Opinion: It’s a great time to be a liberal

February 27, 2014


— The many jaundiced assessments of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on the fifth anniversary of its enactment were understandable, given that the sluggish recovery, now drowsing through the second half of its fifth year, is historically anemic. Still, bleak judgments about the stimulus spending miss the main point of it, which was to funnel a substantial share of its money to unionized, dues-paying, Democratic-voting government employees. Hence the stimulus succeeded. So there.

This illustrates why it is so sublime to be a liberal nowadays. Viewed through the proper prism, most liberal policies succeed because they can hardly fail. Each achieves one or both of two objectives — making liberals feel good about themselves and being good to liberal candidates.

Consider Barack Obama’s renewed anxiety about global warming, increasingly called “climate change” during the approximately 15 years warming has become annoyingly difficult to detect. Secretary of State John Kerry, our knight of the mournful countenance, was especially apocalyptic recently when warning that climate change is a “weapon of mass destruction.” Like Iraq’s?

Blogger Steven Hayward notes that Kerry, he of the multiple mansions and luxury yacht, issued this warning in Indonesia, where the average annual income ($3,420) suggests little latitude for people to reduce their carbon footprints. Never mind. Obama says “the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.”

When a politician says, concerning an issue involving science, that the debate is over, you may be sure the debate is rolling on and not going swimmingly for his side. Obama is, however, quite right that climate change is a fact. The climate is always changing: It is not what it was during the Medieval Warm Period (ninth to 13th centuries) or the Little Ice Age (about 1500-1850).

In Indonesia, Kerry embraced Obama’s “Shut up, he explained” approach to climate discussion: “The science of climate change is leaping out at us like a scene from a 3-D movie.” Leaping scenes? The “absolutely certain” science is “something that we understand with absolute assurance of the veracity of that science.” And “kids at the earliest age can understand.” No wonder “97 percent” — who did the poll? — of climate scientists agree. When a Nazi publishing company produced “100 Authors Against Einstein,” the target of this argument-by-cumulation replied: “Were I wrong, one professor would have been quite enough.”

Climate alarmism validates the progressive impulse to micromanage others’ lives — their light bulbs, showerheads, toilets, appliances, automobiles, etc. Although this is a nuisance, it distracts liberals from more serious mischief. And conservatives incensed about Obama’s proposed $1 billion “climate resilience fund” — enough for nearly two Solyndra-scale crony capitalism debacles — should welcome an Obama brainstorm that costs only a single billion.

Besides, the “resilience” fund will succeed. It will enhance liberals’ self-esteem — planet-saving heroism is not chopped liver — and will energize the climate-alarmist portion of the Democratic base for this November’s elections.

Concerning that portion, there will now be a somewhat awkward pause in the chorus of liberal lamentations about there being “too much money” in politics because of wealthy conservatives. During this intermission, the chorus will segue into hosannas of praise for liberal billionaire Tom Steyer. The New York Times says he plans to solicit $50 million from similarly situated liberals, and to match this with $50 million of his own, and to spend the pile to “pressure federal and state officials to enact climate change measures through a hard-edge campaign of attack ads against governors and lawmakers.” The Times says Steyer’s organization, NextGen Climate Action, is “among the largest outside groups in the country, similar in scale to the conservative political network overseen by Charles and David Koch.”

Conservatives should be serene about people exercising their constitutional right to spend their own money to disseminate political speech, including the speech of people who associate in corporate forms for political advocacy. The Supreme Court’s excellent 2010 Citizens United ruling, the mention of which sends liberals to their fainting couches, affirmed this right.

Still, there is a semantic puzzle: What are such “outside groups” outside of? Not the political process — unless the process is the private preserve of the political parties. Liberal campaign finance scolds seem to think so. Applying their mantra that “money is not speech,” they have written laws restricting contributions to parties, with the predicted effect of driving money into “outside groups.” This is redundant evidence of why the Law of Unintended Consequences might better be called the Law of Unending Liberal Regrets.

— George Will is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.


William Enick 4 years, 1 month ago

I think all people wanting to move to the U.S. should read at least 6 months worth of Will's opinions. For another view of those opinions/topics, they should read what Chomsky has to say about them.

Ken Lassman 4 years, 1 month ago

George's curmudgeonly ways have an especially acrid bite this time around, especially when he uses the Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" as his comparison point for Kerry's talk about climate change in Indonesia. We in the US have nothing to be concerned about compared to the island nation of Indonesia, home to 17,000 islands, 1500 of which may be disappearing under the rising ocean by 2100 and whose capital Jakarta, home to almost 10 million, is mostly below sea level. And unfortunately, the effects don't stop at 2100--they get worse. For some details: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/indonesia-losing-1500-islands-rising-sea-1438000

In other words, Kerry's phrasing is pretty mild: catastrophic and existential threat come to mind as possible objective alternative wording to describe the real threats that Indonesia is facing. Whoever keeps letting George out of his cage needs to be fired. It's clear that his opinions are fossilized and incapable of reflecting new realities like the certainty and threat of human-activity-induced climate change. How many bitten fingers of children are you going to tolerate until you conclude that a feral Will does not belong in this petting zoo?

William Weissbeck 4 years, 1 month ago

Because in George Will's mind it would have been so much better to see cities go bankrupt in 2009-10, and see the UE rate spike significantly higher. Never mind the fact that many of those workers kept their jobs for just that additional short period, as the newly elected GOP governors started axing all those jobs in 2011 as their version of stimulus. So where are all those new jobs Mr. Will?

Chris Golledge 4 years, 1 month ago

"...warming has become annoyingly difficult to detect" Not sure what planet Will lives on, but on this one, the warming is easy to detect. https://skepticalscience.com/warming-oceans-rising-sea-level-energy-imbalance-consistent.html In a nutshell, the oceans lead the atmosphere around by the nose because they are hugely more massive. (The first 30 feet of ocean has as much mass as all the air above it.) During El Nino events, the oceans give off more heat than they absorb, and during La Nina events, they absorb more than they give off. There hasn't been a strong El Nino since 1998.

Some history from the 1970s: "In place of inadvertent climate modification, Charney adopted Broecker's usage. When referring to surface temperature change, Charney used "global warming." When discussing the many other changes that would be induced by increasing carbon dioxide, Charney used "climate change." http://www.nasa.gov/topics/earth/features/climate_by_any_other_name.html

"Climate alarmism validates the progressive impulse to micromanage others’ lives..." Yeah, because liberals are totally against personal liberty, not. However, as far as that goes, it would be simpler and more cost effective to tax CO2 production, and let the market sort out the details like which light bulbs people want to buy.

Citizens United basically equated money with speech and gave corporations constitutional rights formerly reserved for actual citizens, people. Yeah, I guess I have a problem with that.

I have a hard time connecting Will's depictions with reality as I see it.

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