Seduced by the Saint

Great article by Janet Albrechtsen, one of Australia’s brightest columnists,  in today’s Australian.

A few extracts:

You know that something is amiss with rational judgment when economics Nobel laureate Amartya Sen describes events surrounding Barack Obama’s arrival as US President as “turning an exceptional human being into almost the kind of godhead that he has become”.

Sober analysts must be standing aside, wondering about the role of emotion in politics and its implications for critical scrutiny of Obama’s presidency. But many other observers have metaphorically cast aside their crutches and accepted that Obama has made them whole again.

Regrettably, it looks as if Obama may get a free pass on tough media scrutiny largely because so many journalists share his politics, just as Kevin Rudd escapes the sort of media scrutiny that followed John Howard.

But there is likely to be a deeper, though related, reason for the bias. Progressive politics is essentially an emotional, rather than rational, pursuit. Its foundations rest on altruistic, even utopian, beliefs about the perfectibility of man and society where hope triumphs over experience.

That causes leftist politicians to place a large premium on myth-making, rhetoric and romance. And leftist journalists swallow it whole. Results matter much less to both of them. That’s one reason, for example, that Gough Whitlam is still a demigod to the ALP and to its media adherents.

In a tough world, however, we will need more from Obama and from his press gallery. What will matter is whether Obama does a good job, not whether he’s black, good looking and speaks well.

Read the whole thing.

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2 Responses to “Seduced by the Saint”

  1. Oz Says:

    HA! Brightest columnists. Good one. I don’t think The Australian has any good columnists other than George Megalogenis.

    And libertarianism isn’t based on myth-making and utopianism where the idea of ‘the individual’ is romanticised and triumphs? In fact, wasn’t the entire Bush Administration based on utopian ideals of exporting democracy?

    In fact, I would reject this idea that progressive politics is all about emotion and not about rationality. Conservatism constantly plays with emotion. Stems cells, climate change, family planning, gay marriage, the list goes on. This isn’t based on rationality.

    I find the quote:

    Its foundations rest on altruistic, even utopian, beliefs about the perfectibility of man and society where hope triumphs over experience.

    Sounds like what America has been trumpeting, well since its foundation.

    While I agree the adoration of Obama is getting somewhat cult-like, the complaint about media scrutiny is bullshit.

    Being a business, the media is about what sells rather than it being a ‘lefty conspiracy’. If they get media interest and hits because of random things adoring Obama then that’s what they’ll prioritise. They’ll tear him down when it gets hits and readers. Add that to attempts to cost cut, they’re not going to put resources into providing the public good. Its easier to print a media release and cut down staff which is what is happening.

  2. Natalie Says:

    Oz, how does climate change play with emotion when the conservative position is grounded in science? True conservatism is predicated on reason and not emotion.

    Moreover, those other social issues you raise as “conservative” concerns are only labelled as such because socialists who think they are conservative let their own moral compass dictate the state’s views. Those views are not truly conservative. It is the principles of small government and policies which champion the freedom of the individual, steeped in logic, and to use your word, rationality, which are at the crux of conservatism.

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