I don’t know why Jon Stewart gives Jim DeMint a platform to spout his nonsense. But I have to admit, on last night’s The Daily Show, Stewart did an excellent job of countering DeMint. What DeMint is peddling is exactly what Paul Ryan is selling this week, “The War on Poverty is a failure; welfare is trapping the poor in poverty!” It is all a load of crap.
The thing about DeMint, like pretty much the entire conservative movement, is that he is totally disingenuous. He talks about how of course he wants to take care of the poor. It’s just that he doesn’t want to do it with the big bad federal government. He wants it at the state and local level. But that’s just tactical. He knows that it is much harder to tax at the state level. So by pushing programs out of the federal government, they will immediately be cut and eventually starved of funding.
The problem that conservatives have is that the policies they favor are hugely unpopular. This is why increasingly, we hear conservatives talking about how unfair democracy is and how only people who pay federal income taxes—the only truly progressive tax in the nation—should be allowed to vote. For someone like DeMint, it must be really frustrating. Instead of being able to honestly push for the policies he wants, he has to constantly hide it.
I have to admit, I tend to mischaracterize conservatives. It’s true that they pretty much have no ideas. Everything they push is a recycled idea from long ago. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t working hard. Whereas liberals work on new ideas, conservatives work on new ways to make their bad old ideas sound reasonable. So let me just say it in the hope that I will remember it: Jim DeMint isn’t stupid, he just uses all his brain power for evil.
This is what we see in the first “Internet Exclusive” segment. It contains everything that I’ve been talking about. But notice how DeMint constantly finesses what he’s saying. He means cutting programs for the poor but he says creating opportunity. And he totally characterizes the left. He says there are people who want everything done at the federal level. That’s not true. But that is his way of making the “let’s go local” argument sound reasonable. It is painfully clear that he simply doesn’t want to spend money on the poor. He says repeated that “we” can all agree that a safety net is important. But he’s lying. He doesn’t think that at all. He wants to force people to beg at church doors. Watch:
It is nice to see Jon Stewart so well prepared for an interview. And given that Jim DeMint is treated by the mainstream media like he is something other than an ideologue who wants to destroy the government, it is best that people see him interviewed by someone who counters him. The sad thing is that if DeMint went on CNN, he never would have been countered on his statements. A good example of this was where DeMint came out with one of our most annoying myths, “We have the best healthcare system in the world.” Stewart just gave him a look and the audience burst out laughing. I’m sure it’s true that if you are Jim DeMint, “we” have the best healthcare system in the world; otherwise, it isn’t even close. But conservatives feel comfortable spouting this kind of nonsense, because they are almost never countered on it. It’s sad that one of the few places they are countered is on a comedy show.