The intellectual dishonesty shown by prominent conservative thinkers is truly astonishing and never ceases to amaze me. To any person half grounded in reality, Barack Obama is about as close to a left wing radical as George Bush was a fiscal conservative. Obama would be considered on every other industrialized country on earth as a mildly conservative centrist, yet in America, the Right is doing its utmost to paint him as the second coming of Che Guevara (and Bush, who created record deficits and nearly destroyed the economy while in power, is apparently economically conservative).
Writing in the weekly standard, supposed intellectual power house Yuval Levin decries Obama’s radical politics stating:
Democrats, as the president’s chief of staff Rahm Emanuel explained in 2008, have sought to use the ongoing economic crisis to achieve all kinds of unrelated goals: health care policy they have craved for decades, environmental policy that has little to do with the economy, more protections for unions, a greater role for government in the financial and automotive sectors, and on and on. In the process, they have made the actual economic crisis worse by making it difficult for consumers, producers, employers, and investors to plan ahead.
Still a Tory at heart, Andrew Sullivan has taken it upon himself to point out the ludicrous hypocrisy of this type of GOP propaganda. Sullivan believes in small government and balanced budgets but also recognizes that the libertarian philosophy of completely deregulated markets was a spectacular disaster. He writes:
You will notice is that there is no reference in any of this to the appalling economic circumstances Obama inherited which determined both policies. It’s like describing FDR’s policies as if the Great Depression never happened. What a leap toward Kenyan anti-colonialism that was. Indeed, in the Weekly Standard’s headline “madness”. Levin, of course, makes no reference to the deregulated chaos that precipitated the financial meltdown that created the worst recession since the Second World War ( or are Richard Posner and Alan Greenspan Kenyan anti-colonialists now as well?). And what Obama has done to rein in some of the abuses is relatively modest, wrought by such radicals as Tim Geithner and Larry Summers, to the consternation and contempt of the left.
The scope for debate in Right wing circles is now so small it is hardly worth discussing. The foundations of their philosophy – that government is bad and markets are good – is childishly simplistic and naive and fails to deal with the complexity of the modern industrial state. Churning out propaganda and myths does little to advance the very serious business of rebuilding the shattered economy and serves only to score political points. This might work well for the GOP in the short term, but if voters have any sense, they will continue to leave Republicans on the sideline. And they’ll have hacks like Levin to thank.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.