How Many Real Rubes Were There?

Instapundit says that another rube self-indentifies when linking to a piece about Glenn Greenwald’s anguish over discovering that Obama has endorsed and legitimized most of Bush’s War on Terror policies.

For myself, I wonder how many “rubes” were really out there, especially in the ranks of the big leftwing players. Did Obama and other major leftists ever truly think that Bush’s policies were unnecessary or did they just adopt a position of opposition to differentiate themselves in the political marketplace? Did any of these people oppose Bush’s policies on principle after careful study or did they just see hysterical criticism of Bush as a useful political tool they could use for selfish purposes?

I think it pretty clear that for most leftists, opposition to Bush’s policies was nothing more than cynical, political opportunism.

24 thoughts on “How Many Real Rubes Were There?”

  1. I think it pretty clear that for most leftists, opposition to Bush’s policies was nothing more than cynical, political opportunism.

    Agreed… I am failing to find few if any differences between the Bush and Obama presidencies.

  2. Maybe we’re the rubes. Those of us not on the left let ourselves be painted as Nazis for policies he was going to continue, and for the most part, be praised for continuing.

  3. I disagree. I think a great many were simply expressing thoughtless–as in not thought about in the least–opposition based on things like accent, speaking style, ‘smirk’, and the like. A visceral hatred based not on policy, but on emotion. In other words, BDS.

    I saw it in friends, family, and neighbors. Trying to talk rationally about it was simply not on.

  4. The BDS was completely emotional and started in 2000 with the disputed election. The anti-Bush policy complaints about the war were straight out of the Soviet anti-American playbook that most liberals learned in college in the 1960s.The only ones still complaining are the true commies. For the rest it was just oikiphobia.

  5. I think its likely that President Obama was a true believer, given his background and the company he kept. Even the politicos at the White House can’t edit the briefings enough to preserve the illusion.

    Those briefings are real unicorn slayers.

  6. This is a typical cycle in American politics.

    Witness freshman Whig congressman Abraham Lincoln’s first speech in the House of Representatives where he lambasted President Polk over the Mexican War. This speech has been widely seen as way out of character for Lincoln. While there was legitimate opposition to Polk’s war the crux of it was not related directly to the war but rather to the expansion of slavery and the balance of power in the Senate. As a Californian, I am grateful to Polk and his delivery of my state into the American polity and its escape from the Mexican government.

    While any executive taking the big step of leading us into war deserves and needs scrutiny and a vocal loyal opposition, too often a war is taken as an opportunity for demogogary since someone is dying and everyone is paying higher taxes and faces greater risks.

    The Republicans behaved much better in WWII, thankfully. Not perfectly, of course, preparation rather than isolationism would have served us better. However, the Democrats behaved true to form over the Afghan and Iraqi wars. The party leadership, including Obama, behaved reprehensibly and continues it descructive ways.

  7. I think many these people are true believers and will not change their minds. You see them in comment threads, like the one for Karl Rove’s column today in the WSJ. That happens to be about health care but the theme in the lefty comments go all over the place. It’s depressing to see how intelligent people can be so unrealistic about things like national defense and economics. Two of my children, successful and in their 40s, are still Obama fans. I can’t talk to them about it. And I am not an ideologue right winger.

  8. I can’t speak for/about “major leftists”, but it sure seems there were a lot of rubes at the “roots”.

    I’ve had the misfortune of talking with a large number of them, and they’re not exactly intellectual giants around theory or issues. (To be fair, the same is also true of a probably similar proportion of people on the other side; it’s universal to the human condition en masse.)

    Given that this rude awakening probably is real for most of ’em.

  9. Jeff,

    Over on the Volokh Conspiracy a mention of John Yoo would for years get the lefties to rip off their clothes, paint themselves blue and howl at the moon while ritually cleansing themselves.

  10. I think it pretty clear that for most leftists, opposition to Bush’s policies was nothing more than cynical, political opportunism.

    It took you until 2011 to figure that out?

    This was obvious by 2002.

    This is why conservatives always lose (even if they win elections). They are way too slow on the draw.

  11. Leftists I know tend to evaluate politicians and policies based solely on style and stated intentions rather than on real-world outcomes. They see Obama as a nice young man who is unconnected to the bad policies and bad results that his critics see. It’s difficult to argue with such people because for them politics is more about belief and emotional validation than empirically based group-decisionmaking. Just as they tend to evaluate Obama based mainly on vague perceptions of his temperament, they tend to dismiss Obama’s critics based mainly on vague perceptions of extremism or what is seen as excessive vehemence, rather than on logical and empirical criteria. IOW these leftists are mostly fools rather than knaves, or to put it more charitably they are sloppy thinkers on issues that they think don’t affect them personally, and/or they treat politics as a substitute for religious enthusiasm, or as a cynical business proposition. (The “major leftwing players” in politics are mostly knaves, however.) Some people in the religious-enthusiasm category won’t change their minds except through hard personal experience, and even then some of them will never change. What we are seeing is mostly an awakening of the cynics, sloppy thinkers and people who weren’t paying attention. Better late than never, I suppose.

  12. I can’t speak for the people in power, but the leftists I know personally aren’t very informed.

    I was at first horrified by Guantanamo. But when I looked into it and discovered that:

    1) It housed prisoners that the U.S. offered to release to Syria, Yemen, Iran, etc. Those countries reviewed the files and decided that they wouldn’t take them. When even that sort of company won’t take you, you’re f8cked up.

