Freedom-crushing automobile-hating authoritarian
Conservative columnist George Will wrote a piece for right-wing comic Newsweek recently attacking President Obama’s support for high-speed rail.
Now, if Georgie’s main concern was cost, then you might say, ‘okay, that’s an argument’.
But no, as Steve Benen (Washington Monthly) put it, the column, which “featured a variety of errors of fact and judgment”, suggested that “liberals support high-speed rail (as) part of some elaborate, freedom-crushing, Ayn-Rand-inspired conspiracy.”
Okay, deep breath, here are a couple of extracts:
George Will: High Speed to Insolvency – Why liberals love trains.
“Generations hence, when the river of time has worn this presidency’s importance to a small, smooth pebble in the stream of history, people will still marvel that its defining trait was a mania for high-speed rail projects. This disorder illuminates the progressive mind…..
… Only an administration blinkered by ideology would persist … the real reason for progressives’ passion for trains is their goal of diminishing Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.
To progressives, the best thing about railroads is that people riding them are not in automobiles, which are subversive of the deference on which progressivism depends …. automobiles encourage people to think they – unsupervised, untutored, and unscripted – are masters of their fates. The automobile encourages people in delusions of adequacy, which make them resistant to government by experts who know what choices people should make…….”
I know, I know.
Paul Krugman, who described the column as “truly bizarre”, made a similar point to Benen: “….it’s amazing to see Will – who is not a stupid man – embracing the sinister progressives-hate-your-freedom line, more or less right out of Atlas Shrugged; with the extra irony, of course, that John Galt’s significant other ran, well, a railroad.”
So, you’d imagine Georgie would disagree with this columnist who, in 2001 (after 9/11), wrote:
” ….Americans are impatient problem-solvers, so here are three things that should be done, the doing of which will assuage any sense the nation is having trouble gaining traction in the tasks at hand.…
…..Third, build high-speed rail service.
…..A government study concludes that for trips of 500 miles or less – a majority of flights; 40 percent are of 300 miles or less – automotive travel is as fast or faster than air travel, door to door. Columnist Robert Kuttner sensibly says that fact strengthens the case for high-speed trains. If such trains replaced air shuttles in the Boston-New York-Washington corridor, Kuttner says that would free about 60 takeoff and landing slots per hour.”
Who wrote this? A liberal trying to take away your automobile freedom? Eh, no. Ready for this? Those are Georgie’s very own words, as reported by Sarah Goodyear (Grist).
Benen: “I don’t care that Will changed his mind; I care that he casually dismissed the substance of the debate in order to make the truly stupid case that high-speed rail is part of a liberal crusade to “diminish Americans’ individualism in order to make them more amenable to collectivism.”
On the merits, he was right the first time. To agree with Will circa 2001 is not to be a freedom-crushing authoritarian.”
So, Georgie was an enthusiastic supporter of high-speed rail….until he found himself on the same side of the issue as President Obama??
The amazing part is that this guy displays sense, occasionally – as Krugman said, “he is not a stupid man”, he has supported the President at times and has attacked the extremes of the GOP/Tea Party.
So what’s this nonsense and hypocrisy all about??