Free Markets, Free People

David Freddoso

Medicare Queens, Matt Taibbi and the cluelessness of the left

First recognize that we’re talking about "Rolling Stone" here, so in reality, the cluelessness should come as no real surprise. Well, apparently it shouldn’t come as any real surprise when associated with "political strategists" and "political commentators" on the left either, but I’ve already covered that today.

"Rolling Stone", however, is more of a cultural zine. Or was. But recently it put a scalp under its belt with the story it did on Gen. Stanley McChrystal. Never mind the general was an Obama pick, voted for Obama and was of a liberal mindset, a general is a general to the left. One down many to go.

But hey, in a world where the dead tree media is withering on the vine, it was a scalp that promised survival for a while. Ever ambitious, "Rolling Stone" has since decided to go after bigger game – the Tea Party. The new bête noire of the left, the Tea Party was an irresistible target.

And so off to Kentucky galloped "Rolling Stone’s" pick to handle this important assassination journalism project – Matt Taibbi. Three whole times Taibbi made the trip. And at its conclusion, based on what he’d observed there, felt qualified to tar the entire movement as a bunch of hypocrites and welfare recipients. And as you might imagine, it isn’t a flattering picture.

Taibbi then "validates" his entire premise in this excerpt that David Freddoso has helpfully clipped:

A hall full of elderly white people in Medicare-paid scooters, railing against government spending and imagining themselves revolutionaries as they cheer on the vice-presidential puppet hand-picked by the GOP establishment. If there exists a better snapshot of everything the Tea Party represents, I can’t imagine it.

After Palin wraps up, I race to the parking lot in search of departing Medicare-motor-scooter conservatives. I come upon an elderly couple, Janice and David Wheelock, who are fairly itching to share their views.

“I’m anti-spending and anti-government,” crows David, as scooter-bound Janice looks on. “The welfare state is out of control.”

“OK,” I say. “And what do you do for a living?”

“Me?” he says proudly. “Oh, I’m a property appraiser. Have been my whole life.”

I frown. “Are either of you on Medicare?”

Silence: Then Janice, a nice enough woman, it seems, slowly raises her hand, offering a faint smile, as if to say, You got me!

“Let me get this straight,” I say to David. “You’ve been picking up a check from the government for decades, as a tax assessor, and your wife is on Medicare. How can you complain about the welfare state?”

…Vast forests have already been sacrificed to the public debate about the Tea Party: what it is, what it means, where it’s going. But after lengthy study of the phenomenon, I’ve concluded that the whole miserable narrative boils down to one stark fact: They’re full of sh–. All of them.

Frankly, I can’t imagine a more clueless argument. And it sends Freddoso into rant mode:

Of all the arguments liberals bring up against the Tea Party, this has to be the stupidest. Not only have millions of seniors and their employers paid billions of dollars into the Medicare system — 2.9 percent on every dime they’ve worked for in their entire life — but the program’s very existence has dried up whatever market there once was for old-age medical insurance. Our Medicare system, as President Obama never fails to point out, is unsustainable, and yet thanks to the government, very few senior citizens have any alternative.

Exactly so – you don’t pay into "welfare", nor are you in the Medicare system because you want to be. You’re there because at age 65, for the vast majority of Americans, you are given no choice! That’s a part that the left always forgets. If given a choice, would they be as "happy" with Medicare as the left likes to claim they are? Is their reticence to change in Medicare because they like it or because there is nothing else available to them? Those questions go unanswered because government has ensured there’s no viable option to its program.

Secondly, I don’t find most of what I read and hear from the Tea Party as "anti-government" as it appears Taibbi defines it (i.e. "no government"). I understand the Tea Party to represent those who want the return to Constitutional government in the strictest sense. That necessarily means a smaller, less intrusive and less costly government. But I’ve never understood it to mean "no government". Freddoso also rifts on the supposed hypocrisy Taibbi implies:

Taibbi also implies that conservatives have no place working for the government. (Hypocrisy! You believe government shouldn’t exist!) That’s basically all you need to know about the tone of his way, way longer than it’s worth reading piece, which is at various points just a stream of profanity. (He also predicts the inevitable co-opting of Rand Paul by the establishment GOP — he’ll sell out, just like his dad, right?)

If you’re still wondering if you ought to read Taibbi’s piece, Freddoso drops this last nugget to consider at your feet: [I]t isn’t young [libertarian] intellectuals like Koch who will usher Paul into the U.S. Senate in the general election; it’s those huge crowds of pissed-off old people who dig Sarah Palin and Fox News and call themselves Tea Partiers. And those people really don’t pay attention to specifics too much. Like dogs, they listen to tone of voice and emotional attitude.

Why is it every time I see a lefty say something like this my first thought is the almost Pavlovian reaction most of the left had to the "hope and change" mantra? As Palin would say, "how’s that hopey-changy thing working out", hmmm Mr. Taibbi?

Freddoso answers with a wicked jab at Taibbi’s cluelessness:

Oh, I see. So who does Taibbi think votes for Democrats? Do they win on the back of the college professor vote? Or is it on the back of ominous, threatening and false rumors that Republicans will take away Social Security, let old people die in the streets, then bury them in segregated cemeteries so that their bodies can be covered in toxic sludge until the oil companies decide they want to drill there?

Love it. Every lefty canard wrapped up in a single sentence. Read Taibbi’s piece if you must (unlinked here), but trust me, you’ve seen its thrust above and, unsurprisingly, it misses pretty badly. Freddoso concludes:

Perhaps next time Taibbi writes he can apply a few more facts and less uninformed, vulgar liberal smugness.

Yeah, I doubt it – that would require actual journalism.