George Will can't stop lying!

I now know why Elvis shot that TV set.

If you missed it, Stephen Colbert’s special guest last night was conservative pundit George Will. I almost typed “addle-headed pathological liar George Will,” but didn’t because I think a cursory look at what he actually said will make that clear enough.

Show, don’t tell, as I always instruct my writing students.

So let’s start by watching the segment.

WARNING: people with above-average intelligence who have eaten a greasy meal in the last couple of hours should grab a barf bag before clicking play.

Now, let’s consider some of what he said.

Conservatives tend to favor freedom and are willing to accept inequalities of outcome from a free market and liberals tend to favor equality of outcome and to sacrifice and to circumscribe freedom in order to get it.

First, let’s examine those first five words, and let’s do so explicitly within the context of GOP policy over the last few years. If you would, please explain to me how the Patriot Act favors freedom. How about FISA? Tell us about the NSA/telecom program designed to conduct covert, warrantless spying on American citizens? What about the continuing insistence by Republican leaders on retroactive immunity for the telecoms that willingly engaged in this program? Gitmo? Waterboarding? Rendition?

As the Department of Pre-Crime says in Minority Report: “That which keeps us safe will also keep us free.”

We do love to hear about free markets, but such rhetoric seems not to address the full breadth of America’s freedom problem these days. Mr. Will.

But, since we love talking free markets so much, would you take a moment to wax eloquent about no-bid government contracts for the White House’s close corporate friends?

The second half of the statement here is where things get tricky, because Will attempts to sneak a bald-faced lie past us in the form of an assumption: “…liberals tend to favor equality of outcome…” Ummm, no. Sure, some “liberals” (more on this in a moment) believe we’d be better off if our economic spectrum reflected a bit more equity in the quality of living standard, but I know a lot of “liberals” and pretty much none of them are telling me that everybody needs to be equal. I know that’s what Ayn Rand would have you believe everybody to the left of Goldwater thinks, but it’s just possible that somebody been trying to shove a straw man up our asses, you know?

Fact is, I know a number of full-on un- and semi-reconstructed Marxists who don’t go that far. So let’s play a game. You find me as many libruls who want to assure perfect equality of outcome and I’ll find you as many as I can who don’t think that at all. We’ll settle up – call it $5 per head? – and I’ll go buy myself a nice island in the South Pacific to vacation on.

No, George, what libruls favor is equality of opportunity. When we talk about a level playing field, we’re not saying guarantee us victory, we’re saying give us a fair chance. Sadly, way too many conservative policies, especially in the last couple of decades, have been explicitly predicated on denying the majority of our citizens equality of opportunity.

Nobody likes to lose, but most folks can accept a bad outcome better so long as they know the game wasn’t rigged.

Let’s continue.

“What conservatives say is ‘we will protect you against idealism. We will protect you against the liberal faith that we can make something straight from the crooked timber of humanity.’ We understand that the government’s job is to deliver the mail, defend the shores and get out of the way.”

Wow. He begins with “we’ll protect you from idealism” and concludes with as raw a statement of idealist, ideological dogma as you’re likely to hear in this lifetime or any other. He does so using a neat little rhetorical trick, too – “we understand that” makes clear that this isn’t a belief or a posit, but a fact, a truth, that need not be examined in the same way you would any other theoretical proposition.

Not only is Will a liar, he’s a clever one.

Paraphrasing this one: The reason people can’t afford health care is because of state mandates. and then this:

“[Political parties] organize our animosities.” [riffing on Henry Adams]

But George, if the free market were working to provide affordable health care for all (or most, anyway), why would any state legislator propose mandates in the first place?

“We have two parties because we have basically two kinds of people.”

At this point I’m almost too dumbfounded to reply. All the brilliant people out there desperately trying to find an audience for their insights and this fuckwit gets to be on TV every week?!

[breathing deeply]

Still, I’m grateful he said this. I’ve argued on a number of occasions that America has been victimized by a cynical divide-and-conquer strategy. As I said my obituary for Hunter Thompson:

Although I never heard him say it in these words, Hunter S. Thompson I think understood the artificial Red/Blue, Conservative/Liberal divide that most Americans seem to have bought into for the cynical construction that it is – a rhetorical fluff job that turns Americans with common cause against each other and that serves the power elites in both parties to the detriment of the public they take turns fleecing.

In Will’s remarks we see a flagrant, full-monty example of what this divisive rhetoric looks like. Hopefully we’re also smart enough to see it, when it’s this shallow and transparent, for the forked-tonguery that it really is.

83 replies »

  1. I’m not watching that crap again, but to the best of my unwilling recollection, nice work, Sam.

    Did you catch that smirking gerbil McClellan on The Daily Show?

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  3. george will made colbert look foolish a number of times during the interview. i especially liked how colbert quickly changed the subject after george will started to talk unfavorably about obama.

