Clinton sings the faux-populist, anti-intellectual Manichean blues
I must say I’m surprised and gratified at the amount of coverage the gas-tax holiday is getting. It appears to be blowing up in Clinton’s face, which is exactly what would happen in a Good and Just world.
Earlier this week, asked about the fact that not a single policy expert or economist thinks the holiday would do anything for consumers, Clinton spokesflack Howard Wolfson said:
“We believe the presidency requires leadership,” said Wolfson. “There are times that a president will take a position that a broad support of quote-unquote experts agree with. And there are times they will take a position that quote-unquote experts do not agree with.”
Quote-unquote experts! Wow. Faux populist anti-intellectualism in service of political expedience. Where have I heard that before? The tune sounds familiar …
A gaffe by the spokesflack? Nope, it seems Clinton really is taking this line. In an interview later with George Stephanopoulos, when asked to name a single economist who supported the idea, she said:
We’ve been, for the last seven years, seeing a tremendous amount of government power and elite opinion basically behind policies that haven’t worked well for the middle class and hard-working Americans. … I’m not going to put my lot in with economists.
Going with her gut, dismissing expert advice. If I could just place that tune …
Here’s some video (try not to cringe, I dare you):
Far from backing down in the face of this unified raspberry from the expert community (and the public), Clinton is trying to bully other legislators into supporting her plan, asking, “Do they stand with hard-pressed Americans who are trying to pay their gas bills at the gas station or do they once again stand with the big oil companies?”
An emotionally charged, Manichean choice in the face of a complex problem. Wait, I remember the tune! It’s called “The Bush Administration,” and it dominated the charts for years! Seems awfully early for a cover version, though …
Now, compare and contrast: