Krauthammer offers a snippet from a New York Times columnist saying
that people are "suspicious of complexity," an unnamed Time Magazine
blogger who said we're "a nation of dodos," and a nine-year-old New
York Times obituary in which a philosopher is credited with offering a
"philosophical justification" for conservative ideas. The
condescension, I guess, is in the notion that conservative ideas need a
philosophical justification. Alexander's examples of condescension are
mostly more like simple disagreement. He says that liberals "disregard
the policy demands" of conservatives.
If believing that you are right and that people who disagree with you
are wrong amounts to condescension, then we are all condescending. Of
course, on any given issue, liberals tend to think that they are right.
So do conservatives. It's a free country, and people can believe
whatever they want. If evidence or reason persuades them that some
opinion they hold is wrong, they are free to change it. So at any given
moment, we all believe that our own beliefs are correct and anyone who
disagrees with us has some explaining to do. Furthermore, if I believe
that evidence and reason support my own views, then I also must believe
that they do not support the views of those who disagree with me.
So the question naturally arises: how can someone hold a different view
than mine on any given issue? Maybe he or she is right and I am
wrong--an unhappy possibility that neither liberals nor conservatives
keep excessively in mind. But there is no evidence or reason to suppose
that liberals are more oblivious to evidence or argument challenging
their opinions than conservatives. When was the last time the Wall
Street Journal editorial page admitted to doubts about the value of tax
cuts? Even if I decide that my current views are wrong, I will change
them, and the question of how anyone can disagree with me arises once
Three possible answers are that they are misinformed, they are thinking
poorly, or they are blinded by self-interest. Or, to put it crudely,
they are ignorant, stupid or selfish.
There is no evidence that liberals put it that crudely more often than
conservatives. In any event, the basic point remains: it is silly to
accuse people of arrogance for believing that they are right and that
people who disagree with them are wrong.
If nothing else, give Weisberg points for guts. It requires no courage
to tell Americans that they have "bedrock common sense"--some mystical
wisdom that is the gloppiest part of the old theory of American
exceptionalism. There is no reason to believe that Americans are wiser,
on average, than the citizens of other nations.
Weisberg, in fact, makes a good case that the opposite is true.
Americans make incompatible demands on the government (cut my taxes,
but don't touch my favorite programs), demand change then recoil in
horror when they get it, are gulled by transparent absurdities.