Liberals, Cocoons and the Supreme Court

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It has been amusing to witness the left side of the blogosphere over the three days of hearings before the Supreme Court.  By and large they were absolutely certain that it was smooth sailing for ObamaCare  at the Supreme Court prior to the hearings and were dismayed when arguments against ObamaCare that seemed to gain traction were made in the oral arguments.  John Podhoretz today in the New York Post captures the surprise on the Left well:

The panicked reception in the mainstream media of the three-day Supreme Court  health-care marathon is a delightful reminder of the nearly impenetrable  parochialism of American liberals.

They’re so convinced of their own correctness — and so determined to believe  conservatives are either a) corrupt, b) stupid or c) deluded — that they find  themselves repeatedly astonished to discover conservatives are in fact capable  of a) advancing and defending their own powerful arguments, b) effectively  countering weak liberal arguments and c) exposing the soft underbelly of liberal  self-satisfaction as they do so.

That’s what happened this week. There appears to be no question in the mind  of anyone who read the transcripts or listened to the oral arguments that the  conservative lawyers and justices made mincemeat out of the Obama  administration’s advocates and the liberal members of the court.

This came as a startling shock to the liberals who write about the court.

Go here to read the rest.  Much of the surprise I think is due to the ability of liberals to cocoon themselves from conservative ideas if they wish, and a great many of them do.  They go to colleges and universities that overwhelmingly support their political prejudices.  They read the Mainstream Media that almost uniformly reinforce their worldview.  The entertainment media likewise share their beliefs and, for their amusement, portray conservatives as reactionary nitwits or boogeymen who might as well carry signs saying “Villain”.  Thus when they come up against real life conservatives who are intelligent, articulate and challenge beliefs that they thought were unassailable, their reaction tends to be shock and stunned disbelief.  Conservatives are not able to cocoon themselves from liberal ideas.  The same sources that allow liberals to cocoon themselves if they wish, academia, the mainstream media and the entertainment industry, force conservatives each day to confront opposing ideas.  Short term such dominance of the culture is an advantage to liberals;  longterm it is a severe detriment to them as they lack the constant engagement to ideas that they oppose which is the daily lot of conservatives.

Update I:  Jay Cost in the Weekly Standard made a similar agument of liberal cocooning in reference to the oral aruments on ObamaCare:

The  problem for the left is that they do not have a lot of interaction with  conservatives, whose intellects are often disparaged, ideas are openly  mocked, and intentions regularly questioned. Conservative ideas rarely  make it onto the pages of most middle- and high-brow publications of  news and opinion the left frequents. So, liberals regularly find  themselves surprised when their ideas face pushback.

I  think that is exactly what happened with Obamacare. The attitude of  President Obama (a former con law lecturer at the University of Chicago,  no less!), Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid was very much that they are  doing big, important things to help the American people, why wouldn’t that be constitutional? No less an important Democratic leader as the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee cited the (nonexistent) “good and welfare clause” to justify the mandate.

Having  no intellectual sympathy for the conservative criticism of this view,  they rarely encountered it on the news programs they watch, the  newspapers they read every day, or the journals they peruse over the  weekends. Instead, they encountered a steady drumbeat of fellow liberals  echoing Kagan’s attitude: it’s a boatload of money, what the heck is  the problem?

 

 

 

28 Responses to Liberals, Cocoons and the Supreme Court

  • Cocoons? Donald…that sounds…racist. I am shocked.

    I believe it’s time for a Chesterton quote:

    In the matter of reforming things, as distinct from deforming them, there is one plain and simple principle; a principle which will probably be called a paradox. There exists in such a case a certain institution or law; let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.”

  • Conservatives rejoice and give thanks to God for the ability to hear and see both sides given to you without even trying. Your armor is being given you by the opposing side…and they don’t even know how willingly they do such. Emotion and doing something for something’s sake will be their undoing for it will have given us thick skins and armor, impenitrable. Hazzah!!

  • Even if the court decides by a slim 5-4 to strike down all or part of OC, Carville’s spin is that it will spark the dem base and put conservatives on the defense once again by casting them as obstructionists to universal health care. Anticipating a “loss,” the libs are already crafting a strategy that is likely to gain traction with MSM distortions.

  • Oh they will do whatever they can in any case to spark their base Joe, including appeals to racial paranoia, which is in fully swing right now. These type of demagogic appeals will occur whatever happens to ObamaCare.

    I view ObamaCare in the Supreme Court as a win-win for conservatives. If the Court upholds the law that will motivate conservatives to crawl over broken glass to case a ballot against the architect of ObamaCare. If the Court strikes ObamaCare down, then Obama is left facing the voters with a lousy economy and his signature legislative accomplishment tossed on the ashheap. Old snakehead Carville is whistling Dixie and doing so off key.