  4. Colbert always looks foolish – that’s his schtick. I can’t say how they each looked to somebody to somebody with an IQ under 80, but from where I sat Will looked like a complete jackass.

  5. I’m curious how you somehow disavow a political idealogy (conservatism) based on the actions of 8 years of government. I mean anything with “social” something in it would be discredited instantly via the example of the Soviet Union if your logic held true. Fortunately it doesn’t.

    In general you’re fairly incoherent in your arguments. Will argued his position well and held his own exceptionally well against Colbert, and there was a reason he was the first person Colbert has called a formidable opponent that wasn’t himself.

    Even if you ignore me (which you easily can, I’m just another dope on the internet to you, just like you are to me), I would imagine you’d give some credit to Colbert since you watch his show. He genuinely seemed impressed by Will’s wit.

  6. Will’s wit has never been in question. It’s the corruption of his ideas and the duplicity of his methods that are the problem.

  7. Dr. Slammy,

    I’m speechless… friends on the left really have a deep hatred of conservatism.



  8. Your friend on the left has a deep distaste for what George Will had to say last night. The problem is that what he was spouting was conservatism of a particular sort, not conservatism of the sort I’ve always respected. REAL conservatives don’t work to destroy fair opportunity.

  9. i don’t recall george will saying anything about destroying fair opportunity.

    so’s your face

  10. George Will is just another right-wing wanker, with a perpetual elitist smirk on his face, just like most of the Republicans who’ve done so much damage to our democracy. But at least we now know from whence many of the most inane and insane Republican talking points arise.

  11. Ah, no, serin, he didn’t say “In addition, I believe in destroying fair opportunity” but really, did he have to? He supports this ongoing criminal enterprise of an administration by asserting that bushco is Conservative, that this belief-defying ineptitude is repellent to “libruls” because it smacks of the freedom we favor sacrificing and circumscribing.
    George Will hasn’t reported or commented on events since his Pulitzer Prize, 30 odd years ago. He is not even a caricature. He is a shameless shill, fitting in promotion of the Will brand alongside whatever support for not-my-president Bush he can sell. He isn’t as shrill or bombastic as Douche Dimbulb, I mean Rush… But at least as dishonest.
    If this administration began advocating cannabalism, Will would say he’s been eating babies since 1980, all good conservatives have….

  12. George Will IS as smart and honest as conservatives get. That’s it. You’ve seen the pinnacle. He’s the best they have to offer.

  13. Well said orangutan. Conservatives whine that the govt doesn’t work, and then they get elected and prove it.

    “If the Goverment is a car setting out to give every one a ride to work, then for 40 years the Republicans have been puncturing the tires, pouring sand in the gas tank, stealing the distributor cap, and, whenever they can get their hands on the wheel, driving it straight into the nearest ditch and then, pointing to the wreckage as the tow truck backs up to it, saying, ‘See, this proves that people were meant to walk.’
    And they do this so that they don’t have to chip in on gas.” – Lance Mannion

  14. Right at the beginning of your reflection on the interview, I think you missed an important point. Mr. Will was describing conservatives, not Republicans. I am sure he would agree with your take on the GOP’s actions not always supporting “freedom”.

    From an ideological standpoint, Mr. Will’s comments are a pretty good place to start in my view. It’s not always true, but it is a good place to start in describing the differences between the two groups.

  15. Interesting question.

    Although I’m a staunch conservative, every election has me voting for either a Democrat, or a liberal in one of the races.Last election cycle had me vote for two Democrats.
    How many liberals out there in S&R land can say that they have voted for at least one conservative or Republican during every cycle? The best person doesn’t necessarily have to be the one you agree with……….


  16. That One Guy: Mr Will was speaking in a pretty clear context, and wasn’t ambiguous in equating conservative with GOP and liberal with Democrat.

  17. However much one might disagree politically with Mr. Will, his books and articles about his real passion, baseball, are pure poetry…..Well worth a read.


  18. The Colbert segment, at best, was confusing. You have to give Will credit for not trying to sound nice. It was definitely not a good Colbert interview but Will has the personality of a wet rag. He did leave me curious about the 19 mandates so I hope that is answered when I finish reading your blog. Why didn’t Colbert ask what that was in reference to? oh oh I checked and the answer is not there. What are the 19 mandates that he references, particularly regarding Illinois? Is he talking about Illinois itself or federal mandates? I agree that if health care were affordable nothing would be needed but where do I find out what the hell he was talking about?

  19. Will is willing to do ANYTHING that brings in a buck, though he uses a graduated fee system. He’s the sort of person that gives whores a bad name.

    George WILL.

  20. Kurt Vonnegut once referred to George Will as “the owlish nitwit George Will” and I’ve never seen any evidence to seriously challenge that assessment.

