Ed Driscoll

Reality...What a Concept

By now, we’ve all read the New York Times article that first made the rounds on Friday featuring multiple cri de coeurs from wealthy limousine leftists who are shocked to be losing their health insurance. Here’s the ending:

It is an uncomfortable position for many members of the creative classes to be in.

“We are the Obama people,” said Camille Sweeney, a New York writer and member of the Authors Guild. Her insurance is being canceled, and she is dismayed that neither her pediatrician nor her general practitioner appears to be on the exchange plans. What to do has become a hot topic on Facebook and at dinner parties frequented by her fellow writers and artists.

“I’m for it,” she said. “But what is the reality of it?”

At the Corner, Yuval Levin makes a great observation about that classic facepalm-inducing last paragraph: “Answer first, question second. This would be funny if it weren’t so sad and serious.”

Responding to another member of the Manhattan “Obama people” quoted by the Times who’s shocked — unexpectedly! — by the loss of her insurance, Richard Fernandez adds, “If I Can Fake It There, I’ll Fake It Anywhere:”

When Obama announced he was inviting people who could not or would not pay for healthcare to the feast, that necessarily meant the bill would have to be stretched over those with money in their pockets.  And the NYC elite made the cardinal mistake of having some jake in the first place. The fact that they were successful doomed them. It meant that their fund — and all other well-managed enterprises — would have to be raided to subsidize the failures.

This is called a transfer payment. This is called redistribution. You may want or not want it, but you cannot pretend that redistribution does not redistribute.

If Ms. Meinwald wanted to avoid getting slugged, her group should have imitated Detroit. When you’re bust, you’re off the hook. No stash, no tab. Or, as classic Marxian theory puts it, from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.  Of course the modern Democratic Party has rewritten the slogan slightly to “from each according to his gullibility, to each according to his greed,” but that’s a mere detail; that’s progress for you.

What Meinwald may get is intangible. She’ll get first-class illusion. Illusion, Nathan Glazer once wrote, is sometimes a damned fine thing. Responding to Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray’s argument that humans are unequal in The Bell Curve, the Harvard sociologist argued in the New Republic that “some truths may not be worth knowing. Our society, our polity, our elites, according to Herrnstein and Murray, live with an untruth. I ask myself whether this untruth is not better for American society than the truth.”

So much for “the reality-based community.”

At the Federalist today, Mollie Hemingway also riffs on the wistful last words quoted by the Times in the title of her new article:

Maybe our fellow Americans disagree with every aspect of a piece of legislation, maybe they just disagree with a few particulars. But responsible adults must always ask about the consequences of legislative action. This may seem radical in an era of “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it,” but it’s really just a smart way for us all to come together to discuss reality before it’s too late.

So much of the increase in the size and scope of government happens because of Affordable Care Act approaches. As Rich Lowry put it, this involves “hiding and never acknowledging the costs of a given policy; giving legislation a warm and fuzzy name on the assumption that its results will live up to that label; and moralistic attacks on people who resist as fools and ogres.” Politicians and pundits are particularly good at refusing to acknowledge the tremendous downsides, unintended consequences and painful trade-offs of major government action.

But if Americans who are “for it” could work a bit more with the Americans who are asking “what is the reality of it?” we might be able to avoid some of the major mistakes we’ve made in recent years.

Given that a major component of leftism is the belief in your own superiority through demonization of your neighbors as heretics and non-believers,  it will take a major amount of rethinking and reformulating of the leftist belief system for the “If Obama wants it, I’m for it” gang and the “What is the reality of it?” crowd to begin speaking with each other again.

Don’t look to old media — which did everything it could to both amplify Mr. Obama’s message and to demonize everyone who dissented from it from 2007 through October of this year to begin bridging the gap anytime soon.

QED: “Christmas In The Tank: [NBC-Universal employee] Steve Harvey Says There Are Relentless Obama Critics, and ‘Those Of Us Who Get It,'” as spotted by Tim Graham of Newsbusters.

While I’m a confirmed Oba-skeptic, I know how comforting it must be to have that degree of religious faith in a higher power.

Join the conversation as a VIP Member