Monday, November 29, 2010

Project, much?

Ross's hard to say why he has a job in the New York Times though his work there makes it easier to understand why the Times killed Times Select. Anyway, he has gone from insisting that liborals love them a Culture War as much as his co-polireligious friends do, to today's edition of "We're all tribalists now."

Imagine, for a moment, that George W. Bush had been president when the Transportation Security Administration decided to let Thanksgiving travelers choose between exposing their nether regions to a body scanner or enduring a private security massage. Democrats would have been outraged at yet another Bush-era assault on civil liberties. Liberal pundits would have outdone one another comparing the T.S.A. to this or that police state. (“In an outrage worthy of Enver Hoxha’s Albania ...”) And Republicans would have leaped to the Bush administration’s defense, while accusing liberals of going soft on terrorism.

But Barack Obama is our president instead, so the body-scanner debate played out rather differently. True, some conservatives invoked 9/11 to defend the T.S.A., and some liberals denounced the measures as an affront to American liberties. Such ideological consistency, though, was the exception; mostly, the Bush-era script was read in reverse. It was the populist right that raged against body scans, and the Republican Party that moved briskly to exploit the furor. It was a Democratic administration that labored to justify the intrusive procedures, and the liberal commentariat that leaped to their defense.

Note, he doesn't link to anyone in that quote about Albania. And the hoards of liberals defending the TSA? He links to a grand total of two: those raving anti-establishmentarians, the Post's Ruth Marcus and Politico's Michael Kinsley. On the contrary, many leading voices on the Left have been quite noisy in the opposition and the "liberal" response has hardly been monolithic.

Moreover, contrary to Douthat's easy formulation, I don't recall liberals expressing the kind of outsized outrage we saw the last couple of weeks when, during the Bush administration, we were told to take off our shoes and forfeit our lotions and creams. I do recall progressive outrage at things like warrantless wiretaps, indefinite detention without recourse to the courts, and Guantanamo Bay. If Douthat thinks those are akin to Rapidscan or a frisk at the airport, then he has an odd view of the Constitution. And if he's unaware that liberals oppose these things regardless of who inhabits the White House, then he's a liar or an idiot.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

... or both

10:34 PM  

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