Straw Manned

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"Straw Manned"

(cc photo by patrick kiteley)

(cc photo by patrick kiteley)

Jon Chait zings Reihan Salam for what is I think a pretty common failing among the smarter set of conservative commentators, namely a tendency to dismiss as straw-man characterizations positions that are in fact the mainstream conservative orthodoxy. In this case that includes the assertion that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act has had no positive impact on the economy. You see something similar with the view that climate change is a made-up conspiracy cooked out of thin air by Al Gore and some UN guys. Or that reducing tax rates is a surefire way to increase revenue.

I wish it were the case that these were straw man views, invented by liberals to make the right-wing look bad. But if you listen to what the most powerful conservative politicians and media figure in the land say, these are the things they offer as the basis of conservative policy on macroeconomic stabilization, on climate and energy, and on the long-term fiscal challenge. Is it nuts? Well, yes it is. But there you have it. If you want to find what counts as a fringe position, you can find tea party leader Richard Mack talking about states’ rights to secession.

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