Tuesday, August 12, 2003

George Will: Revisionist Historian

What the hell is George Will talking about? Does anyone have any idea? Today, he makes two points to which you should pay close attention.

  1. Arianna Huffington was a Republican at least eight years ago:

    In the 1950s, when Doris Day, prim and perky and squeaky clean, was starring in romantic comedies, the mordant Oscar Levant said, "I knew Doris Day before she was a virgin." Washington knew Arianna Huffington before she was a left-wing populist.

    But in politics as in other fields of fashion, standards of chic change, and it is as a Huey Long from the upper crust that millionaire Huffington is seeking to make of herself a gift, as governor, to California's downtrodden. Can it be just eight years ago that she was living here, toiling to establish a salon for like-minded surfers on the rising -- or so she thought -- wave of Newt Gingrich's brand of conservatism? "Why Newt Must Run," she wrote in the Nov. 27, 1995, Weekly Standard, urging a presidential candidacy.

  2. Arnold Schwarzenegger is an embarrassment to the Republican Party because he makes Ronald Reagan look bad:

    By encouraging facile comparisons with Reagan, Schwarzenegger's candidacy will seem to validate the dismissive assessments of Reagan as an empty suit whose smile was his political philosophy. In fact, Schwarzenegger could hardly be less like Reagan, a "conviction politician" who ran for governor in 1966 after having honed his political thinking over more than a decade of constant public advocacy.

Here's the thing: On one hand he's saying that Arianna's full of shit for changing her party due to "standards of chic" and on the other, he's saying that Schwarzenegger isn't Reaganesque because Reagan was driven by real conviction. Doesn't he know, as we do, that Reagan only switched parties four years before he ran for Governor of California? How could he say Arianna's a flip-flopper, then, but Reagan was some sort of ideological juggernaut?

Remember, everyone was switching parties back then: Strom (who switched two years after Reagan), Jesse, etc. And where was George Will when it was time to mock Richard Shelby, who switched from D to R in 1994 and Ben Nighthorse Campbell who did the same a year later? Should we ignore them because they were party floppers? What about Bob Smith of New Hampshire, who changed from Republican to Independent and back in the same year (1999)?

It's funny that George (rightly) castigates Arnold for not taking a serious position on real issues, but bashes Arianna, who has, for reasons which can only be described as superficial. Actually, considering Will's own record of turning 180 degrees on issues for purely partisan reasons, its obvious that the man doesn't really care about ideas, but only the letter in parentheses behind someone's name.


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