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E.J. Dionne Jr.
NationofChange / Op-Ed
Published: Sunday 26 February 2012
“Can conservatives finally face the fact that they actually want quite a lot from government, and that they are simply unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it?”

Ideological Hypocrites

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When we talk about hypocrisy in politics, we usually highlight personal behavior. The serially-married politician who proclaims “family values” while also having affairs is now a rather dreary stock figure in our campaign narratives.

But the hypocrisy that matters far more is the gap between ideology and practice that has reached a crisis point in American conservatism. This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance. Conservatives in power have never been — and can never be — as anti-government as they are in a campaign.

Begin by asking yourself why so many conservative politicians say they’re anti-government but spend long careers in office drawing paychecks from the taxpayers. Also: Why do they bash government largesse while seeking as much of it as they can get for their constituents and friendly interest groups?

Why do they criticize “entitlements” and “big government” while promising today’s senior citizens — an important part of the conservative base — never, ever to cut their Medicare or Social Security? Why do they claim that they want government out of the marketplace while not only rejecting cuts in defense but also lauding large defense contracts that are an enormous intrusion in the operation of the “free market”?

The contest between Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum is unearthing all sorts of double standards of this sort, and I salute each of them for drawing attention to the other’s inconstancies.

Santorum scored a direct hit on Romney last Thursday in a speech at the Detroit Economic Club. Both Romney and Santorum opposed President Obama’s rescue of the auto industry, a form of direct government intervention whose success Republicans (though not, it appears, Michigan’s voters) have a hard time acknowledging.

But Santorum raised a good question. “Governor Romney supported the bailout of Wall Street and decided not to support the bailout of Detroit,” Santorum said. “My feeling was that . . . the government should not be involved in bailouts, period. I think that’s a much more consistent position.”

Indeed it is. Romney can offer all sorts of rationales for the difference between the two bailouts, but once he backed the Wall Street rescue, he could no longer claim free market purity. The financial bailout he thought was so vital created the very “dependency” and sense of “entitlement” within our privileged classes that he condemns when it comes to the less well-off.

Many conservatives — including, bravely, George W. Bush — pushed for the bank bailout because the alternative was a catastrophic collapse of the financial system. But having done so, could they please stop claiming they are free market virgins? They gave that up long ago.

Santorum has a long list of ideological heresies of his own to defend. They include his eagerness to win federal earmarks, a habit he shares with Romney, as The Washington Post’s Rosalind Helderman recently reported.

There is also the critique that Romney’s super PAC is making in an ad airing in advance of Michigan’s Feb. 28 primary: It attacks Santorum for regularly voting to increase the debt ceiling when he was a senator from Pennsylvania.

This is the same Santorum who supported congressional conservatives last year when they blocked a debt-ceiling increase in pursuit of more budget cuts. “We cannot continue to write blank checks that our nation cannot cash,” Santorum said — the very blank checks he freely endorsed when he was in the Senate. True, both parties have played games on the debt ceiling, but never to the point of undermining the federal government’s credit standing, as the Republicans did last year.

Of course Santorum was only doing the responsible thing when he was a senator, but he cannot really defend what he did in the past without acknowledging that what he said more recently is flatly contradicted by his own behavior.

Can conservatives finally face the fact that they actually want quite a lot from government, and that they are simply unwilling to raise taxes to pay for it?

This is why our political system is so broken. Conservatives keep pretending that they can keep anti-government promises that they know perfectly well they are destined to break. We won’t have sensible politics again until our friends on the right bring their rhetorical claims into closer alignment with what they do — and what it takes to make government work.

ejdionne@washpost.com

© , Washington Post Writers Group


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ABOUT E.J. Dionne Jr.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Before joining The Post in 1990 as a political reporter, Dionne spent 14 years at the New York Times, where he covered politics and reported from Albany, Washington, Paris, Rome and Beirut. He is the author of four books: “Souled Out: Reclaiming Faith & Politics After the Religious Right” (2008), “Stand Up Fight Back: Republican Toughs, Democratic Wimps, and the Politics of Revenge” (2004), “They Only Look Dead: Why Progressives Will Dominate The Next Political Era” (1996), and “Why Americans Hate Politics” (1991), which won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and was a National Book Award nominee. Dionne grew up in Fall River, Mass., attended Harvard College and was a Rhodes Scholar at Balliol College, Oxford. He lives in Bethesda, Md., with his wife and three children.

Ron Paul is a fool! He lives

Ron Paul is a fool! He lives in the 19th century. I hope he runs as third party candidate. He can become the modern day Harold Stassen.

To pick on one party when the

To pick on one party when the other is just as bad is an absurd commentary.

Everyone knows that the government is totally corrupt they are just confused about who and why.

