CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I recently had a heated online discussion with a woman who swore Barack Obama is the worst president we've ever had with regard to our relationship with Israel.
Now, neither our relationship with Israel nor Obama's standing on the subject is my point. My concern is that this woman demonstrated everything that is wrong with current political relationships in this country, and in particular the incredible lack of rationality from the right wing.
In defense of her position, my online adversary posted an article from the Israeli publication Haaretz titled "If Obama Treated Israel Like Reagan Did, He'd Be Impeached," by Chemi Shalev. The article was a long compilation of harsh and punitive policies by Ronald Reagan toward Israel, including his refusal to sell them F-16 fighter jets, his sale of high-tech military equipment to Saudi Arabia, his condemnation of Israeli settlement expansion, and his confrontational and sometimes disrespectful treatment of Israel's leadership.
The point was that if President Obama treated Israel similarly, his adversaries would most certainly demand his impeachment.
The stunning thing about this whole exchange was that she insisted repeatedly that all the actions by Reagan mentioned in the article actually were committed by Obama (or "BO," as she likes to call him). Even when I questioned this intelligent, articulate woman directly with specifics from the article, she still was adamant that the author was talking about Obama:
"When did Obama refuse to sell F-16s to Israel? When did Obama demand Israel pay reparations for a nuclear facility Israel bombed? When did Obama say, 'It is not the business of other nations to make American foreign policy'?"
And, how about a reference to White House spokesman Marlin Fitzwater, who said the Israeli occupation actually "damages the self-respect and world opinion of the Israeli people"? How long has Marlin Fitzwater been Obama's White House spokesman?
But her response to specific quotes from the article included that she "can't believe" Reagan did these things, and she "can't believe" the author was not talking about Obama. She also repeated several times that I was an example of liberals' inability to understand the truth.
Similarly, I recently had a discussion with an intelligent, informed middle-class client with whom I am very cordial, and of whom I am very fond. When she insisted to me that Obama has raised her taxes exorbitantly since he's been in office, I pointed out that, on the contrary, he has lowered her taxes many times over the past few years. I even printed for her a list of all the tax breaks she's received, and a comparison of what she was paying before.
Her verbatim response: "I just refuse to believe that." Therefore, she's going to vote for Mitt Romney because he will lower her taxes. When I pointed out that every independent analysis of Romney's plan has shown that her taxes would actually increase while his decreased, once again she refused to believe it.
Sadly, I find myself referring more and more frequently to a psychological syndrome known as Dunning-Kruger. In a nutshell, it describes those so firmly set in their beliefs that no matter how compelling, no matter how blatant, no matter how indisputable the evidence to the contrary, they still will refuse to their dying breath to modify their belief.
I am saddened and afraid that as long as we have predominantly one political ideology particularly afflicted with this syndrome, any hope for rational discussion or mutually beneficial compromise will be utterly impossible.
Namay owns and operates PC Specialist Inc.