Obama's Angry Critics Have a Point

Angry rhetoric masks the fact that president’s critics have a point.

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By Scott Galupo, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

One says "anger."

The other says "righteously indignant."

Crispin Sartwell cries foul at New York Times columnist Charles Blow for copping a superior attitude here:

The Apostles of Anger in their echo chamber of fallacies have branded [Obama] the enemy. This has now become an article of faith. Obama isn't just the enemy of small government and national solvency. He's the enemy of liberty.

This underscores the current fight for the soul of this country. It's not just a tug of war between left and right. It's a struggle between the mind and the heart, between evidence and emotions, between reason and anger, between what we know and what we believe.

"This is a fine crystallization of where today's left is at," writes Sartwell. "There is no argument at all, just continual, insufferable self-congratulation."

Sartwell, for the uninitiated, is no conservative. Though I initially discovered him via a shared irrational pro-Rolling Stones exuberance, I kept up with his writing because of its bracing defense of elemental liberty. Take the title of the late Robert Nozick's famous philosophical treatise Anarchy, State, and Utopia—Sartwell argues that it's a heavy lift to justify the transition to the second stage.

He is, in short, an anarchist. For him, Obamacare is a monstrosity—but so is Dick Cheney.

Now: I get where he's coming from regarding Blow.

There's nothing worse than a smarmy, self-satisfied liberal.

But here's what I take Blow to mean: not that liberals have a monopoly on reason, but that the core of Obama's conservative opposition isn't making reasonable arguments.

I wonder if Sartwell would agree there's a qualitative difference between the following statements:

A: "Barack Obama is a socialist."

B: "Barack Obama's plan to eventually restore the 39 percent tax bracket and increase capital gains tax rates, while understandable from the perspective of deficit reduction, will stifle dynamism and hinder our economic recovery."

A: "Barack Obama hates America and secretly hopes the terrorists win."

B: "The Obama administration's foreign policy is an overly apologetic posture that telegraphs weakness, that will placate no one except fawning European elites and, in turn, will embolden our enemies."

A: "Obamacare is a massive takeover of one sixth of the economy."

B: "The Obama healthcare reform is a misbegotten attempt to split an unsplittable difference: to remake America's healthcare system in the image of a single-payer system while maintaining some semblance of private insurance. But private insurers, qua insurers, must be able to make coverage determinations based on a rational assessment of risk. Under the new healthcare law, health insurers will effectively become 'public utilities.' "

A: "Barack Obama is trying to turn America into Western Europe."

B: "The debate between modern liberals and conservatives is essentially about the optimum size of the welfare state, which predates socialism and has been justified on utilitarian grounds by nonsocialists from Bismarck to Disraeli. This is a quarrel within the family of capitalist democracies. Nevertheless, as attractive as Western Europe's more generous safety net may seem to some, aging native populations, decreasing fertility, and a surge of poor immigrants on both continents render this system unsustainable."

Am I crazy—or, worse, snooty—to see a difference here?