Pre-empting Tu Quoque

It has already begun, but only on the margins and fringes of the more delusional progressive true believers.  It will likely emerge as a more coordinated left wing rebuttal once Obamacare defenses transcend loyalty and morph into full-on desperation.  I speak of course of the tu quoque fallacy, also known as “you too!”  As Obamacare inevitably implodes and invites more and more comparisons to things like Iraq and Katrina, the left will ramp up their tu quoque talking points. The most prominent of these will center around the “L word,” and whenever it is brought up that Obama and the progressives (knowingly! lied, a storm of tu quoque will echo through the echo chamber claiming that Bush and Republicans are guilty of the same thing regarding the selling of the Iraq War.  After all, progressives so successfully hammered the meme “Bush Lied, People Died” during the aughts that today it stands as near-conventional wisdom.  Regardless of what you think the merits of the Iraq war are (and I think there are essentially none), the idea that it was sold to the public on the same sort of malicious, willful lie as Obamacare is fallacious and stupid.  First, plenty of Democrats were privy to the same faulty intelligence on WMD as the Bush administration and Republicans, and plenty of them voted to authorize war in Congress. Second, for the tu quoque to have any justification, it would have to be the case that the Republicans knew from the jump that the intelligence was bogus.  But how can that be true when Democrats were privy to the same intelligence and thought it genuine as much as the Republicans did?  It may well be that the neoconservative impulse for war was so strong that the intelligence was deemed a mere compliment to the more urgent, moral case for war.  But it was not the case that the neocons had sole ownership of it.  The entire global intelligence apparatus was quite certain that Iraq possessed WMD, provided ample evidence as well as actual, past uses of the weapons by Saddam in support, and cited the dictator’s overall intransigence and non-compliance with organizations like the IAEA as behavioral evidence that indeed Iraq, in 2003, did possess weapons of mass destruction.

The Obamacare lie is different because it is obvious to any observer of progressivism that national healthcare, unlike war for conservatives, is the be-all-end-all of their political mission. Here is Ezra Klein telling a progressive gathering in 2008 that “at some point you have to win,” ( meaning that progressives would necessarily have to be dishonest if they were ever going to achieve a comprehensive overhaul of the healthcare industry in the way they desire (consolidated federal control), due to the problematic fact that most of the country was never going to be in a feverish mood to massively disrupt the system.  The ends justified the means, and every progressive understood this.  Besides being a noxious characteristic and brutal indictment of the whole left wing ethos, this Machiavellian approach to public policy is fundamentally different than the “desire” of Republicans to go to war.  If you scoff at that, do a little research on which American political party was more likely to take us to war, and which was more likely to get us out; particularly in the 20th century.  After all, “war socialism,” as coined by Woodrow Wilson, has never really lost its appeal on the left.  When there are no wars to be fought, progressive doctrine preaches the need to seek the “moral equivalent of war,” but if there is a war, then even better!  Anything that can galvanize the country behind a single, central authority is akin to the holy grail for these people.  But I digress.  The point is that any Republican urge to start another stupid Middle East entanglement was largely a product of events.  It was a reaction to the smoldering ruins literally still smoldering in lower Manhattan, however disconnected the cause was from the response.  But Obamacare was not a reaction to some smoldering crisis in the health care industry; rather it was the culmination of a hundred year odyssey to remake the self-reliant, free-enterprise spirit of the country into one dependent on an unimpeachable welfare state Leviathan.

That is why they lied to us incessantly about what they were introducing.  And that is why when they inevitably screech about how “Bush’s lies were worse; people died!” or some such nonsense, it needs to be thrown back in their face that the lies aren’t even in the same universe, and thus tu quoque just does not fly.

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