Maddow and Lithwick can’t: How are we liberals now being trained?
We were struck a colloquy on Monday evening’s Rachel Maddow Show.
Maddow was speaking with Dahlia Lithwick about the spread of state laws which limit abortion rights. Virginia was on the verge of passing a law which would require invasive ultrasound examinations.
In just her second question, Maddow wanted to know if this proposal made any internal sense. Were laws like these compatible, in any way, with conservative “small government” frameworks? Is there any way to avoid the conclusion that The Other Tribe is just a big gang of slobbering hypocrites?
Unlike us, that is! This was Maddow's proffer. To watch the full segment, click here:
MADDOW (2/20/12): Dahlia, you I think more than anybody have done more to help non-lawyers understand the legal means by which some of these issues have been approached by the right—the way that abortion rights have been sort of chipped away at from the edges by the anti-abortion movement and conservative movement more broadly. When you look at the approaches to the legislation like this, trying to change state laws like this, the approaches they’ve taken in terms of federal legislation— Is there any connection that I just can’t see, because I’m a liberal, between the way they have approached this issue as a policy matter and the rhetoric about supporting small government?Maddow said she just can’t see it. Lithwick explained why that is:
LITHWICK (continuing directly): You know, there is none. This is—it makes no sense for a party that purports to want to shrink government down to the size that you could drown it in a bathtub, to then sort of insert it into your uterus. It makes no cognitive sense.Maddow can't see the connection here because there is no connection! It makes no "cognitive sense." (We'll admit we don't know what that phrase means. But we think we get the idea)
As she continued, Lithwick discussed Anthony Kennedy’s vote in the 2006 Gonzales case. For ourselves, we were struck by her declaration about the other side’s complete lack of “cognitive sense.”
As readers may know, the Maddow show is the place to go to hear that the others are hypocrites. Presumably, this is true about many of the other tribe’s office-holders. But is it true that it “makes no sense” to favor small government while supporting various anti-choice measures, including this highly intrusive measure?
Does this really “make no sense”—“none?” Here at THE HOWLER, we favor abortion rights as conventionally defined. But on a logical basis, could it make sense to favor “small government” while opposing abortion rights? Are those two stances incompatible?
For our money, those two stances are compatible, although we don’t support either one. It’s amazing to see that Maddow and Lithwick can’t even imagine the thinking involved here.
“Small government” isn’t no government. It isn’t strange to favor small government while supporting laws against murder or assault, for example. And pro-life people say they consider abortion to be the taking of a human life. We don’t see it that way ourselves. But it’s amazing to see that Maddow and Lithwick can’t navigate this well-lit pathway—to see that they can’t even imagine the possible reasoning here.
The Virginia law under discussion is very intrusive. But if you can’t even imagine a way this procedure could be supported within a “small government” framework, we’d have to say you aren’t very good at imagining things that extend beyond your own highly limited self.
But then, please remember the world’s oldest stricture, a stricture which extends from pre-history:
The tribe must never imagine the mental life of the other tribe. Such flights of fancy can’t be allowed. The other tribe isn’t human!
We'd oppose that Virginia law ourselves. But can we imagine where it comes from?
Well actually, yes. We can!