The Magazine

The Fantasy Life of American Liberals

From the November 25, 2002 issue: Three generations of left-wing idiocy are enough.

Nov 25, 2002, Vol. 8, No. 11 • By CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

The last time the Republicans enjoyed unexpected political victory, the Gingrich revolution of 1994, the liberal consensus was dumbfounded. How to explain history going so wrong? Hence, a legend was born, the legend of the "angry white male." In fact, that term had no empirical basis whatsoever. I did a search and found only three polls that even asked about anger. In all three, 70-80 percent of white male respondents denied being angry. In contrast, the Democrats' victory two years earlier was sweetly dubbed "Year of the Woman."

Why? Because it is an article of liberal faith that conservatism is not just wrong but stone coldhearted to the core. When Robert Nozick died earlier this year, Christopher Lehmann-Haupt wrote in his New York Times obituary, "The implications of 'Anarchy, State, and Utopia' are strongly libertarian and proved comforting to the right, which was grateful for what it embraced as philosophical justification."

Liberalism needs no philosophical justification because it only wants to do good. Conservatives are grateful to find a thinker who can spin logic well enough to cover their tracks, providing "philosophical justification" for their rape and pillage.

And when this sleight of hand, this transmutation of evil into good, is accomplished not by a philosophical genius like Nozick but by yet another amiable dunce in the presidency, liberals become unhinged. The 2000 election they could attribute to simple theft; the 2002 election they could only attribute to a kind of cosmic false consciousness. Yet the voters seem to have known precisely what they were doing. It was not George Bush's genial smile that got the most liberal state in the union, Massachusetts, not only to elect a conservative Mormon businessman as governor but to overwhelmingly approve the abolition of bilingual education, that totem of liberal social engineering. It was a triumph of experience over hope, the very definition of conservatism.

Such ideas cannot possibly be admitted. Hence the rage at Bush, the contempt for the electorate, and the spinning of deeply disturbed and highly entertaining conspiracy theories. Judging by their wild and crazy reaction to their defeat on November 5, one can only conclude that this election has left liberal elites further out of touch with reality than at any time in recent memory. As a former psychiatrist, I can confidently predict that logic and empirical evidence will have no therapeutic effect. It's time for the Thorazine.

Charles Krauthammer is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard.