The year was 1992, and I was living in Southern California, still entertaining the notion that I could be a big time actor. I had been sent on an audition for Married: With Children for the distinguished role of Nerd #5. Since most of these auditions lasted about seven seconds, I wanted to find some way to start a conversation with the casting director in the hopes of attracting enough attention that I could stand out from the crowd of other Nerds #5. (No word on Nerds #1-#4.)
So, ever the provocateur, I wore a Republican political T-shirt.
That started a conversation, all right.
“You’re a Republican?!” the casting director gasped. I assured her I was.
“You’re not going to vote for Bruce Herschensohn, are you?”
Mr. Herschensohn, as few of you may recall, was a Republican locked in a tight race with then-Congresswoman Barbara Boxer, who closed the gap by running scummy ads showing the conservative Herschensohn walking into strip clubs. Herschensohn was a single man who made no excuses or apologies for his personal behavior, but the hypocrite label stuck, and Boxer won. (The Left, since it has no moral standards to speak of, is incapable of hypocrisy. Convenient, no?)
Taking my cue from the look of abject panic on this woman’s face, I wussed out and told her I hadn’t decided yet, even though I had. This wasn’t enough to placate her, though.
“I can’t imagine anyone voting for Herschensohn,” she said. “I haven’t met anyone else would even consider voting for him.”
Needless to say, she didn’t cast me.
I’ve thought about that many times since. It’s no surprise that a Hollywood flunky would be solidly liberal, but what’s disturbing is her inability to conceive of someone voting for a Republican for anything other than nefarious reasons. This is a consistent failure of imagination on the Left which, I think, does not have an equivalent tendency on the Right.
Indeed, the Right goes out of its way to acknowledge the good intentions of their opponents. Certainly welfare and all kinds of social programs are rooted in a desire to improve the lives of others. Our quarrel with them is not with their intentions; it’s with their results. For instance, raising the minimum wage may make Congress feel like it’s helping people, but, in all practicality, it’s not helping people. There are all kinds of facts to back this up, but the argument never goes to facts. With the left, it invariably goes back to motive.
It is now impossible to have a coherent conversation about the war in Iraq with someone on the other side of the political spectrum. Because in order to do that, you have to wade through unanswerable accusations about George Bush’s motives and personal perfidy. It’s all for oil! Halliburton! Where are the WMDs? Bush lied, kids died! And on and on and on and on…
I loathe those discussions, not because I think the Left is right, but because there’s no objective way to prove the Left is wrong. You believe that George W. Bush is Adolf Hitler Reincarnate? Nothing I can do or say can dissuade you. Those arguments come down to who can be the most angry, and the Left usually wins that one hands down. Congratulations, Lefties. You hate Bush more than I love him.
Now let’s talk facts.
The Iraq war ended the regime of one of the most brutal tyrants the world has seen, one that was a declared enemy of the United States. It has closed down Saddam’s rape rooms and stopped filling the mass graves of Iraq with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. It has compelled Libya to give up their Weapons of Mass Destruction and rejoin the world community. It has exhausted the resources of America’s chief enemy, al Qaeda, who have poured all of their energy into the Iraq war and come out empty handed. It has created the possibility of the first stable, Western-friendly democracy in the most volatile region in the world. Surely all these are good things?
“Ah,” you may say, “but is it worth the money? Is it worth the lives of so many soldiers? Is it making America safer?”
And that, folks, is a discussion I’m willing to have. Because it’s about objective facts, not about forever elusive motives. But unfortunately, these questions usually devolve into how Bush is using all this to enrich his wartime buddies and it’s all a big conspiracy, and suddenly we’re back to motive again.
If you doubt that, imagine a similar conversation about Global Warming. In that case, it’s the Right who will raise questions of cost. Even its most ardent supporters are forced to concede that the Kyoto protocols will cost trillions of dollars for only trace reductions in global temperature. Given the staggering economic impact and the miniscule benefits, is it really worth it?
“Oh, I get it. You’re a Global Warming denier, just like those Jew-hating nuts.”
Having worked in Washington DC, I have come to the conclusion that the vast majority of elected officials on both sides of the aisle genuinely want what is best for the country. What if both sides were truly willing to concede the virtue of the other’s intentions? Wouldn’t that make for an interesting discussion?
That would require, however, that Married: With Children casting director to imagine that George Bush, perhaps, isn’t Satan.
We’re all doomed.