The Corner

Taking the Public Out of NPR

When you write a lot, it’s important to stay mindful of the tendency to presume that just because you know the full record of what you’ve said on some subject, the reader is also aware of that context and will bear it in mind the next time you address the subject. That’s, well, presumptuous. Reading Jonah’s column on NPR, which in part reacts to my column on NPR, I think I’m guilty of forgetting that.

In my column, I argued that if the Republicans can’t bring themselves to defund NPR’s lifeline, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, it would be foolish to think they’d have anything close to the gumption it would take to repeal Obamacare — the former being less than chump change compared to the latter. Jonah counters that with public broadcasting outfits having “spent decades hardening their budgetary targets” taking them on would be an exhausting battle “with miniscule reward.”

Jonah and I don’t have even a tiny disagreement on that score. Based on what I said in the column, I thought it was clear enough that I was speaking about NPR/CPB as a shining example of a problem that is geometrically more serious: the Republicans as the party of Big Government Lite. (“For all the tough Reagan-era talk about slashing Leviathan, the CPB, like the Department of Education, became a monument to the GOP’s seduction by Washington, Inc….”)

I probably thought I had made similar arguments enough times that people would know where I’m coming from. In the most comprehensive one, I panned the Republican “Pledge to America.” And I made basically the same NPR/CPB points in discussing the GOP’s failure to support Sen. Jim Bunning when he merely asked that a further imprudent extension of unemployment benefits be paid for by spending cuts. I’ve said similar things in several other contexts, but the basic gist is this: Obamacare is a good bet for the Dems because, even if they lose the next two or three election cycles (which I think their hard Left base has factored in), they figure the GOP is more interested in controlling big government than in rolling it back; therefore, Obama’s gains will be consolidated and, eventually, the Dems will be back in control of the hyper-intrusive, central-planning state of their dreams.  

I desperately want the Republicans to prove me wrong. I certainly don’t want a campaign against NPR. What is that snide shot Obama took at Clinton? “I didn’t come here to do school uniforms.” That’s how I want the GOP to think. I don’t want them to go after NPR/CPB as a target. I want them to go after Leviathan such that cutting off NPR/CPB — and about a zillion other things the government shouldn’t be doing — is the inevitable fall-out. I’m on the Goldwater plan: “My aim is not to pass laws, but to repeal them. It is not to inaugurate new programs, but to cancel old ones that do violence to the Constitution, or that have failed in their purpose, or that impose on the people an unwarranted financial burden.”

FWIW, I think that’s the plan the Tea Party movement is on, too. Consequently, I think Republicans are in for a rude awakening. So far, other than the handful of RINOs who’ve been taken out in primaries, the GOP has gotten to ride a wave that is not of their own making. Democrats have been the primary target, and they’ve had no choice but to come to grips with the Tea Party movement. But while D-Day for the Dems is November 2, D-Day for the GOP is November 3. The dynamic movement in the country couldn’t care less about who is running what committee. They want this monstrosity stripped down. They understand that this is a long-term project, it’s not going to be accomplished in a single election, and Obama is going to veto all efforts at roll-back. But the movement wants the efforts made, and it is not going to want to hear about how it wasn’t worth fighting this or that battle because we didn’t have the numbers to override, etc.

But I think Johah’s right. If this is just about NPR, it’s an utter waste of time.

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