I used to be the head of IT at moderate sized investment company. I loved the job but hated the company. It was owned by a couple of old millionaires and every day I had to walk past their pictures with Ronald Reagan, Bush the Elder, and eventually Bush the Younger. And as is usually the case in such places, the big wheeler-dealer types were mostly very conservative. In fact, they were reflexively conservative. They didn’t have to think about it and that was good, because they were not great thinkers.
Much of what I think about the “job creator” brigade comes from this period of my life. I don’t use that term just to be cute. All these agents were employees. In fact, there was a big issue when I was there that the owner, who was showing clear signs of dementia, wanted all these “independent contractors” to be at their phones from nine to five. Neither the fact that they were only paid on commission nor them being required to work set hours (which made them unqualified to be independent contractors) mattered in the least. In their minds they were “job creators,” even if the term wasn’t in widespread use. I’m sure their six-figure salaries made them think they were. I mean, the economy would come to a standstill without them constantly lubricating it!
During the 2004 campaign, John Kerry’s heroism during the Vietnam War came up just in passing. One of the agents said, “What did he do? Get shot in the ass was all!” I wasn’t as involved in politics as I am now, so I let it rest. But even I knew that what Kerry had done was amazing. And the guy who said that had never been in the military. But like most Republicans, he was for a belligerent foreign policy. I lost a great deal of respect for conservatives at that time. Until then, I had always thought that at least they had respect for the military. But when it came down to partisan politics, they were eager to dishonor an American war hero just to elect a man who at best finessed his way out of the war and at worst was a deserter.
I bring this up because of an article this morning by Josh Marshall, Into the Truther Jungle. It is his reflection after running right into the conservative movement’s inability to look at facts. He sent out a tweet about how the resignation of HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius showed that the Obamacare rollout had been a success. That’s a no-brainer. She had been waiting for victory before she resigned. That should be obvious to anyone. But apparently it isn’t. He received replies like this:
@joshtpm Oh? So you have verified enrollment numbers from paying citizens? Great! Care to share?
— Erick Brockway (@erickbrockway) April 10, 2014
The point isn’t the disagreement. As Marshall wrote, “What is notable is the total shock that there’s not total unanimity that the program is failing.” The entire conservative movement keeps itself so walled up from inconvenient truths, that they just can’t manage when those truths fall on their heads. That’s where we got “John Kerry just got a medal because he was shot in the butt”—a still common belief on the right. And that’s where we got Unskewed Polls—now morphed into “ACORN stole the election,” even though it didn’t exist in 2012. And that’s where we now get “Obamacare is a failure and the government is just lying about it.”
The only thing that changes from here is that the explanations for why Obamacare really is failing will become more extreme. Or at least they will until conservatives just stop talking about it. That’s how they give up. And in 20 years, a new crop of conservatives will protest outside the White House with signs that read, “Government hands off my Obamacare!” And sadly, that will be a major improvement.