It is about Agenda 21 - and everyone should read all they can about it to be clear about what is really going on.

?

?

It's true - all the

It's true - all the "conservatives" in government are really only self-promoting, statist/conformists (leftists) in disguise!

Like all lefties, they are secretly all for selling victimology in order to attain group rights (especially 'government rights') over every real individual citizen's human rights at all costs!

They pretend that, since there's always a diverse multiplicity of causes and effects for everything, "we can never really know anything for sure!" and "since all facts are really only opinions anyway, my opinion is the diversely opposite equal to your silly facts! Whee!"

Pretending that people are weak and fallible, potentially dangerous mistakes, which can only be saved from themselves by forming into ever-larger groups, these evil salesmen clowns spin all merely temporary problems with easy, permanent solutions into eternal "crises," in order to buy us low in order to sell themselves to us as our "much-needed crisis-relief management expert elitist leaders" (i.e: "Please Give Generously - AGAIN")!

So obviously the real problem is these loyalty-dividing interest-conflicts called the political "parties" themselves, which only endlessly polemicize our one government into two mythological punch-n-judy plays:

The Right wing, which always says:
"We NEVER need government, for anything!"

and...

The Left wing, which only ever really says:
"We ALWAYS need Government, for everything!"

Both stances are, of course, lies, designed to play on our emotions while giving us false idols to worship, to distract us from the simple truth that we only have one country, and the only real binary our government should concentrate on is to keep separate our collective needs from our private wants.

Needs are those things which, if we don't have them cause pain and death. Things we therefore have "rights" to, like air, water, basic food and clothing, shelter, health-care, electricity and education. Things every individual human citizen needs, and not things merely imagined and wanted because of their various subsidiary group-membership symptoms.

The simple fix for democracy is to hold two quick, back-to-back elections: the first, as usual, where each region hires it's own representative, to contribute to the overall pool of workers (Public SERVANTS,) and the second, where the whole country votes to directly assign them to their cabinet portfolio positions. After all, when was the last time you heard of a company's worker pool vetting their own members to be the company president, financial comptroller, etc, without the owner's participation or consent?! Enough of these elitists "partying" at our expense! We the people are the country's owners. Our one government is supposed to be simply the largest collectively-owned insurance company. Government should be a custodial or janitorial job, to defend the citizen's collective needs, not to cater to private wants; to project the costs needed to maintain and enhance the current and future infrastructure requirements (what's needed to permit life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) divided by projected population growth, and tax accordingly; it's not "rocket surgery." This easy, simple two-step system immediately gives us back our countries through the best of both worlds: the first-past-the post, and direct-democracy proportional representation!

we must immediately rid ourselves of the loyalty-divided interest-conflicted so-called political "party" gang-system of salesmen-parasites.

Same goes for these sales-puppet's sales-master's pet "legal fictions of the corporate person" gangs: these are only illegal criminal negligence conspiracies, where certain small gangs have asked in advance for, and then been given 'legal' protection from their responsibility to obey all human laws - they take risks which only impact others, for gains which only accrue to them selves... which is why they formed into these 'limited liability' gangs, in the first place. That act alone ("incorporating" in the first place) proves their criminal intent. These delinquents' charters of incorporation should be immediately rescinded and these illegal and criminally negligent, irresponsible "protections" revoked.

The judges and legislators who treasonously granted them in the first place should be removed from the bench and impeached from our governments, respectively - & jailed.

;-)

Don't bet the store on

Don't bet the store on that.Hes republican alright and that equals a rating of nothing , like all the other liars and traitors.There is no such thing as an honest and patriotic republican or independent.

Ron Paul is not actually

Ron Paul is not actually Republican... He needs the tent to camp under, but all the GOP candidates just stare at him as if he is an alien... He shuts everyone up while he speaks, but as soon as he finishes, they go right back to bickering as if he isn't in the room... When the primaries are over and he goes independent, everything will become as it should be. Till then, he is the little dog yapping for attention in a party that doesn't respect him... Or anyone for that matter...

And once again....an article

And once again....an article posted about Republicans with no mention of RON PAUL! Why do you shun him? Does he not "fit the bill" of what you want to report about? This article was a decent read, but would have been better if you would get ALL the facts and not just the MSM ones. Disappointing! Maybe it's because RON PAUL says things and doesn't flip flop, doesn't do what the other candidates do. Maybe, just maybe....Ron Paul would be the perfect choice for President of the United States of America!

For good or bad maybe it is

For good or bad maybe it is because Ron Paul is statistically irrelevant and has little chance to be on the Republican platform come election day. Mr Dionne is simply addressing the hypocracies of the two front runners representing the intellectually dishonest and morally bankrupt modern Republican party.

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