Saturday, October 3, 2009

Charles The Caterpillar

If conservatives are angry (and I'm not willing to stipulate that they're any angrier than liberals these days), I hope they don't see Charles M. Blow's column in today's New York Times, in which he positions them one rung above bug juice on the evolutionary ladder:
A hundred and fifty years ago, Abraham Lincoln framed conservatism thusly: “What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?” It was and still is. Conservatism for some is a collective mooring against the waves of change. It is a reflexive reaction to uncertainty.

The Obama administration’s response to the financial and automotive crises and its pursuit of a wide range of reforms is the epitome of new and untried. Major change has come much too quickly for far too many. The response: retreat to a cocoon of conservatism.
His evidence? Among other things,
A May report found that for the first time since Gallup began asking about abortion in 1995, more Americans are now anti-abortion than supportive of abortion rights.
As I'm sure Blow realizes, an anti-abortion activist might well argue that new is not necessarily good. In the old days, W. A. Mozart, C. M. Blow, and J. H. Taylor all stood a mathematically better chance of peeking their caterpillar heads out of their cocoons than they might today. While I'm sure that he didn't mean to patronize those whose views on abortion are ambivalent or in conflict with his own, he did. Is Blow in a cocoon as a result of anesthetizing himself against an appreciation of the lost potentiality inherent in the West's abortion rates? Actually, I don't know his views on the subject, and so I shouldn't speculate. Nor should he so blithely about the views of others. Is he aware, for instance, of polls that show younger people are becoming more accepting of the rights of gay and lesbian people without becoming more accepting of abortion? Blow might call that cocooning. I call it discernment.

As for conservatives' resistance to Obama's big-spending policies, the higher taxes that seem inevitable wouldn't be even remotely new. The highest incremental income tax rate was 91% in the early 1960s. If Blow wants to go higher than that, it would be really old, because it would be called feudalism. What's also old (and tiresome) is know-it-all pundits who psychoanalyze everyone who doesn't embrace their definition of enlightenment.

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