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From college campuses to newsrooms to family dinner tables, partisan rhetoric is taking over America. But only half of those feeding this ideological fire will admit to their part. Liberals repetitively call themselves pragmatists or realists seeking to do what’s best for their nation. But, according to Jonah Goldberg in an event at AEI on Wednesday, this claim is nonsense. "Pragmatism" is simply code for "do what we want you to do."
Drawing from his newest book, "The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas," Goldberg argues that liberals are indeed ideological, and this isn't a bad thing. Both liberals and conservatives hold dogmatic beliefs and partisan positions. Danger arises, however, when liberals consider themselves as being removed from the ideological fray—then, they no longer feel the need to seriously examine their beliefs or to rise up and defend them. When liberals rely on clichéd arguments and meaningless talking points to prove their positions, he alleged, the opportunity for debate is stifled.
Goldberg examined many of these clichés, including "violence never solves anything" and "it's better for 10 guilty men to go free than for one innocent man to suffer." According to Goldberg, each statement has a principle behind it and provides a worthwhile starting point for discussion, but neither statement is sufficient to stand on its own. Unfortunately, in today's policy debates, clichés are bandied about as absolutes. Only when liberals admit to their personal biases and ideological leanings can true discussion begin about the best solutions for America’s problems.
-- Lori Sanders
As political name-calling and partisan rhetoric overtakes Washington, D.C., and the media, Jonah Goldberg casts a skeptical eye on the arguments used by today’s journalists, academics and “moderate” politicians. In his newest book, “The Tyranny of Clichés,” Goldberg scrutinizes the oft-repeated claim that liberals are non-ideologues by dismantling the myriad nonintellectual talking points the Left employs in debates.
With wit and passion, Goldberg deconstructs concepts such as “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter,” “violence never solves anything” and “diversity is strength.” He warns of the perils of this academic laziness — much that is done under the progressive umbrella comes under the guise of nonpartisan, solution-oriented policy even though it’s based on these dogmatic stances. Goldberg argues that progressives need to recognize their ideas for what they are — ideological positions — so that real dialogue can begin. Only a dialogue based on truth and fact, not straw men, will create the best policies.
William Kristol, The Weekly Standard
Jonah Goldberg, AEI
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Jonah Goldberg is a bestselling author and columnist, with a nationally syndicated column appearing regularly in scores of newspapers across the United States. He is also a columnist for the Los Angeles Times, a member of the board of contributors to USA Today, a contributor to Fox News, a contributing editor to National Review, and the founding editor of National Review Online. He was named by Atlantic magazine as one of the top 50 political commentators in America. His first book, “Liberal Fascism” (Doubleday, 2008), quickly became a New York Times bestseller. At AEI, Goldberg writes about political and cultural issues for American.com and the Enterprise Blog. His newest book, “A Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,” was released on May 1.
William Kristol is editor of The Weekly Standard, which he founded in 1995, together with Fred Barnes and John Podhoretz. Kristol regularly appears on “Fox News Sunday” and on the Fox News Channel. Before starting The Weekly Standard, Kristol led the Project for the Republican Future. Before that, he served as chief of staff to Vice President Dan Quayle during the Bush administration and to Secretary of Education William Bennett under President Reagan. Before coming to Washington in 1985, Kristol taught politics at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Kristol also serves on the boards of the Center for American Freedom and the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research.