Ed Driscoll

Strawman Arguments Burned

“Dear Jon Favreau – There’s No Such Thing As No-Government Conservatives,” Aleister writes at his American Glob blog:

Obama’s former speech writer Jon Favreau wrote a piece for The Daily Beast today filled with lots of subtle and not so subtle anti-conservative propaganda. I’ll rebut below.

Among his claims:

The Republican Party has been overrun by people who want no government.

Sorry Jon, those are the anarchists in Oakland and the filthy crime ridden Occupy camps you and yours support. Conservatives respect the rule of law but want smaller and more efficient government. Rejecting the Titanic doesn’t mean you hate boats. Even the most hard core Libertarians in America believe in some government.

The Republican Party was so much better when they had moderates.

Oh, you mean like John McCain? You and your ilk didn’t seem to like him so much back in 2008 but now you think the Republican Party can’t survive without people like him? By the way Jon, who are the moderates in the Democratic Party? Bill Ayers? Self proclaimed Socialist Lawrence O’Donnell of MSNBC? Obama? Was Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney a little too “right-wing” for you? Please.

Indeed. And an Obama surrogate can’t turn around and praise McCain today after his campaign trashed him like this in 2008:

In 2008 the Obama campaign released an ad that mocked John McCain for his inability to send an email – which infuriated people, because the reason why he can’t send an email is because his arms have never really worked properly after the North Vietnamese got done torturing him.  When Obama’s Vice Presidential candidate Joe Biden dared mildly apologize for it, the Obama campaign humiliated Biden by having their lackey Bill Burton come out and retract Biden’s apology.

This is what passed for ‘civility’ in the 2008 election cycle – but I can understand why Obama would get all misty-eyed about those days.  It’s natural for a coward to remember fondly the times when his fights were all with people who wouldn’t – or couldn’t – fight back…

As I wrote last year in response to Obama’s own nostalgia for his moment of glory in 2008:

I’m not sure if Jonah Goldberg addressed this topic in The Tyranny of Cliches, but it’s one of the great cliches of liberalism that whoever the current GOP president is, he’s always a ruthless barbarian compared with his genteel predecessor. Leftwing journalists routinely beat up GWB by comparing him to Reagan — whom they loathed while the Gipper was in office. Both Roger Ebert and Paul Krugman have each found themselves longing for Richard Nixon. And if only that horrible Tea Party could be as genteel as saintly old William F. Buckley (whom liberals similarly hated while he was alive). Apparently this breed of liberal nostalgia now extends to GOP presidential candidates as well.

As for Favreau’s other strawman, that there exists a mythical (daily) beast known as the “non-government conservative,” as Michael Walsh writes at NRO, “The key to understanding the Left is knowing that they inhabit a Manichean fantasy world in which history is controlled by roiling, magical forces, in which signs, symbols, and portents are more important than empirical reality and in which their opponents are not just wrong but evil:”

In politics, the opposite of something is not necessarily nothing, as Favreau would have it — it’s a different something: in this case, responsive, responsible and limited government.

Citing fellow lefty Jonathan Chait in an argument from authority and offering Grover Norquist as the poster boy for movement conservatives are just two of Favreau’s many fallacies. You can read a brief fisking of his pipe dream here, and of course you’re free to write your own, to which I would just add that I don’t think even Favreau believes what he’s written — not rationally, anyway. Rather, he’s articulating the meta-marrative, the fairy tale that regressive Neanderthals tell each other in order to try and make sense of a world that fundamentally frightens them. It’s the only way they can deal with such an inimical universe, one whose laws of gravity, physics, and economics constantly contradict their tribal beliefs and in which their beautiful theories are subject to relentless muggings by a gang of brutal facts from the Cro-Magnons on the other side of the river.

Cro-Magnons you say? As Aleister writes at American Glob in response to Favreau, “You’re a second rate propagandist, but as one of the people in Obama’s inner circle you probably helped create the fake war on women campaign of 2012. You certainly hated Hillary Clinton during the 2008 Democratic Primary but you’ll ignore any sense of truth and fully support her in 2016:”


That’s Favreau on the left in the photo, four years or so before he wished us all “Peace in our time,”  even as the Obama administration renewed its ongoing reverse von Clausewitz-style assault on the American people. Or as Mickey Kaus writes today, Obama’s recent speech at Knox College “exposed some big disconnects” between the president and reality, including:

Disconnect 1: Between what Obama says he’s doing and what he’s been doing.

“Washington’s taken its eye off the ball.  And I’m here to say this needs to stop. … Our focus has to be on the basic economic issues that the matter most to you — the people we represent. (Applause.) That’s what we have to spend our time on and our energy on and our focus on.

… [R]educing poverty, reducing inequality, growing opportunity. That’s what we need. (Cheers, applause.) That’s what we need. That’s what we need right now. (Cheers, applause.)

That’s what we need to be focused on. [E.A.]

You would almost think it was Republicans who had spent the past few months focusing on first, gun control and second, immigration–two topics Obama himself classifies as “other key priorities,” not “basic economic issues.” Shorter Obama:  ’Washington must stop being distracted by the off-point initiatives that I and my staff have been pushing.’

But then, that argument can be extended back to January of 2009, as Mary Katharine Ham wrote yesterday:

Tim Carney notes that, five years into his presidency, President Obama’s speeches about the economy failing the middle and working class sound a lot like indictments of his own record. Obama himself is either honestly or calculatedly oblivious to this, but the facts are the facts:

Obama’s first term, with all its tax hikes, regulations, mandates, subsidies and bailouts, saw stock markets rise, corporate earnings break records and the rich get richer, while median income stagnated and unemployment remained stubbornly high.

Obama rightly calls the last few years “a winner-take-all economy where a few are doing better and better and better, while everybody else just treads water.”

Median household income has fallen by 5 percent since 2009 — when the recession ended and Obama came into office — as the Wall Street Journal pointed out after Obama’s speech. But corporate profits and the stock market keep hitting record highs.

How does Obama think these are points in his favor?

If he’s using this data to prove he’s no Marxist, fine. Point granted. But Obama seems to think that middle-class and working-class stagnation under Obamanomics somehow calls for more Obamanomics.

Finally, now is the time when we juxtapose, Small Dead Animals-style:

“Obama Offers New Deal on Corporate Taxes, Jobs.”

— Headline, the Wall Street Journal, today.

“FDR’s policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate.”

— Headline, UCLA Newsroom, August 10, 2004.

But if Time magazine said that Obama was ramming down our throats offering us a “New New Deal” at the start of his administration, are we up to the New, New, New Deal at this point?


Update: “Obama Admits that He’s Just Not Up to the Job,” Bryan Preston writes today at the PJ Tatler. But isn’t that breaking news from 2004?