Last week, the Heritage Foundation (Wikipedia, RWW) and the Kansas Policy Institute (Wikipedia, SourceWatch) held a small gathering at a local country club. They had invited Stephen Moore, economist and former member of the Wall Street Journal's editorial board, to speak.
You may recall Mr. Moore, from his public spat with economist Paul Krugman, a fight that ended with Mr. Moore using incorrect "facts" to bolster his arguments. If not, you can catch up with the links below:
- Paul Krugman: Charlatans, Cranks and Kansas - NY Times
- Stephen Moore: What’s the matter with Paul Krugman? Give Kansas tax breaks time to work - KC Star
- Paul Krugman vs. Stephen Moore: Kansas is at the center of feud after tax cut errors - KC Star
We were, understandably, intrigued, and RSVP'd to attend this informal talk.
It did not disappoint.
Mr. Moore is a polished speaker, a man who knew his audience, but who did not engage in the cheap spectacle of rabble rousing you might expect. He spoke kindly of President Obama as a father and husband, while shaking his head sadly at the man's clear lack of economic acumen. And when he did attack the enemies of freedom, he did so not with vitriol, but with a kind of sad sorrow, that Liberals could be so misguided.
But what he did do was pander to the audience in the room, at one point even declaring, "We are all patriots... here."
He told stories about the Liberal agenda, confirming the worst fears of those in the audience, causing ripples of "Amen!" or the rueful shaking of heads. In one particular gem, he spoke about meeting with a group of twenty-five valedictorians from Florida high schools. As he extolled the virtues of fracking, letting them in on it's undoubted position as this nation's economic savior, he noticed frowns and grimaces among them. Asking, he found that only two or three of them knew fracking to be the economic panacea it is. The rest, he said, shaking his head sadly, had been corrupted by the Liberal education they had received. The groans around the room said his audience's worst fears had been confirmed. If only, he continued, we could encourage more school choice! Why, being against fracking is like being against a cure for cancer!
It went on like that, quips and philosophy, but no hard facts, no details except to imply that history had been written by the Left, but that the people in the room knew better. Because we were all patriots here.
But the most compelling aspect of this gathering, what stuck with us the most, was the simple, naked, unabashed selfishness of the people in the room. Government is good for nothing but stealing money from them. Only two groups take your money, criminals, and the IRS. Income tax is immoral.
Not one question or comment touched on concern about their fellow citizen. No discussion of food insecurity, living without healthcare, feeling safe in your own home. No concern for students whose best meals are received from their school cafeteria. No empathy for single parents raising children alone.
But they were all patriots... there.