The intellectual serenity that comes from being part of the dominant political and cultural elite is often breathtaking. People that have ANY different thoughts than you have, are not just "wrong", they are "sideshow barkers", "ugly forces", "not-reality based" and of course in the BO case, the all-purpose "racist". If the liberal case on issues is so obviously factual, then why all the name-calling?
Empirical polarization -- a rejection of this nation's founding Enlightenment principles -- is something new.
Ah, "empirical polarization" -- with two whole examples; BO's birth certificate, and Global Warming. Why is GW a fact? "the vast majority of scientists look dispassionately at the date and conclude". Is science a democracy? Is the structure and operation of the universe now determined by a "2/3 majority" of "properly credentialed scientists"? What if say, oh, the Chinese had a vested interest in some direction and decided that the old fashioned way of doing battle -- guns, bullets, bombs and such was just messy. Why not just have the US bankrupt itself through a bunch of well meaning environmental programs? Perhaps they could just buy us out lock stock and barrel -- I'm betting they would treat Blacks, Whites and Hispanics completely alike -- breakthrough!!
Two ugly forces had to combine to produce the birth certificate sideshow, which can only be described as a national disgrace. One is a calculated attempt by Obama's political opponents to delegitimize his presidency.
Is this a new phenomenon? I saw "Impeach Bush" bumper stickers within days of his inauguration. As we struggled with two wars, 20-30% of Democrats believed 9-11 to be a "inside job". "Fahrenheit 9/11" was a mockumentary designed for nothing else than to discredit a sitting president during and election year, and it became the highest grossing "documentary" of all time -- also with a heavy "truther" overtone. "Death of a President", 2006 is about the assassination of then sitting president George Bush. Valerie Plame? Have we forgotten CBS doing a 1 hour special about W's guard service based on fake documents after he was nominated in '04?
Republican presidents in my lifetime have been considered laughing stocks from day one of their administrations by the MSM, hollywood, late night comedians, etc. The reams written on "how dumb are they really"? About especially Reagan and W this knew no limits -- if they can get on TV and not just slobber all over themselves they exceed the expectations the media has set for them.
Rodney King famously asked, "People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?" If we decide there's no difference between fact and opinion, then surely the sad answer is no.
Were this column written by a conservative columnist, it might be tagged as "chilling". "If we decide there is no difference between fact an opinion"?? There is a difference, but it certainly isn't going to be arrived at by taking a vote on Global Warming, or being told by the MSM on any given topic "move along, nothing to see here ...". The incidence of scientifically repeatable, universally accepted fact in the world isn't all that high, and one of the favorite rhetorical devices is to assign your side's world view the status of un-opposed fact -- unopposed by those that you didn't call some names at least ... "birther", "not reality based", "sideshow barkers", etc., while assigning the viewpoints of your opponents as "insane, ludicrous, medieval, racist ..."
Humans operate with very imperfect models of reality, but fantasies that conform well enough to reality to provide competitive advantage, along with culturally defined motivational values even less tied to objective reality -- since the effective structures are based on assumptions about the future, rather than primarily on solid data about the past. That is just who we are -- all sides. Realizing the reality of being human -- a reality far better understood by science today than at any point in the past, MIGHT give us a far better chance of being able to "just get along" than either Mr King or Mr Robinson's musings.