Skip to comments.Liberal and Conservative as Defined by the Media
Posted on 02/01/2005 7:31:29 AM PST by Valin
Everybody loves Viktor Yushchenko, and why not? The plucky populist stared down Ukraine's corrupt oligarchs to become his country's president, surviving an attack on his life in the process. Even members of the establishment media love him. You can tell because they call him what is, to them, the highest compliment in the English language--a liberal.
"Liberal Leader From Ukraine Was Poisoned," reads a page one, December headline in the New York Times. Most every major media outlet has described Yushchenko similarly.
But Yushchenko is no liberal in the modern American sense of the word. He supports free markets, NATO membership for Ukraine, and a closer relationship with the U.S.--staples of the American Right's agenda for Europe, and exactly the kinds of policies that drive the American and European Left crazy.
By extension, the media widely depicted the other Viktor Y--former Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, a thug who ham-handedly tried to steal the election--as the "conservative" in the race. Never mind that Yanukovych is a former Communist Party member who ran on an explicitly anti-Western platform, advocating closer ties with the Kremlin. He disdains capitalism and free trade, and throughout the campaign accused Yushchenko of being a running-dog lackey of the Yankee imperialists.
If Yanukovych is conservative, then so is the Berkeley Sociology Department.
Obviously American notions of "liberal" and "conservative" don't translate well to the complicated muddle that is politics in the former Soviet Union. Yet that doesn't stop the American media from pretending as though they do. Why?
Because to the establishment press, "liberal" and "conservative" aren't so much ideological descriptions as moral ones. "Liberal" is the literary equivalent of a white hat for the good guys, while "conservative" is a black hat for the bad. In the defeated Yanukovych, media elites saw a backwards kleptocrat who rigs elections and uses his office to enrich his cronies--a real-life embodiment of their fantasy of George W. Bush. Yushchenko, on the other hand, was a man of the people, the reformer who could stir the masses to action--Howard Dean without the embarrassing shrieks.
So Yanukovych got grouped with fellow bogeymen Newt Gingrich, John Ashcroft, and Dick Cheney, while Yushchenko got bumped up to that sanctified realm that includes the likes of Franklin D. Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, and Jimmy Carter.
One might assume, with goodwill, that members of the press are simply applying the less partisan understanding of the term "liberal," which traditionally referred to classical liberalism--the commitment to free markets, constitutionalism, inalienable rights, pluralism, and democracy. Or maybe they have a more basic notion in mind, one in which "liberal" merely means open to change, whereas "conservative" suggests a dogged determination to preserve some status quo.
But by either of those standards, the two most liberal figures on the international scene today are Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who are fighting impossible odds and risking their lives to promote political freedom, property rights and free markets, religious tolerance, and democracy in places where those concepts are anathema. Yet you'd be hard-pressed to find any major media outlet using the "l"-word to describe either of those two men.
That's because Allawi and Karzai are closely associated with the Bush Posse. They'll never get white hats in Western media morality plays as long as Sheriff Dubya is in town. Meanwhile it's not uncommon to see the mullahs in Iran, the Wahabi imams in Saudi Arabia, or Tali- ban terrorists called "conservative," even though the conservative Bush and company have declared them sworn enemies.
It was the same in the final days of the Cold War. The media slapped the "conservative" label on hard-line Eastern bloc Stalinists as easily as on the anti-communist American conservatives committed to their downfall. The Soviet dissidents who bravely opposed Moscow were called "liberals"--as were the American leftists who cowardly made excuses for Moscow.
As for Yushchenko, by valiantly resisting creeping totalitarianism, the new Ukrainian president has made himself a modern-day folk hero to all those who favor democracy and human rights. So let the establishment press call him what they will; he's a good guy.
Chris Weinkopf is editorial page editor of the Los Angeles Daily News.
The media sucks. Fire Chris Wallace and bring back Tony Snow.
I heard rumblings that Georgie-boy Soros was backing this guy though and that was confusing. Looking at the oppostion I'm sure this was the better choice of the two. But does anyone have the story on why Soros wanted Yuschenko?
Interesting article. I've often wondered about the "conservative" and "liberal" tags that are so often thrown about without really understanding what they mean. JFK who is still lionized by today's liberal left would be considered a conservative today. Dubya, who is bemoaned as way too conservative by some, is actually implementing quite liberal (and radical, when you think of it) solutions to the seemingly never-ending Middle East crisis.
I'd love to see the definition of "conservative" and "liberal" more clearly defined. My parents in Pennsylvania, who are quite conservative in most of their views, still are staunch Democrats, since they've "always voted that way". They can't see that the old Democratic party they grew up with has left them behind, they keep voting for what "once was", rather than now "what is".
"You mean you really can't tell the difference between live-and-let-livers and control freaks?"
Bingo! I just basically want to be left alone. I'm all growed up I can tie my own shoes and know how to cross the street and everything.
That they neocons had to address it means they are trying to do a snow job for their boy - plenty of TRUE Conservatives like in Accuracy In Media have already slammed Yushchenko as a liberal.
Their views of left and right also extend to communism and socialism. They see social policy of these groups as being justified so they are left wing and right wing when discussing Hitler and Stalin.
The MSM has no interest in adhering to any acceptable standard of logic or reason in anything they do. To the MSM, language is just a tool for achieving tyranny and domination over hoi polloi. At this point in our time, why would any of us expect the MSM to make sense out of any issue of the day? We should all know by now that is not their purpose or goal.
The other candidate, Yushchenko, who wants Ukraine's troops out of Iraq, is supposed to be pro-Western and pro-American. A blogger by the name of Daniel Brett says that Yushchenko is pro-European Union and "closer to the Old Europe Rumsfeld detests . To understand Yushchenko, you have to understand the politics of the EU. The visionary values that drive the EU and its enlargement--the desire to create a new, assertive super-power independent of U.S. influence--are being forged by those Rumsfeld views with contempt. And Yushchenko shares this vision."
The American Enterprise Institute (as in this American Enterprise Mag. article) on December 10 sponsored a symposium on the events in Ukraine titled, "Ukraine's Choice: Europe or Russia?" That may be a more accurate characterization of what's at stake. Notice that it wasn't framed in terms of Europe, Russia or America.
God help us how the sheeple are so easily fooled.
That is what most people in this nation fail to grasp. Our definition of lib and conservative are far different than Europes. Their right wingers are still socialists and communists, they are usually more authoritarian and anti-immigration.
No - you are not grasping it - Yushchenko IS a leftist - is a Liberal - he is NOT a Conservative in the American tradition or otherwise.
Yushchenko is a "Third-Way" Socialist. A Clinton-Blair Socialist Democrat.
Sorry, I was not clear. I know he is a liberal, I was making a statement in general about who gets called what. Like the Frenchie who was running as the right wing candidate a few years ago against Chirac. So many on this site were so exited about him being conservative. He was called a right winger by the press, but he was still a liberal. He was a socialist and a liberal, he just hated Arabs.
think of it as a circle - extreme right and extreme left tend to converge as they go further out.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.