A number of posters in the dextrosphere have been pointing with disdain to this Newsweek column by Evan Thomas. (For example, Hot Air linked to it with the blurb "It's not our politicians who are terrible, it's the public.")
Now I know: Newsweek is horrible. Geraghty's Morning Jolt e-mail today describes it as:
As if to illustrate Geraghty's point, Thomas's article is accompanied with a link to a photo essay titled "Town Hall Face"; Newsweek apparently thought it would be fun and illuminating to gather a bunch of unflattering pictures of irritated people publicly confronting their elected leaders. Ho ho! Newsweeek might not be interested in old-fashioned news reporting any more, but it's happy to feed your typical lefty's burning need to feel superior to right-wing knuckle-draggers.
But Thomas's article is not unmitigated dreadfulness. For example, late in the article, Thomas wonders if there's anything Obama can do to "cut through the Gordian knot tying up health care?"
Thomas deserves at least a half-cheer for making that observation, which might surprise and outrage his typical readership.
But his main point is that "we" are to blame:
Now, Thomas rambles and babbles quite a bit. (Later he spends a few sentences on increasing personal debt, waistlines, promiscuity… you get the idea. Kids today, they're no damn good, and their music, it's just noise. True fact: Thomas is five days older than I am. I hope I don't sound like this in five days…)
But there's a kernel of something approaching truth there: we elected these bozos. (Well, not me. But when the votes were counted, they wound up on top. Recommended reading: Bryan Caplan's The Myth of the Rational Voter.)
But let's concentrate on this key sentence:
Thomas can rail against the cowardice and selfishness of others, but his own (probably unconcious) dishonesty shines through when he describes what he wants politicians to do as "asking".
Evan, baby, grow up. This is government. And government doesn't "ask". It demands, regulates, prohibits, controls, fleeces, forbids, assesses,… but it doesn't ask.
That aside, neither do I believe that government is either willing or able to detect obvious "short-term sacrifices" that will infallibly lock in "long-term rewards." Where is the evidence for that?
And if you're asking an 80-year-old Medicare recipient to make a "short-term sacrifice"… just exactly what "long-term benefit" do you plan on offering her in return, Evan?
Were I grading, I'd give Thomas a solid C-. Shows some promise, needs much work.
Much more believable on the "entitlement" mentality is Mark Steyn, in his most recent column, looking at the recent Greek riots:
I wish Evan Thomas would read that and let it roll around in his brain for a bit.
Irrelevant aside: Here is something I didn't know: Evan Thomas is the grandson of Norman Thomas, who ran six times for president under the banner of the Socialist Party. Not that it matters, just found it an interesting bit of trivia.