KEEP YOUR GOVERNMENT HANDS OFF MY DECADES-OLD SOCIAL SAFETY NET!
Over the past week, I missed most of the fuss about the Obama campaign's "Life of Julia" slideshow. I gather it was widely mocked by the right on Twitter; given the fact that the typical American swing voter follows precisely zero right-wing Twitterers, how the hell does this matter? The debate about Julia took place, as far as I can tell, exclusively among people who care a lot about politics and have already picked a candidate for November; it will mean absolutely nothing in November.
And I gather that the main thrust of the right-wing critique is summed up in this ridiculous Ross Douthat paragraph:
At the same time, the slide show's vision of the individual's relationship to the state seems designed to vindicate every conservative critique of the Obama-era Democratic Party. The liberalism of "the Life of Julia" doesn't envision government spending the way an older liberalism did -- as a backstop for otherwise self-sufficient working families, providing insurance against job loss, decrepitude and catastrophic illness. It offers a more sweeping vision of government's place in society, in which the individual depends on the state at every stage of life, and no decision -- personal, educational, entrepreneurial, sexual — can be contemplated without the promise that it will be somehow subsidized by Washington.
Yeah, right -- Julia's use of government programs is so different from that of the recent past. That's why the Julia slideshow invokes the Small Business Administration, which was founded in 1953, during the presidency of that communist Dwight Eisenhower. That's why it mentions Pell grants, which got their name during the Nixon presidency. That's why it references Head Start, a program from LBJ's time, as well as Medicare and Social Security.
The attack on the Julia slideshow is emblematic of the overall degeneration into idiocy of the standard right-wing argument. It doesn't matter that these programs are in the American grain; it doesn't matter that many of them existed in the very decades many conservatives look back on as a bygone golden age; it doesn't matter that for years they had bipartisan support. Wingers just ignore basic history these days and argue that we were fully self-sufficient pioneers until January 20, 2009, until we suddenly got our first taste of government aid, and then we were enslaved. And no one calls them on this.