Monday, August 30, 2010

Walter Lippmann: Public Opinion

Walter Lippmann summed up the value of Public Opinion long ago.  This book was published in 1921.  Not surprisingly he recalls Plato's Allegory of a Cave, long a favorite of conservative pundits, as if they see the "real truth," and Democrats like interpreting the shadows on the wall.  I haven't read this book, but it does look interesting.  Lippmann is one of those figures who seemed to straddle the political divide.  He seemed to support government taking a more active role in society and supported Roosevelt's New Deal, but over time developed a position of "moderate detachment."


  1. I'mso old I remember Lippmann's twice weekly column in THE NEW YORRK HERALD TRIBUNE _Tuesday and Thursday).It was reqyured reading in my History class. I learned a lot from that man.He helped form my thoughts. He was a true conservative, along with William F. Buckley---both would throw up at the thought of a Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck. What a perversion of true conservative thought.

    I've spent some time re-learning computer skills today--so this willbe it for the day.

  2. I read PUBLIC OPINION in high school and a few years ago picked up INTERPETATIONS 1933-1935--filed with his colums covering the period including the rise of Hitler. I haven't read it--but will get my caretaker to read me some of the columns.

  3. There was a time Conservatism had a strong intellectual voice, but that seems gone today. I suppose the anti-intellectualism fueled by Nixon and McCarthy pretty much laid the ground work for the anti-intellectualism that dominates the Republican Party today.

    Dubya was quite boastful of his mediocre grades in high school and college and did his best to promote himself as a "good old boy." I think a lot of the current Republican anti-intellectualism stems from the absorption of former Dixiecrats and religious conservatives into the GOP, who tend to see the world in explicitly black and white terms.

    I think George Will and Bill Safire are the last of the American Conservative intellectuals. Ron Paul would like to claim the mantle head, although not a young man himself. His recent books supposedly served as the inspiration for the Tea Party, and he initially endorsed the movement, but even he has to be chagrined by Beck and Palin crashing the Party.

  4. Possibly, Walter Lippmann's greatest writing:

    ''A Preface to Morals''

    Today's conservatives and liberals should give it a thorough reading.

    This reminds me of a thought I had a while ago: liberals used to cite the Bible for much of their socio-political thoughts. If they fail at winning in politics today it is largely because of their failure to use the best weapon they had in the past.

  5. I guess I should have put Safire in the past tense.

    It seems like you can't be any kind of politician these days without copiously referencing, if not quoting, the Bible, but somehow the Republicans have managed to co-opt the evangelical strain of politics these days. What hurts them is their whiter than white attitude which comes across as a throwback to the Jim Crow days. Not helping them one bit with religious Latin voters who tend to be social conservatives, except in Florida where they put up pretty boy Marco Rubio.