Wednesday, August 26, 2015


When blogging, FB posting, or talking live about a political figure they admire, liberals are likely to say "regardless of what you think about his politics, you have to admire X for doing (some ostensibly good work)."  They never say it about conservatives, regardless of the goodness of the work.

Conservatives don't tend to say that at all, about anyone, unbidden. If they are asked, or if the person has just died or had some tragedy, they might lead with "I have always admired his generosity and compassion for (some ostensibly good work)" before proceeding to a criticism.

Both responses seem to lack a certain graciousness.  I'm not sure which one is worse.


Donna B. said...

I presume you're talking about Jimmy Carter.

A long time ago (Feb 14 2009) and I've let my blog go bad and can't link to the post) I wrote a post quoting Larry L. King's 1976 Esquire article "We Ain't Trash No More!" I didn't find a link to the article then and I'm not going to look for it now... It was included in King's book "None But A Blockhead" and I had a hard copy of that. Here's what King had to say about Jimmy Carter:

"Jimmy Carter has proved he’s smart and tough; I also suspect he’s about half mean. This conviction is based on more than the observation that his mouth often smiles when his eyes do not. He’s a “born-againer,” an evangelical. You can shake every goober plant and magnolia bush between here and Stone Mountain without finding a group more wedded to its absolutes or less tolerant of dissent. Jimmy may prattle on about love and Jesus, and believe it, but at the bottom that soft spiritual goop is a bedrock conviction that the vengeful Old Testament God, extracting eyes for eyes and teeth for teeth, is what makes the mule plow."

"Ain’t no free lunch, you see. You gotta pay the piper for all dances. Jimmy Carter’s creed teaches that what you sophisticated Damyankees often call fun is the sort of sinful mischief certain to be taxed — even to the extent of eternal roastings. Maybe that’s why you’ll never discover more than a nickel’s worth of humor in Jimmy. Fun is for the frivolous, and Jimmy sees the world as a hard and serious place."

"…home boys who’ve learned the difference between Pouilly-Fuisse and RC Cola, or who’ve had their tastes for Moon Pies replaced by craving for caviar, may find Carter more a throwback to laissez-faire, simplistic Rotary Club solution or even Nixonian repressions than will comfort them. Jimmy’s talked a fair liberal game, sure. But Mo Udall wasn’t just whistling Dixie when he cracked, “If Carter’s elected he’ll never make Mount Rushmore because there’s not enough room for two more faces.” Jimmy is as hard to get a handle on as a greased pig, which is about as elusive as a lightning bug."

"Awright. I’m admitting my reservations. My fear is that I’ve seen hundreds like the man, ruling boondock courthouses and marking up prices in their shops on the square, and, yes, I gotta squirm a little bit when a humorless man grins like he’s in a grinning contest. But there’s this history, all this goddam haunting history, of the South having been shut out for so long that even us lontime expatriates defensively feel that should Jimmy Cah-tah prove to be a sumbitch, then at least he’s our sumbitch."

After those quotes, I wrote:

"Dangit, I have an even worse time trying to figure out where Obama’s coming from. Chicago? Sure, that’s easy and probably applicable. Perhaps someday a political scientist will compare today’s Chicago with yesterday’s Ole South."

Me, in 2009: "Yet, it is as difficult to get a handle on Obama as it was Carter. They are twins in their combination of upper/downer talk. They are, IMHO, twins as far as a mean-streak. Though Carter didn’t (to my recollection) try to remake the entire country and its economic system in the first month of his presidency, both Carter and Obama have different historical and future visions of this country than do most of its inhabitants."

While I do admire some of the good things Habitat for Humanity has done, I now think Carter cannot possible do enough "good" to overcome the harm he did to the U.S. -- much of it as an ex-President.

As to which is worse... which one did the most harm? I still think that Clinton was a better president than Carter.

RichardJohnson said...

What turns me off is when it is assumed that someone's being an "idealist" is a good thing. This is a common liberal response to an "idealist." Being an "idealist" is not a good thing if, for example, those ideas do not accurately describe reality, or the application of those ideas makes things worse than better.

Perhaps the first time this realization arose in my head was in my freshman year in college, during the Vietnam War era, when I attended a number of SDS meetings. I heard an SDS honcho[or should I say "honcha" as a woman was speaking], in a gushing tone, state that Lenin should be a required part of the university curriculum. She was not saying to me,"Know your enemies." Her gushing tone implied that Lenin belonged among the great ones, like Dante, Shakespeare, or Hobbes.

While I was of the left at the time, I was fairly well immune to the Maoist or Leninist side of the left, for two reasons. First, my hometown had an inordinate number of refugees from the Iron Curtain. Their having fled was witness enough. Second, I took an outstanding Politics course in high school. Reading "A Day in the Life of Ivan Denesovitch" for the class convinced me that the Soviet system was evil. Writing a term paper on Soviet agriculture showed me that the Soviet system was also incompetent- a ruined economy was inherent to the Soviet system.

So, when I heard the SDS honcho gush about Lenin, I decided that she was an idealist whose finest contribution to the world would be to have everyone ignore what she had to say.

As you point out, the church ladies who knock on my door are idealists with good intentions, but liberals do not give them credit for same. I am not a church goer, and find out that a simple "I am not interested" reply to the church ladies sends them on their way. From my experience, Church ladies do not have an obnoxious "you must convert or you are evil" tone the way that I have found secular lefties to have. Part of the reason, I believe, is that religious belief tends to push one towards humility, which many secular beliefs do not.

Sam L. said...

"His heart's in the right place." Yes, but upside-down and backwards, it doesn't do any good.

james said...

Charles Schultz' take

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Donna B, thanks for looking that up. Fascinating.

Yes, I was talking about Carter, but the moment I saw the FB posts, I realised I had been hearing such things about other people for years. It was all too familiar.