More Thoughts On Rush: Do We Want To Be Right Or Do We Want To Win The Argument?
Whenever I've finished recording a Radio Free Delingpole podcast, I'm always struck by the billion and one clever things I wanted to say but never quite got round to articulating.
One of them concerned the latest Rush imbroglio, which Lance mentioned yesterday.
As a conservative, I do of course totally see where Rush was coming from. His base position is one almost all of us would agree with: the State - ie the taxpayer - has no more business paying for contraception than it does subsidizing college kids to drink cheap booze or buy cut-price marijuana. If kids want "fun", they should darn well work for it and pay for it.
And as a polemicist, I do have a sneaking admiration for the daisycutter bomb subtlety of El Rushbo's attack. Here in this Fluke woman was another incredibly annoying liberal agitator doing what liberal agitators always do which is to hijack social issues and use them as a way of increasing by stealth the power of Big Government. Clearly such irritants need squashing: squashing brutally.
As someone who wants Tea-Party-style conservatism in government, on the other hand.....
See, here's the problem - and it's something my wife (not to mention the various therapists I've seen over the years) is often saying to me: "What are you trying to achieve?"
Sure, if your war aim is simply to mouth off, vent your spleen, show the home team how incredibly right and funny you are, and make the enemy feel really unhappy then, yes, do what Rush did. (And what I do in arguments most of the time too....)
If, on the other hand, you actually want to achieve something useful for your cause than you simply have to think more strategically. In Conservative-land, Rush's response was funny and apt and hilariously but justifiably over-the-top. But for anyone who is not a conservative - which is at least half America, not to mention most of the rest of the world, it was pure poison.
It gave, not least, the impression that conservatives are so stuck up that they even think kids messing around with sex before marriage are at best sluts, at worst prostitutes. Now I know this isn't exactly what Rush meant, but it's how it sounded to liberal ears and how it's being spun in the broader media.
Trust me, it doesn't make conservatives look good. It makes us look like unelectable freaks.