I’ve been trying to stay off the Chunky Bobo tip, but I read this earlier today and was so struck by the awfulness of the argument that I can’t stop thinking about it:
This is true on all the great issues of the day. No matter how many lives may be saved or lost because of health care policy, no lives will be saved forever, and every gain will be an infinitely modest hedge against the wasting power of disease and death. No matter the wisdom of our politicians or the sagacity of their economic advisors, no policy course can guarantee universal wealth or permanent economic growth. And no matter the temperature of our discourse, the state of our gun laws, or the quality of our mental health care, nothing human beings do can prevent the occasional madman from shooting up a crowded parking lot.
So we just fucking give up? We can’t all live forever so why does it matter what kind of health care we have?
This kind of reasoning is truly beneath contempt. When Erick Erickson writes that Obamacare will lead to death panels, I think he’s an idiot but maybe I should think, hey, at least we’re on the same side in terms of thinking that it would be very bad if people were being arbitrarily put to death…unlike Douthat who seems to think, eh, we all die anyway so why get upset?
This is what I find so infuriating about conservative would-be intellectuals, the constant fall back positions. We all start from the normal starting point for argument “I think my policy will work better than yours.” When conservatives’ arguments seem weaker, there’s always the Brooksian “the limits of human knowledge means we can’t say whose will work better”, which is pathetic enough. Douthat’s “who cares which policy worked better because no policy will achieve world peace and universal immortality” represents a new low, one that I never thought would be reached in my lifetime.
Douthat’s argument is frankly nihilistic. Say what you will about the tenets of RedState and Free Republic, at least it’s an ethos.