  21. The first time I read Will was the last time I read Will. It was the endpiece for Time or Newsweek, in about 1978 or 79, and he had written a defense of Anita Bryant’s valiant and courageous Crusade against gay Americans and their disgusting plea for equality (snark). He ended his piece – which was full of indignation and contempt for a group of people he clearly considered to be trash – with the words “Enough! Enough!” – and I remember thinking to myself: this guy’s a FAG! A prissy, pinch-nosed, anal-retentive, limp-wristed, stereotypically self-hating, closeted FAG!

    And I’ve never changed my mind about him. I’ve yet to discover any reason at all to ever listen to him again. All these years later, whenever our paths cross and I see him on TV – and before I change the channel – I always have that same gut reaction. And ya’ know what? I bet I’m right!

    It doesn’t matter to me whether he’s married and has 30 children, 300 grandchildren and 10,000 great-grandchildren. My gut has never lied to me.

  22. Will can’t possibly think that the last 8 years have been ok.
    All I can say is that maybe he just keeps hoping that some conservative utopia will come back. Or Saint Ronny Raygun will come back from the dead or whatever..

  23. Colbert’s humor, which I appreciate, is successful because he satirizes conservative punditry, which is to say that he takes conservative opinion beyond their traditional boundary, exposing their contradictions when applied elsewhere.

    What Will did was the same thing: free market applied to turtles and ferns? Fine, it’s their choice to be there says Will.

    Their equations are pretty clear — it’s funny to see Colbert put in a corner by a conservative who is willing to think abstractly. The one move Colbert will never pull, unfortunately, is to tell the conservative that they’re crazy. He one-ups them, but that is it.

    Stewart and Colbert would be much more threatening if they’d call out capitalism once and a while head on. That doesn’t sell commercials though. Still I find this shit entertaining.

  24. Yea, that was very hard to listen to. Why would someone either lie so brazenly or be that hopelessly misinformed?

    And it is the kind of being misinformed that is framed with the hateful add-ons and jingoisitic nonsense, like “fighting for your freedom” propaganda that always is inverse to the truth. George Will and his media handlers piss on your back and tell you its raining

  25. It’s people like Will who really are the worst sort of conservatives. At least with George Bush who’s dumb as a flagpole, we know there’s a puppetmaster pulling some strings. George Will sold his soul long ago to be the mouthpiece for these fascists. He could use his brains for good, but instead, he feigns being a serious person in order to pass off his pretention as thoughtfulness.

  26. It’s no secret the dude who looks and sounds like a chemistry teacher has a hand inserted up his rectum by a puppeteer, they usually work shifts, depends on what audience George is speaking to.

    “Tonight, from the Mickey Mouse Network, we have our special guest George Will, corporate whore for corporate interests, who’s out to break down every program ever funded, organized and paid for, by your tax dollars, that does not go solely into the deep pockets of corporate America. Give him a big hand!!”

  27. far be it from me to kick a man when he’s down but george will is just as much a fraud when he talks about baseball. he’s smart enough to write about the game but he does not have the heart of a fan. all posturing, no passion.

    call me cynical, but this strikes me as typical of the conservative elite: pretend to be one of the people while simultaneously despising them.

  28. I have watched George Will as long as he has been on this magazine show. I would come away shaking my head asking myself ” what did he just say and does he mean it. Being a conservative is not reverence. Labeling people as liberals makes me smile because as least you know who you’re dealing with. Conservatives seem to take a different approach using steath tactics and misrepresenting the status quo. With the representative political party suffering losses with the changing of their political support, George Will just seemed too smug with that air of reverence flying the conservative banner. He will never adknowledge there are deep problems and issues for conservatives. The representative party needs to redefine itself and rejoin the American people. They need to stop letting people with selfish intentions take over their party. As far as I am concerned with all that happened the last 7 years in our name, makes me really think about the difference between a conservative and a liberal. It seems that conservatives believe in the corporate culture because money is behind that mindset. In seven years, our democracy has changed to a facist government. Corporate entities have takened over the government and have redefined our patriotism. Americans need to stop to labelling themselves not as conservatives or liberals but only as Americans. Our system of checks and balances has been compromised with corporate think, This is a big problem if we as Americans are to truly stand up for the principles that founded this country.

  29. Health insurance mandates. There are actually two kinds – one is that insurance companies are ‘mandated’ to cover items and/or people, the other is that people are ‘mandated’ to obtain coverage or employers are ‘mandated’ to provide coverage.

    In this case, I believe Mr. Will was referring to the first. Many types of mandates have been placed on insurers – these do have the effect of driving up premium costs, because when you require coverage for additional conditions,treatments,providers or populations, the concurrent costs also rise.

