Friday, May 25, 2007

DEFINING LIBERTARIANISM DOWN. When I heard Ross Douthat declare that Ron Paul and Rudolph Giuliani
...demonstrate just how much two candidates can diverge on policy matters and still both be cast as the "libertarian" in the race...
my neck snapped and I fell to the floor, dead. Well, almost. Rudolph Giuliani a libertarian? The man who confiscated over 90,000 guns? The guy who enforced a dancing ban in New York bars, chased porn out of Times Square, and at the recent Republican Presidential debate talked lovingly about how much don't-call-it-torture he would allow?

Douthat explains:
Giuliani, by contrast, is a libertarian of results alone, and only on certain issues. He wants to maximize "reproductive freedom," for instance, and doesn't care if doing so involves ceding enormous authority to unelected judges; he wants taxes to be low, but doesn't question the principle of income taxation (as Paul does), and so forth.
I'm guessing the quotes around "reproductive freedom" refer to Giuliani's speech to NARAL in 2001, and Douthat means to show Giuliani as a brave champion thereof. In the here and now, of course, Giuliani spends most of his abortion spiel saying how much he hates abortion and how as Mayor he tried to "reduce abortions" and "increase adoptions." If he's a libertarian, so's Bill Clinton.

As for "wants taxes to be low," yeah, that's some fucking distinction for a REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE. I remember George Bush and John McCain in 2000, competing to see which of them could yell "I'll tax your asses off!" louder.

I'm still chewing over "and so forth," though. That may prove to be the crux of Douthat's argument.

Douthat concludes that "a libertarianism that's pro-choice, pro-growth and pro-'enhanced interrogation techniques' is the only libertarianism that has any mass appeal these days." Similarly, tofu will sweep the nation as soon as we find a way to give it the flavor and consistency of choc-o-mut ice creams.

Douthat isn't worth thinking about, but I had been wondering what had become of his erstwhile partner Reihan Whatshisname since Douthat joined the Atlantic Monthly. Bouncing off the walls, shrieking rap lyrics and other gibberish as horrified passersby fled to safety, I imagined. I returned to the American Scene of the crime and found this new post about how Ghostbusters is right-wing and Real Genius is left-wing and if you go to family reunions to meet women, you might be a redneck. Which is to say, I had guessed correctly.

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