Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Enchanted World of Frank Rich

According to Rasmussen, 55% of likely voters favor the repeal of ObamaCare. That’s hardly an anomalous result inasmuch as, out of the same polling sample, 81% believe ObamaCare will cost more than the CBO projects, 60% think it will increase the federal deficit despite CBO scoring, 56% oppose the cuts in Medicare that finance it and 43% think it will affect them negatively as opposed to 26% who think it will affect them positively. To simple-minded people like me, that might suggest that ObamaCare’s unpopular because a lot of people think that it’s not only bad public policy, but that it’s bad for them in particular. It may be regrettable that so many people think that, but that’s apparently what they think.

Luckily, it’s Sunday so we can rely on Frank Rich to save us from simple-mindedness by reminding us of the deeper explanation of all regrettable political things; viz., ObamaCare’s unpopular because America is full of racists, sexists and homophobes:

“If Obama’s first legislative priority had been immigration or financial reform or climate change, we would have seen the same trajectory. The conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House — topped off by a wise Latina on the Supreme Court and a powerful gay Congressional committee chairman — would sow fears of disenfranchisement among a dwindling and threatened minority in the country no matter what policies were in play. It’s not happenstance that Frank, Lewis and Cleaver — none of them major Democratic players in the health care push — received a major share of last weekend’s abuse. When you hear demonstrators chant the slogan “Take our country back!,” these are the people they want to take the country back from.”
Racism/Sexism/Homophobia (“RSH”) has the same transcendental status in Frank Rich’s world that original sin and Providence have in Pat Robertson’s world. When Robertson’s confronted with bad news, he does his best to figure out how it fits into the divine plan for fallen creatures like us. So he concludes, for example, that 9/11 was divine punishment for Americans' increasing tolerance of homosexuality and abortion. If you can’t see it the way Robertson does, that just shows him that you haven’t been touched by the grace that enables one to see the world as it really is.

RSH isn’t a regrettable fact in Rich’s world, it’s the general form of regrettable facts. As far as he’s concerned, the regrettable fact that people disagree with him about healthcare policy is unintelligible until he has figured out exactly how it’s an expression of RSH. If you can’t see that once he's pointed it out, Rich won’t be getting back to you until you get your head screwed on straight.

That’s a tiresome reflex in a newspaper columnist, even when he's an ideological comrade. It’s close to intolerable in a fellow-citizen.

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