Monday, September 3, 2007

There they go again

On the History News Network, the historian Robert Brent Toplin wants to know: how can so many Republicans continue to back President Bush's policies in Iraq? After all, he writes, such support is "sharply" at odds with the "facts" out of Iraq, which he claims demonstrates that the war is a disaster. Naturally, he turns to psycho-social theorizing, that some must see Bush in his position of authority as some kind of savior, or that they have a kind of "authoritarian personality" which forces them to believe in obedience to the men at the top.

There's nothing new about this (as Toplin himself admits)--this kind of psychoanalysis on the part of liberals towards their political opponents goes back to the 1950s. In the 1964 campaign, a number of psychiatrists tried to suggest that Barry Goldwater was off his rocker. It's mainly a sign of liberal arrogance, elitism, laziness, illogic, and to a degree ignorance. Don't feel like dealing with your opponents' ideas? Just assume the facts you like are the only facts, and suggest your opponents are kinda nuts. There must, just must, be something wrong with people who don't believe what you do anyway. Democrats--long-time war opponents, no less--such as Brian Baird come back from Iraq and support the surge? That doesn't seem to enter into Mr. Toplin's thinking. Does Baird have psychological issues? What about Joe Lieberman? What about all the evidence--I've highlighted a ton of it here on this blog--that in fact the surge is working and Mr. Toplin's "facts" aren't all there is to know? Why are politicians coming back from Iraq in increasing numbers supporting the surge, anyway? You'd never know, from Mr. Toplin's essay, that persons like Baird or Lieberman or John McCain even exist, much less the ideas they express.

But then it's much easier to define your opponents as nuts than to engage their ideas.