Get PJ Media on your Apple

PJM Lifestyle

by
Andrew C. McCarthy

Bio

November 1, 2013 - 2:57 pm
Page 1 of 4  Next ->   View as Single Page

stewart

Editor’s Note: PJ Lifestyle seeks to promote dialogue and debate across ideologies, cultures, and religions. This discussion in particular — within the conservative movement regarding goals and tactics — is vital. Both Ron Radosh and Andrew C. McCarthy are exemplary exponents of their positions. I would like to encourage more debate and discussion on this subject, and invite others to offer their views — DMS

*****

Life may be too short to unwind everything Ron Radosh distorts in his PJ Media blog post on Monday. In it, he purported to recap both Charles Krauthammer’s recent appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and my NRO column from last weekend, which examined that appearance in the context of mainstream Republican enthusiasm for the federal welfare state.

I need to say that again: mainstream Republican enthusiasm for the welfare state.

The emphasis is warranted because Ron provides readers with the following synopsis of my position: “McCarthy says no mainstream Republican accepts” the “centralized welfare state” that began with “the Progressive Era of Woodrow Wilson followed by FDR’s New Deal” (emphasis added). Of course, that is exactly the opposite of what I said. Ron evidently missed not only the column’s main point – viz., that the mainstream of the Republican Party fully accepts the centralized welfare state – but also its headline, which announces in bold black letters, “The Republican Embrace of the Welfare State,” followed by the sub-heading, “The establishment GOP has accepted progressivism’s central premise.”

There is a salient distinction between Republicans and conservatives. That was the upshot of my argument, which follows up on the theme from the previous weekend’s column: Mainstream Republicans are sympathetic to President Obama’s case for a massive, centralized welfare state; mainstream conservatives favor the Tea Party’s emphasis on individual liberty and limited government – which, contrary to Ron’s apparent misconception, is hostile not to humane, transparent welfare programs but to the insatiable, Washington-centered imposture that is devouring the prosperity of present and future generations of Americans. That is the rift on the Right.

Ron is similarly sloppy throughout. In this post, I address the hash he makes of my Krauthammer-Stewart critique. This weekend, I will have more to say about Ron’s fanciful depiction of Social Security as a bona fide retirement insurance program – which parrots a Roosevelt administration fairy tale that even its authors abandoned three-quarters of a century ago when forced to justify the program in Supreme Court litigation. I’ll also discuss Ron’s misstatement of my position on welfare.

Like Ron, I value “serious and respectful” debate, and have generally managed to keep things civil through 30 years of mixing it up with some fairly strident characters: aggressive lawyers, government officials, journalists, talk-show hosts, academics, Islamic-supremacists, etc. I might nevertheless be more receptive to Ron’s Dale Carnegie lecture if he were a better practitioner of what he preaches. I have not commented on this but, since he brings up the subject of civility, I am still taken aback by the tone of his review of Diana West’s American Betrayal … and I cringed upon learning that, in the midst of the nasty cross-fire that it ignited, he sent Diana a giddy email taunt when another commentator, Conrad Black, published a similarly intemperate review. To be clear, I am not talking about substantive merit here – I happen to disagree with Ron and Conrad about Diana’s book, but that is neither here nor there (I’ll have more to say about it soon). I am talking about peer-to-peer civility. Even in the context of Ron’s post about my column, the “serious and respectful” twaddle is just a set-up for branding my argument as “a child’s temper tantrum.” “Serious and respectful” starts to seem a lot like “agrees with Ron.”

That said, we can certainly stipulate that Charles Krauthammer is a charming, consummate gentleman, and that his discourse with the reciprocally gracious Jon Stewart was a model of civility. I fail to see the relevance, however, since my quarrel had nothing to do with the tenor of the Krauthammer-Stewart dialogue. Nor with the forum in which it took place. Ron claims I “chastise[d]” Dr. K for appearing on The Daily Show. I did no such thing. While I’ve not been on that program, I’ve appeared on more left-leaning media broadcasts and in more debates at left-leaning universities than I can count. It is a good thing for conservatives, especially compelling conservatives like Charles Krauthammer, to engage progressives in settings where they meet good faith interlocutors (as Stewart, whom I don’t know, seems to be), or where there is an open-minded (even if left-leaning) audience that might be moved by conservative arguments.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
After Ron Radosh's attack on Dianna West, I lost all respect for him (and a great deal for David Horowitz). I have no problem with dissent, but it should always be based in truth and fact, not some made up bogus complaint that does not.

Perhaps this is the "establishment" vs conservative battle that Andy speaks of. The GOP has become filled with "go along to git along" Republicans like McCain, Graham, et al who hold themselves in higher esteem than does the rest of the nation. Who chastise younger members for not knowing how things work in D.C. Excuse me, is D.C. really working for those of us in flyover country? I think not.