    Some examples of recent mandates: mental health parity (treating mental health issues equally with physical health). This has been a problem because most coverage only allowed a lifetime number of visits – usually 10 or less. Anyone with a serious mental health issue well knows that 10 lifetime visits could be used up in a very short while, leaving the patient with zero coverage for the rest of their life for what may be a chronic condition.
    A mandate requiring coverage of adopted children in a family at the same level and with the same provisions as a ‘natural’ child.
    A mandate requiring coverage of services provided by a licensed midwife as part of pregnancy and childbirth coverage.
    A mandate requiring prescription coverage for contraceptives for women if the policy provides coverage for ED drugs for men.

    And so on. I couldn’t find a particular list for Illinois during Obama’s time in the legislature, but this is what Mr. Will is talking about.

    Most of the websites discussing this issue are right-wing think-tanks and quite biased from my quick read of their summaries and primary points. They basically feel that the government is “interfering” with the free market and that this is the entire reason why people are ‘priced out’ and not able to afford coverage.

    I did not see addressed anywhere the issue of insurance costs rising three times faster than actual costs of care – primarily as a result of shareholder dividends, CEO compensation excesses and the like. Nor was there any discussion of the huge windfall all the insurance companies received in the form of subsidies and guaranteed profits as a result of the Medicare Part D enactment.

    Hope this helps.

  30. Didn’t he also say the economy was doing just fine – Dow drops 400 points and unemployment up 0.5% – that man is not only a liar but a prescient one to boot.

  31. Dr. Slammy, June 4, 2008 at 5:43 pm :
    Your friend on the left has a deep distaste for what George Will had to say last night. The problem is that what he was spouting was conservatism of a particular sort, not conservatism of the sort I’ve always respected. REAL conservatives don’t work to destroy fair opportunity.

    -Please explain what a real conservative is?
    And when did these conservatives in power quit being real conservative?
    They all voted (rubberstamped) and walked in lock step together as conservatives.
    GWB got everything he asked for and conservatives gladly abided.
    They all ran as conservatives and were elected by conservative voters (I’m guessing).
    Does this mean that the conservative electorate aren’t real conservatives either since the conservatives they voted for aren’t real conservatives?

  32. Must suck to be a conservative these days. I mean how do you know who you are? how do you know if you’re a real conservative or a fake conservative? or maybe an imaginary conservative?

  33. “…liberals tend to favor equality of outcome…” Ummm, no. Sure, some “liberals” (more on this in a moment) believe we’d be better off if our economic spectrum reflected a bit more equity in the quality of living standard, but I know a lot of “liberals” and pretty much none of them are telling me that everybody needs to be equal.”

    A significant section of the left DOES believe in equality of outcome. Chomsky does … as does (according to Chomsky) Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson:

    The point being that an essential feature of a decent society, and an almost defining feature of a democratic society, is relative equality of outcome-not opportunity, but outcome. Without that you can’t seriously talk about a democratic state.

    These concepts of the common good have a long life. They lie right at the core of classical liberalism, of enlightenment thinking. Adam Smith, as everyone knows, advocated free markets, but if you look at the argument for free markets, it was based on his belief that free markets ought to lead to a perfect equality, which is a desideratum in a decent society. Like Aristotle, Smith understood that the common good will require substantial intervention to assure lasting prosperity of the poor by distribution of public revenues.

    So Adam Smith’s praise of the division of labor is well known, but less known is his condemnation of the division of labor for its inhuman effects which, as he said, “will turn working people into objects as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human creature to be” and there fore must be prevented in any improved or civilized society by government action to overcome the devastating market forces.

    Other leading contributors to classical liberalism went much further than this, condemning wage labor itself, for the reason that it deprives people of their humanity. When the laborer works under external control, we may admire what he does but we despise what he is-a classic liberal slogan. deToqueville said that the art advances, the artisan declines. He was, of course, also a great figure of the classical liberal pantheon and he agreed with Smith, Thomas Jefferson and many others, that equality of outcome is an important feature-a crucial feature in fact-of a free and just society. And he warned of the dangers of a permanent inequality of condition and an end to democracy if the manufacturing aristocracy (which is growing up under our eyes in the United States in the 1830s, remember, one of the harshest that has ever existed in the world) should escape its confines, as it later did beyond his worst nightmares.

    That’s classical liberalism, way back to Aristotle.

  34. btw, I tend to think of these conservatives as the perfect republicans.
    Afterall it was Reagan who said that government is the problem.
    These conservatives have done a wonderful job proving it!

  35. Will the Shill is a Conservative hack who needs to grow a set of balls if that’s possible for a republican.

    Will wouldn’t last in any forum that wasn’t set up for is lame traitorist views. The sooner Fks like him retire to their island and save our sensibilities the better. To even qualify this meat sack is shameful.
    Go Straight to HELL Mr SHill and please don’t come back!

  36. If you examine what Will said within the context of what has been done by the government then everything you said is true.

    But if you examine it in the context of the fact that BushCo is anything but conservative then conservatism isn’t false.

    You’re saying conservatism doesn’t work using evidence of what the government has done.

    I’m saying the government isn’t what conservatism is.

