James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal smells elitism in a blog post by John Cassidy at The New Yorker titled "Is America Crazy? Ten Reasons It Might Be." Cassidy thinks our gun-rights arguments carry an "inner madness."
But check out his cast of experts: "When Bill Moyers, Keith Olbermann, Mayor Bloomberg, and Rupert Murdoch are all in favor of something -- in this case, tougher gun laws -- and there's still no chance of it being enacted, you can rest assured that forces other than reason and partisan politics are involved." What?
You're crazy if you don't let Moyers and Olbermann run America? Taranto quickly mocked this: "We guess that four-man list is meant to be ideologically inclusive. It isn't really. Except for Murdoch, everyone on it is far to the left, at least on social issues. But here's an even bigger problem: Why should anyone assume that two media figures and two media magnates are somehow broadly representative of American opinion?"
But then, John Cassidy added: "Are firearms the only subject on which Americans are, let us say, a little batty? I’m not so sure." He thinks many American beliefs are irrational, whether they are true or not:
Still, the popular sentiment underlying these statements is so strong that politicians defy it at their peril.
1. Gun laws and gun deaths are unconnected.
2. Private enterprise is good; public enterprise is bad.
3. God created America and gave it a special purpose.
4. Our health-care system is the best there is.
5. The Founding Fathers were saintly figures who established liberty and democracy for everyone.
6. America is the greatest country in the world.
7. Tax rates are too high.
8. America is a peace-loving nation: the reason it gets involved in so many wars is that foreigners keep attacking us.
9. Cheap energy, gasoline especially, is our birthright.
10. Everybody else wishes they were American.
Some of these statements may be true. But truth or falsehood isn’t the point here: it is whether or not certain beliefs are amenable to reason. I don’t think these are, which is what puts them in the category of irrationality, flakiness, nonsense, nuttiness, absurdity, craziness….
Call it what you want, the upshot is the same: a failure to look reality in the eye and deal with it on a sensible, empirical basis. Which, if you think about it, pretty much defines Washington politics over the past twenty or thirty years.