Commentary’s Peter Wehner provides a thought-provoking must-read/call to arms against the bogus and despicable attacks Rep. Paul Ryan and others like him trying to tackle the poverty issue routinely receive from Democrat movers and shakers who would rather demagogue the issue for political gain than work together towards resolving it (hat tip):
And now, as Jonathan Tobin has written, comes the latest attempted mugging of Ryan, this time for what he said on Bill Bennett’s “Morning in America” program last week. When discussing his forthcoming effort to combat poverty, the House Budget Committee chairman and 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate said this:
We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with.
The left immediately attacked. Some, like Representative Barbara Lee, accused Ryan of mounting a “thinly veiled racial attack”–one that “cannot be tolerated.” Others, likeNew York Times columnist Paul Krugman, wrote that Ryan’s words amounted to a “racial dog whistle.”
These charges, and there are plenty of others like them, are grotesquely false. I have known Ryan since he was a colleague at Empower America in the 1990s. One of the reasons he was so close to both Bennett and Jack Kemp is because Ryan had a deep concern for those living in the shadows of society, including in America’s inner cities. He also believes Republicans have not focused enough on the problems plaguing the underclass. Both help explain his latest effort to offer conservative solutions to rising poverty.
Why are some liberals doing this? For one thing, they are intellectually exhausted. They know they cannot win the debate on the merits, and so they resort to ad hominemattacks. It is what some on the left instantaneously resort to. Mr. Krugman is a prime example of this. He is a man who seems to gain energy from nursing his political hatreds and takes delight in degrading political commentary. (The latter isn’t an easy achievement.)
But as Jonathan points out, there’s something more fundamental going on here. Liberals who have complicity in the problems plaguing America’s inner cities are attempting to make an honest conversation about poverty impossible. They are signaling that they intend to try to take out Republicans who want to address some of the root causes, the behavioral causes, of poverty.
The danger here is two-fold. One is that by promiscuously invoking racism when it doesn’t apply, they are draining the term of real meaning. Many people already have stopped, and many more will stop, paying attention when the term is so carelessly bandied about.
The other is that some on the left not only aren’t focusing on the institutions, policies, and individuals who are responsible for exacerbating poverty; they are actually building a protective wall around them. For them the villain isn’t, say, the ruinous public school systems in Chicago, Detroit, and D.C. that are destroying the lives and future of hundreds of thousands of kids; it’s Paul Ryan, who among other things supports school choice for inner-city parents. This is what large parts of liberalism have been reduced to: the praetorian guard of corrupt, poverty-creating institutions and organizations.
I’ve said many times before that if we were to have a true, honest, candid discussion about poverty in America – and people really woke up and started to listen and take notice – the liberal monopoly on so-called “victim” and “minority” groups would slowly unravel and then they’d really have to try and fight hard not only to explain their long-term complicity in continuing to (deliberately) support policies that keep Americans down and oftentimes dependent on government but also why they have reflexively tried to stifle the debate by throwing out the race/class card in response to every legitimate, good faith attempt by Republicans to join the discussion to try and help find solutions.
Liberals don’t want this debate. At all. Period. Especially not in an election year where many vulnerable incumbents in key states across the country are on the ropes. What this issue needs more than anything is sunlight by way of open dialogue and an all hands on deck approach to tackling the various problems that contribute to poverty. Until that happens, the problem will remain and and no one wins. This needs to change, and the sooner the better.