    2) Our justice system is to liberal to handle terrorists. Trial by jury would be a nightmare for security reasons.

  13. …or did they just adopt a position of opposition to differentiate themselves in the political marketplace?

    When, as evidenced in the 2008 elections, there are a whole bunch of suckers just itching to buy a product based on nothing more than talk, and are unwilling to do the necessary research to determine whether buying the product is actually worth the risk, making themselves simply look different in the political marketplace was all the sellers needed to do.

  14. On a related topic, I’ve been thinking that surely the left has lost — or begun to lose — at least some small number of its smarter adherents these past couple of weeks. Surely there are some wise folks out there who watched the post-Giffords blame game, saw the brazen dishonesty at work, and found themselves facing an intellectual reckoning of sorts. Surely somebody has begun to question his leftward allegiances because of that whole surreal affair. It’s precisely the sort of situation that can prompt a real self-examination, a questioning of assumptions, and the start of a renewed search for the truth.

    The converts won’t arrive overnight. But I can almost guarantee you that somewhere down the line, you’ll encounter a column or speech by a former leftist who notes that his transformation began in the wake of the Giffords shooting. It seems inevitable, really.

  15. It was obvious early on that none of what the left said was to be taken seriously. Didn’t Pelosi, and other Democratic leaders, for example, see all of the intelligence on Iraq, and didn’t they vote for the war? And didn’t they also check off on Bush’s interrogation policies? As much as I hate to be so cliche, the MSM helped Democrats “reinvent” themselves. It would have taken just a few little news stories pointing out the above and the Democratic position would have been totally undermined.
    Alas, that was not the case. But what is equally disturbing to me is that politicos like Obama, Reid, Kerry, etc. apparently have no shame. They can say one thing one election cycle, the exact opposite a few years later, and who cares? They certainly don’t. I think it speaks volumes about our political class, and frankly it is mostly the liberals, that they completely lack pride. How many people reading this post would want to be guilty of such a crime?

  16. Tom said: “I think its likely that President Obama was a true believer, given his background and the company he kept. Even the politicos at the White House can’t edit the briefings enough to preserve the illusion.

    Those briefings are real unicorn slayers.”

    That would B. H. Obama the “rube in chief” then, wouldn’t it?

  17. I live in Hyde Park and can assure you, they really are that ignorant. It’s not just tactical, and it’s not just from lack of attention. They read and listen and view material about these issues, and form opinions.

    The thing is, they take their lead from an incredibly narrow range of opinion-shapers who all think alike, and they are so sure of their rightness, righteousness and superior intelligence and understanding that they see no need to actually think about any of the big issues of the day, let alone seek out other opinions. They just take their opinions, fully formed, from Paul Krugman or Jonathan Chait or whomever.

    Basically, they stopped real learning somewhere in high school or college, and now just fit whatever comes along into the mental framework they built at that time. If something doesn’t fit, they resolve the dissonance by either rationalizing until they make it fit, or find an excuse to deem it irrelevant, or just let it go down the memory hole. And they stop going to those places that give them information or opinion that doesn’t fit.

    Which is why it really irks that such people are called “educated” and “elite.” They are neither, they are a credentialled establishment.

  18. You can sum up the raison d’etre of the Left simply as “Use any means necessary to get power.” Say anything, do anything, be anything you have to. It has nothing to do with “helping people” or “changing the world”, it is pure cynical pathological narcissistic opportunism, pure and simple. And they all have it, you don’t become a Leftist unless you do. Just listen to the bare-faced lies, the crap, the insane bizarre BS that comes out of any of their mouths these days and tell me I’m wrong. They’re either all psychotic to believe the junk that they say or it’s all calculated.

  19. the shocker for me, was that the obama admin decided to escalate the Afghan war.

    Five years of lecturing speeches about costly foreign wars, and suddenly we go from 25K to 99K? what did he think he would find…ubl?

    any rube who bought into his Iraq speeches, needs to fess up.

  20. “Politically expedient”, “any means to an end”, “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”, “everything is subjective”. These are just a few codas that the left follows in order to further their agenda. Palin was slandered by the left purely for partisan gain, end of story.

  21. The leadership of the Left, weaned on Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals”, are not fettered by integrity (“the luxury of a decision that is consistent both with one’s individual conscience and the good of mankind”).

    They “care enough for people to be “corrupted” for them.” As the “organizer in chief” has indicated on many occasions “mass salvation” is more important to him than “personal salvation”.

    We are all wired to ignore data that does not fit our preconceived view of the world unless we are unusually inquisitive, extremely disciplined, or significantly challenged in some way. Therefore, control of the media is crucial to their ends. Propaganda makes “rubes” out of all of us, and they have seized that high ground.

    They are busy consolidating their control of the media and will not yield an inch of it easily. It seems to me, that the only path out is the “hard way”. Door to door, one person at a time, challenge folks to question the pre-formed opinions that they are served daily, educate themselves, and then form their own opinions.

  22. I think it pretty clear that for most leftists, opposition to Bush’s policies was nothing more than cynical, political opportunism.-Shannon Love

    If so, then I wonder why Sen. Hillary Clinton didn’t see that as she positioned herself to run for president. She should have known. Would have known. Obviously a major malfunction.

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