Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Joe Miller Defense

Matt Taibbi brings the wood to Joe Miller—who I think really looks more like the product of an unspeakable ménage à trois between GI Joe, Tim Allen, and David Spade—for being yet another in a long line of welfare-state-bashers who turn out to have built a good chunk of their lives with government help.

You see, when a nice white lawyer with a GI Joe beard uses state aid to help him through tough times and get over the hump – so that he can go from having three little future Medicare-collecting Republican children to eight little future Medicare-collecting Republican children – that’s a good solid use of government aid, because what we’re doing is helping someone “transition” from dependency to economic independence.

This of course is different from the way other, less GI-Joe-looking people use government aid, i.e. as a permanent crutch that helps genetically lazy and ambitionless parasites mooch off of rich white taxpayers instead of getting real jobs.

I can’t even tell you how many people I interviewed at Tea Party events who came up with one version or another of the Joe Miller defense. Yes, I’m on Medicare, but… I needed it! It’s those other people who don’t need it who are the problem!

Or: Yes, it’s true, I retired from the police/military/DPW at 54 and am on a fat government pension that you and your kids are going to be paying for for the next forty years, while I sit in my plywood-paneled living room in Florida watching Fox News, gobbling Medicare-funded prescription medications, and railing against welfare queens. But I worked hard for those bennies! Not like those other people!

This whole concept of “good welfare” and “bad welfare” is at the heart of the Tea Party ideology, and it’s something that is believed implicitly across the line. It’s why so many of their political champions, like Miller, and sniveling Kentucky rich kid Rand Paul (a doctor whose patient base is 50% state insured), and Nevada “crazy juice” Senate candidate Sharron Angle (who’s covered by husband Ted’s Federal Employee Health Plan insurance), are so completely unapologetic about taking state aid with one hand and jacking off angry pseudo-libertarian mobs with the other.

They genuinely don’t see the contradiction, much in the same way that some Wall Street people genuinely can’t see the problem with their company, say, taking $13 billion in bonuses in the same year that they accepted $13 billion in state bailouts. You wave a pitchfork at them with little post-its of the relevant figures taped to the ends, and ask them to confess – and they can’t, because they literally don’t see your point.

After all, these bankers will protest, we needed to pay out those billions in bonuses to stay competitive! It’s not like we’re just taking the money willy-nilly, like those dreadful people in ratty army coats who shop with food stamps in the bodega downstairs!

Could it be true that the big movement of the moment in American politics is largely driven by nothing more edifying than a kind of shallow, self-congratulatory egoism?

What am I saying? Of course it could.


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