Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Weak Tea

It must be so embarrassing to be a tea party (lipton for short) pundit. Your only job is spout mindless garbage to rile up the base and keep them voting for their own economic ruin. It doesn't matter what you say, anything that is spiteful and seemingly conservative will do. After all, your audience used to staple tea bags to their hats and dance around (tax-payer provided) city parks to support their love of the free market. They're not picky. As long as you are over-the-top, mean and stupid, you'll always be in demand. Then you are free to fancy yourself the hostess of a wise, witty, independent salon, where the Smart Set goes to discuss the events of their times. Ah, happy fantasy.....

However, not everyone is a tea bagger. Some people read the bottomless number of lipton pundit lies and hysterics and are forced to address the obvious. Paul Krugman, in response to a comment by Ron Fournier (quoted first):
On health care, we needed a market-driven plan that decreases the percentage of uninsured Americans without convoluting the U.S. health care system. Just such a plan sprang out of conservative think tanks and was tested by a GOP governor in Massachusetts, Mitt Romney.  
Instead of a bipartisan agreement to bring that plan to scale, we got more partisan warfare. The GOP resisted, Obama surrendered his mantle of bipartisanship, and Democrats muscled through a one-sided law that has never been popular with a majority of the public.
The mind reels. How is it possible for anyone who has been following politics and, presumably, policy for the past six years not to know that Obamacare is, in all important respects, identical to Romneycare? It has the same three key provisions — nondiscrimination by insurers, a mandate for individuals, and subsidies to make the mandate workable. It was developed by the same people. I and many others have frequently referred to ObamaRomneycare.  
Well, I’ve know for years that many political pundits don’t think that understanding policy is part of their job. But this is still extreme.  
And I’m sorry to go after an individual here — but for God’s sake, don’t you have to know something about the actual content of a policy you critique?  And what’s actually going on here is worse than ignorance. It’s pretty clear that we’re watching a rule of thumb according to which if Republicans are against a proposal, that means it must be leftist and extreme, and the burden on the White House is to find a way to make the GOP happy. Needless to say, this rewards obstructionism — there is literally nothing Obama can do to convince some (many) pundits that he’s making a good faith effort, because they don’t pay any attention to what he does, only to the Republican reaction.  
Yes, the right will ignore any contradictory evidence, maintain deliberate ignorance, and lie to win. To people who see everything as us-versus-them, winning is all that counts. Governing, people's lives and futures, the truth--these do not concern the pundits on the right. They are paid to be political agitators, not serious people.

This does not mean that the low-knowledge lipton pundits are completely insincere. For their own personal reasons, they are utterly livid when they think the have lost the "game" they are playing with people's lives. Megan McArdle is furious about Obmacare's passage because she sees it not as Romneycare or a giveaway to drug and insurance companies, but as a win for liberals and a humiliating defeat for her ego conservatives. McArdle frequently said Obamacare was forced on the public, who hated it, and that liberals would pay for their arrogance.
Regardless of what you think about health care, tomorrow we wake up in a different political world.  
Parties have passed legislation before that wasn't broadly publicly supported. But the only substantial instances I can think of in America are budget bills and TARP--bills that the congressmen were basically forced to by emergencies in the markets.  
One cannot help but admire Nancy Pelosi's skill as a legislator. But it's also pretty worrying. Are we now in a world where there is absolutely no recourse to the tyranny of the majority? Republicans and other opponents of the bill did their job on this; they persuaded the country that they didn't want this bill. And that mattered basically not at all. If you don't find that terrifying, let me suggest that you are a Democrat who has not yet contemplated what Republicans might do under similar circumstances. Farewell, Social Security! Au revoir, Medicare! The reason entitlements are hard to repeal is that the Republicans care about getting re-elected. If they didn't--if they were willing to undertake this sort of suicide mission--then the legislative lock-in you're counting on wouldn't exist.  
Oh, wait--suddenly it doesn't seem quite fair that Republicans could just ignore the will of their constituents that way, does it? Yet I guarantee you that there are a lot of GOP members out there tonight who think that they should get at least one free "Screw You" vote to balance out what the Democrats just did.  
If the GOP takes the legislative innovations of the Democrats and decides to use them, please don't complain that it's not fair. Someone could get seriously hurt, laughing that hard.  
But I hope they don't. What I hope is that the Democrats take a beating at the ballot boxand rethink their contempt for those mouth-breathing illiterates in the electorate. I hope Obama gets his wish to be a one-term president who passed health care. Not because I think I will like his opponent--I very much doubt that I will support much of anything Obama's opponent says. But because politicians shouldn't feel that the best route to electoral success is to lie to the voters, and then ignore them.  
We're not a parliamentary democracy, and we don't have the mechanisms, like votes of no confidence, that parliamentary democracies use to provide a check on their politicians. The check that we have is that politicians care what the voters think. If that slips away, America's already quite toxic politics will become poisonous.
To Megan McArdle, the passage of Obamacare was a big Screw You to her personally and her personal revenge was at least 100 posts fighting tooth-and-nail to defeat its passage.  McArdle does not want Democrats to pass legislation that might help anyone because she feels anyone else's gain is her loss.

It's hard to imagine that McArdle once said she was going to vote for Obama, although she condescended to add,"Now if he's even more of a cluster**** than I expect, I'll have to admit I was wrong."

Which would be a first.


Kathy said...

If that slips away, America's already quite toxic politics will become poisonous

Paging ArgleBargle: toxic and poisonous are the same thing. And most of the poison has been created and introduced by repugs. And using "quite" in a sentence doesn't make you sound educated or British.

Does she get her Writin' Orders via email, or Fax machine? Maybe a Koch will call her up and tell her what to say...

Susan of Texas said...

Heh, she's so predictable nobody has to give her orders.

Clever Pseudonym said...

" but for God’s sake, don’t you have to know something about the actual content of a policy you critique?"

I would tell Megan that Self-Awareness is on line one, but I can't stop laughing.

Mr. Wonderful said...

Clever Pseud--

The "don't you have to know something" was written by Krugman regarding Fournier's earlier quote.

I would challenge it with the suggestion that Fournier's writing is not influenced by what he knows or doesn't know, but by the propagandist line he decides to push. I suppose it's possible that he doesn't know that ACA is Romneycare, but I doubt that being told that would change his writing very much.

Susan of Texas said...

The rabid critics came up with a million reasons why the facts didn't apply to them. Deceit, self-deception, ignorance, and deliberate choices--whatever it takes to keep up the pretense.

We tend to fight the pretenses but I have found it's far more effective to ignore the pretenses and address only the primary issue. "Why are you lying in support of the rich?" is more memorable than "Why are you conflating percentage and number in your critique of Elizabeth Warren?

Clever Pseudonym said...

Oops! Thank you for pointing out my mistake, Mr. W! I am generally too fearful of following Susan's links, since Megan's full posts leave me wanting to claw my eyes out in the hope I can unsee her dreadful writing.