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The Choice Is Ours

By From the May 2012 issue

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It may no longer instruct (p. 68), but the liberal mind continues to amaze. Just in one sitting I come across two splendid examples, both intended to defend our president against his alleged enemies, none of them foreign, all of them domestic. In the first, the columnist Ms. Maureen Dowd heaps scorn on Justice Antonin Scalia yet has the cheek to call him "venomous." Justice Anthony Kennedy, as the "swing vote" on Obamacare, gets off easier. Suddenly Dowd turns silly, asking "Could the dream of expanded health care die at the hands of a Kennedy?" Teddy must be sitting up in his grave.

In the second example, the New Yorker's Elizabeth Kolbert, in the weekly's lead editorial, goes after Republicans who say Mr. Obama's energy policy is the product of radical ideology and responsible for our nation's rising gasoline prices. That's all "hokum," she notes, as if "the President could, if he wanted to, reduce the price of oil." But she doesn't stop there, expressing joy instead that he doesn't want to. "When it comes to gas prices, it's been clear for, well, let's just say forever that the cost of gasoline in America is actually too low. Cheap gas generates sprawl and traffic. It discourages the use of mass transit…" Before you know it, it causes global warming. So what's one American's radical ideology is another's "rational policy option," as she terms it.

At least with Ms. Kolbert, we know where she stands. She simply wants to overturn the American way of life.

Conversely, her party rebels at any challenge to its way of doing business. For his troubles, a Jimmy Stewart-like Paul Ryan is described by our president as a purveyor of Social Darwinism, a Trojan horse, a wild-eyed radical. (Do these people ever stop projecting?) Last year, Ms. Dowd said Ryan was "trying to push the cost of Medicare and Medicaid onto the old, the sick, and the disabled," thus inspiring the recent liberal ad depicting a man who could be mistaken for Ryan pushing an helpless old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. Through all this, none of the Ryan vilifiers ever engage his arguments. It's enough to read any of Ryan's plain-spoken observations—here's a pearl from this month's symposium (p. 14), "Government has never come up with a magic formula for lowering costs and improving quality"—to know immediately that the likes of Ms. Dowd have no answer, and so they carry on as if such arguments did not exist.

But they do exist, and that's why we're here today. For all their fulminating against "the rich," Obamaworlders insist money is no obstacle. Easy for them to say, when it's always somebody else's money they have in their sights. But money is an obstacle when government is bankrupt and all signs point to even more alarming indebtedness in the coming years and decades. In one vision, government coddles us all, from cradle to grave, and in return, we show our gratitude by re-electing those who take such good care of us and even let us ride on mass transit. The other vision says, "Enough already; this is not how our country was built and not how any self-respecting human should be forced to live." If we are to continue as free citizens, we face facts now and formulate policies consistent with the meaning of freedom. It's a very American thing to do (p. 56), and as readers of our special symposium will learn, at the heart of the alternative policies to the Entitlement State laid out here is a lovely notion called Choice. Back when they were liberals, Liberals used to treasure it too.

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About the Author
Wlady Pleszczynski is editorial director of The American Spectator and the editor of AmSpec Online.