Thursday, September 10, 2009

Liberals love government -- and that's pretty much it

It is fascinating to see, some of it in the reaction to Obama's speech. Jonathan Cohn at the New Republic is grateful to Obama for saying that government is good, that fears about bigger government are strictly for yahoos. E.J. Dionne at the WaPo had a similar reaction: "By joining specifics, a powerful moral argument and an unapologetic defense of government's role in promoting social justice, the president sought to rescue the health-care debate from the mire of a congressional system that has encouraged delay and obstruction."

When I was younger self-styled liberals were not quite so tightly wedded to government and all its works (but of course those works included the Vietnam war). Few bowed mindlessly before the great god of government. Some even cherished civil liberties and dissent, had respect for independent thinkers and had a soft spot for troublemakers. But now faith in government is just about all they have, and it's fascinating to see it so consistently displayed. Sure, it's not quite as intense when there's a Republican in the White House, but even then it doesn't go away. Dozens of liberals said the only good thing to come from 9/11 was renewed faith in government, and they lamented copiously when it didn't last long. How sad to be so wedded to an institution whose only tool is the use of force.

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