Jonah Goldberg tries to deploy a couple of hand-wavy references to “culture” along with an argument from authority citing Seymour Martin Lipset to explain why the French health care system, despite its seeming superiority to the American, won’t work in the USA. Conveniently, the culture explanation lets Goldberg run the argument without saying (or, indeed, knowing) anything about health care policy in France or the United States. Henry Farrell smells a rat. Goldberg, gets upset.
John Holbo retorts that Goldberg is now deploying “the two-step of terrific triviality.” How does this work? “Say something that is ambiguous between something so strong it is absurd and so weak that it would be absurd even to mention it. When attacked, hop from foot to foot as necessary, keeping a serious expression on your face.” Exactly. I don’t think enough attention has been paid yet to the way Goldberg is misunderstanding the Lipset argument he’s invoking.