The Corner

Politics & Policy

A Few Thoughts on Henry Olsen’s Attacks

Henry Olsen writes (on Twitter) that “the libertarian-inspired GOP high priesthood of econ policy has blasted [Marco Rubio’s] ‘common good capitalism’ speech. They’re wrong; it’s time for conservatives to throw them and their tired liturgy out of the GOP temple.” He adds: Kevin D. Williamson “represents a strong element that seeks to stamp out dissenters.”

A few thoughts.

  1. The GOP is not a temple. It is a political party. Republicans would do well to remind themselves of that from time to time, and to spare themselves any effort throwing me out of it, inasmuch as I do not belong to it.
  2. I am interested in the juxtaposition of “throw them out” with Olsen’s accusation that I am one who “seeks to stamp out dissenters.” That’s a funny pairing. In what sense have I ever attempted to stamp out dissent? Through criticism and disagreement? I am afraid that Henry Olsen has gone Millennial on us and now cannot tell efforts to “stamp out” disagreement from the instruments of disagreement themselves. And wouldn’t “throwing out” dissenters be included in efforts to “stamp out dissent”? It seems to me obvious that it would.
  3. In his Washington Post column, Olsen writes that I am among those libertarians who are, as he puts it, “philosophically opposed to any federal government action.” But I am not philosophically opposed to any federal government action. Olsen’s claim here is categorically untrue, and demonstrably untrue, and obviously untrue, and known to be untrue by Henry Olsen. There are many federal government actions I support. What I oppose is the course of action proposed by Senator Rubio and shared to an extent by Senator Warren. My attitude toward Rubio — and his fondness for corporate welfare benefiting Florida business interests such as sugar — does not constitute blanket opposition to “any federal government action.” Olsen’s characterization here is intellectually dishonest, and he and the Washington Post ought to correct the record.
  4. Olsen’s headline reads: “Conservatives’ debate over their future is going to be bitter and fierce.” That’s fine. It will be as bitter as it needs to be, and probably more. But it should be honest, too.

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