“Government can’t do anything right”
In yesterday’s Wall Street Journal, Thomas Frank writes about the mythology behind the Republicans’ obstruction of health-care reform:
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. [...]
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. The real lesson to learn from Katrina as we debate health care is simply that government can never work. “The federal government would run a health care system — or a public plan option — with the compassion of the IRS, the efficiency of the post office, and the incompetence of Katrina,” carps the official summary of the Republicans’ Patients’ Choice Act.
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.” Conservatives grasp the grand strategic sweep of politics better than liberals, and consequently they have always seemed to understand that what they do when they’re in charge can help to reinforce the myths that put them there.