Something really interesting happened this morning on Up With Chris Hayes. One of the guests was Veronique de Rugy, who was repeatedly referred to as a researcher at George Mason University, but who seems more correctly called an adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute. She is clearly a smart woman—she has a PhD from the University of Paris—Sorbonne. And yet, she was slapped down multiple times over factual errors.
This starts in the very first segment where she claims that we are focusing on the trees instead of the forest, “Which is this gigantic crisis in entitlement spending that’s coming.” That line made me jump out of my chair, but luckily, Chris Hayes was there to save the day, “There’s not a gigantic crisis in entitlement spending.” She responds, “Oh really?! Have you looked at the numbers going forward?” And he has a simple retort, “The projections right now for the Medicare trust fund, for instance, is solvency for the next 13 years, which is above what the projection has been for the life of the program.”
The point here is not, “Oh look at the conservative embarrassing herself.” It is that this is a smart and well educated woman. But she lives and works in the conservative bubble where everyone just knows things that simply aren’t true. One of those is: entitlements are bankrupting us; be afraid! And this just shows that even for the smart people at the most prestigious conservative think tanks, their conservative beliefs are faith based, not fact based. I occasionally see a liberal politician or pundit get information wrong, but not a liberal intellectual. If the data do not support their positions, they usually change their positions. And when they don’t, they at least know where the weak points of their arguments are.
The show continued on with the addition of Bruce Bartlett. I’m going to attack him in an article later tonight, so let me say for the record: there is no better conservative. He really does know his stuff. And it was nice to see him slap down de Rugy multiple times. She claimed that Grover Norquist is right to hold taxes and spending as a single issue. She used the same old Republican canard that, “Well, those Republicans that came before weren’t really conservative!” Bartlett slaps her down. She then doubles down on this idea and then Barlett kind of loses it. He says, “Your idea is so God damned dogmatic. You’re living in this fantasy land where we’re going to balance the budget by abolishing Medicare and other ludicrous ideas.” She keeps fighting. “There won’t be enough tax revenue to pay for the large spending increases…” He cuts her off, “That’s not true! That’s a factually incorrect statement.”
It was wonderful to watch. Bartlett has clearly had it with all this conservative nonsense. And part of his anger certainly comes from being drummed out of the inner circle of the conservative movement for his apostasy. What I think I’m seeing is what happens to any small extreme group: they purge themselves. And after a while, you are only left with those who (voluntarily or not) are willing to drink the kool-aid. Clearly, de Rugy has drunk the kool-aid. What is a mystery is how the elites of a major American political party could exhibit this kind of behavior.
Watch this clip. It is fun: