Jackson Diehl and “Allowing”


People usually attribute the badness of The Washington Post‘s editorial page content to Fred Hiatt, since he’s the man in charge, but judging by this column, Hiatt’s number two man probably lacks the intelligence required to dress himself in the morning so it must be hard out there for the boss. Diehl’s theme is that Obama is just like Bush. And his evidence is that if you, like Diehl, don’t have a functioning central nervous system or any understanding of public policy issues, then things that normal people recognize as different are actually the same. You can go elsewhere (Steve Benen, etc.) for critiques of most of Diehl’s main points, but I thought this particular twitch showed just how pathetic this column was:

We know from the Clinton administration that any attempt to create a national health-care system will touch off an enormous domestic battle, inside and outside Congress. If anything, Obama has raised the stakes by proposing no funding source other than higher taxes on wealthy Americans, allowing Republicans to raise the cries of “socialism” and “class warfare.”

The problem with Obama’s health care plan is not the plan. Nor is it the proposed source of funding for the plan. Rather, it’s that the choice of proposed funding source, though Diehl doesn’t object to it on the merits, will “allow” Republicans to oppose it on the grounds of “socialism” and “class warfare.” Really? Obama should have somehow denied them permission to criticize his plan? His plan is not, after all, “socialism” and yet failure to propose socialism has not prevented Republicans from raising the cry of “socialism.” Nor has the fact that it’s not a proposal to tax small businesses prevented Republicans from raising the cry that Obama is raising taxes on small businesses. Surely it’s the responsibility of Obama’s opponents to avoid responding to his initiatives in a hysterical manner. And if Jackson Diehl doesn’t like the hysteria, he should consider blaming the hysterics.