Are liberals begging for it?

The rules of engagement governing the Tower of Babel that passes for political discourse nowadays trace their intellectual roots to World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc., although some of the original sophistication has been stripped away. Designed to minimize brainwork, they encourage competing ideologues to smash folding chairs over one another's heads. The dramatis personae usually include a hero and a villain. The guy wearing the striped shirt is the referee. He's lying on the mat pretending to be unconscious so that he won't be able to notice any of the flagrant fouls. He is, of course, in on the fix.

In the world of politics, the ref works for the mainstream media, and is untrammeled by dress codes or outmoded notions of neutrality. The job requires looking in the other direction when the liberal hero engages in a little righteous eye—gouging or groin—kicking to give the conservative villain what's coming to him.

At this juncture, it is customary to emit a ritualistic belch in the direction of moral equivalence, the non—thinking person's misconception of fairness: both Right and Left are equally guilty of rhetorical sins, yadda, yadda. Only, it grows more apparent every day that the two sides are not equally guilty.

Positing something as a premise and then altering it slightly to form the conclusion, the part of the argument that should follow from what has been previously stated, is far more than an occasional tactic for liberals. It is a way of life. Formal logic provides a label for this fallacy: Begging the question. The acerbic and pessimistic German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer wrote in his essay, "The Art of Controversy:"

'It would be a very good thing if every trick could receive some short and obviously appropriate name, so that when a man used this or that particular trick, he could at once be reproached for it.'

Well, it would be a good thing for partisans of reason, a dying breed, but a bad thing for pols whose upward mobility depends on sleight of mouth.

Here, we must pause to mark the necessary, and usually blurred, distinction between liberals and leftists. If Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton are liberal Democrats, what are America—hating socialists such as Ted Rall and Michael Moore? Problems arise when Rall sneeringly describes himself as 'just another liberal Democrat,' and Chardonnay—and—brie Democrats like gossip columnist Liz Smith make blithe references to the 'liberal activist Bella Abzug.' Radicals relish the obfuscation and more sober liberals show little interest in taxonomic exactness. The careful observer will note that liberals make, ah, liberal use of question begging; leftists are partial to the Big Lie.

Think back to last summer's Democratic Convention. Kerry had morphed into Sergeant Fury, tirelessly recounting the battlefield exploits that showcased his nonpareil valor, the handful of Swiftees who didn't regard him as a phony—his very own Howlin' Commandos—— in tow. Edwards was making remarkably bellicose noises, stressing the need to destroy the terrorists (not all of them—just the ones who could document their participation in the 9—11 attacks).