Monday, February 14, 2011

Michael Medved Takes on the Paranoid Style in American Conservatism

Michael Medved is a wise and reasonable man. He must be, since we agree so much of the time. In today's Wall Street Journal, he criticizes the current fashion among some on the political right, including Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh, of accusing President Obama of deliberately attempting to weaken the United States. Mr. Medved would not agree with that charge even when leveled at his "gold standard" of a misguided President, Jimmy Carter.

Writing his Wall Street Journal column took some considerable degree of political courage. Conservatives publicly take on Sarah Palin and Rush Limbaugh at their peril. There will be fallout, and one hopes that Mr. Medved is wearing his radiation suit. But his message needed saying. Mr. Medved may have been mindful of the words of Rabbi Hillel in the Sayings of the Fathers (Pirke Avot 2:6), "In a place where there are no men, strive to be a man."

There is indeed a certain kookiness that manifests itself more often than one would like in conservative political discourse. Of course, there are both nuts and fruits on both ends of the political spectrum and even sprinkled in the middle. Mr. Medved, who hosts a weekly "conspiracy hour" on his radio show, during which his listeners may vent their paranoid fantasies, knows this as well as anyone. However, when the kookiness begins to creep into the conservative political mainstream, one needs to address it.

Conservatives should limit their criticism of President Obama's policies to the demerits of the policies themselves, which are numerous and create--and please understand that we are speaking figuratively here--a target-rich environment. The right should not resort to groundless and often luny accusations regarding motives. Let's leave that to and the Daily Kos. [photo credit Ben Lautman.]


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