September 11, 2009

“You Lie!”

I don’t know much about this Joe Wilson guy. Mostly I just know that he’s the congressman who yelled “You lie!” during Obama’s speech the other night.

And, of course, that’s enough to make me want to like the guy. I’m not sure whether Obama was lying at that particular moment, but he certainly lies often enough, and it’s nice to see someone finally call him out.

Not surprisingly, Wilson has attained rock star status among conservatives, and now for as little as $3.95 you, too, can get your own “You lie!” bumper sticker.

Now I think this is all great. If I were a bumper sticker kind of guy, I might buy one myself. I’m just sad that it won’t last. I’m just sad that most of these conservatives, who’ve spent the last nine months voicing nothing but contempt for President Obama, will do a complete about-face once Republicans win back the White House.

This just seems to be the way of the world. Never mind that there’s essentially no difference between Republicans and Democrats. Once a Republican’s back in the White House, conservatives are going to be marching lockstep behind the executive, just as they marched lockstep behind Bush for eight years.

Bush, in case you’ve forgotten, was just as much of a statist as conservatives are now accusing Obama of being. As Reason magazine’s Nick Gillespie writes:

Think for a moment about the thousands of Transportation Security Administration screeners—newly minted government employees all—who continue to confiscate contact-lens solution and nail clippers while, according to nearly every field test, somehow failing to notice simulated bombs in passenger luggage.

Or schoolchildren struggling under No Child Left Behind, which federalized K-12 education to an unprecedented degree with nothing to show for it other than greater spending tabs. Or the bizarrely structured Medicare prescription-drug benefit, the largest entitlement program created since LBJ. Or the simple reality that taxpayers now guarantee some $8 trillion in inscrutable loans to a financial sector that collapsed from inscrutable loans...

The most basic Bush numbers are damning. If increases in government spending matter, then Bush is worse than any president in recent history. During his first four years in office—a period during which his party controlled Congress—he added a whopping $345 billion (in constant dollars) to the federal budget. The only other presidential term that comes close? Bush's second term. As of November 2008, he had added at least an additional $287 billion on top of that (and the months since then will add significantly to the bill). To put that in perspective, consider that the spendthrift LBJ added a mere $223 billion in total additional outlays in his one full term.

If spending under Bush was a disaster, regulation was even worse. The number of pages in the Federal Registry is a rough proxy for the swollen expanse of the regulatory state. In 2001, some 64,438 pages of regulations were added to it. In 2007, more than 78,000 new pages were added. Worse still, argues the Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy, Bush is the unparalleled master of "economically significant regulations" that cost the economy more than $100 million a year. Since 2001, he jacked that number by more than 70 percent. Since June 2008 alone, he introduced more than 100 economically significant regulations.

And yet for those eight years very few conservatives had the courage to speak out against the president. Certainly, none of them had the courage to stand up to him in the manner that Wilson stood up to Obama the other night. But now here they are, rallying behind Joe Wilson, sounding like a bunch of freedom-loving libertarians. (And, oh by the way, I just googled Wilson. It turns out that he’s not such a good guy after all. He voted for Bush’s $700 billion bailout last September—twice. Shocker there, I know.)

Anyway, I’m not really against all these conservatives. (Although, I personally feel much like the great Frank Chodorov, who once told the National Review after they referred to him as a conservative: “Anyone who calls me a conservative gets a punch in the nose.”) Sure, I realize these conservatives are a bunch of spineless, lying, hypocritical, fair-weathered statists currently parading around in libertarian clothing. But, for the time being at least, they’re fighting the good fight—so I can only applaud their efforts and welcome them aboard. And hope that maybe a few of them will actually stick around for the long haul.

1 comment:

Kelly W. Patterson said...

I couldn't agree with you more about the amazing amount of responsibility and integrity these politicians show whenever the other party is in power. In fact, I find it rather amusing how often I'm accused of being some variation of a "right-winger" when commenting on blogs or forums these days after the past eight years of being vilified as some variation of a "leftist." Of course, the only difference in my comments is the person they're being directed at, because I don't base my approval or disdain for a person on the letter that follows their name.

And for safety reasons, I would advise not holding your breath with respect to that last line.