At The Huffington Post on Friday, liberal professor and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich lamented "The Triumph of Dogma" at National Public Radio, apparently represented by David Frum's decision to resign his right half of commentaries on the business-ish show Marketplace. "I respect David's decision but I disagree with his understanding of his job on Marketplace. And I find his decision to leave a sad commentary (no pun intended) on what's happening to public discourse in America."
When liberals lament the tone of "public discourse," what they often mean is: Why must we allow a polite liberal-to-centrist statism consensus to be ruined by the unpleasantness of those annoying conservatives in their Tea Party tri-corner hats? Reich explicitly asked: "Why exactly was it necessary for David Frum to 'represent' the views of conservative Republicans?" He finds they're too extreme to have a place on taxpayer-funded radio.
Reich claimed he's non-doctrinaire like Frum:
I don't feel any obligation to represent liberal Democrats. Over the years I've argued, for example, in favor of getting rid of the corporate income tax, creating school vouchers inversely related to family incomes, and extending free-trade agreements -- positions not exactly favored by liberal Democrats.
The American public doesn't want or need to hear "representatives" from the so-called right or left. It wants insight into what's best for America.
Yet over and over again -- on the radio, on TV, in print, in the blogosphere, and all over Washington -- political ideology is substituting for thought.
It's mighty rich when liberals go around lamenting that conservatives substitute "ideology for thought." Liberals, as a species, are so non-doctrinaire? Reich is talking about NPR, the network that fired Juan Williams for daring to be non-doctrinaire and confess traditionally-dressed Muslims on planes make him nervous. Fired! I don't remember the Reich editorial lamenting that "triumph of dogma." On to Reich on how you cannot represent the right wing, since it's just irrational these days:
Meanwhile, the Republican Party has become so extreme that it's more and more difficult for anyone to rationally "represent" its views. As Frum put in in a post on his website, FrumForum, "Under the pressure of the current crisis -- intoxicated by anti-Obama feelings and incited by talk radio and Fox -- Republicans have staked out an extreme position on the role of government."
What if conservative Republicans believe the sun revolves around the earth? Would someone in David Frum's position who disagrees feel compelled to stop offering "conservative" commentaries about the celestial bodies? And would a major media outlet then be obliged to find a replacement who agrees with conservative dogma? (This isn't such a far-fetched example when you consider what leading Republicans say about evolution or climate change.)
Liberals are so thoroughly convinced of the dire ending of the planet just weeks ahead due to "climate change" that they would think it's not "far-fetched" to paint themselves as Copernicus, and the conservatives are a benighted pack of Ptolemaic holdouts.
Reich approvingly noted how Frum has joined his consensus in this era of trillion-dollar deficits, as Frum told NPR:
This is not a moment for government to be cutting back. ... Right now we're watching state governments try to balance all of their budgets at the same time in the middle of this crisis. We've seen half a million public sector jobs disappear. Now, if these were good times, I would applaud that. We need to see a thinner public sector -- especially at the state and local level. But we're seeing what happens when you do that as an anti-recession measure and you make the recession worse.
Reich says this consensus of sweet reason should not be rebutted:
It so happens the vast majority of economists and economic policy experts agree with David on this - even though you wouldn't know it if you watched or listened to broadcast debates between a so-called "liberal" and "conservative" economists.
No wonder Americans are so confused.
Liberals call Americans "confused" when they have an opportunity to assess a choice in major debates about the size of government -- a choice, and not just a liberal echo represents a ruined political discourse. Reich thoroughly represents the dogma that defines NPR.