James Carville is a very, very bright guy, so I was taken aback to see him recently on Fox’s “The O’Reilly Factor,” arguing that President Barack Obama did not mislead the nation in an oft-repeated promise that no one would lose his or her health insurance policy because of the Affordable Care Act.
So what about all those policies recently canceled because they did not meet the law’s standards? Why, they weren’t really, truly policies because they did not cover very much, he explained, adding that the president could have made “a more nuanced, accurate statement.”
Sorry, but the bit about “nuance” is disingenuous and the bit about an insurance policy not being an insurance policy is inane, on the order of saying an automobile is not an automobile because of high gas mileage.
A worse-than-desired level of performance does not dictate that a thing has lost its identity, as any logical brain will instruct you. And Obama absolutely sounded as if he were talking about the whole universe of health insurance policies when he made his perfectly clear pledge, ending one with the word “period.”
Does it follow that I am upset with Carville, the usually convivial, sometimes passionate former campaign strategist for President Bill Clinton?
No. Just the opposite. I am grateful that he defended Obama with wackiness. In trying to exculpate the president from obvious chicanery that way, Carville, other progressives, the president’s own dutiful press secretary and the president himself are parading a scary truth about themselves.
It is that politics and ideology rule over reason that might otherwise bring them to truth.
For further enlightenment about one aspect of this phenomenon, turn to a book by Daniel J. Flynn called “Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas.” The author looks at such ideologies as communism, environmentalism, feminism, multiculturalism and animal rights and says that while the “core idea” of some of these movements may be “laudable,” you have to watch out for “true believers.”
The most adamant of these will conclude that the ideological end justifies immoral means, that good “intentions” matter more than “outcomes” and that anything done in the name of the cause is “noble.” For such people, he says, ideology “deludes, inspires dishonesty and breeds fanaticism.”
Despite the myth of progressive intellectuals being head and shoulders higher than conservative or libertarian intellectuals, it seems to me the leftists in general are far less attuned to reality and common sense than these counterparts.
The intellectual pretenses of the left too often evaporate into nothingness when the evidential heat is turned up. A prime example of the moment is a health-care act designed to fit the ideological supposition that government knows better on anything and everything than individual citizens and should intervene massively — which is to say recklessly — when there are problems.
It’s coming apart, and so is the credibility of its defenders.
Jay Ambrose, formerly Washington director of editorial policy for Scripps Howard newspapers and the editor of dailies in El Paso, Texas, and Denver, is a columnist living in Colorado and a senior fellow at the Independence Institute. Email SpeaktoJay@aol.com.