Conservatism embraces President Kennedy's exhortation to "Ask not what your country can do for you -- ask what you can do for your country," and adds: You serve your country by embracing a spacious and expanding sphere of life for which your country is not responsible.
Here is the core of a conservative appeal, without dwelling on "social issues" that should be, as much as possible, left to "moral federalism" -- debates within the states. On foreign policy, conservatism begins, and very nearly ends, by eschewing abroad the fatal conceit that has been liberalism's undoing domestically -- hubris about controlling what cannot, and should not, be controlled.
Conservatism is realism, about human nature and government's competence. Is conservatism politically realistic, meaning persuasive? That is the kind of question presidential campaigns answer.
The essay is primarily an intellectually dispassionate analysis of the differences between the two philosophies. It is not overly heated rhetoric, nor is it in the least bit histrionic. There are, of course, points and characterizations he makes with which a genuine liberal might have reasonable disagreement.
Now, look at what a really really deep thinker of the left has to say about Will's editorial, or rather how she translates and distorts Will's arguments:
Shorter George Will: "Ask what you can do to help yourself, and screw everyone else. Do unto others and grab as much as you can along the way, before they get around to doing unto you, that's the conservative way."
Well, that was refreshingly honest and up front, wasn't it?
Many of you have heard of the Rorschach Test in psychiatry in which a subject is asked to describe what he sees when looking at a series of neutral inkblots. This type of test is considered a "projective psychological test" because the subject will project his or her own psychological issues onto the inkblot. Because the inkblot is emotionally neutral and ambiguous, the patient must impose his or her own psychological structure in its interpretation.
Naturally, the dominant thoughts, feelings, and themes of that person's life (some of which is unconscious) will find expression. While projective tests tend to have lower validity and reliability than objective tests, which are used more in the research side of psychology and psychiatry; the clinical information that can be obtained by using tests like the Rorschach, TAT, Draw-a-Person and others, is often extremely useful in understanding how an individual thinks and what issues they are conflicted about or emotionally overinvested.
What we have here is a failure to look in the mirror and truly see the person staring back. The only conclusion that one can draw from reading Will's piece and then reading the bizarre distortion of Will's piece, is that the translator has injected some serious issues that belong only to herself; specifically, a casual observer might certainly wonder, based on the content of that hysterical little rant, exactly whose rhetoric and behavior is intended to "screw" others.
As a clinician, I have pointed out repeatedly how today's left is completely unable to come to terms with their own selfish, narcissistic and utterly malignant psychological impulses. They constantly rationalize that they are all about "doing good" and that they follow some sort of "higher" ideal; thus, anyone who objects to or challenges their interpretation of "good"; or points out the long-term consequences of their collectivist policies must be evil. Like the immature children they are, they really hate it when a grown-up highlights the infantile and shallow nature of their political tantrums.
Just do a little reality testing with these guys; like pointing out how for all their fine rhetoric about freedom, they seem to always enthusiastically come down on the side of the world's wonderful socialist/collectivist dictators--who abrogate personal freedoms and persecute any who disagree with them, all while sending their country's economies into the toilet--and,watch out! Because they will stick their tongue out, make fun of you, and call you stupid.
The exaggerated emotionality of Hardin-Smith's response to Will's column is considered nuanced and intelligent debate on her side of the political aisle. That is not to say that over-the-top rhetoric by the bloggers at FDL is not without its usefulness--after all, Jane Hamsher did author Joe Lieberman's decisive victory over Ned Lamont by vocally supporting Lamont; and Hardin-Smith is cut from the same sackcloth.
John F. Kennedy's 1961 Inaugural address is one of the great ones, and if you bother to read it in its entirety, you will realize that the person who spoke those words is a mature, grown-up individual and a Democrat. A rare breed nowadays; and as for using maturity and leftism in the same sentence, it is an oxymoron. Who among their sad lot would "pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty" ?
I wrote in "The Mask Slips":
In fact, the real problem of not knowing one's self, and trying to avoid devastating self-awareness, is that the dark side is perfectly content to let the light side believe that goodness and light are running the show. The dark side is actually an expert at finding creative and disguised ways to express its destructiveness.
I am, of course, speaking about the unconscious mind, where the darkness can almost always be found in each of us. The last thing that our dark selves wants is for its unconscious processes to be made conscious through the development of insight and self-awareness; precisely because that is the only way to alter the self-destructive path that an individual or a group may sometimes be on.
Sometimes they can convince themselves that because their behavior has some good intention or idealized fantasy behind it, it doesn't matter that it results in exactly the opposite result from the fantasy in the real world. That is how that dark side works--behind the mirror; hiding behind the mask of goodness.
The political left has turned this psychological mechanism into a true art form.
There is no finer example of this unique leftist art form than the histrionics at Firedog