Another bad cop

Carol Iannone writes:

Conservatives want to think there’s no divide, but liberals are open about it.

Indeed. Here is the opening part of Paul Krugman’s column in the January 13 New York Times, written in response to Obama’s “good cop” speech in Tucson.

On Wednesday, President Obama called on Americans to “expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.” Those were beautiful words; they spoke to our desire for reconciliation.

But the truth is that we are a deeply divided nation and are likely to remain one for a long time. By all means, let’s listen to each other more carefully; but what we’ll discover, I fear, is how far apart we are. For the great divide in our politics isn’t really about pragmatic issues, about which policies work best; it’s about differences in those very moral imaginations Mr. Obama urges us to expand, about divergent beliefs over what constitutes justice….

One side of American politics considers the modern welfare state—a private-enterprise economy, but one in which society’s winners are taxed to pay for a social safety net—morally superior to the capitalism red in tooth and claw we had before the New Deal. It’s only right, this side believes, for the affluent to help the less fortunate.

The other side believes that people have a right to keep what they earn, and that taxing them to support others, no matter how needy, amounts to theft. That’s what lies behind the modern right’s fondness for violent rhetoric: many activists on the right really do see taxes and regulation as tyrannical impositions on their liberty.

There’s no middle ground between these views. One side saw health reform, with its subsidized extension of coverage to the uninsured, as fulfilling a moral imperative: wealthy nations, it believed, have an obligation to provide all their citizens with essential care. The other side saw the same reform as a moral outrage, an assault on the right of Americans to spend their money as they choose.

[end of excerpt]

Here is Krugman’s demented thinking: if conservatives oppose an extreme extension the modern welfare state, such as Obamacare, that means that they oppose the modern welfare state as a whole and seek to dismantle it. His unavoidable implication is that once the welfare state has been started, people must support every expansion of it, no matter how radical, until we become a full blown socialist country. Those who don’t support every expansion of it, no matter how radical, are they enemy.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 15, 2011 12:03 PM | Send

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