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Right Turn
Posted at 03:00 PM ET, 04/13/2012

The left’s lingusitic rules

Matthew Continetti writes:

As a political slogan, “war on women” is so broad as to be meaningless. The very notion is ridiculous, absurd—a gimmick to quicken the heartbeats of Democratic activists and political correspondents. . .
Does anyone seriously believe that opposing abortion is the same as opposing the Nineteenth Amendment? What about the many pro-life Democrats in this country? Are they Quislings? Will Planned Parenthood pursue charges against them under the military code of justice? And on which side are those famous lovers of women Bill Clinton, John Edwards, and Eliot Spitzer? “War on women,” “99 percent,” “Buffett Rule”—they are all focus-grouped catch phrases designed to stick in the ear and dominate a news cycle or two. They are the inevitable consequence of an incumbent president with no popular record and no agenda but tax hikes.

Well, actually an entire fleet of self-styled feminists and liberal activists do believe being anti-abortion (meaning anything less than abortion on demand and opposition to a partial birth abortion ban) is being anti-woman. (It gets complicated with gender-specific abortions.) Conservatives, of course, see something different: “What the war on women really amounts to is a battle for political power between a group of pro-life, pro-religious liberty men and women and a group of men and women who want to maintain abortion on demand and the government provision of abortion, contraceptives, abortifacients, and sterilization procedures as mandated under Obamacare.”

Maybe there is marketing involved. Being anti-abortion may sound a bit too noble for leftist ears, but “anti-woman” — now there’s invective you can get behind!

We’ve seen this before: the penchant to define support for any group or cause as coterminous with support for the large social welfare state. You can’t be pro-environment and be against the idiotic dust rules from EPA, you see. There’s no use claiming to be for upward mobility and the poor if you don’t support Obama-era domestic spending levels. You would think the welfare reform movement never happened (maybe it happened before they were born) from the leftist bloggers’ caterwauling about block granting and sending to the states functions that now reside in duplicative, ineffective national anti-poverty programs. If you don’t spend the money, you meanie Republicans, you are against the poor.

No amount of data about the underlying causes of poverty, the success of welfare reform or school choice will suffice. You’re Scrooge, darn it, if you don’t spend more and more and more money. And don’t try making Medicare more progressive, either.

As David Brooks puts it:

Many of the activists talk as if the world can be healed if we could only insert more care, compassion and resources into it.
History is not kind to this assumption. Most poverty and suffering — whether in a country, a family or a person — flows from disorganization. A stable social order is an artificial accomplishment, the result of an accumulation of habits, hectoring, moral stricture and physical coercion. Once order is dissolved, it takes hard measures to restore it.
Yet one rarely hears social entrepreneurs talk about professional policing, honest courts or strict standards of behavior; it’s more uplifting to talk about microloans and sustainable agriculture.

“Feminism is being pro-choice. Compassion is measured in trillions spent by the federal government.” The left has done fine job obscuring the issues and mismatching language and objectives. It’s to the point where they actually believe abortion on demand is required to be pro-woman. When it turns out that there is more to being pro-woman than abortion (being respectful of stay-at-home moms, for one thing) liberal heads explode.

It’s difficult to have a rational policy debate with those convinced of their own virtue and insistent that morality is measured purely by intention and not outcomes. And it’s nearly impossible to force the left to use language accurately. They have way too much invested in obfuscation and misdirection.

By  |  03:00 PM ET, 04/13/2012

Categories:  2012 campaign, Conservative movement, Culture

 
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