Author and radio and TV show host Charlie Sykes was one of the leaders of Wisconsin’s conservative movement.
How influential was Sykes? State legislators talked about the “Sykes Effect,” his influence on Republican legislators within the range of the radio station that carried his morning talk show, and his lack of influence on GOP legislators outside the station’s signal (it is the most powerful AM radio station in the state).
And for a while I got to participate.
Things change. Sykes isn’t on Milwaukee radio or TV anymore. “Sunday Insight” is no more. Journal Communications (former owner of my business magazine, R.I.P., Sykes’ radio and TV stations, and the biggest newspaper in the state) is no more. And thanks to Donald Trump, Sykes evidently doesn’t consider himself a Republican supporter anymore.
Dan McLaughlin comments thereupon:
C. S.Lewis, writing in 1941, coined his famous definition of the logical fallacy of Bulverism:
You must show that a man is wrong before you start explaining why he is wrong. The modern method is to assume without discussion that he is wrong and then distract his attention from this (the only real issue) by busily explaining how he became to be so silly. . . . I have found this vice so common that I have had to invent a name for it. I call it “Bulverism.” . . . Its imaginary inventor, Ezekiel Bulver . . . heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — “Oh, you say that because you are a man.” “At that moment,” E. Bulver assures us, “there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. Attempt to prove that he is wrong or (worse still) try to find out whether he is wrong or right, and . . . our age will thrust you to the wall.” . . . But of course it gets us not one inch nearer to deciding whether, as a matter of fact, the Christian religion is true or false. That question remains to be discussed on quite different grounds — a matter of philosophical and historical argument. However it were decided, the improper motives of some people, both for believing it and for disbelieving it, would remain just as they are.
I don’t have time to psychoanalyze Sykes (though that would be an interesting project to compare current Sykes to the commentator who was on the front lines of every worthwhile conservative fight in this state for three decades).
Facebook Friend Devin observes of Trump that “Trump has passed the most conservative agenda while being the least conservative Republican since Eisenhower. Further, Trump is the least fiscally conservative president in my lifetime (I was born in 1985).” Another Facebook Friend suggests that Sykes feels “a bit smarter and more principled than the rabble,” which, he adds, is not an approach likely to persuade people. (It works almost as well as insulting people, a lesson Democrats resolutely refuse to learn.)
Ronald Reagan famously observed that “The person who agrees with you 80 percent of the time is a friend and an ally, not a 20 percent traitor.” I think Trump passes the 80 percent test, as far as what he has done (as opposed to said or Tweeted) while president, but I may be wrong about that precise number. I am positive Biden will not pass that test. It requires a valid explanation of why someone who claims to be conservative should vote for someone who will not do remotely conservative things while in office.