  • In my experience many people on both sides of the political spectrum live in cocoons. Just recall for a moment the dozens of insipidly naive nonsense we receive by email from conservatives who believe such nonsense precisely because the live in echo chambers.

  • I disagree Mike. The people who send out such e-mails do not write for the New York Times, adorn chairs at prestigious universities or produce films with production budgets in the millions of dollars. The cocooning of the Left is pervasive and is not restricted to fringe elements. This Pauline Kael, the late movie reviewer for the New Yorker, quote says it all:

    “I live in a rather special world. I only know one person who voted for Nixon. Where they are I don’t know. They’re outside my ken. But sometimes when I’m in a theater I can feel them.”

  • There was a time when the Supreme Court was not as politicized. Virtually everyone is predicting the justices will line up along ideological lines with Kennedy the swing vote that will tilt against Obamacare.
    I recall, however, when U.S. District Court Judge John Sirica, during the Watergate scandal, ordered Richard Nixon to turn over the secret tape recordings, a ruling that was upheld 9-0 by the Supreme Court. Sirica set himself on a constitutional collision course with Nixon, who tried to invoke executive privilege and argue that the tapes were not subject to judicial scrutiny. But in a historic ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Sirica, ruling unanimously that the judiciary must have the last word in an orderly constitutional system. Political considerations were secondary back then.
    Nowadays the High Court has been corrupted by liberal poseurs who lack the intellectual and objective ability to interpret the Constitution and instead bow to their liberal god, Obama.

  • In my experience many people on both sides of the political spectrum live in cocoons.

    There is truth to that. The thing is, you can live in a starboard cocoon (strictly on the internet, nowadays), but very few people are paid a salary for so doing or distribute any tangible benefits in so doing. Not so the arts and sciences faculty, the New York Times newsroom or the Writers Guild of America.

  • I accept and agree with the distinction you are making, gents, but would point out that the conservative echo chamber I describe is not “fringe,” but fairly mainstream in conservative circles, precisely because it has a populist bent. Go to any Tea Party function if you do not believe me.

  • Commerce laws were written to regulate FREE ENTERPRIZE. Commerce, itself carries the connotation of FREE ENTERPRIZE and may be regulated by a free people through Congress. The Legislative branch of government, the Congress, makes law not the Executive branch. Uninformed law, a blank contract, is not informed consent for the people, and is not FREE ENTERPRIZE AND THEREFORE THE COMMERCE LAWS CANNOT BE INVOKED by the Federal government FOR OBAMACARE. Can the Federal Government create FREE ENTERPRIZE for the people? (The New Deal was not FREE ENTERPRIZE.)or must the people create FREE ENTERPRIZE for themselves? No, It is not the Federal Government’s authentic authority to create free enterprize.

  • I have lived my entire adult life in the academy — or should I say, l’accademia alla sinistra?

    My sense is that there are many academics who are friendly to conservative ideas, but that, in general, the typical academic knows as much about conservatism as the typical Englishman knows about baseball. It’s not a healthy situation, because we ought to be having serious conversations about the nature of the human person, the indispensable role of religion in human life both private and social, the meaning of economic “progress,” the value of the virtues, the nature of love, the scope of liberty, the difference between liberty and autonomy, the difference between liberty and license, the liberties of free associations, the meaning of the word “political” — on all these subjects, people of good will and some historical knowledge that extends beyond yesterday should be able to speak.

    But the Left is farther along on the terminal disease of Statism than the Right is. Since I believe in God, the Father Almighty, Creator of Heaven and Earth, I don’t have to invest politics with the robes of glory. Politics is important, but it isn’t in the same league at all with things that are transcendently important — like prayer. But if Mammon and Pharaoh are all you have … then, well, then you behave like leftist entertainers and pundits and professors.

  • Great post, Tony. If you have not already I suggest you consider reading “A Secular Age” by Charles Taylor. Professor Taylor tackles many of the topics you raise and then some. It is a fairly dense academic work, but given where you live you’ll probably eat it up.

  • Mike—I don’t think Professor Esolen would be so bold, so with regards may I suggest also that you read some of Professor Esolen’s publications found in first rate Catholic publications, but particularly given your recommendation of Taylor’s book, I think you would very much enjoy “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Western Civilization.”

  • A book I read with amusement and edification.

  • “Thus, when [liberals] come up against real life conservatives who are intelligent, articulate and challenge beliefs that they thought were unassailable, their reaction tends to be…”

    I suspect that liberals will far more easily admit that the Supreme Court has simply become dangerously and syncophantically right-wing  rather than admit that conservatives are able to intelligently and articulately challenge much of anything.

  • Thanks for the recommendation. I shall add it to my Kindle queue.

