforce federal immigration law, when there is no nicer window washer than Herlinda, who comes to my house every Tuesday? It hailed in June here; therefore the world must be experiencing climate change. I would never shoot an AR-15, and therefore there is no need for anyone else to. My nephew is gay, and he’s a great guy; therefore gay marriage is great too. Sally yesterday lifted heavier weights than did three guys in the gym: Presto, female soldiers can do anything that male soldiers can.