    Conservatism may not work but I don’t know because I’ve never seen it in action. All I’ve seen is liars claiming to be conservative but who actually aren’t. They’re frauds lying to get votes.

  37. I’m curious how you somehow disavow a political idealogy (conservatism) based on the actions of 8 years of government.

    Oh I see, conservatism never fails, it is only failed by us puny moritals.

  38. Wow…great, GREAT article, Dr. Slammy. You pick him apart beautifully. I so wish someone like you could meet Will face-to-face to see him respond. Your point about equal opportunity as opposed to equal outcome is spot-on. I’d like to see Will defend the tax breaks that oil companies get, reduction of capital gains tax, etc. Great job!

  39. I’ve always seen the difference between the two parties, if one feels the need to dichotomize (word?), is personal responsibility. The Republicans believe it’s every man for himself, and you are responsible for your “outcome,” and tough luck if you suffer. Democrats, or should I say Liberals, also believe in personal responsibility, but they believe that we should help each other, especially those less fortunate.

    Further, we (yes I am a Liberal) would rather overspend a little and have some who may be undeserving get extra funding than underspend and let those who are really trying but can’t make it slip through the cracks.

    I didn’t think welfare reform in general was necessarily a bad idea; if people are gaming the system, it’s reasonable to try to ameliorate this. However, a widow with 3 kids who’s working and just cannot make enough to pay her mortgage/rent and feed her children, does she not warrant a helping hand?

    I’d like to ask conservatives if they think sidewalk ramps for people with wheelchairs are a good idea; I assume they’d say “yes.” Further, why don’t we just let children fend for themselves? I guess the difference between conservatives and liberals, then, is this: who is truly deserving of help and who is not?

  40. I decided he was a total jackass when he urged people not to go see the movie Erin Brockovich. The movie glorified lawyers that sued a poor defenseless corporation that poisoned an entire community, which in his philosophy had every right to do. He actually said that if those people were unhappy about it they should just move.
    One wonders how he would feel if something similar were to happen in his neighborhood.

  41. Disagree with the policy differences and leave his charactor out of it. I know that is hard for modern day liberals. Take a little time and read about Will and you might find you respect him on many fronts. For example, does anyone here know that he has a 36 year old son with downs syndrome. His son is quite a success story. He uses public transportation and works for the Washington Nationals. Oh I slipped up, I crossed right into another liberal position without even knowing it, abortion. Women are screened these days and commonly have abortions if there is a chance for downs. There goes the success story.

  42. If G. Will really believes that the gov’t is only to ‘defend the shores and deliver the mail,’ doesn’t that make him a libertarian rather than a conservative? What about the regulation of marriage? What about the control of communist substances like Mari-ju-ana? What about achieving total victory in the War Against Christmas? What about protecting the civil rights of patriotic zygotes? George Will ain’t no REAL conservative.

  43. Slammy: The only problem with citing the Patriot ACt, FISA end runs and the like as attacks on our freedom is this: Conservatives, when they talk about freedom, don’t REALLY mean individual freedoms as set out in the constitution. They simply mean freedom to make as much money as they possibly can with no interference from anyone. Conservativism is motivated by one basic thing, and that is the desire to acquire wealth and to use their wealth to acquire the political power so they can retain their wealth no matter what effects their policies have on those who are not wealthy or powerful. Period.

  44. George Will is talking about classic conservatism not neo-conservatism. You are comparing his statements to the actions of the Republican party for the past 8+ years. Apples and oranges.

    I admit I get most of my news from Stewart/Colbert but go read a book. Your knowledge of traditional conservative ideals is severely lacking.

  45. It’s funny how the words “free markets” and “freedom” always appear in the same sentence in the dialect of conservatives… great analysis!

  46. In a celebrity culture, celebrities are brought onto TV shows to bolster ratings; no one really believes they have anything of importance to say. It’s unfortunate for Will that he is living beyond the point where people could accept the illogic and the inconsistencies that bedevil the modern explanation of conservative theory, a theory never put into practice and largely rejected by modern Republican political leadership. Ask him why he keeps to speed limits and stops at red lights. It is obvious that this passion on the part of government to sacrifice the freedom of drivers in order to favor equality of outcome is a liberal plot to fully regulate our lives and deny us the free market of action on the highway and to deny us of our natural right of competition for primacy in entering every intersection. Shame on those who would tolerate such a left-leaning scheme, who would force the strong to stop their powerful vehicles for the weak pedestrian, who would throttle free enterprise by limiting the speed at which such commerce moves on our national arteries. These weak-minded excuses for conservatism are blind to the systems that bind their everyday actions.

  47. The worst thing about George Will is that he is a Cubs fan! George Will has had his 15 minutes of fame and now he is willing to lie to keep his book deals coming. The shame of these lies is that real people(including some White Sox fans) are hurt by backing the corporate takeover that has gone on since 2001. George Will has done more than just backed them, he has been one of the Cheerleaders of fascism.

