Monday, October 20, 2008

I'm talking to you, Mickey Kaus

I have been meaning to address something that has been a burr in my saddle, so, with a day off, I decided now would be as good a time as any.

I love reading Mickey Kaus, who fancies himself a "New Democrat". He beat the drum for welfare reform, and has been eloquent in touting its success. He takes on the thoughtless knee-jerk positions of those on the left, and analyzes issues with an eye to trying to reach a reasonable conclusion, whether that ticks off Democrats or not. I don't always agree, but I respect his approach.

However, every four years, Mickey has "coming-home-itis". It's as if all his earnest striving in the the in-between years is suppressed, and the "New" in "New Democrat" gets set aside. Perhaps the funniest manifestation of this was in 2000, when he engaged in multi-part blogorrhea, pretending to be torn up by whether to support Gore or Bush. Let's just say that I gave Mickey the benefit of the doubt and believed that he was truly trying to explain his vote, but, seriously, no one with a brain doubted that he would ultimately support Gore.

Now all that is well and good, and I would be happy to accept it for what it is. However, Mickey this year has taken an almost perverse delight in jabbing at McCain-Palin supporters for being so supposedly gullible in working for his victory while overlooking or downplaying the disagreement that many of us have with John McCain on comprehensive immigration reform (CIR). The tee-hee-ing about it, the calling us "cheap dates", the acting as if we are taken in by McCain's claims to have learned his lesson while assuring Latinos that he will be their friend down the line on this issue... on and on it goes. News flash, Mickey: We get it. But given the choice between two candidates who offer similar approaches to immigration, and whether or not we buy your calculus purporting to show that because McCain with a Democratic congress is marginally more likely to pass comprehensive immigration reform than a President Obama would, we are not going to fail to support his candidacy, when so much else separates these two candidates. We will fight him on CIR when he is in office if we must, as, I suspect, albeit quietly, will Sarah Palin.

But let's turn the tables on you, Mickey. I view CIR as important for a number of non-trivial reasons, including national security and the wage-depressing effect on American workers. But while I trust that a President McCain will take national security seriously, mitigating at least some of my reservations about what CIR would like under a President McCain, here's what I don't get about you: How can welfare reform, a signature issue for New Democrats, a signal success of the Clinton years (in large part to a GOP congress), and a huge positive for American society - all by your reckoning - be squared with a vote for Obama? Direct transfer payments from productive citizens to those less well-off, some for entirely legitimate reasons, but many for far less justifiable ones - isn't that welfare? Isn't the Obama approach a replay of the system that leads to loss of incentive among the lower class to work? Among young females to eschew more healthy attitudes towards marriage and family? The lynch pin of so many social pathologies that plagued the country for so long? In short, something far more central to the way America lives and breaths than CIR? And yet, you don't characterize yourself as a cheap date, do you? A dupe for a false Messiah? Someone whose formidable analytical skills melt to mush in the face of electing a guy about whom we know far too little, who Biden promises us will be greeted with an international incident of a serious magnitude within six months of attaining office, and whose associations have been unfailingly with radical leftists?

So, which is it, Mickey? Is redistribution of income and the attendant social pathologies that flow from it more likely under a President Obama than CIR is under a President McCain? And which will have the more devastating effect on this country?

Who's the cheap date?

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