The above headline caught my eye for its accuracy…
It’s time to call out a major Republican theme of how politics should be practiced in a democracy: the supposed right to be free from criticism. It may sell wonderfully inside the conservative closed-information loop, but it’s a nasty idea that sorts exceptionally badly with democratic politics.
In case you’re unfamiliar, the right to be free from criticism is the core idea behind what used to be complaints about “political correctness” and which have now morphed into the conviction that some accusations are too terrible to be made. See, for example, former Heritage immigration expert (or is that race-and-intelligence obsessive?) Jason Richwine. As he told conservative reporter Byron York:
The accusation of racism is one of the worst things that anyone can call you in public life … Once that word is out there, it’s very difficult to recover from it, even when it is completely untrue.
What does “difficult to recover” mean in this context? Richwine, after all, is the protégé of none other than Charles Murray, who has been accused of racist writings for … well, for decades. And yet Murray has “recovered” just fine, at least if book sales and think-tank posts and other traditional markers of success are concerned. Richwine surely knows that. So what’s his complaint? It is the same as most complaints about political correctness: that some people won’t consider his actions respectable.
(No doubt someone with a bit more imagination than Richwine might imagine even worse things to be called than “racist.” For example, someone could be called a member of an intellectually inferior race, genetically doomed to always be looking up to those races that have superior intelligence. But pointing that out would no doubt violate Richwine’s standards of civilized political discourse.)
Similarly, the Republican response to the Democratic “war on women” rhetoric hasn’t been so much that the criticism is wrong but rather that it’s — as one Republican member of the House said this week — “repugnant.”
One might say that whatever grievances one former Heritage think-tanker, or even some Republican politicians, might have are interesting but of little importance in the grand scheme of things. But it turns out that the exact same logic — the logic that conservatives should feel perfectly free to engage in political advocacy without any danger of someone criticizing them — has become central to the Republican platform on campaign finance.
- Heritage Immigration Study Co-Author: “I Do Not Apologize” (littlegreenfootballs.com)
- The Richwine affair (economist.com)
- History’s Greatest Martyr Speaks (lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com)
- McConnell Calls on Obama Administration to Conduct Government-wide Review in Wake of IRS Admission of Harassment (mcconnell.senate.gov)
- McConnell’s clumsy opportunism (maddowblog.msnbc.com)
- Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul Gang Up On GOP (huffingtonpost.com)
- McConnell demands White House investigate IRS… (wfpl.org)
- IRS Scandal Falls Right in McConnell’s Wheelhouse (rollcall.com)