Weisberg: God Bless America? No, God Damn America!


The parodies have officially begun to write themselves with Jacob Weisberg's jeremiad against the American people®, in which the Slate editor-in-chief copes with Scott Brown's defeat of Martha Coakley by condemning the true criminals: those carriers of "childishness, ignorance, and growing incoherence" Weisberg names "the public at large." Here's how he unburdens himself:

One year ago, 59 percent of the American public liked the stimulus plan, according to Gallup. A few months later, with the economy still deeply mired in recession, a majority of the same size said Obama was spending too much money on it.

If Weisberg is looking for consistency, he might look to an earlier debate over massive government intervention in the private sector: the $700 billion bailout plan that eventually became the Troubled Asset Relief Program. A large majority of Americans continue to oppose this bailout, just as they opposed it at its inception—a time when Weisberg, and a good two dozen guys exactly like him, were welcoming the TARP proposal as a respite from the ravages of capitalism.

Back in 2010, Weisberg goes on:

According to CNN, 67 percent of people favor balancing the budget even when the country is in a recession or a war, which is madness.

So that must mean the Great Deleveraging is the time to increase the deficit by, like, eleventeen thousand percent, because this time it's a war on a recession. What is wrong with the government balancing its budget during a recession? Is fiscal responsibility one of those things like the "freedoms" President Bush used to talk about: a thing you keep around until you actually need it, at which point you get rid of it?

The White Mountain of Truth continues in this wise:

Nearly half the public wants to cancel the Obama stimulus, and a strong majority doesn't want another round of it. But 80-plus percent of people want to extend unemployment benefits and to spend more money on roads and bridges. There's another term for that stuff: more stimulus spending.

Well no, that's not stimulus. It's not stimulus by any generally recognized definition of the term. It is, however, where most of the money from the $787 billion stimulus plan will eventually go. Where is the inconsistency here? If you're going to extend unemployment and subsistence-level makework, you can make an argument in favor of that, but it's not stimulus. It's what they called back in Franklin Roosevelt's day relief.

After wading through this anti-populist sewer for a few more paragraphs, we emerge to find the article's true subject:

The politicians thriving at the moment are the ones who embody this live-for-the-today mentality, those best able to call for the impossible with a straight face. Take Scott Brown, the newly elected Senator from Massachusetts.

How I treasure that coy "Take Scott Brown…" Yeah, I was just thinking in broad, general terms, but shucks, if you want an example…

As expected, Sen. Brown is responsible for such cascades of nameless unreasoning unjustified terror that it becomes tempting to blame him for all the chaos. But that would be too easy. After all it was you and me wot killed the Kennedys by electing Brown. A man of Jacob Weisberg's muscular morality will not allow us to claim we were just following orders:

Our inability to address long-term challenges makes a strong case that the United States now faces an era of historical decline. Our reluctance to recognize economic choices also portends negative effects for the rest of the world. To change this story line, we need to stop blaming the rascals we elect to office and start looking to ourselves.

Flip the script, brah! Weisberg is not just wrong in his parsing of American disenchantment. He's wrong to think it's a tragedy. Increasing numbers of Americans in the vast lands to be found outside the D.C. Beltway (join us, Jacob, the water's fine!) understand that government delivers far too little at far too high a price. (Libertarians would take that realization much further, but we are banned from Weisberg's empire of the mind.) Skepticism about authority, expectation of better performance, and a determination to get more for your dollar are not problems that need to be solved. They're bedrock American ideals. Maybe Weisberg believes our population needs to be replaced, but does he really want to do away with the handful of concepts that still make this country borderline-livable?