We have to confess, Paul Krugman' Ivy League Ivory Tower view of America hasn't much appeal for us-particularly his collectivist economics that derides the system that has led to his being able to reap significant honors and benefits. Still, we have to admit that this morning's column uncovering the racist underpinnings of the town hall movement was a fun read; and we even thought-just for a moment-that we were perusing Clyde Haberman's satiric musings rather than the putative seriousness of someone who lugs around a Nobel Prize.
Now Master Paul not only feels that the disruptive folks ("The Town Hall Mob") that attend these meetings are, well, seriously uninformed, and in need of a lecture from a Princeton professor; but are also-beneath all the limited world views-racist to the core, and linked to the birther conspiracy at the same time: "But they’re probably reacting less to what Mr. Obama is doing, or even to what they’ve heard about what he’s doing, than to who he is. That is, the driving force behind the town hall mobs is probably the same cultural and racial anxiety that’s behind the “birther” movement, which denies Mr. Obama’s citizenship. Senator Dick Durbin has suggested that the birthers and the health care protesters are one and the same; we don’t know how many of the protesters are birthers, but it wouldn’t be surprising if it’s a substantial fraction. And cynical political operators are exploiting that anxiety to further the economic interests of their backers."
And, as hard as it is to believe, Krugman really hits the polemical piñata in resurrecting Richard Nixon's Southern Strategy: "Does this sound familiar? It should: it’s a strategy that has played a central role in American politics ever since Richard Nixon realized that he could advance Republican fortunes by appealing to the racial fears of working-class whites.Many people hoped that last year’s election would mark the end of the “angry white voter” era in America. Indeed, voters who can be swayed by appeals to cultural and racial fear are a declining share of the electorate. But right now Mr. Obama’s backers seem to lack all conviction, perhaps because the prosaic reality of his administration isn’t living up to their dreams of transformation. Meanwhile, the angry right is filled with a passionate intensity."
Now we thought that Janeane Garofalo was a bit unhinged when she originally made this crackpot observation about the tea party movement; but we're glad to see that the small cohort of Princeton Nobel Prize winners were watching and learning from the more profoundly original insights of Ms. Garofao. To us, it is convincing proof that it is cries of racism-and not patriotism-that is the last refuge of scoundrels.
It is also ample evidence of an expiring intellect; one that is dumbfounded by a phenomenon that apes the left's tactics and turns the tables on the Organizer-in-Chief. As the NY Post editorializes: "Get this: The party of "community organizers" is now whining that President Obama's critics are organizing communities -- against his health-care scheme. The nerve of 'em, huh?"
What is confounding the power elites here-and it really is unseemly to see the White House use phrases like, “Brooks Brothers riot,” to mischaracterize what is primarily a grass roots movement-is the real awareness of the folks, and the fact that this awareness has generated legitimate dissatisfaction with a flawed health care take over.
And it's a little bit hard to demonize the special interest-driven nature of the protests, when you've assembled your own team of special interest lobbyists-and hitched them to the power of the White House itself. Crain's captures this in its rather too flattering portrait of SEIU's Denis Rivera-but we get a real honest look at what the labor-driven goals are: "Universal health care has been the holy grail of the labor movement for decades. But the pursuit has become more frenzied in recent years, as union negotiators have been forced to give up raises in order to maintain increasingly expensive health benefits. With more than half of SEIU’s members earning less than $40,000 a year, that trade-off is tough to bear. “The reality is, we cannot solve the problem of our members’ wages if we don’t solve the health care crisis,” Mr. Rivera says. “There’s no bigger mission.”
Of course, Rivera isn't a solo actor by any means-as Michele Malkin points out: "The health-care takeover lobby boasts a $40 million budget and a stable of seasoned operatives based at 1825 K Street in Washington, DC. Now that cabal is accusing the broad coalition of taxpayer activists, libertarians, independents, talk-radio loyalists, bloggers and first-time protesters of being, yes, wealthy and astroturfed."
And, as Malkin also informs us, the cries of astroturfing are really a manifestation of what the shrinks call projection-and all the supporters of ObamaCare have left (something manifest in the Krugman geshrie) is name calling. Here's the Post's view: "Faced with mushrooming opposition to ObamaCare, Democrats have launched a multi-media campaign that attacks foes as "extremists" who've "called out the mob" to "destroy President Obama" and "intimidate and silence regular people." They cite "the playbook of high-level Republican political operatives."
So the president and his ObamaCare chorus are back on their heels playing defense-at least when it comes to substance. There is, however, one thing we agree with Krugman on; and we'll give the confused lecturer the final word: "And if Mr. Obama can’t recapture some of the passion of 2008, can’t inspire his supporters to stand up and be heard, health care reform may well fail."