E.J. Dionne opens his column with, "Conservatives ... are facing the fact that we are by no means the most socially mobile country in the world."
Thereupon he offers irrefutable proof of that fact, from northern European countries cleaning our socioeconomic clocks to homespun webs of profound, structural disadvantages (such as labor's woes and finance's glorification).
Dionne closes, thus: "My challenge to conservatives worried about inequality is to follow the logic of their concern to what may be some uncomfortable conclusions, especially in an election year."
Quaint. Very quaint. And once?--even admirably quaint, not to mention customarily civil. As the 1970s' New Right--just to arbitrarily pick one of contemporary conservatism's corrosive forerunners--broadsided liberalism with every scurrilous accusation of unAmericanism it could imagine, liberals, such as Dionne, routinely responded with civilized calls for conservatives to "follow the logic" of their strategic hyperaggression and tactical skulduggery. Yet these civilized calls for conservative logic and Reason and Sunday-best behavior only inspired among conservatives new heights of nastiness and ill logic--the latter particularly in Reaganism, the former in Gingrichism.
From there conservatives "progressed" to a morbid, institutionalized maliciousness unwitnessed in American politics since the sectional crisis. Liberals continued pleading for greater civility. Conservatives delivered a grossly illegitimate impeachment; their own perfectly protected, "unitary executive"; vulgar Cheneyism; several more Congresses from Hell; then a seething, rabidly nihilistic tea party movement; all topped off by their presidential nomination of perhaps the least ethical, most fraudulent and monstrously spiteful man in America.
Let's see, some impeccably well-mannered liberals are now in their fourth decade of begging conservatives' indulgence of plain human decency; and the latter has got so barren that the few, authentic conservatives still out there--the Sullivans and Frums--have taken to railing against their former playmates with far, far less civility than the nation's liberal E.J. Dionnes.
My point being, of course, that liberal calls for civility have become fantastically futile, prodigiously useless, and probably counterproductive. Even conservative intellectuals have given up, they've tossed in the towel, they now rage with polemical pens against what is in reality an ignorant, hateful, dangerous pseudoconservatism.
So while I still admire your gentlemanly pertinacity, E.J., I've got to say that your persevering crusade for civility is a waste of your time (and ours)--especially in an election year. The only honorable course left is to blast these pseudoconservative bastards with both contentious ink-barrels, and let God and the electorate sort them out.