The Spectacle Blog

Market-Hater Thomas Frank Attacks Mark Sanford

By on 4.8.09 | 2:14PM

Thomas Frank, a polemicist of leftist chaos, thinks very little of large sections of America. He's at it again in the Wall Street Journal, talking down to conservatives.

Hired as part of the WSJ's affirmative action program for the congenitally irrational, Frank frequently laments the supposed stupidity of his fellow Kansans for being duped into supporting American values like, for example, a love of capitalism and freedom. He is a master of progressive condescension who wrote the surprisingly influential liberal tract, What's the Matter with Kansas: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America.

Frank leans heavily on the Marxist concept of "false consciousness." He contends that the people of Red State America are too stupid or brainwashed (or both) to realize that voting Republican and/or supporting conservative public policy proposals is not in their best interests.

Today Frank, no relation to Barney Frank though certainly a kindred spirit, whines about one of the few (at least seemingly) principled politicians in the land, South Carolina's Republican governor, Mark Sanford.

In his column, "Eighteenth-Century Man: South Carolina's governor is touchingly naïve," the overrated liberal thinker lambastes Sanford for daring to believe in the limited government ideals of America's founders:

I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. His ideals are honestly held. It's just that with ideals this bad, you don't need hypocrisy to go wrong.

Mr. Sanford is transfixed, for example, by the perfidy of big government. Deficit spending, the issue of the day, has always struck him as fantastically evil, and in his congressional period he even quoted an early 19th century Scottish theorist on why government spending can force a democracy to collapse. Social Security is another bad idea, he argues in his book, and it needs to be replaced by personal retirement accounts.

Business, on the other hand, is an institution with almost magical powers of beneficence: were we to entrust our retirement savings to "conventional investments" instead of government, Mr. Sanford wrote in 2000, we could expect returns of 8% a year. (And that's why the Dow stands well above 20,000 today.)

Mr. Sanford's theory of how government works -- it's a conflict of "citizen legislators" and "career politicians," with the city of Washington itself exerting a mysterious liberal influence over all who enter it -- would have been considered touchingly naïve even in the days of the Harding administration.

There it is, laid out for all to see.

In Frank's eyes, people who believe that the Constitution was created to restrain government are immoral, or at least simpleminded. People who believe that markets, not bureaucrats, are best suited to satisfy human wants and needs, are corporate shills and cronies. People who believe that redistributionist Washington, D.C. should not be trusted because it has a corrupting influence on so many of those working in it, are ignorant, provincial goofballs.

This is what, dear reader, Thomas Frank thinks of you.

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