The Corner

Re: Chait, Ponnuru & Lieberman

One last point in re the discussion yesterday, from a reader:

Here’s another, slightly different, reason why Chait’s and Ramesh’s rebuttals of Lieberman don’t work:

Chait says that the left focus on Bush, not Bin Laden, because society agrees about Bin Laden, but not Bush.

So apparently the effort is to achieve “agreement?” To persuade? Chait says they “spend most of [their] time debating the point of contention?”

This statement would be plausible if the pronouncements of the left were of the type likely to persuade. But the *persuader* graciously grants that his opponent’s stance is understandable and good-intentioned, but shows that it has missed certain points, and should, on reconsideration, change. The persuader ingratiates himself to those who disagree, but not by much, because he hopes to influence them to drift in his direction.

Apologies to Mr. Chait, but…I’ve seen NONE of that attitude on the left. The left doesn’t attempt to persuade, they vilify. They obviously assume anyone who doesn’t already agree with them never will, and is in fact so benighted as to be beyond reason. The idea that the left is engaged in a campaign to persuade those who disagree with them to reconsider is laughable. “Hitler” is what you call the devil you wish exorcised, not the potential convert you wish to woo.

Persuasion? No, no. The left preaches only, solely, to the converted. And the specific type of preaching is easily recognized: It’s the type of emotional appeal to zealotry the partisan uses just before passing the plate…or that the rabble-rouser uses just before the townsfolk take up pitchforks and torches, and march, shouting, to the house of the hated outsider.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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