Good stuff. Matthews is an odd fellow. He's a bulldog on some questions, and can be good getting people to admit that, for instance, they'd like to outlaw homosexuality. But he is unusually dense when it comes to examining his own biases and assumptions, and is more stupid than evil in that respect (unlike some other Villagers). That means he'll also badger Alan Grayson when Grayson is right, and act like a social dinosaur toward women, and pimp Bush's package. The idea of being "nice" with one's opposition is one I keep writing on, wrestling with, etc. But the dominant paradigm for liberals is being fair while the dominant paradigm for conservatives is power. That makes any dialogue inherently imbalanced. I know a few sane, decent conservatives, even if the Democratic Party is a much better fit for them now and some are still in denial about American politics. And sure, we can talk with folks like that. Most people are prone to confirmation bias and groupthink, so discussion with honest people of different views is a good thing. But most conservatives, certainly on the national stage, are hacks and zealots, not wonks. I worry at times about treating an actual wonk like a hack, but when and if that happens, one can apologize and move on. It shouldn't be a crippling fear - especially if one has decent critical judgment and a pretty good bullshit detector. Also, liberal critiques tend to be substantive as well as snarky. (Sure, Jon Stewart mocked Bernie Goldberg, but he also showed he was both a hypocrite and an ignoramus.) Most importantly, there are so few honest, sane, intelligent people left who even self-identify as conservative. Having an open mind means hearing people out; it doesn't mean suspending all knowledge, logic, skepticism and history to ignore that (for instance) in this segment, Newt Gingrich is completely full of shit - and also peddling the same shit he did 15 years ago. Some methods of calling bullshit are more "polite" than others, but spouting bullshit is itself the greatest obscenity, and the most important thing often lacking now is our national discourse is someone accurately calling bullshit. Meanwhile, in the name of "civility", on Lieberman, take it away, Jim Newell:It’s like two quarter-pound stools of alien space shit crashed into a toxic waste dumpster in Stamford, Connecticut, fucked, and out came their mutilated, blood-soaked carcass of a baby rat-child, Senator Joseph Lieberman.If it makes the cultural scolds feel better, I could quote some Shakespearean insults instead. But Lieberman and McCain are pushing to remove all due process and to formalize monarchial powers with the president. It takes a Villager to believe that that level of scumbaggery results from, or is excused by, people not being "nice" enough to Joe Lieberman.
I really look forward to hearing what you have to say. I do moderate comments, but non-spam comments will take less than 24 hours to appear... Thanks!