Perhaps therein lies the problem; Americans KNOW how things work in D.C. and they don't like the sausage factory, not one little bit.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Dr. K support the McCain/Shamnesty Bill? Nothing says "establishment" more than that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
"(Ron also says Charles and I disagree about liberal programs to “end child labor.” I never mentioned the subject; if Charles mentioned it, I don’t recall that; and, other than Ron’s fertile imagination, I don’t know where this supposed dispute comes from.)"

As you may well know, he did the very same thing, and repeatedly, with Diana West. He just makes things up out of whole cloth and without even a hint of embarrassment. I don't know how anyone can take someone who does so much of that seriously.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It is never a surprise when persons in power try to expand that power. It is, indeed, the sordid history of the human animal itself.
America was the test whether the human animal was capable of perfection, not through coercion and enforcement, but by leaving others to do as they wished, within wide boundaries. Their highest right was simply to be left alone.
The Europeans laughed. Humans crave an authoritative figure, they cried. This will be over in a nonce. Even King George III, when told that Washington was to serve just a term, and then pass the Presidency to another, not chosen by him, but by "the people" laughed heartily, "This is a man I should like to see!".
De Toqueville himself said that the key to America was that it was truly a moral communion, and less a legal one, and when it became necessary to become a legal one, the country would fall apart. Lawyers would set themselves up as the new Aristocracy, and everyone else would become peasants once again.
Smart fellow, that Frenchman.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
Sort: Newest Oldest Top Rated
There is a salient distinction between Republicans and conservatives.

There is a far larger distinction to be made between conservatives and advocates of liberty. Unfortunately, too many confused people equate the two, in regards to both others and themselves.

Until this understanding goes mainstream, genuine liberty lovers will keep getting lumped into the "right wing" of the Ackbar Spectrum with social conservatives and religious theocrats -- who, in their historical and current view of men and their relationship to society, have far more in common with the Left than many other putative "rightists".
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I just can't tell you, Andrew, how much I wish you guys would stop using the term "conservative".

Your own article and some of the commentators to it are indicative of the confusion sewn into the term. Charles K. is not a Constitutionalist. I've heard him be dismissive of the founder's intent on numerous occasions. Is that "conservative"?

Clearly, Charles can't keep his own views on Socialist Security straight, and your analysis seems accurate. Charles doesn't want to eliminate SS, he thinks we just have to tweak it. Is that "conservative"?

Hey, maybe those things ARE conservative, and I'm simply not. As a Constitutionalist, I'd say there's no "fix" for Socialist Security. It simply doesn't belong in a free society.

You're also quite correct that the Rift amongst Republicans (I won't use your term - the Right - as Progressive statists have taught you to enunciate your views on Constitutionalists as if they were actually European Nazis. Good for you, Andrew.) has a lot to do with the difference of opinion on welfare. Constitutionalists don't believe it does any good, and non-Constitutionalists are unable to see past handing someone money.

Ron Radosh is about as Constitutionalist as Barack Obama. No, no, we can just tweak things here and there. Core problem with basic principles? What are those? Obviously, you didn't understand how good my intentions were when I crafted the policy. Let me re-explain what I just said.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I don't see what the big surprise is in Radosh holding far more animus toward conservatives than toward liberals. He and Ledeen and Simon, the men who give this site its flavor, are neo-cons, that is to say liberals who had a falling out with the mainstream of liberalism over primarily foreign policy questions, the projection of American power. Conservatives, with their quaint hang-ups about the loss of individual liberty?...they might as well be in another universe.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
So I suppose we would better describe mainstream republicans as wilsonians.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I agree with McCarthy's differentiating Republicans from Conservatives. The two are not synonymous. And, yes, too many Republicans have no problem whatsoever in accommodating themselves to Obama's Leviathan welfare state. I support the Tea Party and the principles upon which they stand -- let us return to limited govt and fiscal sanity!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Did the media report it when the USSC decided Social Security was a welfare program? I ask this because of the numbers of people who still say it's an insurance program. Did they spike that particular news?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
This is dishonest on the Social Security-Ponzi analogy. Krauthammer is right that mandatory contributions undercut the analogy, and contra McCarthy it is not a distinction without a difference. You cannot pull your money (taxes) out of the system simply because you suspect the rate of return isn't good enough. Raise those taxes or adjust the payouts in various ways and the program is perfectly sustainable. What has made it problematic is not its semi-Ponzi character (which by the way FDR was not happy about either - McCarthy is VERY unfair to his understanding of what he was doing and why), but the vast demographic transformation underway. It was not a transformation FDR or anyone could have expected in the extreme form it has taken - skyrocketing life expectancy and baby boom-baby bust fertility. Krauthammer dwelt on that with Stewart not to ingratiate himself with a liberal audience, but because it is so. McCarthy collapses this demographic problem into the one that disrupts a ponzi scheme when he says just like in a ponzi scheme "there are not enough later entrants" in Social Security. In a ponzi scheme that's because entrants abandon the scheme. With Social Security it is entirely due to the demographic changes.

