Why It's Futile to Argue With a Liberal

A recent column by Paul Krugman, the uber-liberal New York Times pundit (is there any other kind at the Gray Lady?), was aptly headlined “Let’s Not Be Civil.”

He was proffering advice to congressional Democrats on how to fight the ongoing budget/deficit/debt battle, contending that the House Republican plan was based on what he regards as flawed policy analyses.

“So, let’s not be civil.  Instead, let’s have a frank discussion of our differences.  In particular, if Democrats believe that Republicans are talking cruel nonsense, they should say so,” Krugman wrote.

But that presumes that up till now his fellow liberal Democrats have been civil—a premise for which there’s scant evidence.  New York Rep. Louise M. Slaughter’s outrageous claim April 7, responding to efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, that the freshmen Republican congressmen elected in November came to Washington “to kill women” was only the most extreme and outrageous of the many manifestations of that incivility.  (Never mind that many of those freshmen lawmakers are themselves women or married to women.)  Moreover, to the best of my knowledge, the New York Democrat’s screed has not been repudiated by party leaders, their (faux) decrying of the politics of personal destruction notwithstanding.

Likewise, to hear President Obama tell it, responsible efforts to keep the country from going over the fiscal cliff in Thelma & Louise fashion will put children with autism and Down syndrome at risk.  (Republicans should ask the President if those children were at-risk during the Clinton years, when entire federal budgets were less than Obama’s annual deficits alone.)

Given liberal Democrats’ hyperbolic rhetoric, it’s not surprising when this sort of demagogic excess trickles down to their unhinged base, including but not limited to MoveOn.Com, the DailyKos and Code Pink.

Consider three online political debates I’ve had with liberals, which have convinced me of the utter futility of trying to have a reasoned give-and-take with doctrinaire liberals who won’t allow themselves to be confused by the facts.

Example 1:  Rep. Randy Neugebauer, Texas Republican, in March 2010 called the ObamaCare health bill a “baby killer” because of the questionable efficacy of its ban on federal funding of abortion.  The ensuing debate took place on the comments section of a liberal website:

Me:  “What exactly is abortion, if not ‘baby killing’?  The truth hurts.”

Someone calling himself/herself Bogglesthemind:  “Abortion is sending those babies to Iraq and Afghanistan to die after the wee little ones are saved by pro-life jackasses like you.”

Me:  “How about sticking to civil discourse on the issue at hand without gratuitous name-calling?  So I repeat:  What exactly is abortion, if not ‘baby killing’?  In other words, in what way was what Neugebauer said incorrect?”

Unable to rely solely on invective, Boggles didn’t respond further.

(Before we move on to the second example, note the absurd non sequitur of attempting to link abortion to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  But more on that later.)

Example 2:  This is excerpted from a Facebook exchange I had with an SG, also on ObamaCare, in this instance specifically its budgetary “ledger-demain” (pun intended).

I began by noting that the Congressional Budget Office (or whoever did the projections back then) in the mid-1960s said Medicare would only cost $12 billion a year 25 years out in 1990.

Me:  “Instead, it was nine times that, like $110 billion.  Today, with all the add-ons since, it now costs $420 billion.  This health care monstrosity will likewise cost way, way more than projected.”

SG:  “You like the status quo?  You keep it.  Until it cares as much for the health of its people as it does about building bombs, this will be a second-class country.”

Me:  “I notice that proponents cannot dispute my point about the cost of government programs invariably costing far more than projections.  Another example:  The unfunded liabilities for Social Security alone are something on the order of $60 TRILLION [all emphases in originals].  Simply put, we can’t afford another entitlement.  We are irretrievably in debt as it is.”

SG:  “If we can afford unfounded Bush tax cuts for people earning more than $200,000, two unfunded Bush wars and an unfunded Bush drug benefit, we can afford this.”

Me:  “Reread my numbers.  The Bush tax cuts and the war spending wouldn’t even come close to paying for this.  As for the Bush drug benefit, what you’re advocating vastly expands it and then some.  Simply put, ObamaCare is unaffordable, and no amount of sloganeering can change that.”

SG:  “What we can’t afford is what we have.”

Me:  “I give up.  You win.  It’s pointless to continue this, when you refuse to address the math and acknowledge that this mother of all entitlements will finally bankrupt the country, which is already scores of trillions of dollars in debt.”

