Thursday, June 3, 2010

Rudy Giuliani (sort of) advocates government takeover of BP

Last night, Fox News was on at the gym, and I heard Rudy Giuliani drop this whopper:

[The President’s leadership on the oil spill] couldn’t be worse… What we should have done is the president of the United States should have immediately taken control; should have gone there; should have been there a lot more than twice; should have been leading the charge from the front, not this "oh you know I'm not going to touch it."

And BP — for the longest time Gibbs was saying BP was in charge. The president announced a week ago that he was actually in charge….

So [it] wouldn't be just in the hands of BP. And he wouldn't put the entire responsibility just on them.

Wait, WHAAATTT??? For the past year and a half, the GOP has done nothing but accuse President Obama of “socialist” policies that increase government control over business. But now Giuliani says the President should have done more to “take control” of a private company’s handling of a problem it caused? Cognitive dissonance is a nasty thing, but this is ridiculous.

And whatever happened to “personal responsibility”? The core of conservative philosophy since the ‘60s has been the notion that each individual is solely responsible for his own welfare, and that therefore no one has any obligation to help anybody else. Conservatives have blasted welfare for compelling “responsible, hardworking” Americans to subsidize “lazy, irresponsible” Americans. Similarly, they decried bailouts as an abdication of personal responsibility on the part of companies who ran themselves into the ground (e.g. AIG and GM). "You cause the problem, you pay the consequences" has been the mantra.

But now Giuliani doesn’t think that a disaster caused by BP and Transocean’s drilling should be those companies’ “entire responsibility”? If a company causes an oil spill, it’s not just in their hands—the government is there to bail you out.

Quite simply, anyone who repeats the meme that President Obama should have done more to prevent/clean up the oil spill belies their own lack of conservative principles—at least as defined by the modern conservative movement. Once you criticize the President for not doing enough, you’re acknowledging that government has a legitimate role in regulating private industry. If on the other hand you truly believe that government should not interfere with the market, then you must also believe that the mess is BP’s to clean up.

Of course, that position doesn't allow a politician to score political points against the President.

So I can see how small government conservatives must be frustrated with the Republican Party establishment. When a party’s presidential candidates are this cognitively dissonant, you have to wonder, what does the GOP actually stand for these days? We’ve already seen GOP Senators filibuster a pay-as-you-go bill prohibiting the federal government from spending money it doesn't have, betraying their commitment to fiscal discipline. They’ve filibustered funding for the troops in Afghanistan, betraying their commitment to the troops. Now they’re saying that the federal government should “take control” of private oil companies, and that companies’ problems aren’t their “entire responsibility.” When Republicans oppose policies they support, and support policies they oppose, the party can no longer be considered “conservative”—it becomes purely a machine dedicated to winning elections.


Government is the problem until you need a solution: some belated thoughts on the BP-Transocean oil catastrophe

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