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Paul Burka: The Liberal Who Does Not Admire Liberals

I had some critical words for Texas Monthly’s Paul Burka and his blindered take on the Texas governor’s race. For those readers who may not be familiar with Texas Monthly, I helpfully communicated that Paul Burka is a garden-variety liberalish Democrat of the sort that springs naturally from the soil of Austin, which has been richly manured for a generation by the intellectual droppings of the the aging claque of has-been LBJ sycophants who still trade on their dusty and diminishing political cachet.

Burka has responded with a straight-outta-the-textbook bit of buffoonery implicitly denying that he is, in fact, a liberal, writing:

The author begins his piece with the observation that “Paul Burka is no admirer of conservatives….” He is quite right. Nor am I an admirer of liberals. I believe that strict adherence to ideology and litmus tests are impediments to the practice of politics. When I write about politics, I try to look at the merits of an issue, not whether it fits somebody’s preconception of whether it is conservative or liberal.

This is nonsense of the sort that should be put in the Smithsonian Museum of Nonsense. “I try to look at the merits of an issue,” Burka writes. Well, gee golly, Paul, it’s not as though it’s never occurred to anybody else to do that. Might it be possible that the differences in how we judge the merits of various issues are what make liberals liberals and conservatives conservatives?

Burka writes as though the ideology comes first, as though somebody flips a coin, chooses a side, and then starts judging the issues according to a self of beliefs unrelated to one’s judgment of the merits of the issues. That is kind of dumb, and I suspect that Burka knows as much. But to admit as much would rob him of the pleasures of playing the solomonic judge, the impartial observer and critic who just happens to find, based on his disinterested and objective insight, that the merits largely are on the liberal side. There’s a word for that: liberal. (Actually, there’s two words for that: tedious liberal.)

The rest of his response is full of interesting assertions — that CHIP is not an entitlement program, for instance — and what seem to be intentional misreadings of what I wrote, written in the sort of flat-vanilla-soda prose that the “I’m Not a  Liberal, I’m Just Wise” approach seems to inspire. Ugh.


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