Politics & Policy

The Audacity of Hype

Random thoughts on the passing scene . . .

One of the problems with successfully dealing with threats is that people start believing that there is no threat. That is where we are, seven years after 9/11, so that reminding people of terrorist dangers can be dismissed as “the politics of fear” by Barack Obama, who has a rhetorical answer for everything.

If you took all the fraud out of politics, there might not be a lot left.

The reason so many people misunderstand so many issues is not that these issues are so complex, but that people do not want a factual or analytical explanation that leaves them emotionally unsatisfied. They want villains to hate and heroes to cheer — and they don’t want explanations that do not give them that.

Has anyone noticed Yankee pitcher Joba Chamberlain’s facial resemblance to Babe Ruth? If he can be anywhere near as good a pitcher as Ruth was, he will have a great career. The Babe could have made the Hall of Fame if he had remained a pitcher and never hit a home run. He still holds a couple of pitching records.

Although you can block unwanted phone calls from commercial sources, you cannot block automated phone calls from politicians, which will be inundating us this election year. Apparently the courts think that the right of “free speech” includes the right to impose that speech on an unwilling audience. Maybe we need a new Constitutional Amendment, guaranteeing “freedom from speech.”

There are countries in Europe that would love to have their unemployment rate fall to the 5.7 percent unemployment rate to which ours has risen. Yet those who seem to want us to imitate European economic and social policies never seem to want to consider the actual consequences of those policies.

“Unacceptable” is one of the big weasel words of our time — almost always said when the person who says it has no intention of doing anything, and so is accepting what is called “unacceptable.”

Republicans won big, running as Republicans, in 2004. But once they took control of Congress, they started acting like Democrats and lost big. There is a lesson in that somewhere but whether Republicans will learn it is another story entirely.

When we hear about rent control or gun control, we may think about rent or guns but the word that really matters is “control.” That is what the political Left is all about, as you can see by the incessant creation of new restrictions in places where they are strongly entrenched in power, such as San Francisco or New York.

Now that the senator with the furthest left voting record in the Senate and the senator with the third furthest left voting record are the Democrats’ nominees for president and vice president, there will be great expressions of indignation over being “negative” if anyone dares call them “liberals.” Actually, leftists would be more accurate.

G. K. Chesterton said: “I defy anybody to say what are the rights of a citizen, if they do not include the control of his own diet in relation to his own health.” But California citizens and citizens of New York City have tamely accepted their politicians’ decisions to forbid restaurants to serve certain foods, even when citizens want those foods.

The recent death of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn should make us recall what he said when he was awarded the Nobel Prize: “The timid civilized world has found nothing with which to oppose the onslaught of a sudden revival of barefaced barbarity, other than concessions and smiles.” What would a Barack Obama presidency mean, other than more concessions and broader smiles, while Iran goes nuclear?

Right after liberal Democrats, the most dangerous politicians are country club Republicans.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke says that what he admired about FDR was his willingness to experiment in order to help the economy. That experimentation helped prolong the Great Depression, since people tend to hang onto their money when the government creates uncertainty by constantly changing the rules.

At one time, it was said “The truth will make you free.” Today, there seem to be those who think that rhetoric and hype will make you free. It might even be called the audacity of hype.

– Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution.

© 2008 CREATORS SYNDICATE, INC.

Thomas SowellThomas Sowell is an American economist, social theorist, political philosopher, and author, whose books include Basic Economics. He is currently senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University.

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