The infantilization of American politics is nearly complete. Exhibit A is the Democrats’ use of a 12 year-old to give the party’s radio address. Exhibt B is much of what E.J. Dionne writes.
These exhibits come together in Dionne’s latest column. It’s called “Meanies and Hypocrites,” which could be the title of roughly 80 percent of his columns. The meanies and hypocrites are always Republicans and conservatives who disagree with Dionne’s views. Today, they are conservatives bloggers, including the Power Line crew.
We stand accused of “assaulting” the family of the 12 year-old boy the Dems selected to give their radio address. The boy is Graeme Frost, who urged President Bush not to veto the expansion of the SCHIP program, which subsidizes health care to children in low income families.
The Democrats’ use of Frost for this purpose was cynical at many levels. First, it’s ridiculous to have a 12 year-old go on national radio to deliver advice about policy. Second, Frost is already covered by SCHIP and would continue to be covered under legislation that Bush is prepared to sign. Thus, the particulars of his situation, which he set out for the audience, are irrelevant to the policy debate. Third, the particulars of a given child who actually would obtain coverage through an expansion of SCHIP are also irrelevant. The expansion proposed by the Democrats would bring at least one million middle class kids into the program. The individual circumstances of their families will vary widely. Thus, hand-picking one child to discuss his or her situation adds nothing to the debate.
But once the Democrats hand-picked a kid, it became fair (though not terribly germane) to flesh out the details of his family’s circumstances to see how difficult and onerous it would have been for the family to purchase health insurance for its children. This required an analysis of, among other things, how much income the family earns and what its assets are. Undertaking such an analysis hardly constituted an “assault” on Graeme Frost’s family. Neither did our contribution, a link to two such posts. In claiming otherwise, Dionne is up to his usual “preemption” tactic — cheerleading for liberal Democrats when they present selected facts and condemning conservatives when they present facts on the same subject that seem to cut the other way. (In this instance, it appears that some of the facts presented by some conservatives were incorrect, though even their “defenders” agree the Frosts own a house worth approximately $260,000 plus a commercial property valued at $160,000 that produces rental income. Getting facts wrong is always a bad thing, but it doesn’t make one a “meanie” or a “hypocrite”).
The rest of Dionne’s “assault” on conservative bloggers — the part with the obligatory “hypocrisy” riff — is similarly lame. Those who looked into the situation of the Frost family noted that he attends private school, and that his family owned a business and owns a home that’s apparently worth lots of money. Dionne argues that pointing these things out was hypocritical because conservatives favor home ownership, school choice, and the entrepreneurial spirit, yet they “assail[ed]” the Frost families for “doing everything conservatives tell people they should do.”
But conservatives don’t “tell people” to own an expensive home to the detriment of being able to buy health insurance for their children. And, while many conservatives support vouchers to help poor kids escape from terrible public schools, they would finance the vouchers with the money already being spent to educate these kids in public schools, not with a new spending program. Thus, when Dionne writes, “Federal money for private schools but not for health insurance? What’s the logic here?” he is hiding the ball.
There are serious issues associated with the SCHIP expansion debate. They include the
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