Freedom from Blog

Don't call it a comeback . . . .

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Party Lens(es)

The missus and I have this conversation a lot, and it goes something like this:

[Me]: You know, it's interesting how Democrats and Republicans see the same things differently. Take this one: Bobby Jindal is routinely talked about as prime Veep material for McCain. But he was just elected governor of Louisiana last week [hyperbole], and served what, a House term or two before that? And yet the same folks who think Jindal would be a great pick . . . think Barack Obama is woefully under-qualified to be president. When Jindal would be Veep behind an old dude with health problems . . . Plus, Jindal is pretty exotic, right? But the GOP doesn't have a problem with him . . . and yet Obama, he's foreign . . .

[Frances]: Party is the primary lens through which partisans, at least, view politics. So it makes sense that Obama and Jindal get seen differently by members of the two parties, even though they are pretty similar, in many respects.

[Me]: But party hasn't always been the primary lens . . .

[Frances]: I'm not sure that it hasn't always been.

[Me]: [Pause] This requires further investigation.

Sounds like there are some interesting discussions at the 115, no? But seriously, I think I've convinced Frances that there was what I'm calling the Broder moment, when the South was realigning and so things were in a bit of disorder. Party had to compete with other factors. I'm pretty sure she's right for the present period, going back to . . . 1980ish. And, without additional research, I'll give her the 19th century. (Who has time for researching that?)

Any thoughts?

Update: This also ties in to the tenacious one's post about Edwards. Is there any doubt that partisanship was the primary lens through which [partisans] viewed the Clinton-Lewinsky "affair"? Edwards is screwed not because he had an affair, but rather because there is no partisan reason to defend him. If he were the nominee, I suspect TMcD, millions of Democrats, and . . . I would feel somewhat differently about this. One cannot prove a counter-factual, of course, but I have come to regret my support for Bill Clinton back in the day. Imagine if he had resigned and . . . Al Gore would have run as the incumbent in 2000?

There is the party lens, and then there's hindsight, which, as the saying goes, is 20/20. Indeed.


At 4:04 PM, Blogger Wilson said...

Check out this post from

Think what you will about the Georgia-Russia conflict, it really does seem to be a litmus test around the blogosphere. My problem here is essentially the same as the author of the post; this issue is wildly complicated, people are taking stands with precious little information.

I think this is in addition to 'the lens through which we view politics'. Rather than evaluating each issue on its merits, we can use our team as a shortcut to get to the correct side of any issue, effectively outsourcing the hard work of fitting a set of new facts with our ideological structure. The people we are outsourcing to, however, frequently have an incentive to actively protect their interest and bash the other guy.

Combine this intellectual shortcutting with the good guys-bad guys lens; a predisposition by every actor to perceive one team positively and one team negatively, and I think you get how people approach issues.


Post a Comment

<< Home