  • “I suspect that liberals will far more easily admit that the Supreme Court has simply become dangerously and syncophantically right-wing rather than admit that conservatives are able to intelligently and articulately challenge much of anything.”

    I rather think you are right HA, and I do hope that most liberals are that delusional.

  • ” My sense is that there are many academics who are friendly to conservative ideas, but that, in general, the typical academic knows as much about conservatism as the typical Englishman knows about baseball. It’s not a healthy situation, because we ought to be having serious conversations about:

    the nature of the human person,
    the indispensable role of religion in human life both private and social,
    the meaning of economic “progress,”
    the value of the virtues, ***
    the nature of love,
    the scope of liberty,
    the difference between liberty and autonomy,
    the difference between liberty and license,
    the liberties of free associations,
    the meaning of the word “political”

    — on all these subjects, people of good will and some historical knowledge that extends beyond yesterday should be able to speak. ”

    Rearranged the quote from above comment to emphasize some desirable Course Titles for students of higher education, or even high school term paper assignments.

  • Couldn’t conservative academics do something about this–by getting out of their own cocoons? A little more of challenging the status quo on campus? Debate. Challenge. Evangelize. Why does it seems smart conservative professors talk to other smart conservative professors.

  • That is not the case Anzlyne. Most conservative academics tend, as a group, to be very outgoing. They have no choice in the matter. They are often the only conservative professors on a campus. Robert Bork is fond of telling a story about a time when he and another professor on a campus were looked upon as crazy because they were the only two members of the faculty who were Republicans. It didn’t help that-wait for it-as Bork noted the other professor really was crazy.

  • Jim Treacher: “They’re the elderly Florida couple whose address Spike Lee tweeted because he thought it was George Zimmerman’s. Presumably because he wanted people to go there and discuss things calmly. . . . ‘Fearful for their safety, and hoping to escape the spotlight, the couple have temporarily moved to a hotel.’”

    Plus: “Somebody please try to justify this. Seriously. Tell me why this is okay. Tell me why this doesn’t matter. Tell me how this helps. Tell me how anyone involved in this fiasco expects us to just forget what they’ve said and done.”

  • Yes you are right. I woke up this morning thinking about it–I was expressing frustration I guess and feeling a bit owly…

  • Most conservative academics tend, as a group, to be very outgoing.

    A disgruntled alumni association pulled the voter registration cards of the faculty and administration of the local liberal arts college. All told, about a dozen professors and lecturers (out of 200 or so) were identified as Republicans. One or two had either checked the wrong box on the registration form or had enrolled as Republicans for some sort of ironic prank. As for the remainder, four could have been identified as such by their statements in public fora.

  • A good example of conservative academics engaging the larger culture is the Federalist Society, which has had an impact on both law schools and the courts, and which usually invites liberal professors to participate in panel discussions and conferences, which tend to be lively and thought provoking.

    http://www.fed-soc.org/aboutus/

  • I am a member of that group, and at one of their National Lawyer Conventions(http://www.fed-soc.org/publications/page/2010-national-lawyers-convention-controlling-government-the-framers-the-tea-parties-and-the-constitution) in D.C. met Lanny Davis (former Clinton counsel), and saw many other liberals and libertarians debating conservatives, etc.

  • The Federalist Society in Atlanta is quite strong, and Don’s description is spot on right. Most events offer multiple viewpoints with strong liberal representation. The forums are almost always edifying.

  • Newsbusters featured this example of the cocoon, from a NYT chat:

    Gail Collins: “I can’t believe this might be overturned. How can this law not be constitutional? The other alternatives are forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of the care in emergency rooms for people who don’t want to pay for their insurance, even if they can, or letting human beings just die on the side of the road. I can’t believe fiscal conservatives think either of those options is a good idea. Really, I have my hands over my ears. Not listening.”

    I think that both sides have to worry about the cocoon, though. As the right-wing media develop, I’ve been hearing more people on the right who aren’t exposed to the counter-arguments from the left. I think that evangelicals especially, who have their own media, schools, and entertainment, risk cutting themselves off from alternative viewpoints. (That being said, if I had kids, I’d create a bunker to keep them away from our modern culture, too.)

  • Pinky, I have two young boys. One is four years old and the baby is four months old.

    I do not want them exposed to the filth of slopular culture. Slopular culture objectifies women. Political correctness makes this view a nearly criminal offense, but both exist in the world of left wing thought because hypocrisy bother them not. It is bad enough that this had an effect on me when I was young 30 years ago and it was not nearly as bad then as it is now.

    Left wing thought is not an alternative point of view. It is a failed worldview that holds sway with those who have a false sense of intellectual superiority. This bunch confuses opinions with intelligence, and they will be with us until the end of time.

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