  48. The current admin. and their minions who are fourth-generation-corporate-WELFARE recipients are called CONSERVATIVES. WHY???????????

    These crooks live off of our taxdollars…………….I respect the working poor, not the idle republicon rich, who for generations have exploited and ripped off billions from taxpayers.



  49. “Conservatives tend to favor freedom and are willing to accept inequalities of outcome from a free market”

    What is striking in this statement is that Conservatives are willing to allow the free market to dictate outcomes. This logic is circular and needs refuted in light of a history of Conservative politicians bailing out private corporations at the slightest economic down turn. Conservatives threw $200B at Bear Stearns when free markets would have mandated that Bear Stearns fold. Yet, mortgage holders are left to wither and die. Again, free markets would have both lender and borrower suffer the consequence of economic realities but, Conservatives find it necessary for self preservation to artificially prop-up their own.

    George Will also fails to consider no-bid crony contracts that Conservatives serve up to the Halliburton’s of the free market but, why parse the issue.

  50. I think Colbert’s jabs and counter-punches were a bit more subtle in this interview than most that he does, but were still effective. The immediate handshake after Will’s silly “truth and confusion” line was perfect. And wondering how Will is allowed into the right (pun intended?) clubs is a good question. I’d say SC still won this one overall w/o any big knock out blow.
    I would dissent from a couple of the points in this post. First, Colbert does get Will to admit that it’s a level playing field that liberals want. Colbert doesn’t point out that that is different from equal outcome. Second, I agree that over-generalized labels are meaningless, but Will was only responding to Colbert’s purposely over-generalized questions. And if we are going to take issue with the label “liberal”, we should be consistent and take issue with the label “conservative”, to which quote marks aren’t applied here. Libertarians Bob Barr and Ron Paul consider themselves conservatives even though they are greatly at odds in some of their beliefs with other conservatives, so it certainly goes both ways.

  51. There is only one policy that counters the limited truth of Will’s position, that is the citizen’s dividend. When the inequality of market outcomes is addressed through the defining and redressing of specific inequalities, the result is bureaucratic inefficiency and a competition for definition of victimhood. When all of the inequalities are addressed by a general equal payment to everyone, the result is a more level playing field, and continued market efficiency. See (United States Basic Income Guarantee) and BIEN (Basic Income Earth Network). These are two groups working for such a change. It is free market socialism.

  52. To #46 ronnyg, at 5:18 am :

    While I appreciate your attempt, I feel that your ideas – aprticularly regarding government spending – do not well encapsulate the movements.

    First, Republicans SAY they are for personal responsibility, but in reality that is a code word for getting what they want. I call it personal responsibility at one end but not the other.

    For instance, they state they believe one should be ‘responsible’ for one’s baby if conceived and not have an abortion, but getting pregnant is a foregone conclusion when one considers conservatives don’t believe people should be taught sex ed or easily get access to contraception (thus they don’t allow people the personal responsibility to make their own decisions).

    Furthermore, Republicans love to talk about free markets, but then have no qualms about allowing media consolidation (lessening competition).

    Republicans love to talk about criminals getting what they deserve and paying for their crimes, but they were up in arms about Scooter Libby getting any punishment for breakng the law.

    Their problem is their actions are inconsistent with their ideas, and to hide that they come up with code words and double talk that they cannot defend when pressed, ala George Will. Why? Because they don’t want to really admit what they want.

    The entire conservative (and Republican) political spectrum is truly led by Will’s statement “Conservatives tend to favor freedom and are willing to accept inequalities of outcome from a free market and liberals tend to favor equality of outcome and to sacrifice and to circumscribe freedom in order to get it.” Despite whatever the lower level Republicans/conservatives do, the movement is led by the quote, which really says ‘Conservatives want lower taxes on the rich and corporations and are ok with unequal financial outcomes from the market to aceive this.’ The second part of the quote’s meaning is a lie, but it is saying ‘liberals are willing to raise taxes on the rich and corporations in an effort to acheive a more equal outcome from the market’ which conservatives may or may not believe.

    So, conservatives want their financial backers (the rich) to keep more of their money. That is the conservative philosophy in a nutshell. They can say other things or do other things, but that is their true goal. Don’t ever be fooled. They may have allied themselves with the religious right over the years and thus apear to want their goals, but it really comes down to just the above. The one and only non-wavering political course you can effectively chart over the years regarding conservatives is the seeking and achieving of their one true goal.

    Liberals, on the other hand, are a collection of idealists and pragmatists, which is why we are always infighting; we do not have one overriding goal but many small ones collected together. Which of course makes sense; 5% of the country owns most of the wealth and are almost exclusively conservative so as to keep their money, 25% of the country are religious fundamentalists and vote conservative to acheive their religious goals. The remaining 70% of the country (not all of whom vote, unfortunately) are by default liberal as their goals are not one of the two above.

