Today is apparently the day for conservative columnists at The Week to come clean, or at least to take hesitant steps towards returning to a semblance of reality.
For instance, the staunchly conservative Michael Brendan Dougherty has finally noticed (or finally admitted) that the demonizing of Obamacare is and always has been nothing but a partisan ploy by Republicans who have no idea how to "fix" our healthcare system and no real interest in doing so:
The U.S. pays more for health care than any other country on Earth, while delivering less impressive results. And our health-care system is a worse bureaucratic mess than any other, with far more byzantine sets of third-party negotiators and payers. The Republicans have no plausible story about how their plan would lower health-care costs for insurers and end users, or make acquiring and maintaining health insurance simpler.
It's important to note here what Dougherty doesn't say: he doesn't say that our health-care system is a mess because of government interference or because Obamacare broke it. Those charges are and always were red herrings which Dougherty has apparently decided he can stop peddling now that Republicans are faced with actually designing policy rather than merely denouncing it.
Try as he might, though, Dougherty can't seem to get his facts entirely straight:
The GOP wants to keep faith with its seven-year promise to repeal and replace ObamaCare. They seem not to have noticed that their own president was elected by promising almost the exact opposite. Trump praised universal coverage and won.
Donald Trump may have praised, in theory, the idea of universal coverage, but he promised repeatedly during the campaign to repeal and replace Obamacare, which he labeled then and continues to label now as "a disaster" which is imploding before our very eyes.
That aside, kudos to Michael Brendan Dougherty for at least acknowledging that "Republicans never took health-care policy seriously, never meant a word they said about repealing ObamaCare, and are too uncoordinated to back away from certain disaster. This health-care bill is a set of lies all the way down." It's a shame that it took this long for him to come to that conclusion, but better late than never.
Meanwhile, the reliably wrong Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry takes umbrage at the way liberals mischaracterize conservatives, citing in particular "the Democratic attack that Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan essentially amounted to pushing Grandma off a cliff." No word from M. Gobry on why that attack was any worse than the Republicans' "death panel" lies about Obamacare.
In any case, M. Gobry's "point," if you can call it that, is that liberals have caused conservatives to act like jerks by accusing them of being jerks in the first place:
The GOP's health-care reform plan looks like a Democratic caricature of what a Republican plan ought to be. Does it take money from the poor to hand it to the rich? Yes. Does it make countless people worse off? Yes. Does it cut coverage? Yes.
So many conservatives have so internalized the progressive critique that they act it out. They've been told for so long by progressives that to be conservative is to be a jerk that they actually think that the way to be conservative is to be a jerk.
To his credit, M. Gobry comes very close to getting something right:
For literally decades, conservative heroes like Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman have set out ways by which a society can achieve a universal safety net in health care, while at the same time achieving conservative goals that I deeply believe to be paramount, such as consumer choice and innovation. You don't need to snatch people's health care away from them to achieve the conservative vision of health care. But, again, conservatives have internalized the progressive critique, and if progressives are for universal coverage, then conservatives must be against universal coverage.
The reflexive conservative opposition to universal coverage has nothing to do, of course, with their having "internalized the progressive critique"; it has everything to do with the fact that conservatives decided long ago simply to be against whatever liberals happen to be for. Plenty of liberals (including me) have pointed out that Friedrich Hayek believed in universal, government-guaranteed health care, just as plenty of liberals pointed out that the Obamacare "individual mandate" was an idea taken from the conservative Heritage Foundation; likewise, liberal "cap and trade" policy on greenhouse gas emissions also began as a conservative proposal. It's not the fault of progressives that modern conservatives have nothing to offer but stubborn and even self-contradicting opposition to anything that liberals suggest.
PEG goes on to lament the "psychological cul-de-sac" in which American conservatives find themselves, which is itself "only an avatar of a much deeper problem..." And what exactly is the problem? The problem, according to M. Gobry, is simply that "30 years into the post-Reagan era, conservatives don't know what they stand for."
As was the case with Michael Brendan Dougherty (above), M. Gobry is to be congratulated for his belated, albeit limited, insight. It just goes to show that even a stopped digital clock is right once a day.