Moreover, McCarthy's view that Social Security made "outlandish promises" is hard to fathom. The payouts were delayed, were very modest and did not apply to huge swaths of the workforce at first - domestics, agricultural workers, I believe, etc. The later expansions of the program may have been irresponsible, but I assume McCarthy does not begrudge the heavily minority poor a chance to get some of the benefits later on. In any case, outlandish, I guess is in the eye of the beholder. Social Security is here to stay, it can be made sustainable, and conservatives can either play a part in that or remain marginalized and totally irrelevant to the process.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
FDR knew exactly what would transpire with SSI. By the 1980's it would go broke! And that, it did. Just like Obamacare today, the socialists know exactly what it will do in the future. You place too much "good faith" in the intentions of men. Particularly FDR.
My question for the left is why? If you get everything you want - what then? Is this just a pet experiment to see if you can turn the most free country ever known into a socialist utopia? Why? For what reason? Aren't there many countries already in existence that follow this model?

What is the point?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
The point? The point, to cite a great movie line, is, "The future, Mr. Gittes, the future!"
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I am not sure what you mean by asking "what is the point," since your comment does not really relate to what my point was. I did, in a parenthesis, comment on FDR's intentions. But whether right or wrong about those, that was not relevant to my main point. That point is that SS is not a ponzi scheme. A Ponzi scheme collapses when it runs out of new entrants and/or those in it all seek to escape it. Everyone who works is automatically an entrant into SS and will always be, so it will not run out of entrants. It will run up against limits to what it can pay out, but that is because of enormous demographic changes that neither FDR nor any Republican critics of SS could have anticipated. McCarthy very facilely resorts to the ponzi analogy to dramatize this problem inaccurately and tendentiously.

By the way, you should check into what Republicans did actually think about Social Security after 1939 or so, once the program was underway. Many thought it was not large enough - quit a few wanted it extended to domestic and agricultural workers (which it was not, a racist tilt to it, by the way), and many still longed for the Townsend plan, which was in fact totally unsustainable from the start, not forty years later, and which FDR feared would be forced on the nation if he did not come up with something much more modest, which he did. No one, to my knowledge, wanted it all turned over to the states - a fantasy McCarthy and many others on the right think is all that we need. Even a conservative like Taft, who did want the states to control relief spending, for instance, also wanted TWO-THIRDS of it paid by the feds. Roll over James Madison, tell old Jefferson the news.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Here's the point:

You cannot have a 19th century government with a 21st century society.

In the 19th century before Social Security, America was still a primarily agrarian society (though that was rapidly changing). Mom and Dad and the kids lived with Grandma and Grandpa as an extended family on a family farm, and Mom and Dad and the kids took care of Grandma and Grandpa in their old age.

We don't live like that anymore. A frequent flier can't drag Grandma and Grandpa around with him on every business trip.

Industrialization and the mobility of the car and the airplane have made the extended family all but extinct.

SS was an attempt--however flawed--to make sure that even when Grandpa and Grandma live alone, apart from Mom and Dad and the kids, that they will still be taken care of.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Interesting point. Less centralized families led to more centralized government.

People must take care of each other. If they can't or won't do it in person, they need a surrogate to do it for them. That surrogate is the government.

People who object to this scheme must answer the question, "Who's going to take care of Grandma and Grandpa?"

I suppose Grandma and Grandpa should have thought of that before they went and got old, right?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Support of and a willingness to look for the acceptable parts of the welfare state is akin to a drug addict's dishonesty. We need an intervention and then we need a sober unwinding. But we will never be able get all of the addicts together in the living room, nor enough interventionists to speak frankly to them nor enough people willing to accept the suffering that will ensue. Will we reach a steady state of drug usage with a ready supply of drugs or will it spiral to a bad end like most addictions? Let's face it, it's only going to end when there is no other choice. But it makes for interesting pundit banter.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can't "soberly unwind" the government unless you also "soberly unwind" the society that needs those government services.

And that can't happen unless you want to channel Greenpeace and go back to the days when we all lived on family farms and grew our own food and took care of our own grandparents in their old age.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
After Ron Radosh's attack on Dianna West, I lost all respect for him (and a great deal for David Horowitz). I have no problem with dissent, but it should always be based in truth and fact, not some made up bogus complaint that does not.

Perhaps this is the "establishment" vs conservative battle that Andy speaks of. The GOP has become filled with "go along to git along" Republicans like McCain, Graham, et al who hold themselves in higher esteem than does the rest of the nation. Who chastise younger members for not knowing how things work in D.C. Excuse me, is D.C. really working for those of us in flyover country? I think not.

Perhaps therein lies the problem; Americans KNOW how things work in D.C. and they don't like the sausage factory, not one little bit.

And correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Dr. K support the McCain/Shamnesty Bill? Nothing says "establishment" more than that.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
1 2 3 Next View All