Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Republicans SayTheir Own Mistakes Prove Government Can't Work.

WSJ Online Opinion By THOMAS FRANK: The myth [that government doesn't work and will only screw up what ever it touches] has been getting a lot of play from conservatives in recent weeks as the debate over health care has heated up.
The message, as always, is that government can't do anything right. [Pres. Ronald Reagan, "The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: I'm from the government and I'm here to help."]

Where the conservative mythologists show their hand is when they use their own monumental screw-ups, committed during conservatism's long years in charge of the government, to prove that government in general is a futile proceeding, and that Democratic health-care plans, in particular, can't possibly succeed.

We heard this bizarre reasoning during last year's campaign season. "Unless you're pleased with the way the federal government has been running anything lately," Gov. Sarah Palin declared last October, when the federal government had been answering to her fellow Republican for nearly eight years, "I don't think that it's going to be real pleasing for Americans to consider health care being taken over by the feds."

Among former President George W. Bush's gravest and most characteristic blunders, of course, was his administration's response to Hurricane Katrina, when the nation learned the true price of government by crony and contractor. But for conservatives, that is too nuanced a view. For conservatives, the real lesson to learn from [Pres. Bush's blundered handling of] Katrina, as we debate health care, is simply that government can never work.

I've always thought that P.J. O'Rourke was only half joking when he wrote, years ago, that "Republicans are the party that says government doesn't work, and then they get elected and prove it." ...government fails constantly when conservatives run it because making it work would be, for many of those conservatives, to traduce the very laws of nature.

A government that works, some conservatives fear, is dangerous stuff - a possible myth-ending doomsday scenario for conservatism itself. [Give Americans a universal healthcare insurance option that is cheaper, gives better coverage, can't be canceled as soon as the insured is struck with a high dollar catastrophic illness and that works better that private insurance, and the conservative myth about government goes the way of "The Emperor's New Clothes."]
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