Reinventing liberal guilt

The most popular journalist in America at the moment is probably Rick Santelli. His impassioned attack on the administration's so-called "Home Affordability Plan" did more than strike a chord: it gave voice to the burgeoning rage many Americans feel about the way the current President of the United States and his administration are handling the great credit crisis of 2008-2009. In particular, he gave voice to the rage, tinctured by disgust, that most people feel when told that a feckless segment of the population is in line for yet another government handout--to be financed, naturally, by hardworking taxpayers. Ninety-two percent of people holding mortgages make their payments on time. Many of those people, too, have had to scrimp and save as the economy has sputtered to a crawl. Why should they be further penalized in order to subsidize those who irresponsibly took on more debt than they could handle? They shouldn't. And they don't like having the Great Nanny in Washington telling them they must. Hence the call for "tea parties" and "taxpayer revolts" springing up all over the country.

My only regret is that Mr. Santelli joined his critics in describing his attack as a "rant." To describe something as a rant is a prelude to dismissing it as exaggerated, over-the-top, irresponsible, i.e., something you can safely ignore.

As I noted yesterday, this is something that Robert Gibbs, the White House Press Sceretary, hopes you will do. It is also something that many of Mr. Santelli's left-leaning colleagues in the bought-'n-paid-for precincts of the Fourth Estate hope you will do.

When Mr. Santelli spontaneously attacked the administration's plan to step in and rewrite the contract terms for some--but only, of course, some--mortgages, you could tell that his colleagues at the other end of the video feed were a bit taken aback. Hey, wait a minute: this fellow is calling the whole redistributionist scheme into question! He called for a referendum on the question of whether people like the idea of in effect helping to pay for their neighbor's mortgage!

It was amusing to watch the other newscasters respond to Mr. Santelli's performance. You could tell they were torn between recognizing his "a-star-is-born" moment and feeling queasy at the spectacle of such frank, critical talk on what, after all, is an aspect of the mainstream media that has been ostentatiously "in the tank" for the current President of the United States.