Skip to comments.Liberals again illicitly claim moral high ground
Posted on 11/14/2004 10:03:33 AM PST by zamboni
Liberals again illicitly claim moral high ground
By Charles Krauthammer
WASHINGTON In 1994, when the Gingrich revolution swept Republicans into power, ending 40 years of Democratic hegemony, the mainstream press needed to account for this inversion of the Perfect Order of Things. A myth was born. Explained the USA Today headline: "Angry White Men: Their votes turned the tide for the GOP."
Overnight, the revolution of the Angry White Male became conventional wisdom. In the 10 years before the 1994 election, there were 56 Nexis mentions of angry white men in the media. In the next seven months, there were more than 1,400.
At the time, I looked into this story line and found not a scintilla of evidence to support the claim. Nonetheless, it was a necessary invention, a way for the liberal elite to delegitimize a conservative victory. And even better, a way to assuage their moral vanity: You never lose because your ideas are sclerotic or your positions retrograde but because your opponent appealed to the baser instincts of mankind.
Plus ca change . . . Ten years and another stunning Democratic defeat later, and liberals are at it again. The Angry White Male has been transmuted into the Bigoted Christian Redneck.
In the post-election analyses, the liberal elite, led by the holy trinity of The New York Times Krugman, Friedman and Dowd just about lost its mind denouncing the return of medieval primitivism. As usual, Maureen Dowd achieved the highest level of hysteria, cursing the Republicans for pandering to "isolationism, nativism, chauvinism, puritanism and religious fanaticism" in their unfailing drive to "summon our nasty devils."
Whence comes this fable? With President Bush increasing his share of the vote among Hispanics, Jews, women (especially married women), Catholics, seniors and even African-Americans, on what does this victory-of-the-homophobic-evangelical rest?
Its origins lie in a single question in the Election Day exit poll. The urban myth grew around the fact that "moral values" ranked highest in the answer to Question J: "Which ONE issue mattered most in deciding how you voted for president?"
It is a thin reed upon which to base a General Theory of the '04 Election. In fact, it is no reed at all. The way the question was set up, moral values was sure to be ranked disproportionately high. Why? Because it was a multiple-choice question and moral values cover a group of issues, while all the other choices were individual issues. Chop up the alternatives finely enough, and moral values is sure to get a bare plurality over the others.
Look at the choices:
"Moral values" encompasses abortion, gay marriage, Hollywood's influence, the general coarsening of the culture, and, for some, the morality of pre-emptive war. The way to logically pit this class of issues against the others would be to pit it against other classes: "war issues" or "foreign policy issues" (Iraq plus terrorism) and "economic issues" (jobs, taxes, health care, etc).
If you pit group against group, moral values comes in dead last: war issues at 34 percent, economic issues variously described at 33 percent, and moral values at 22 percent i.e., they are at least a third less salient than the others.
And we know that this is the real ranking. After all, the exit poll is just a single poll. We had dozens of polls in the run-up to the election that showed that the chief concerns were the war on terror, the war in Iraq and the economy.
Ah, yes. But the fallback is then to attribute Bush's victory to the gay marriage referendums that pushed Bush over the top, particularly in Ohio.
This is more nonsense. Bush increased his vote in 2004 over 2000 by an average of 3.1 percent nationwide. In Ohio the increase was 1 percent less than a third of the national average. In the 11 states in which the gay marriage referendums were held, Bush increased his vote by less than he did in the 39 states that did not have the referendum. The great anti-gay surge was pure fiction.
This does not deter the myth of the Bigoted Christian Redneck from dominating the thinking of liberals, and from infecting the blue-state media. They need their moral superiority like oxygen and cannot have it cut off by mere facts. And so once again they angrily claim the moral high ground, while standing in the ruins of yet another humiliating electoral defeat.
Charles Krauthammer's e-mail address is email@example.com. Washington Post Writers Group
A brilliant observation.
As usual my man Krauthammer hit it on the head.By choosing the category 'Moral Values', in a multiple choice questionnaire the respondents were actually saying that they refused to be lead or slammed by the pollsters bias. It's in the nature of polling that the questions have to be designed to yield some pre-concieved value. I know when confronted with most forms I always want to respond N/A. I guess then 'Moral Values' actually means (buzzer) None of the Above. Or maybe as the Great Sage Peter Jennings put it in '94: The Voter's had a Tantrum! Little did he know...
I always like the bottom line...hahahahaha!
Kruat rules! I'm sick of the media talking about "moral values" mockingly, and saying that Bush won by saying that Dems are baby-killers.... He went up in EVERY CATEGORY except single women, a category that no one ever expects to change.
Democrats realized that they need a narrative. This time they try to sell "angry bigot christian men" story.
Charles is also an MD who seems to oppose stem cell research.
Today's democrats remind me of the schoolyard loudmouths that couldn't say a nice thing about anybody...
All they do is call people names.
The Party of Hate (D) employed many brownshirts this year.
Another punch in the fight over the phrase 'moral values'. On the one hand the fight is over what is meant by 'moral values', on the other it seems to be a horror over the use of the phrase by BOTH sides. Why is this? The whole purpose of the 'moral values' attack by the Left is too make everyone wary of the phrase--else its use draws leftist ire. The only thing the whole article does is play directly into the hands of those who have basically said "I'm going to fight the very notion of 'moral values' as having political power at all and my first weapon in doing so is to make a straw man of what it is and attack those who I say are that supposed reality." Now here this guy is, a victim of that lie and running away from moral values as having the very real political punch it has already demonstrated in the hopes of doing away with the phrase as his enemies use it and by doing away with the phrase, supposedly taking power from them. He stabs himself (and all those who know what real moral values are) in an attempt to merely blunt an attack by his enemies. He explains everything in his own mind in such a way as he cannot be attacked. He does not realize they do not attack out of any legitimate issue, they just attack. It is who and what they are. They won't stop merely because he apologizes for their mis-understanding for them by re-arranging polls and questions in such a way as to sidestep the onslaught.
Oh, gawd, another conservative ruining a perfectly good lib'ral myth with facts...;^)
I'm very comfortable with the dems believing it was religion that brought out the vote. Now they're either condemning people of faith or insulting them with their born-again act (Nancy Pelosi). Who told the dems it would be a good idea to insult 80%+ of the nation and expect to win elections? Whoever it was, give that man a cee-gar!
Let them keep thinking we are bigoted Christian rednecks, it will only further their decline.