Some sense on Spain

by Chris Bertram on March 17, 2004

When I first started blogging, I struck up a fairly cordial on-line relationship with Iain Murray of “The Edge of England’s Sword”: despite a pretty wide gulf in our politics. I’m afraid I’ve not read much I’ve liked by Iain in quite a long time (especially on global warming). So it was a pleasant surprise to find that Iain has “a column on the Spanish elections”: published in that bastion of lunacy TechCentralStation. Despite working with a Rumsfeldian New/Old Europe framework the column is a very useful corrective to some of the foaming at the mouth which we’ve endured from US-based commentators and bloggers over the past few days (see Matthew Turner “for some of the worst examples”: ). Credit where credit is due.



Chris Lightfoot 03.17.04 at 5:08 pm

“… the shift in power to the Socialist Party was entirely due to an increased turnout of voters.”
— I don’t think this is true, in fact, though the data I’ve been able to find aren’t exactly conclusive. See my comments on the turnout.


Rich Puchalsky 03.17.04 at 5:11 pm

Iain Murray benefits from the same dynamic as Tacitus the blogger does. When a non-conservative reads them, the first reaction tends to be: “Wow, a conservative who isn’t obviously foaming at the mouth! Who can construct an ordinary fallacious argument without completely ranting! I should keep reading this guy, because in comparison to other conservatives, he’s reasonable.”

Please stop defining deviancy down.


Richard Vagge 03.17.04 at 5:29 pm


Does the use of the term “bastion of lunacy ” represent the level of cordialness in your past relationship? It may be why you never won him over. Just a thought.



harry 03.17.04 at 5:40 pm

chris lightfoot — thanks your post is a help, as I had also had that thought (which holds, I understand, both in the UK and the US). Do the following two factors together suffice to account for the victory: continued decline in PP polls from before the bombing, and margin of error?


Chris Bertram 03.17.04 at 5:49 pm

“bastion of lunacy” was a reference not to Iain but to TechCentralStation, on which I refer you to the excellent parodies by Andrew Northrup: “1”:, “2”:, and “3”: .

The trouble is that the recent ravings of their columnists (see Lee Harris especially) are beyond parody.


Nick Morgan 03.17.04 at 6:18 pm

I had assumed the “feeback forums” alone were enough to qualify TCS as a loony bin.


Rajeev Advani 03.17.04 at 6:20 pm

Matthew Turner presents the issue as though the North American right’s reaction to Spain was total lunacy, when really he’s just quoting the odd-balls. It’s a reprehensible brand of elitism.

In my view, many incisive views of the events in Spain came from the pro-war crowd and they have not received due credit. John Quiggin’s last post paralleled observations made by some on the right two days prior (see my comment there).

I appreciate your quoting one reasonable right of center author on the Spain issue. But I must say: I’m having trouble “enduring” your posts about “enduring” the right, when you obviously have not read them very thoroughly if you think it’s so much “foaming at the mouth.”


Rob 03.17.04 at 6:37 pm

So who paid TCS for that column?


William 03.17.04 at 6:40 pm

Chris! His name isn’t “Andrew Northrup”, it’s “The Editors”.


Matt Weiner 03.17.04 at 7:35 pm

Well, Chris said that Matthew Turner was giving “some of the worst examples,” Turner himself in comments on his blog that he’s cherry-picking loonies, Chris cites a pro-war commentator, Henry gave especial praise to the pro-war Jacob Levy, and Chris didn’t say that the “foaming at the mouth” was universal on the right–in fact, no word meaning “conservative” appears in his post. So I’d say that he’s being fair to conservatives, and if you don’t like the attacks on some of the worse arguments being put forth by some conservatives no one’s forcing you to read the site.


Rajeev Advani 03.17.04 at 8:29 pm

Turner is hardly the fair man you make him out to be, Matt. When someone called him out on citing the underground, he responded with:

“…the views expressed are pretty easy to find, and until ‘decent’ Americans disown them I’ll have to assume they have some relevance”

That’s absurd. As an American I shouldn’t have to explicitly disown every lunatic/fascist/racist argument made by my roughly 300 million fellow citizens.

Also, when Chris says US commentators have been “foaming at the mouth” he’s referring to those who criticized the outcome of the Spanish elections, most of whom are right-wing or otherwise pro-war. His “foaming” comment simply reinforces the stale notion that most of these individuals are silly bellicose apes. Maybe he didn’t mean it this way; but I’m sure I’m not the only one who read it this way. Put differently, he has not demonstrated to me, in previous posts or this one, that he understands the right or the liberal hawks. Perhaps I just don’t read him regularly enough.

Finally, I don’t think I’ll take your advice and only read what pleases me. That would be a bit boring, wouldn’t it?


yabonn 03.17.04 at 8:52 pm


“I must say: I’m having trouble “enduring” your posts about “enduring” the right”

Try more “siestas”.

Good for “pondering” things, have i heard recently.


Rajeev Advani 03.17.04 at 9:12 pm

Yabonn: If America instituted siestas, I do think I would get more pondering done, and make less inchoate comments like mine above. The world would be a better place.


Matt Weiner 03.17.04 at 10:27 pm

True about Turner’s “disowning” comment–a bad card no matter who plays it.

Still, I think there has been some comment that is rightly described as “foaming at the mouth.” The very column Chris praises criticizes the results of the elections: The group [of those who were angry at Aznar’s handling of the bombing]’s vengeance was terrible for Spain and the war on terror, but its effect was disproportionate. So I still think this site is being fair enough to conservatives. Only you, of course, can make the decision as to whether reading it is worth the pain. :-)


Matthew Turner 03.18.04 at 9:47 am

Thanks for the link.

1. It’s not meant to be a fair sample, Rajeev. I think Matt’s ‘fair’ comment is addressed at Chris for this post, not me.
2. Rajeev, Matt, the comment, “the views expressed are pretty easy to find, and until ‘decent’ Americans disown them I’ll have to assume they have some relevance” is a joke, at the expense of those on the pro-war side who insist that anti-war folks or ‘decent muslims’ disown every comment their more hysterical allies might say. I don’t for one second think anyone has to apologise for these nutcases, except perhaps their parents.


Rajeev Advani 03.18.04 at 4:18 pm

I don’t believe you, Turner. First disown the content of the last al Qaeda tape.

On a serious level I’m glad you were joking. I woke up on the wrong (humorless, anal, nit-picky) side of the bed yesterday morning when I made these comments.


Chris Lightfoot 03.18.04 at 7:41 pm

Harry — from the data I have, I wouldn’t want to reach any very firm conclusions. But given that polls before the bombing indicated a PSOE lead, I no longer think there’s much to explain.

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