Wednesday, February 16, 2011

how to misread rhetoric

Just saw this on Twitter:

The transition is complete -- Boehner shifts from "where are the jobs" to "to hell with the jobs"
I thought this was interesting enough to follow up, so I clicked the link, which led to this:
QUOTE OF THE DAY.... As of this morning, the official Republican line has gone from "where are the jobs" to "to hell with the jobs." As a substantive matter, that's not exactly new, but as a rhetorical matter, I didn't expect this much candor from the House Speaker.
If House Republicans succeed in cutting tens of billions of dollars in discretionary spending over the next six months, some of the most immediate victims will be federal employees, many of whose jobs will be slashed as their agencies pare back.

At a press conference in the lobby of RNC headquarters Tuesday morning, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) shrugged this off as collateral damage.

"In the last two years, under President Obama, the federal government has added 200,000 new federal jobs," Boehner said. "If some of those jobs are lost so be it. We're broke."
That's a rather extraordinary acknowledgement. Confronted with accusations that his own budget plan would kill jobs, Boehner not only conceded that the charges are correct, he went on to say he simply doesn't care.

Mark the day and time -- the House Republican leadership no longer thinks it matters if GOP policies force thousands of American workers from their jobs.
I'm guessing that this commenter hasn't been following conservative rhetoric, which is one reason why he's completely misinterpreted the situation. (And here I'm not taking sides as to whose economic philosophy is right; I'm merely pointing out that the commenter is accusing Boehner/the GOP of self-inconsistency when no such inconsistency exists in this case.)

I try to read around both the liberal and conservative blogosphere, but I admit I often gravitate toward Instapundit, who frequently dumps on the left but also occasionally excoriates the GOP. Reynolds sees himself more as a libertarian, which means he's aligned with many present-day conservatives (and also with most classical conservatives) on the question of the size and role of the federal government. Like most classical conservatives, Reynolds the libertarian sees government's role as minimal in most affairs: ideally, it should be stripped down to bare essentials like border control, national security/defense, maintenance of the freeways, etc. On Instapundit, for months now if not longer, Reynolds and his gaggle of like-minded partisans have been decrying the relative health of job numbers in the government sector while agitating for more to be done to improve job numbers in the private sector.

So it should come as no surprise that House Speaker John Boehner might say what he said: it's consistent with the new Republican/conservative/Tea Party/libertarian position. In his heart of hearts, he's gleeful that government workers might find themselves in as precarious a position as the private sector. His agenda is-- at least ostensibly-- to whittle down the size of the federal government, and he and his cronies will do that however they can.

So if Boehner's rhetoric comes as a surprise, or seems somehow hypocritical, to anyone on the left, this can only be because of the enormous communication gap between the two sides of the ever-widening aisle. The fact of the matter is that both sides engage in a great deal more incestuous amplification than across-the-aisle communication. Silly blog posts like the above are the result. Read each other's rhetoric, guys. That goes for you, too, Beck, Hannity, and all the other righties who distort, exaggerate, and twist the public's perception of reality.

No matter what side you're on in this ongoing national debate, do yourself a favor and cleave to the classic maxim, Know thine enemy.


1 comment:

John said...

Thanks for this, Kevin. You really nailed the basic dishonesty of our friends on the left.