Conservatives Have Given Up

Over at Townhall, Kurt Schlichter thinks it is time for conservatives to play by new rules. Specifically, he thinks they need to adopt the rules of their political opponents, and if that means abandoning many of their principles, so be it.

Before I get started here, I just want to stipulate that I am well aware that Mr. Schlichter is suffering from rather severe brain spoilage. But it’s not his fault. He has been subjected to a sustained and deliberate campaign to rot his mental architecture.

With that out of the way, we can begin to look at his argument.

It takes him a little while to say so explicitly, but what is initially exercising him here is one of the stupidest lawsuits (maybe the stupidest) to ever reach the level of the Supreme Court. I speak, of course, of the King v. Burwell case that involved plaintiffs for hire who had no real standing, and which was premised on the ridiculous idea that the subsidy system in the Affordable Care Act was intended to apply only to citizens of states that set up their own non-federal health care exchanges.

We don’t need to get bogged down in a lesson on Chevron here or the meaning of “legislative intent.” Let’s just look at who Mr. Schlichter blames for the pro-administration ruling of the Supreme Court in this case.

We conservatives have spent far too long playing by the old rules when liberals have completely changed the game. There was a time when laws meant what they said, when individual rights were important, when the government did not make it its business to oppress the executive’s ideological opponents, and when principles mattered. But that time has passed.

So, the villains here are those horrible “liberals.” But King v. Burwell was a 6-3 ruling, and the deciding votes were cast by Justice Kennedy and Justice Roberts who were nominated to the court by, respectively, St. Ronald Reagan and George Walker Bush. It makes you wonder why liberals are tied to Schlichter’s whipping post.

Anyone who has ever taken an introductory level Symbolic Logic class knows that you can’t start a proof with a faulty premise and get a sound argument. If liberals aren’t primarily to blame then everything that follows is the product of a corrupted and diseased brain.

To wit:

There’s a new set of rules, and while we don’t have control in Washington right now, we do have control most everywhere else – and someday a conservative will be president again. So there is no reason not to get going right now playing by the same rules the liberals do!

I hate to quibble with this guy because he’s practically disabled, but when you have control of the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate, and there’s a Republican-appointed majority on the Supreme Court, it’s simply inaccurate to say that you don’t have “control in Washington.” More precise language is needed here, including the fact that liberals didn’t lay down these “new” rules without the critical assistance of Republicans.

Now, psychological projection is a technical term, and it’s also a threat to clear critical reasoning, but it’s particularly dangerous when it is built on an invalid argument to being with. In other words, if you are going to wrong me, then falsely blame me for wronging you, and then use your bogus allegation as an excuse to wrong me again, that’s both obnoxious and stupid. But, here we go:

Of course, first we need to understand the basis of the new rules – it’s about having the moral courage to obtain and keep power. Until now, we conservatives have been guided by “principles” and “values” that only serve to distract us from what’s really important. Under the new rules, we will no longer let arbitrary ideas about how America should work get in the way of maximizing our ability to exercise our authority over others. After all, our supremacy is a moral imperative.

Here I will just interject small reminders about little insignificant things like the war on minority voting called the “in-person voter fraud epidemic” and a ruling by the Supreme Court called Bush v. Gore.

About that Bush v. Gore ruling, it strikes me as ironic in the following context:

Take the law. Under the old rules, judges were constrained by the plain meaning of the text, but that is far too restrictive. Words must mean what we need them to mean, no more and no less. We have to appoint judges who won’t prattle on about “judicial restraint” and “not legislating from the bench,” and who will reliably rule exactly how we need them to rule on each and every case. Let’s appoint judges, who understand that their purpose is to rationalize rulings that support our policy priorities, not seek some “legally correct” decision that might not. The law of the land is whatever we want it to be!

Thank you, Clarence Thomas for giving us eight years of President Bush! The country is ever-grateful for your willingness to make the law of the land whatever you wanted it to be!

But, wait, this was supposed to be the liberals doing this? I don’t think this man’s brain is operating with the latest upgrade.

Because the hammer in his head call a conscience doesn’t seem to be ringing his bell.

We should celebrate Judge Roberts’s recent Obamacare decision – it was liberating! He made it clear that when we want a different result, we don’t have to be deterred by the fact that the law means exactly the opposite. He affirmed that judges should interpret statutes – and the Constitution too – based upon a subjective desire for a particular outcome. Think of the possibilities for conservative progress if we aren’t hamstrung by some inconvenient text in a statute or the literal meaning of the words on some ancient parchment!

Need I remind you that the King v. Burwell case was so asinine that it’s one of the more startling things in recent history that it received any votes at all, and those votes came from the trio of Thomas, Scalia and Alito who seem to have mastered the principle about not being hamstrung by things like precedent when seeking your preferred outcome.

Now, I could continue tracking his argument as he shifts away from King v. Burwell into a broader set of grievances, including his delusional persecution complex about the IRS, but I want to skip ahead a little bit here.

He thinks that conservatives have been trying to play the right way but that the rules have been changed in the middle of the game. And we do have to give him as least one bone here. A lot of rules have changed. The rules about contraception and interracial marriage and school prayer and segregated schools and the rights of homosexuals and flying the Confederate Flag have all changed. But he has an answer for this, and it’s what you might expect even if it is the opposite of taking the high road.

You know, there’s been a lot of bigotry against conservatives, religious people, and traditional Americans, and it is time the government took action by concentrating its anti-discrimination efforts on those spewing hate against them. We will have to root out policies and practices that result in such prejudice. Step one is focusing on colleges, where hate against normal Americans runs amok. Colleges that refuse to conform will lose their funding and tax exempt status – oh, and we will be taxing excessive endowments too. Schools like liberal Harvard have billions socked away, money that could be better used serving working Americans’ priorities than those of wealthy college administrators.

And speaking of billions, Hollywood and the entertainment industry need our attention. They spew out a tremendous amount of hate against conservatives, religious people, and traditional Americans, and that kind of intolerance simply cannot be tolerated. We’ll need to take action under the discrimination laws to punish the kind of offensive words and portrayals that make normal Americans feel unsafe and marginalized in theaters and their own homes.

This column is actually quite interesting which is why I chose to spend some time with it. It’s certainly written in a tongue-in-cheek manner. We’re invited to think that he isn’t really serious, but he’s only saying these things as a kind of exercise to force us to get a sense of what it feels like to be on his side of these political battles. What if, he’s saying, his side treated us the way we’ve been treating them? You know, maybe we wouldn’t like it.

But the dividing line between joke and seriousness is hard to divine.

Partly, this is because of the aforementioned psychological projection involved here. We’re falsely accused of doing what his side has been doing for quite some time now. What he’s threatening doesn’t feel like much of a threat because we’re been living with it for so long now that we don’t see it as a change in the status quo. But it’s true that the conservatives have been somewhat constrained by rules and precedents and norms of behavior, and they can and will jettison those restraints the next time they are given the opportunity.

What we’re provided here in this column is the conservatives’ rationale for giving up on any hope of winning in light of rulings like King v. Burwell and Obergefell v. Hodges, as well as the loss of the Confederate Flag. They can’t win by playing by the rules, so they will accuse us of breaking them and use that as an excuse to exercise power the way they want to exercise it.

They just need one more chance.

Should we give it to them?

[Cross-posted at Progress Pond]

Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly and the main blogger at Booman Tribune.