Confusion of Terms

January 28, 2010

From Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

I was sitting watching the SOTU tonight, and it finally hit me – the man is a compassionate conservative. A real one. He is what Bush told us he was. He is an utterly, deeply serious man who is willing to stand in front of the country and take his share of the blame. I miss that in a leader.

I don’t know anything about this commenter. (Sullivan was quoting a reader who chimed in.) Still, it is refreshing to see people who actually have a grasp of what terms mean and their historicity. I was asleep during the President’s State of the Union address last night, and I wasn’t expecting much anyway. What was he going to tell me? “Sorry, I don’t have the guts to lay down the law to the House, and the Senate is a dysfunctional mess.” I read the text of his speech this morning when I woke up and I was struck at his scolding-parent tone. Thank goodness for it. If there’s one thing I can agree with the Tea Partyers on it is this: the politicians are concerned about themselves, and not about “public service.” (Just to be clear, that the ONLY thing I agree with the Tea Partyers on.)

I admire the President’s commitment to calm, rational debate. America is a news environment in which deliberately poisonous terms like “fascist” “socialist” “communist” are thrown around with little care for what the words actually mean. They sound bad, and that’s all people care about. I’ve said it before; I’d like the President a lot more if he were a socialist. The man and his policies simply cannot be construed as such; I suggest that those who scream otherwise have a poor grasp of history. It disappoints me that people I know, educated people, get confused about this. I can only conclude that they’ve been co-opted by the voices that shout loudest. President Obama refuses to be that voice, and I appreciate that. I’m pessimistic that the approach will win the day, though.


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