Another beautiful theory slain by a gang of ugly facts

New York Times glibertarian columnist John Tierney put up an even-dimmer-than-usual blog post (which of course Glenn Reynolds loved) arguing that the election of Obama disproved the idea that racial prejudice is pervasive.

I made fun of Tierney’s argument on strictly logical grounds: even bigot might not have wanted to vote for a third Bush term generically or the Geezer/Dingbat ticket in particular.

In Tuesday’s Times Adam Nossiter demolishes Tierney’s argument by looking at some actual voting statistics (Obama did better then Kerry with every demographic category except Southern whites, where he did worse) and talking to some actual voters.

Five’ll get you ten neither Tierney nor Reynolds bothers to update.

The argument for giving the various strains of wingnuttery (imperialism, economic royalism, and culture-war bigotry) op-ed space was fairly strong back when Republicans dominated the government. Now that they don’t, the argument is weaker, as is the case the implicit policy of denying any such space to voices to the left of the Democratic center.

It’s not that I miss reading Robert Scheer, who was just as annoyingly tendentious and fact-independent as William Kristol, but a spectrum that runs from far right to liberal makes the claim that, e.g., Arlen Specter, is a “moderate” seem plausible, when in fact it’s laughable. Time for some re-balancing, I think.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: