No, that’s not news. But today he was more wrong that usual. In his article about Elizabeth Warren, reprinted in today’s Virginian-Pilot, Will trots out more than his normal “liberals are bad” arguments. This line particularly got my blood flowing:
Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context, so all attainments are conditioned by their context.
No, George, everyone doesn’t know. Witness the number of people who are constantly berating the poor, saying that they should just pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Or how about those people who puff out their chests and say that they are “self-made?” There is a disconnect in our society, one that fails to acknowledge that it is because of it that they are able to accomplish. Warren was right – and what she said bears repeating:
There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody. You built a factory out there — good for you. But I want to be clear. You moved your goods to market on the roads the rest of us paid for. You hired workers the rest of us paid to educate. You were safe in your factory because of police forces and fire forces that the rest of us paid for. . . . You built a factory and it turned into something terrific or a great idea — God bless, keep a big hunk of it. But part of the underlying social contract is you take a hunk of that and pay forward for the next kid who comes along.
But Will doubles down on liberals with arrogance in this statement:
Many members of the liberal intelligentsia, that herd of independent minds, agree that other Americans comprise a malleable, hence vulnerable, herd whose “false consciousness” is imposed by corporate America. Therefore the herd needs kindly, paternal supervision by a cohort of protective herders.
Hmm, let’s see. Cigarette smoking was glorified on TV for years. There was an appeal to the “herd,” to use Will’s term, by showing ads that made it cool and sexy. No one can deny the effect of the tobacco companies, aka “corporate America,” on the people. It wasn’t until the hazards of smoking were uncovered – after years of coverup by the tobacco companies – that smoking dropped off. Would you have preferred, Mr. Will, that more people died from lung cancer?
Just because the American people didn’t buy an Edsel doesn’t mean they don’t buy corporate advertising every day of the week. One need look no further than political advertising to see how easily the public can be misled.
But this statement from Will had to be the worst:
It is conservatism, not liberalism, that takes society seriously.
And that’s where George Will and his ilk really miss the boat. Liberalism and conservatism are two ways of looking at and approaching the same problem. I could argue that conservatism – especially in its bastardized form – doesn’t take society seriously with just two words: Grover Norquist. But I’m unwilling to make a such a blanket statement.
This is what’s wrong with political discourse today. It is far easier to use shorthand to describe positions than to clearly make a coherent argument. It is much easier to throw stones than to try to offer solutions.
Shame on George Will.