Regarding President Obama’s claim to have increased spending more slowly than any modern GOP president, Ann Coulter recently wrote: “As with all bogus social science from the left, liberals hide the numbers and proclaim: It’s ‘science’! This is black and white, inarguable, and why do Republicans refuse to believe facts?”
The president’s claim, which quickly went viral in left-wing social media, was equally quickly debunked; if The Washington Post felt compelled to give it three Pinocchios, you can imagine what an unbiased grader would have given it. We now know that in order to make President Obama look frugal, his allies had to attribute his most extravagant spending from 2009 to President Bush — including hundreds of billions in spending that Bush never proposed and, in some cases, specifically rejected. As Stephen Moore of The Wall Street Journal recently said, “If you torture the numbers long enough, they’ll eventually confess.”
This parsing to attribute a president’s spending to past administrations is a relatively new game. I don’t recall, for example, anyone adjusting President Clinton’s fiscal numbers to reflect that the robust recovery he benefited from actually started under President George H.W. Bush. And President George W. Bush’s fiscal and economic record was undoubtedly affected by the performance of his predecessor: The dot-com boom that helped President Clinton run a surplus was ultimately exposed as a bubble — which burst on Bush’s watch. And if Clinton had had the nerve to take out Osama bin Laden when he had the chance, his successor might never have had to deal with the economic (and of course human) catastrophe of 9/11. Yet I never heard President Bush whine, as President Obama’s supporters constantly whine, that we must rearrange the fiscal record to reflect the mess he inherited from his predecessor.
The canard that President Obama is not a big spender is now old news, but Ann Coulter’s observation endures: Some liberals tend to confuse their skewed partisan talking points with indisputable truth. It’s “science”! This is black and white, inarguable, and why do Republicans refuse to believe facts? The charts “proving” Obama is a responsible spender were typically disseminated on Facebook and Twitter with assertions that Mitt Romney is a “liar” for claiming otherwise. In fact, President Obama himself called Romney’s recent speech about our debt crisis — and the charge that President Obama is a big spender — a “cow pie of distortion.” Now it’s one thing to peddle bogus partisan analysis such as those now-infamous charts. That’s mere dishonesty, and as we all know, dishonesty is well within the bounds of normal political discourse. But to call people “liars” for refusing to accept your dishonest nonsense? That takes real chutzpah!
Where does this chutzpah come from? I have some insights into this, which I recount in my book, Left-Hearted, Right-Minded: Why Conservative Policies Are The Best Way To Achieve Liberal Ideals. As I explain in the book, most liberals are perfectly fine folks with whom I have good-faith differences of opinion. There is a strain of liberal, however, that doesn’t deal well with good-faith differences of opinion. This strain of liberal has a deep-seated psychological need to feel that those who disagree with them are evil, stupid or (preferably) both. I call this strain of liberal the Intolerant Liberal. I know all about Intolerant Liberals, because I used to be one. And also, I live in Hollywood.
Here’s my theory on Intolerant Liberals: Do you know how some people (usually Intolerant Liberals) accuse religious conservatives of having a repressed sexuality that causes them to act out in inappropriate ways? The theory goes that the conservative religious lifestyle is so sexually restrictive that it creates pent-up energy that gets misdirected. In much the same way, liberals have subjected themselves (and the rest of us) to a repressive, politically correct absolutism that is designed to stamp out any expression that could remotely be interpreted as bigotry. Stamping out bigotry is definitely a good thing, although, as I explain in the book, many liberals are in denial about the very substantial bigotry that they themselves harbor. But for the Intolerant Liberal, the rigid rules of PC cannot stamp out the fundamental impulse of bigotry: the need to feel superior to others. The repressed bigotry of Intolerant Liberals causes them to be viciously intolerant of ideological “others” in a way that they wouldn’t dare be of racial or ethnic “others.”
In the Intolerant Liberal view of the world, their political opinions aren’t mere opinions — they are the undisputed Truth, proven by studies and research validated by all “reasonable” experts (who are invariably Intolerant Liberals themselves). When Intolerant Liberals climb into their echo chamber and tell one another that their views have been conclusively proven, rejected only by flat-earthers and Neanderthals who refuse to accept facts, they are indulging in a type of rhetorical comfort food that makes them feel good about themselves (and, more importantly, superior to others).
It is an article of faith among Intolerant Liberals that the Bush tax cuts were a failure (and the heretical views of ignorant conservatives cannot be taken seriously). This truth has been proven by the fact that some conservative economists have apparently “admitted” that the Bush tax cuts increased the deficit. By that logic, the fact that many prominent liberals have “admitted” that Bain Capital is an excellent company with exemplary ethics must “conclusively prove” that President Obama’s attacks on Bain are a disingenuous crock. (Actually, maybe that logic is valid, because the Bain attacks are a disingenuous crock.)
In the Intolerant Liberal view of the world, austerity has proven to be a failure in Europe (even though European austerity has consisted primarily thus far of very un-conservative tax increases). Intolerant Liberals presumably believe that the policies that got Europe into this mess — i.e., the opposite of austerity — have been a raging success.
According to Intolerant Liberals, the people who believe tax cuts can sometimes pay for themselves also believe in the Tooth Fairy. Enlightened People, on the other hand, presumably believe that never-ending deficit spending pays for itself, especially if we use the money to “invest” in bloated public sector payrolls and doomed green energy projects. We will eventually find our way out of the debt crisis if we can just muster the discipline to keep borrowing more money.
In the world of Intolerant Liberals, the best way to create jobs is to have the federal government suck money out of the hands of job creators. That way, the government can get its hands on the money it needs to invest back into the economy to create jobs. Ignorant conservatives, on the other hand, ask questions such as: Rather than suck money (and credit) out of the economy just to dole it back into the economy through the highly politicized and inefficient mechanism of government, why not just leave it in the economy in the first place? And while we’re at it, why don’t we stop shackling job creators with oppressive regulation (and the uncertainly that comes with the specter of more regulation and higher taxes) so they might actually feel comfortable enough to create jobs?
As every Intolerant Liberal knows, these questions that Ignorant Conservatives ask are incredibly stupid. Why? Because the matter is settled. The evidence is irrefutable. Every expert agrees. The time for debate is over. Debate is bad. There’s no disputing science. Facts are facts. Yes, we can!
David B. Cohen served in the administration of President George W. Bush as U.S. Representative to the Pacific Community, as Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior, and as a member of the President’s Advisory Commission on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders. He hosted the debate show “Beer Summit” for PBS Guam.