Belmont Club

Don't come back Shane

Michael Barone asks whether the choices voters under Obama face aren’t the same ones as in Shane.

Republicans and conservatives are trying to grapple with the Obama administration’s $3,600,000,000,000 federal budget — let’s include the zeroes rather than use the trivializing abbreviation $3.6 trillion — and the larger-than-previously-projected $1,841,000,000,000 budget deficit. Political arguments are usually won not by numbers but by moral principles. And conservatives, banished by voters from high office, are having a hard time agreeing on a moral case.

The always thoughtful David Brooks complains in his New York Times column that Republicans learned the wrong lessons from John Ford’s classic Western movies. They should not be “the party of untrammeled freedom and maximum individual choice,” but rather “once again the party of community and civic order.” They should not celebrate the lonely hero that saves the town, but the everyday people who build the voluntary associations that Alexis de Tocqueville identified as the chief strength of America back in the 1830s. …

Our would-be soft despots are offering Americans money and the promise of security against economic distress. The vastly increased cost of government will nonetheless nearly leave half of households free from the burden of paying federal income tax and eligible for occasional rebates. As the CNN reporter Susan Roesgen said to a Tea Party protester, “Don’t you realize that you’re eligible for a $400 tax cut?” In other words, take the money and shut up.

It’s amazing how generous an offer not to take your money sounds. There’s a moral in there somewhere, but I’d hate to think what it was.

Lonely hero or orderly community?  Or is that a false choice?

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