It appears that some ambiguous phrasing on my part has sparked some outrage about my ill-informed views from Jonah Goldberg and Yuval Levin and led to a bunch more interesting posts on the subject of farm subsidies. At issue was a post I wrote a couple of days ago, referring to the 2002 Farm Bill where I said “he was all for it” back then. I’d intended “he” to refer to President Bush, but the NRO crew has taken me to have been referring to Levin who, in fact, like most conservative intellectuals and policy types has been consistently and rightly against farm subsidies forever and ever.
What the subject of farm subsidies mostly shows, however, is that at the end of the day nobody in politics really seems to care what intellectuals and policy people think. If some big ideas or serious policy research or principled ideological stance can help advance important priorities of key interest groups, then suddenly ideology and policy analysis begin to appear very important. But when all the interest group pressure is for farm subsidies, it doesn’t matter that all the policy analysis is on the other side.