    I state this to show that liberals do not necessarily believe in helping each other. Some do, some don’t. I – as a liberal – don’t believe in helping others nor do I believe in “overspend a little and have some who may be undeserving get extra funding than underspend and let those who are really trying but can’t make it slip through the cracks.” I am a liberal because I see the results of what not being a liberal brings. For instance, the rich pay taxes at a lesser rate than I do. I don’t agree with taxing the rich higher to pay for other’s needs, but I believe we should definitely have them pay AT LEAST the same amount the rest of us do (I do believe in taxing them higher, but for other reasons, but I’m willing to settle for the same rate).

    Furthermore, you stated “a widow with 3 kids who’s working and just cannot make enough to pay her mortgage/rent and feed her children, does she not warrant a helping hand?” No. She chose to have kids, I don’t have any, why should I help her with her crappy brood? That’s what I believe. But you know what? I know what will happen if we DON’T help her. She’ll go hungry and become one of the underclass, possibly homeless. Her kids will be raised without parenting as she is working 2 or 3 jobs, and they will at best go to crappy schools of the kind that exist in poor neighborhoods and won’t be educated and wil grow up to be dumb conservatives or, at worst, will become delinquents and likely end up in jail where their crimes along the way will cost us taxpayers tons and their end-result jail time will cost us between $30K to $45k a year to keep in jail. All of this assuming the mother herself doesn’t become a criminal herself to pay the bills, as is the case with MOST drug dealers (i.e. people who sell drugs to supplement their low paying jobs. Yep, that’s most drug dealers. Look it up).

    So I’m a liberal as I have a brain, not a desire to help humanity. However, when thinking people vote with their brains, they cannot help but vote liberal, unless they are rich, in which case it is smartest of them to vote conservative.

  53. The Dude hath nailed it.


    The Republicans believe it’s every man for himself
    No, they don’t. Just like us they believe we should help each other. Only in their case, ‘we’ means ‘people in my country club’ or possibly ‘my frat brothers’. As for the rest of us, we can rot in hell for all they care.

  54. Conservatives seem today what they have always been, hatefull and angry. They say they are for the free market but in reality they just want to see people they don’t like (almost everyone), kept down with no real opportunity to dig themselves out. They don’t mind watching poor people suffer, they don’t mind watching healthcare companies muder Americans in the name of making money. Their is really no point at which a conservative will stop and say out loud “People should be our business”. For the conservative money trumps all. Screw everyone who isn’t making it.

  55. I’ve yet to hear a Conservative give a credible definition of “Liberal”. And their definition of “Conservative” NEVER meshes with reality. Such was the case here.

    The best definition of the two I’ve concocted is: “Conservatives believe people are basically *evil*, and left to their own devices, will behave evilly.” Is it any wonder they believe this when you just look at the kind of people that call themselves “Conservative”?

    I continue: “Therefore, Conservatives believe that abstract entities like ‘business’ are ‘pure’, free of the frailties of human desire, and if left to the free market, simple market forces will always produce the most beneficial outcome for people or else ‘the Market’ will kill them off.”

    If you are a Liberal, you already see the fallacy of that kind of thinking. In the quest for ever greater profits, businesses will always provide the absolute least/worst it can and still turn a profit.

    “Liberals” on the other hand, “believe that at heart, all people are basically good and only want what’s best for themselves and society. Where Conservatives regulate people to aid business, Liberals regulate business to keep it from harming people.”

    I’ve yet to hear a better definition. Will’s wasn’t even close.

  56. Georgie sez: “We understand that the government’s job is to deliver the mail, defend the shores and get out of the way.”

    Then unless Will is a sniveling hypocrite, he should eat ONLY food from sources that have never had FDA or USDA inspectors interfering in their “free market enterprise” with those onerous inspections and insistence on nanny-state health and sanitation standards.

    Of course, after 8 years of the Bush regime and their foxes-guarding-hen-houses philosophy, maybe there wouldn’t be much more additional risk if they just abolished those departments altogether and let the free market reign supreme. If there were any justice in the world, Will would be the first one to swallow a nice big mouth full of salmonella-tainted spinach after total “freedom” was restored.

  57. Will shows his lack of intellectual depth when he says that “Conservatives tend to favor freedom and are willing to accept inequalities of outcome from a free market and liberals tend to favor equality of outcome and to sacrifice and to circumscribe freedom in order to get it.” In this context freedom is the “right” to sleep in doorways and to eat out of dumpsters. Inequality is a lack of proper care for the mentally ill and a lack of a higher education for those not affluent enough to afford one. An aspect of actual freedom is the ability to compete fairly for available resources and not have one’s ability to do so curtailed by circumstances one neither created not has control over.

  58. Ah George Will. You’re right about the straw men and the self-refuting conservative idealism. Now he’s turned into somewhat of a crank global warming denier as well.

