Tuesday, one of our favorite writers Andrew Klavan wrote a piece in City Journal castigating Washington and Hollywood as completely out of touch with the rest of America – and everyone in those two cities, not to mention the rest of us, should read it. A sample:
Washington, D.C. and Hollywood are two cities suffering from the same condition: they’ve not only become completely alienated from the people they’re meant to serve, they’re bizarrely blind to the fact of that alienation. Like deranged narcissists in a hall of mirrors, both our lawmakers and our culture-makers blow kisses at their own reflections, see a million kisses coming back their way, and think, “Oh, look, they love me—love me!”
Here’s the thing. The American people want government that acts in keeping with our principles of free markets, self-reliance, and individual liberty. The people want culture that depicts the moral order as we know it is, not as sequestered elites dream it should be. But in Hollywood and in Washington, they can’t hear the people because they’re making too much noise talking to themselves, confirming themselves, and loving themselves.
Klavan uses the passage of the health-care bill in Washington over loud and majoritarian objections and the $100 million Hollywood Green Zone fiasco after a dozen other anti-Iraq War movies had confirmed the lack of a market for one more of them as two of his latest examples showing the out-of-touch character of the elites.
He had lots of others to choose from.
In the aftermath of Obamacare’s passage Sunday night, the Washington narrative is now twofold. First, Barack Obama is no longer an ineffective president whose vision for the country is greatly at variance with the majority – now he’s the Comeback Kid and his agenda has newfound momentum. And second, Republicans had better “tone it down” and not even think about running on repealing Obamacare, because doing so would be political suicide. After all, who would run on reinstituting pre-existing conditions and letting insurance companies drop people who get sick?
On Fox News’ Special Report yesterday, the Weekly Standard’s Stephen Hayes described the groupthink which produces such an off-the-rails meme:
But the thing that I found most striking today was the abrupt reversal of conventional wisdom, because conventional wisdom all along as Democrats were getting pummeled about this in poll after poll showed that the American people don’t like this, didn’t want it, was that they were in trouble in November.
And now as this passes there is one Gallup poll today that suggests some people like it. And conventional wisdom has done a 180 and now the Republicans are in trouble, and are they going to pay for the fact that they were unified against health care?
It is the most amazing example of Washington as a fickle town where people actually can’t think for themselves but follow polls wherever they go.
With the latest news that the Republicans have managed to force the Obama reconciliation package back to the House of Representatives on a couple of points of order, the new narrative is going to react to that small success by saying that dragging this process out any longer will hurt the GOP. David Frum, who is chasing David Brooks as the foremost “conservative” useful idiot for the Left, calls the passage of Obamacare Waterloo for the Republicans, then proceeds to castigate talk radio and those on the right for intransigence and failure to deal with the Democrats to get a few crumbs from the table (Frum was, it should be noted, duly squashed by the brilliant Tunku Varadarajan) by going along and giving bipartisan cover to the bill. Major coverage in the media has been given to highly dubious statements that black congressmen were treated to jeers of the N-word and spat upon Saturday as they walked to the Capitol through a crowd of Tea Party protestors, reinforcing the meme that racism and homophobia (Barney Frank, whose homosexuality is probably the most redeeming of his character traits, complained that he was showered by epithets inside the Capitol by “about 100” Tea Partiers) is the driver of the Tea Party movement. Now, the fact that bricks are showing up through the windows of a Democrat office here and there prompts the chatterers on the East Coast to admonish conservatives even further. And on, and on.
Which, going back to Klavan, are all variations of the same argument: shut up. The Left is famous for pushing its talking points as a media narrative in hopes of creating self-fulfillment, and the Washington conventional wisdom Hayes describes – with one narrow, corrupt, reviled legislative victory the coin has flipped and the Democrats are no longer a morally-bankrupt, far-left party headed off an electoral cliff; it’s Republicans who are now in danger of extinction unless they come to terms with the new reality.
Hate to tell you, but that’s not going to fly. The anger and resentment boiling over with the American people about Obamacare hasn’t abated at all; a large majority still hates Obamacare, even if the president’s numbers on the Left have improved slightly, and the majority of the American people – including even 41 percent of Democrats – want the Republicans to fight it. And everything else on the Democrats’ plate is just as contentious, just as divisive and just as politically poisonous as health care is.
Obama may well get something of a bounce out of finally passing his health care bill, at least until the evidence of sloppiness, waste and fraud begins tumbling out into public knowledge. But that bounce will only be on the Left – not the center. And shoring up the base while angering and energizing the large majority of the public against his agenda is the surest way to solidify a colossal defeat in November.
But as Klavan says, inside the Beltway Obamacare is now great stuff. The rubes in flyover country will come around between now and November so long as we’re shown something shiny between now and then.