SG:  “Every time an uninsured person shows up in an ER, we all pay.”

Me:  “And hundreds of thousands of those are illegal aliens.  Sixty-plus hospitals in California alone have gone out of business because of unreimbursed care.”

SG:  “The answers are clear.  If someone shows up on a hospital doorstep without an insurance card or a big letter of credit, send them away to die somewhere else.  Illegals can be shot on sight.  It’s the GOP way.”

Me:  “What part of ‘illegal’ do you not understand?  We are under NO obligation to them.  Triage them, then deport them.”

SG:  “I said shoot them.  Why waste money on transportation?”

Me:  “Do you realize that every single posting you have made has been entirely emotional, devoid of so much as a single concern for fiscal sanity or affordability and without a single budgetary or other statistic to back it up, as I have repeatedly?  That being the case, there is no point my continuing this.  Go find someone else to argue with.  I’m through.”

Example 3:  In early March, another Facebook friend, a pop culture critic, posted this:

“Is ABC really prepping a new show called ‘Good Christian Bitches’?  Are they simply fishing for controversy?”

The post provoked the following fireworks with C.S. and D.M., whose names were deleted not so much to protect the innocent as to spare them the embarrassment.

Me:  “What you won’t see, I guarantee: ‘Good Jewish Bitches’ or ‘Good Muslim Bitches.’  Christians are the one group the Left allows/encourages bigotry against.”

D.M.:  “It’s probably because some of the loudest bigots also claim to be Christians.  I don’t see any Jews or Muslims protesting at the funerals of our fallen soldiers and holding up signs that say, ‘God Hates Fags!’ among other things.”

Me:  “I won’t dignify that analogy with a reply.  We both know the Westboro Baptist gaggle speak only for themselves.”

C.S.:  “And Focus on the Family’s hateful ways?  And these identified Christian hate groups?

Me:  “1)  I don’t accept the FoF-as-‘hateful’ premise, just because the far Left says so.  2)  Like Westboro, Christian Identity is a microscopic minority that speaks only for itself.

C.S.:  “I’m sorry, the Focus on the Family’s hatred and bigotry against gays and lesbians?  Not hate?  Yeah, those evil lefties and their willingness to accept people as they are, boy, they’re just out to destroy America.  Right, and if we’re talking barrel-of-laugh, loving Christians, I guess we can throw the Ku Klux Klan in there as well.  But maybe I should look broader, at a larger Christian group, say, the Catholic Church … from its official stance.  Gays and lesbians are headed for hell?  Because of who they are?  Because of how they were made?  How is that not inane?  Wouldn’t the creator then be liable under product warranty law?”

Me:  “1)  Is that the KKK that was founded by Democrats (you can look it up), and of which Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia, was once a grand wizard?  2)  To be opposed to homosexuality is hardly hateful.  It was, until about 30 years ago, universally regarded as ‘unnatural acts.’  So, I suppose that made the whole world ‘hateful.’  Again, I reject the premise.”

C.S.:  “Christian bigots always crack me up.  Yeah, nothing to do with cult status, it was the lefties!”

Me:  “I notice you didn’t address either of my two points.  I rest my case.”

C.S.:  “Sorry, yes, being ‘opposed’ to how people are is hateful.  I supposed being ‘opposed’ to African-Americans sharing schools with white kids is hardly hateful, right?  Go rest your case.”

Me:  “Just keep throwing stuff up against a wall and see what sticks.  Nothing has yet.”

C.S.:  “Nor will it, with a closed mind.  Enjoy your cave.”

Me:  “Let’s see: Westboro Baptist, Christian Identity, the KKK, segregation, and you end with name-calling, the last refuge of someone who knows he’s lost the argument.”

Note the two common threads running through all of these liberals’ “arguments,” if you want to call them that (besides complete reliance on emotion to the exclusion of facts): namely, non sequiturs and name-calling.  They bring to mind the old lawyer’s adage:  When the facts are on your side, argue the facts.  When the law is on your side, argue the law.  And when you don’t have either the law or the facts on your side, pound the table.

As such, it’s pretty much an exercise in futility—unless perhaps you have hypotension and need to elevate your blood pressure—to try to have a reasoned, and reasonable, debate with a liberal.  It’d be just about as productive as reading another Paul Krugman column.