  59. Will believes in a baseball game played without umpires. The umpires get in the way of the batting team’s desire to score runs- inhibit their freedom to run up a score. But done in this fashion, the same team would bat forever and there would cease to be but one team in the league. The league would quickly crash and burn. Only prompt action by an outside force would save the sport and restore public confidence in the institution. Oh, and Will is an unbelievably arrogant asshole for a guy who has just witnessed conservatism in action with little restraint for six years- and its results are just the same as they were in the 1920’s when the right wing ideologues controlled the government- except that luckily today we have an FDR safety net in the FDIC to prevent general panics and bank runs.

  60. wheeee Said, June 7, 2008 at 12:29 am :
    “Must suck to be a conservative these days. I mean how do you know who you are? how do you know if you’re a real conservative or a fake conservative? or maybe an imaginary conservative?”

    The commenters really don’t have a clue what conservatism is. Call it cognative dissonance….I just don’t know. I’m a conservative and proud of it.

    I’m also an evil minion of the neo-con movement, desperate to take the food from the poor and enrich myself in the process.


  61. Will threw a fat one down the middle, Dr. S., and you slammed it out of Wrigley Field.

  62. You shouldn’t rail against someone until you understand what they’re talking about. I’m a liberal Democrat. I’m not your enemy. But you clearly don’t understand the difference between the words Republican and Conservative. They are not the same. If you knew what George Will was about, you would know that. You make the folks on our side look bad. Study up a bit more, and then blog about it.

  63. “Watch what we do, not what we say.” – John Mitchell (Nixon’s attorney general, in his pre-imprisonment days.)

  64. Much of the above conflates “Republican” and “Conservative”. Will was speaking of conservatives, not Republicans. The Republican party left conservatism a long time ago. Well, eight years, anyway. Truth is, there is nothing conservative about the current brand of Republican. While I don’t agree with Conservatives, I can at least respect their ideals. Traditionally, Conservatives are

    1) Fiscally responsible
    2) Isolationist
    3) Fiercely defensive of our civil liberties.

    This crowd is;

    4) None of the above.

    Conservatives are in fact appalled by the current Republican party, consider it hijacked and are looking for ways to reclaim it. Which is another reason November will be a blowout.

    What is scary is the number of Republicans who >haven’t< been appalled by this incarnation of their party. There is a sheep-like mentality to these people who don’t seem to be able to notice that their party has been co-opted. Read Dean’s “Conservatives Without a Conscience” for a peek into this.

    I suspect that Mr. Will, like his inspiration Mr. Goldwater, wouldn’t piss on Bush if he were on fire.

  65. Bird: Thanks for dropping by with a bit of omniscience for us. I know we’re all more enlightened for it.

    By the way, I paint Will as conflating “conservative” with “Republican” not because I’m an ill-informed moron who doesn’t know the man – I’ve been reading him on and off for 20 years or more – but rather because HE SAID THAT HIMSELF.

    Maybe you could, you know, watch the video before you get your panties in a wad.

  66. Bird#73,

    Not only do I know what George Will is about, I am an acquaintance of him, and have many mutual friend.

    Reading all of this vitriol on this thread makes me realize that both conservative blogs and liberal blogs make the same accusations against each other. You could take this thread and substitute the words conservative and Republican with liberal and Democrat, and it would sound exactly the same as they are writing over in the conservative media. Both sides are levying the exact same arguments about the characteristics of members of the other side, with the exception that the Conservative side engages in a little less hand wringing.

    I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.



  67. “I suspect the truth lies somewhere in the middle.”

    When you drive a wedge through the middle, you break everything in two.

    Ha! Worthless, hokum just like yours, only mine sounds better.

    Where were all these calls for bipartisanship love-in when the Republicans were running things?

    You guys are transparent like Gladwrap.

  68. jvill.

    But you’re admittedly still full of hokum. At least we’re not self-delusional.

    Go take another hit.


  69. I like George Will a lot. He’s a warm guy and makes an intelligent case for “true conservatism”. I thought Stephen was being a jerk by randomly trying to rope George’s religious belief into the argument (I suspect he was hoping George would fulfill the stereotype of a “conservative Christian” in order to call him out on an ideological hypocrisy.) I think it’s totally irresponsible and somewhat hateful to pick apart the very few words Will managed to blurt out without a nuanced understanding of his arguments. I recommend watching the recent interview with Charlie Rose.

    By the way, I’m a fan of the Colbert Report. I just thought this was a refreshing interview.

  70. You analysis of Will is rife with the Fallacy that there is some tautology between Bush, or “ocial Conservatives” and Will. I do not agree with George Will on everything. I suspect his ideology accepts more intrusions on liberty than mine. But I do not make the mistake of presuming that Will share large common ground with the “social conservatives” that control the GOP today. That said proponents of liberty tend to hold their noses and support the right, because the left is more dangerous.