This old Jewish joke makes me cry every day. Abe is commiserating with Sam for the break-in that just cleaned out his store. But Sam is cheerful; he says this was the best time for him to be robbed. Why is that?
Sam explains: “I just marked down my entire stock 40 percent!”
This is the fate of the modern Republican Party. First they allow their principles to be devalued. Then they get robbed, but it no longer hurts very much.
Most voters think the phrase ‘Republican strategist’ is an oxymoron. After all, there are people proudly wearing that title all over cable television, hailed as experts. Why are they so disdained by the party faithful? The answer is simple. These “strategists” all share the same approach and it does not vary much from subject to subject. (Neither does the New York Times.) Their strategy is to mirror the Democrat strategy. They call this “taking the issue off the table.” Let’s not argue on abortion. Ha, you see? We snuffed those guys: issue gone. Let’s not argue gay marriage; immigration; high deficits; increased size of government; hyper regulation; and on and on. Ha, the strategists exclaim, we declare victory: all the issues are off the table… now let’s have an election!
After decades of such strategic tour-de-forces, the government not only looks like the Democrats’ dream government of forty years ago, it has actually gone far beyond their wildest imagining! Now, Republicans do win a lot of elections. They just never accomplish anything with their power beyond an imperceptible slowdown of the Democrat agenda. And those are the good Republicans. The bad ones actually accelerate the leftist big government project.
The favorite issues for shooing off the table are items which can be labeled, even by the remotest stretch, as “science” incarnate. No one wants to be labeled a Dark Ages Neanderthal primitive obscurantist troglodyte barbarian. So the minute something gets labeled as science your high-minded Republican stalwarts fold like a cheap accordion. The squeal you hear as they scurry off into obscurity sounds like it emanates from the selfsame instrument.
Not that the retreat helps. The Democrats chase the cowards back into their caves and repeat the accusations anyway.
President Obama, for example, spoke disparagingly of the “false choice” between religion and science when he reversed Bush-era policy and allowed embryos to be destroyed for research. Now, if some moral systems say embryos should not be destroyed, they base that on the science which outlines the pathway to life upon which the embryo has embarked. So in actuality Bush rejected the “false choice” by respecting the understanding of life outlined by science and treating it in a moral way. It was Obama who created a “true choice” by positing that the attitudes of scientists speak for “science” and the attitudes of moralists constitute opposition to science. Thus the talking point of Republicans flouting science is a Democrat cudgel which does not run parallel to scientific fact or logic.
Obama used that solecism again in claiming that Republicans who oppose his “investment” in “green” fuels are like the primitives in the Middle Ages who thought the earth was flat. Again the falsehood is patent. He is actively blocking the further development and procurement of fossil fuels, which are proven to work, while promoting alternative fuels which are not proven. Here again we put aside the astounding science and engineering of fossil fuels in favor of iffy future prospects, and that somehow demonstrates greater fealty to scientific knowledge? Is solar energy more scientific than oil, gas and coal? Is forsaking the proven for the unproven a manifestation of the scientific method?
How about on abortion, where Democrats have been fighting a rearguard battle against science for half a century? Science discovers more and more about life in the womb, about treatments to assure healthier babies, about sensory levels in utero, about the psychological effects of abortion, about side effects and long-term impacts. Every effort to publicize that information is hampered by the Democrat political movement and its gatekeepers in the press. And Republican politicians who open their mouths are ridiculed.
Republican voters watch this spectacle and seethe in frustration. Which goes a long way toward explaining why they consistently tell pollsters they feel betrayed by their party.
It is time for a new generation of advocacy, in the spirit of the Heartland Institute battle against the long trail of distortions, manipulations, and crystal-ball-gazing that has crystallized in the Climate Change movement. Like Heartland, we must advocate for fealty to science, not to professors of science, and for rigor in methodology, not in politicized grant writing. I strongly recommend everyone read the work of J. Scott Armstrong of the Wharton School and founder of the International Journal of Forecasting. When you appreciate how cavalierly the “movement” has junked the rules of forecasting in making their wild and irresponsible predictions, you will understand the underlying narrative of the cultural phenomenon we are witnessing.
Republicans are the true defenders of science as an unpoliticized arbiter of factual truth in the observable realm. The Democrats are the abusers of science, hijacking its trappings and jargon in the service of partisan ends (like the 150 doctors in white coats posed in the Rose Garden to promote Obamacare) and buying off the scientists they exploit by slipping them grants of other people’s money.
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