The Spectacle Blog

Wooly Willy Obama

By on 7.17.08 | 1:59PM

Larry Hunter, a supply-side conservative who has a piece on our main site today opposing Canadian drug reimportation, takes to the NY Daily News to explain why he plans to vote for Barack Obama. Hunter's argument is mainly rooted in the fact that he's an anti-war conservative, but his assumptions about Obama on domestic policy are utterly ridiculous.

Hunter writes:

Plus, when it comes to domestic issues, I don't take Obama at his word. That may sound cynical. But the fact that he says just about all the wrong things on domestic issues doesn't bother me as much as it once would have. After all, the Republicans said all the right things - fiscal responsibility, spending restraint - and it didn't mean a thing. It is a sad commentary on American politics today, but it's taken as a given that politicians, all of them, must pander, obfuscate and prevaricate.

This is an argument that I come across from time to time, and it makes no logical sense at all. The fact that Republicans haven't keep true to their promises to restrain spending has no bearing whatsoever on whether Obama will restrain spending, or how he stacks up against John McCain, who has been one of the few Republicans good on spending. Obama has already proposed more that $600 billion in new spending for his first term, and it's only July.  That includes his plan to nationalize health care, spend an additional $15 billion a year on his energy plan, $6 billion more a year on infrastructure, $18 billion more on education, doubling our foreign development assistance to $50 billion, and so on. Obama supported the farm bill and energy bill, McCain opposed both. Obama accepts earmarks, but McCain has promised to veto any bill containing earmarks. Beyond that, if Hunter won't take Obama at his word on domestic issues, than how can he be so confident that Obama will keep his word on national security issues, Hunter's primary rationale for supporting him? After all, Obama already disappointed civil libertarians on FISA -- something that Hunter doesn't address.  

Hunter continues:

Besides, I suspect Obama is more free-market friendly than he lets on. He taught at the

University/> of Chicago/>/>, a hotbed of right-of-center thought. His economic advisers, notably Austan Goolsbee, recognize that ordinary citizens stand to gain more from open markets than from government meddling. That's got to rub off.

While it's true that the economics department of the University/> of Chicago/>/> has been the home to many great free market thinkers, the school as a whole (as well as the neighborhood) is still quite liberal. Either way, it's a total non sequitur. Obama taught constitutional law. How does that have any bearing on his long-held progressive economic views? It's like saying that because I went to journalism school at Columbia/> University/>/>, which is a hot bed of leftist thinking, I must be more liberal than I let on.

More Hunter:

When it comes to health care, I am hoping Obama quietly recognizes that a crusade against pharmaceutical companies would result in the opposite of any intended effect. And in any event, McCain's plans in this area are deeply problematic, too. Take drug reimportation. McCain (like Obama) says he's perfectly comfortable with this ill-conceived scheme, which would drive research and development dollars away from the next generation of miracle cures.

I'll grant that McCain's position on this issue is indefensible, but I certainly won't be "hoping Obama quietly recognizes that a crusade against pharmaceutical companies would result in the opposite of any intended effect." I remember attending a townhall meeting in Perry/>, Iowa/>/> a few days before the caucuses, in which Obama called for televised inquisitions of pharmaceutical executives so that the public would "shame Congress into doing the right thing."

If Hunter wants to vote for Obama, that's his right. But if he wants to make an argument, he should rely less on hoping, and more on presenting actual evidence to back up his points.

With that said, this does illustrate one of the assets that Obama brings to the race. Since he's such a blank slate, it allows voters to believe whatever they want about who he is. He's the political equivelent of Wooly Willy.  

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